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Dumbbells and barbells provide an effective workout.
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Resistance training enhances quality of life by promoting muscle coordination and the ability to balance and by preventing loss of strength. Senior citizens can participate in a strength training program to maintain physical, psychological and emotional well-being. While barbells and dumbbells are effective and affordable pieces of equipment, there are some variances to be considered.
There are variations of barbell shapes including a straight or angled EZ bar, as well as weight differences. Preloaded or weighted barbells typically begin at 20 pounds and max at 110 pounds. Barbells are best to begin with because both hands are able to stabilize the same piece of equipment. Barbells can be used to train every muscle group of your body. If you are using the barbell on your back, make sure to select a weight you can easily lift over your head or have a spotter readily available to assist you.
Dumbbells are convenient to use because of their size and transportability. Dumbbells come in a variety of different weights and can be effectively used to complete a total-body workout. Because a dumbbell is held in each hand, an added stabilization factor is introduced to your workout. While this is a great way to improve your balance, select a weight you feel comfortable lifting. Adjustable dumbbells allow you to set a specific weight that you may change as you progress.
Dumbbells can be used when focusing on unilateral movements where only one leg or arm is used at time. Unilateral movements include step-ups and lunges for leg exercises and single-arm dumbbell rows for your back. Perform a dumbbell lateral raise to train your shoulders and a dumbbell press for your chest exercise. Incline dumbbell curls train your biceps while an overhead dumbbell extension will work your triceps.
Using both hands, barbell exercises allow you to balance and stabilize as you lift or press the barbell. Barbell squats performed in a squat rack train your legs. Do an upright row for your shoulders and a bent over barbell row for a back exercise. The barbell press can serve as your chest exercise. You can also use the barbell to complete curls and to perform skull crushers for your triceps.
There are a plethora of exercises you can perform using either dumbbells or a barbell. If you are not comfortable lifting a barbell over your head for fear of injuring your neck, use dumbbells for exercises such as shoulder press and squats. While barbells do engage stabilizer muscles, using dumbbells recruits more stabilizers because of the added unilateral factor. Select a slightly lighter total weight when using dumbbells in order to maintain balance.
Safety and Considerations
You can always vary exercises to make your workouts more challenging. Focus on form, strength and balance rather than trying to lift as much weight as possible. Instead of increasing the amount of weight used, decrease the amount of rest time between sets. Begin each workout with five to 10 minutes of cardio and dynamic stretching. Perform three sets of eight to 12 reps, three to five days a week. Rest 30 seconds to a minute and a half between sets. Exercising with a workout partner can be motivating and helps ensure safety. Check with your doctor before beginning an exercise program.