Exercise Equipment for Seniors

The first step in selecting a workout plan that will help you reach your goals is to determine what type of equipment and what location will be best for you.  In this article, I’ll discuss 4 types of the best exercise equipment for seniors, other than free weights.  Two will be for gym workout plans.  The other 2 can be done for at home workouts, or at gym workouts.

Questions that are important to address:

  • Is that type of equipment effective for building strength and improving overall fitness?
  • Is it especially safe for people over 60 years of age?
  • Can it be used at the location of my choice; at a gym, at home, or, anywhere?

 

What is a Weight Machine?

If you are new to strength training, you might be wondering, what is a weight machine?  Weight machines are designed to hold weights in place while the person exercising is moving the weights as designed to work various muscle groups.  There are two types of machines for weight training.  One type is with weight plates stacked within the machine.  A pin is used to select the desired weight.  The other type is designed so normal olympic weight plates can be mounted on the machines.

weight-machines-in-a-gym
Weight Machines in a Gym

For guys over 60, weight machines are both effective for building muscle and strength, AND, they are safe compared to working with free weights.  You are able to move as much weight as you care to without concern of losing balance.

With weight machines that use a pin to make changes to the weight, you can set them up to make partial movements if that is more comfortable.  For example, suppose you wanted to do chest press but did not want the movement as deep as normal because you have discomfort in your shoulders if you do that.  It is very easy and quick to put the machine         settings to limit the movement to what is most comfortable for you.

weight-machine-with-a-pin
Weight Machine with a Pin

Yet another benefit of using weight machines that use a pin, is, you can potentially complete your workouts more quickly.  You don’t have to be picking up and putting back plates.

By using weight machines that use olympic plates you can still limit the extent of the movements, but not have as much limiting ability as weight machines that use a pin.  For example, if you were using one of these types of machines to do chest press you could not adjust the point

Chest Press Machine Using Plates

at which the movement begins and ends.  However, you still have the safety aspect of not having to balance the weights.  Also, just as with machines that use a pin, if you suddently let go of the handles you would not be hurt.  The machine would just return to its starting position.

Some advantages of weight machines:

  • Available in most health clubs
  • Because you don’t have to balance the weight as you do with many free weight exercises, you are less likely to be injured.
  • Also, not having to balance the weight, more weight can often be used becuase small, supporting muscles are not employed.  If you are using more weight, the larger muscles can exceed growth of free weights.

 

What is a TRX Suspension Trainer?

Several years ago I was talking with a personal trainer at my local health club.  He told me about this equipment I could train with and take it with me when I travel.  I had never heard of them.  I asked, “What is a TRX Suspension Trainer?  TRX uses specially designed bands that are attatched to an ‘anchor’.  An anchor can be a door, a pole, a tree or anything else that is strong enough to bear your weight.  The many training movements employ the bands and your body weight.  I have encorporated TRX bands in my workouts and they have added advantages I don’t get from other types of resistance training.

trx-suspension-training-system
TRX Suspension Training System

 

Suspension Training by TRX makes gravity your resistance, so adjusting the level of difficulty is as easy as moving your hands or feet, and progression is limitless.  They have workout plans for all kinds of fitness goals.  For example, they have workouts designed specifically to improve your golf game, or tennis, or joint health, strength, flexibility and much more.

Widely used,TRX is available in over 40,000 health clubs.  It is used in all branches of the military.  It’s used by many professional sports teams, MMA fighters, Olympic athletes and more.

There are videos and apps and tons of support and training for all levels.  It is extremely safe.  They have training videos you can watch on your computer, tablet or phone.  TRX can be used anywhere, in the gym, at home, in a hotel room, outside, and more.tux-with-buffed-older-guy

There are an abundance of workout plans to fit your individual workout goals.  TRX is effective in building muscle, improving flexability, balance and cardiovascular health.  It’s also relatively inexpensive.

Some advantages of TRX Suspension Training Systems:

  • Safe.  Because I use my body weight it’s easy to adjust to movements that are as light as I need them to be.
  • Lightweight and can be kept in the compact bag.  So, I can workout at home, while traveling or at the gym.
  • There is an abundance of training videos and support

Click on the link to learn more:  TRX SUSPENSION TRAINING SYSTEMS

What is a Resistance Band?

