Work It Out: Can weight lifting help or hurt when you’re over the hill? |

Work It Out: Can weight lifting help or hurt when you’re over the hill?

A gym workout isn't only for youngsters. This mud season, local trainer Doug Roessel with Elevation Fitness in Dillon is offering a program built just for men and women older than 50 years old, with a combination of weight training and diet advice that bucks the high-intensity trend.
Special to the Daily | Stockbyte

Gym log 101

Have you ever been to the gym and noticed someone madly scribbling on a notepad between weights? They aren’t doodling — they’re just finishing their workout.

A gym log is a must for anyone beginning a new fitness program, according to Elevation Fitness owner Doug Roessell, and it’s just as important as good shoes and a water bottle in the weight room.

“That log should be with you every day,” Roessel said. “If you’re going back after the fact to fill in information you’re going to miss something.”

But where to begin? Roessel offers a few basic tips for creating a log that works for you — not against you — from the gym to the table and back.

Make it portable: Like Roessel says, it’s easy to forget the details of your day if you try to record everything after the fact. Find a small notebook that fits in your gym bag or use a smartphone app. There are dozens out there and most are tailored to types of fitness, like Strong (body building and weight lifting), Fitlist (cardio and strength) and JEFIT Workout (workout builder).

Track every last part of your workout: This is the easy part. During your workout, remember to record the type of exercise by day. When lifting, jot down the exercise name, weight, number of reps and number of sets. For cardio, track exercise, time and total distance. Apps like MapMyRide get even deeper with split times and live tracking.

Then, track every last thing you eat: If you’re worried about counting calories, don’t. Roessel recommends simply tracking the type of food and the amount, not get bogged down in exact calories.

But, this doesn’t mean you can overlook a big meal on your cheat day, when you aren’t sticking strictly to the diet. If you eat an 8-ounce steak with about 4 ounces of mashed potatoes and two slices of chocolate cake, write it down. The goal is to have a bird’s-eye view of everything

Finally, track every last thing you drink: Did you have two beers at the baseball game on Saturday? Write down the type and amount, just like you do with food. That includes beer, wine, soda, juice and any liquid other than water.

“You don’t have to be militant about it,” Roessel said. “You just have to be aware what’s going in your body. Was it a stout? Was it coors light? Wasit Michelob light? Was it a vodka martini?

Review, review, review: Get in the habit of checking your log on a regular basis, whether it’s once per week or once per day. No matter what, though, be sure your workout regimen is informed by the results you’re tracking. It’s the only way to see results when and where you want them, Roessel says, and, of course, it’s the point of a gym log in the first place.

Just because you’re over the hill doesn’t mean you’re too old for the gym. And squats. And bench presses. And dumbbell curls.

With mud season already here, athletes across Summit County are back in the gym for weight programs and stationary bikes to stay in shape until summer finally gets started. Everyone has a personal approach to fitness — some run, some bike, some swim, some do it all — but overall strength is a must for anyone, athletes and Average Joes, alike.

What, then, does this mean when you hit 50 or 60 or 70 years old? Doug Roessel, owner of Elevation Fitness in Dillon, says the internet is chock-full of misinformation about fitness after 50. There’s no truth to the myth that men and women of a certain age can no longer build muscle, he says.

“With the appropriate program, you can get your muscle tone back,” he said. “As you get older it’s harder to build, that’s true, but you can do it. You will get fit.”

Of course, finding the right program is the tricky part. The modern fitness world is teeming with dozens of programs for just about anyone — Crossfit, pilates, boot camps, hot yoga — and all have benefits. After a certain age, though, Roessel recommends finding a low-impact program that focuses on strength, diet and fitness — the sort of program that can be easily tweaked to benefit anyone of any age.

“There’s so much static out there,” he said. “What I’m saying is, hey, if you’re 50 — if you’re getting up there — start thinking about all of these pieces. You don’t have to do the intense program, you don’t have to live like a saint … But you have to realize that the fuel is still going in, and, if you aren’t burning it, that’s where it’s going to stay.”

Bodybuilding at 50+

This May, Elevation is launching a brand-new program made just for folks older than 50. It begins the first week of May and runs through the end of summer, with two supervised workout sessions (aka group sessions with a single trainer) on Tuesdays and Thursdays and two “homework” sessions per week.

“This program really isn’t designed for the home gym sort of guy,” Roessel said. “This is more of a bodybuilding program, with heavier weights, lower reps and longer rest times. We’re going the opposite way of the crazy programs you see these days. It’s a slower process, and it becomes more of a targeted muscle-training program.”

Pause. If the term “bodybuilding” struck the wrong cord, understand that lifting weights isn’t just for the Schwarzeneggers of the world. It can be for anyone, Roessel said, and is more about how you approach fitness, rather than a call to get as bulky as Mr. Olympia.

“This is going to be low-impact weight training with low-impact cardio,” he said about Elevation’s 50-plus program. “Basically, we’re going to cut out the crazy burpees and everything else that’s just too intense on your body. This is about getting your body back for summer or just getting your body back, period.”

Before starting any weight program, he suggests writing a gym log (see sidebar) to track your progress over time. The 50-plus program gives participants tips on how best to use a log, along with personalized tips on diet and proper form. Trainers use a slew of tools to help folks along, like weekly body measurements and weigh-ins to help everyone stay accountable. The end goal: a reduction in body mass and increase in muscle mass through a program that’s easy and tough on the body, all at once.

“I have people coming to ask me how they can make sense of all these options out there,” Roessel said. “There are so many people over 50 who are lost about how to get started in the gym. People tell me, ‘I’ve been doing Crossfit, but I can’t handle it anymore.’ If that doesn’t’ work for you — if the style doesn’t work — you need to find something different.”

Break it down

Any successful weight-lifting program begins by breaking the body into three main pieces: legs, upper body and arms in addition to the back. Here are Roessel’s suggestions for the best exercises to hit all three. Begin with lighter weight (can easily lift 10 reps at a time) before increasing the weight.

For more info on the Elevation 50-plus program, or to register, call the gym at (970) 468-7597.

Legs (four sets each):

Free-weight squats

Squat machines


Cable machine leg extensions

Bench press (three sets each):

Olympic bench press, with a single bar and plate weights

Dumbbell bench press

Incline press, Olympic and dumbbell

Decline press, Olympic and dumbbell

Back (three to four sets each):

Pull-ups, assisted and unassisted

Lat pull-downs

Lateral rows, dumbbell and cable machine

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

As a Summit Daily News reader, you make our work possible.

Now more than ever, your financial support is critical to help us keep our communities informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having on our residents and businesses. Every contribution, no matter the size, will make a difference.

Your donation will be used exclusively to support quality, local journalism.


Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.

User Legend: iconModerator iconTrusted User