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How to design a workout for an 80-year old client

Feb 07, 2023


How to design a workout

for an 80-year old client

Age is just a number! Everyone is X-years YOUNG as LIFE is the longest thing that each one of us will partake in! Before I get into how to train an 80-year old client (a workout that I did with my pops), lets take a look at some common issues we may see as we age throughout this awesome life!

Common issues with older clients: Range of motion

My dad started exercising when he was in high school. He played D2 football and recreational baseball and basketball. In the military, he would constantly be in the weight room and my inspiration for lifting weights when I began in 4th grade. 60+ years of wear and tear, but that doesn't mean we are broken or helpless. The most important thing we can do when assessing ALL clients is to measure for where they are currently, not vs the past or someone else their age. It's common to give elderly people unstable exercises (stability ball squats) and light band work (which may be a starting point for some) but we need to assess the individual because you will find some who are more capable, like my dad. When we design a program for a client, we need to consider the following: Individuality, Specificity, Overload, and Variation.

Contraindications for an 80-year-old client

Sarcopenia – A loss of muscle mass due to age.

Dynapenia – Greek translation for “poverty of strength” dynapenia is the loss of power due to age.

Imagine a gym with 100 lights. Sarcopenia would be only having 85 lights remaining – 15 of them stopped working (type 2x fast twitch muscle fibers are the first to go!) Dynapenia would be of those 85 remaining lights, their brightness has been diminished to 80% of their capacity vs the original 100%. Strength training can help with sarcopenia and dynapenia.

High or Low Blood Pressure – If a client has high blood pressure (140/90) it would be best to get a medical release. Low blood pressure (less than 90/60) may lead to dizziness so make sure to be careful getting up too quickly from the ground.

Medications. We're not doctors and can never tell a client to go off their meds. Anytime I see a medication that I am unfamiliar with, take it as an opportunity to network with their doctor (LEARN HOW TO NETWORK WITH MEDICAL PROFESSIONALS SHOW UP FITNESS MENTORSHIP.)

Assessments for an 80-year-old client

  • Grip strength is a better indicator of living to 100 compared to any cardio test. Instead of EITHER OR, encourage both strength training and cardio. A grip dynamometer is my go-to and super cheap HERE.

  • Blood pressure is a simple measurement to add value as a fitness professional – there is no single workout that will reverse hypertension, it's all about SHOWING UP consistently.

Here is a workout that I did for my pops who is 80 years young CLICK HERE FOR THE YT SHORT

Core – Core – Accessory (CCA) is the programming template that we use at Show Up Fitness. Core = core movement pattern and accessory is single jointed (isolation), cardio, prehab, or a client’s favorite exercise.


Core movement – Squat Jumps x6 (begin seated and then on cue, sit up & jump.)

Core movement – Speed Rows x10

Accessory – Pallofs

Rest as needed – we talked about life, love and happiness!


Core movement – Speed Squats x3-5 per mini set of 2-3 (verbal cueing)

Core movement – Incline DB press x10

Accessory – Plate extended holds

Rest as needed


Core movement – Eccentric pistol squats x5

Core movement – Face pulls x20

Accessory – Ball catches

Rest as needed

The workout took ~60-minutes. Keep the eccentrics between 3-5 reps as we don't want the client to be too sore. Make sure to consume between 25-30g of a complete amino profile protein source as elderly clients need more protein to stimulate muscle protein synthesis.

Do you want to become a

QUALIFIED personal trainer?

90% of textbook personal trainers quit within 12 months of getting certified. Not at Show Up Fitness. The average personal trainer is NOT qualified – they study a textbook and then experience imposter syndrome because they have NO IDEA HOW TO TRAIN SOMEBODY ELSE! At Show Up Fitness our interns who are studying for their SUF-CPT understand anatomy, programming, and the assessment. By focusing on the fundamentals of becoming a personal trainer, SUF-CPT's develop confidence in being able to train ANYBODY. Here is the 12-month breakdown that we provide which can be taken in two-month courses:

SUF-CPT (certified personal trainer), Nutrition Coach (SUF-NC), Strength Coach (SUF-CSCS), Online Coach (SUF-OC), Mentorship (SUF-MP), and Injury prehab/rehab (SUF-Prehab).

If you want to become a successful personal trainer, READ THE BOOK and then Show Up online and/or in-person. Classes are LIVE and recorded for on-demand within our Show Up Fitness APP.

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