Until recently I couldn’t answer the question, “What is a Resistance Band?”  Resistance Bands are elastic.  The thickness of the bands determine the amount of resistance each band provides, usually measured in pounds.  The set of bands that I use can be “stacked” to provide as much as 150 pounds of resistance.  They come in different colors, each color to represent the different amount of resistance.  They are light weight come with handles, and fit in a small bag for carrying or storage.

resistance-bands
Resistance Bands

I have only discovered how fantastic resistance bands are since the Covid-19 shutdown.  And, I’m not the only one!  Many of the various manufacturers of resistance bands were sold out in recent months as so many gyms and health clubs closed and people had to figure out how to work out at home.

I was skeptical about the efficacy of bands before I used them.  They didn’t look like they would be able to provide the kind of resistance I was used to.  That skepticism vanished as soon as I started to do some exercises with them.  I quickly learned I could do the same exercises I would do at the gym and the resistance was as great as the weights or machines I was used to.

training-with-resistance-bands-2
Training with Resistance Bands

I found there were advantages with bands over the weights and weight machines I was accustom to:

  • I can get a great workout, working all the muscle groups and the bands fit in a compact nylon bag.
  • The set I use was inexpensive at $70.
  • I can use them when and where I want to.  They are lightweight and easy to take with.
  • I don’t experience some of the joint discomfort that I do with some exercises using weights.
  • There is a consistent resistance where there is not in some types of weight training.

I recommend the resistance bands by Fitness Insanity.  At the time of this writing the best price is at Amazon.  With over 5,100 reviews, these bands have a 5-star rating!  You can see and learn more by clicking on this link:     

 Fitness Insanity Resistance Bands

 As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.  When you use the links on this page to make a purchase I may get a small commission with no cost to you.  And you may get a great bargain.  It’s a win-win all around.             

Smith Machine

More commonly known as a “Smith Rack”, these machines are found primarily in health clubs.  There are versions designed for home use but I have found them to perform well below the standards of professional quality Smith Racks found in health clubs.

smith-machine
Smith Machine

 

An Olympic size barbell is built into the machine.  It glides smoothly up and down.  That is the only option for movement.  Smith machines are commonly used for exercises such as bench press, incline press and overhead press.  They also used for squats and single leg squats.

Because the barbell glides so smoothly and there is no need to balance it as there is with the free weight version, it is usually possible to have more weight on the bar.  This can be advantageous for challenging the larger muscle groups with more weight, hence more growth.

Final Thoughts

Doing your resistance training doesn’t have to be confined to any one type of equipmement.  You could use all three of the types of equipment described above AND free weights too.  I hope you’ve found this article helpful as you seek the best exercise equipment for seniors to further you overall fitness.  I welcome your comments or questions below.-

Glenn
Glenn

32 thoughts on “Exercise Equipment for Seniors

  1. Ivan says:

    Hey mate! Thanks for sharing this list. I think TRX trainer is superb exercise. It’s becoming more and more popular between all ages because of the flexibility they offer. There’s no body part that you can’t hit with TRX. Its similar to resistance bands just one level up. Thanks again for sharing this post and keep up the good work!

  2. Alyse says:

    Great article on Exercise Equipment for Seniors!!! I like using the resistance bands. They are light weight and portable to take along anywhere. Thank you for sharing such valuable tips for seniors. It can help so much! The resistance band set looks like something I will want to purchase very soon!

    • Glenn says:

      Thanks so much for the encouraging comments Alyse! A friend of mine and I are starting a four-week resistance band workout tomorrow. Those bands are amazing!

      Glenn

  3. C.N. says:

    Thank you so much for this highly informative article, Glenn! As we age, we naturally lose strength and muscle mass, and as the saying goes, we must “use it or lose it.” My mother just turned 60, and all of my aunts and uncles are 50+. Though some of them are more active than others, they don’t build strength like they need to. The weight machine, TRX Suspension Trainer, resistance bands, and Smith Machine are excellent machines for building and maintaining muscle mass, strength, increasing one’s stamina, and improving one’s overall quality of health. I have saved your site and will definitely share it with my friends and family. God bless you!

  4. Tom says:

    Hey Glenn,

    This is a great article, and I love your site. I am definitely sending this on to my Dad. He is pretty fit anyway, but since lockdown he has told me that he has not been as active, and neither has my Mum. They are both in their 70’s so I want to make sure I am helping them as much as I can, but not forcing things onto them. I really believe my Dad will like this article because he loves keeping fit and exercise tools above will most certainly be interesting to him.

    I have encouraged him to comment and if he has any questions then he should get in touch. If that is OK?

    Thank you for sharing and keep up the amazing work on your site.

    All the best,

    Tom

    • Glenn says:

      Thanks so much for the kind words, Tom. It’s very fulfilling for me to help anyone with fitness and quality of life, especially those who are aging. There have been others from the WA community that have forwarded my posts to their parents or other loved ones. Of course your Dad can contact me! I would be glad to help in any way I can. He could send me an email at: glenn@fitness-for-men-over-60.com.

      For those of us over 60, if we do cardiovascular exercise as part of our fitness regimen, it will help us live longer. If we include strength training it will help us live better. – Glenn

  5. Hannie says:

    Thanks Glen! Some equipment I can’t use anymore because of my back, but I’ll sure look into others. Specifically the Resistance band you mention. The last few years I have solely exercised with my own body weight and the smallest kette bell 🙂

    • Glenn says:

      Thank you, Hannie. Sorry to hear about your back. Resistance Bands and TRX bands are both widely use by Physical Therapists. TRX uses your body weight and can actually make many exercises easier than you could do with just your body weight and no TRX. If you go to the TRX training site you can “chat” online with a live person. If you tell them what your limitations are, they’ll be able to help you with just the right exercises that will enable you to do things you can not with just your body weight and a kettle ball. For example: Let’s say you couldn’t do pushups. Using the TRX bands you could do the same movement as pushups at a fraction of the weight you would be pushing down on the floor. If you’re interested in checking it out, the url for the TRX training site is: https://www.trxtraining.com

      Wishing you all the best!
      Glenn

  6. Thabo Khoza says:

    Thank you for this review

    Yes the product is very good. I didnt know such a product exists and shocked just like you said you were when you found out.

    Since I am an athlete I will use if when I do my ballroom dancing exercises thanx.,

    • Glenn says:

      Oh, I’m glad you will be using the equipment, Thabo. There are lots of exercise descriptions and videos available online to help you do the best exercises for your specific goals.

      Wishing you the best!
      Glenn

  7. Jukka says:

    I wish there were more people spreading the word about the importance of strength training for older people. Or for people of any age actually. I’ve been trying to get my father to do some strength training as he’s complaining about getting clumsy and not being able to squat down anymore. He doesn’t seem to believe me that you can improve your strength and mobility enormously by performing simple strength training exercises. It almost feels like our seniors have been brainwashed to think that they can’t do anything to fight the aging process. I’ll link your post to him!

    • Glenn says:

      Thank you Jukka. And, you are so right! It is never too late to develop muscle and strength. With proper exercises, balance can be restored as well. Strength training also increases bone mass and helps eliviate osteoporosis. Strength training helps improve quality of life as we age. Cardiovascular training helps us live longer. The common lifestyle of people living beyond 60 is an overall decline in the quality of life and the onset of disease. It doesn’t have to be that way. My hope is to provide inspiration and information as a catalyst to helping people begin, or, increase a lifestyle that includes fitness.

      Thanks for forwarding my article,
      Glenn

  8. Catherine says:

    Hi Glenn,

    Thanks for this informative article! I have some family members in mind that could use some physical movement/ work outs (my dad for example).

    I’ll send the link of your website to him and see what happens. Hope it will inspire him to have a more active life instead of sitting in front of tv of computer most of the time…

    Kind regards,
    Catherine.

    • Glenn says:

      Thanks, Catherine. I’m glad you found value in the article. With a good fitness plan of exercise and diet can help people live longer, and, enjoy a much higher quality of life. Cardio exercise helps people live longer. Strength training helps them enjoy a higher quality of life. I hope your dad can find some inspiration.

      Appreciatively,
      Glenn

  9. Jade says:

    Thanks for this article! I’m not over 60 or a man, but I was very surprised to hear that you found resistance bands as effective as weight training. I am trying to get stronger and am always intimidated by the equipment at the gym – as I’m not positive how to use it all – so I might try getting the resistance bands myself.

    • Glenn says:

      Hi Jade,

      I’m glad you found the article helpful. Resistance bands do everything and more than weights. They provide resistance in multiple directions. The resistance from weights is in relation to gravity so its only vertical. They provide variable resistance. The further the band stretches the greater the resistance. There are exercises with weights that are the opposite. Bands are much less expensive, lightweight and portable.

      If you Google “workout plans with resistance bands” you will see there are lots of plans to choose from. They can teach you what you need to know.

      I’d love to hear how it’s going after you’ve started using them!

      All the best!

      Glenn

  10. ladia says:

    Hey, Thanks for this article. It really informed me about the different Exercise Equipment. Personally I prefer the resistance bands because you can take them anywhere with you. Do you have some additional suggestions of good exercise equipment that is not too heavy so that you can bear it in a backpack?

    • Glenn says:

      Thanks for the comments, Ladia. In answer to your question: My opinion is that the resistance bands are THE BEST type of equipment. One can achieve everything and more than with weights, using resistance bands. Of course they are very light weight, portable and inexpensive compared to weights or other equipment. In addition to using them for strength training, you can also use them for great cardiovascular training.

      Some other things you can do with resistance bands that can not be done with weights:
      – They provide resistance in multiple directions. Because the resistance provided by weights is from gravity, the resistance is only vertical.
      – The bands provide variable resistance. When someone does a barbell or dumbbell curl with weights, the resistance decreases as the weight gets
      closer to the shoulder. So at the strongest part of the bicep the resistance is at its least. With bands, the resistance increases the further
      they are stretched.
      – Bands provide constant tension. This helps improve the efficacy of each rep while also decreasing the likelihood of injury.

      I hope this helps. Thanks again for your comments and question!
      Glenn

  11. Habib says:

    Hey,

    Fantastic article on exercise equipment for seniors. I enjoyed reading this thoroughly.
    I will recommend this to my dad who will highly benefit from this post, especially the resistance bands, I think he will really like them.

    Thank you for sharing this wonderful information with us.

  12. Briam says:

    Great post. I am not in this age range, but this will be beneficial to my older uncles. It can be difficult to start exercising at an older age cause you to become a student again.

    • Glenn says:

      Thanks so much for the comments. Getting started and being consistent for about a month is the hardest part. After 4 to 6 weeks guys are feeling better with more energy and some additional strength. A couple of vital things for someone starting and maintaining any kind of effective fitness plan is 1) A structured plan to follow, and 2) Specific goals. For all the old dudes like me that started and stuck with a training plan have had their lives transformed for the good. I’m rooting for your uncles!

      Glenn

  13. Ferra says:

    Hi Glenn,

    I really appreciate your efforts in putting all of this information together. I think it is important to raise the awareness that exercise equipment is also safe for seniors as long as they know how to use it properly. I also agree that the weight machines you mentioned in your article are safer than free weights. We can be less worried to get injuries.
    My Dad is 67 years old and he has problems with his lungs due to being a heavy smoker when he was young. So, he cannot do the heavy lifting and harder exercise. That said, maybe he can start small from using the resistance band and build up his strength as he goes. Then he can try the weight machine with pins. What do you think?

    • Glenn says:

      I 100% know that your dad can begin a program and achieve amazing results. He’ll need to be consistent with a good, structured program over time. Resistance bands are my sole kind of resistance training right now. They are amazing for efficacy and safety. And, they are inexpensive and portable. Please let me know if I can help in any way. I’m 68 and rooting for your dad!

      Glenn

  14. VIKA MJOKA says:

    Thanks for this article Glenn, I am in my forties and I am beginning some things popping and crackling every time I try to move and my body is telling me it needs to get some strength from itself. I like the way you explain different exercise equipment simplifying it for me because it is easy for the mind to think “Naa, I know about these things” and fall into a trap of just purchasing something because it would make me look good to my friends, but your article helps with the purchasing decision so that it is ore sponsored by the result I seek not the how it will make my house look to my friends.
    The Smith Machine sounds like something awesome to invest in as it allows multi exercise combinations and can also be used by any member of my family with ease. Thanks for your research.

    • Glenn says:

      Thanks so much for those encouraging words, Vika! When I was in my 40s I played roller hockey. That was my form of exercise for several years. At 47 years old I decided it was time to hang up the skates. I used to have a picture with my shirt off. I was kind of pudgy with a belly. I did a particular weight training and cardio program. I took a picture after 11 weeks and 4 days. My “transformation” was amazing. If you like you can see the picture in one of my posts: https://fitness-for-men-over-60.com/best-supplements-for-men-over-50/. I share it as an encouragement. If you’re in your 40’s you can do the same thing. Some people have asked me if I took steroids. Absolutely not! All I took aside from food, was protein powder and creating. I worked out with weights 3 days per week, 45-60 minutes. And, I did HIIT cardio 3 days per week for 20 minutes. You can do this, Via! – Glenn

  15. Brian says:

    Great article. Although this post is not in my age range, this is useful for my older uncles. It can be difficult to start something new at an old age because you become a student again.

    • Glenn says:

      Thank you for the kind words, Brian. You’re right. As people age it becomes harder to make changes in life. Part of my aim is to provide information and inspiration to motivate some aging men to improve their lives.

      Appreciatively,
      Glenn

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