The right and wrong way for proper baby boomer exercise

So if we are active baby boomers with youthful spirits, how can we stay that way? One way, in our opinion, is to stay strong physically. And that’s where professional trainer Bob Merz, of Houston, Texas, comes in, with his Top Ten Boomer Exercise Mistakes; well, okay, Top Eleven, but who’s counting?!

I believe we’ve convinced you to refresh your commitment to your workouts from time to time, right? Well, especially for us boomers, we can’t afford to slack off and lose momentum toward a healthier lifestyle.

adjustments_editedSo, now that we’re back in the gym together, let’s focus on the right way to work out, so you can avoid some common mistakes that we at 50plusPlusFit see every day, especially by boomers who’ve been away from the gym for a while.

1. Squats – The perfect squat has these elements:

  • Toes are connected to the floor at all times
  • Knees are over your ankles-– not out over your toes
  • Chest is held high
  • Flexing is at the hip and knees equally

crunchesThese will only happen if the transverse abdominis and the glutes are engaged and holding your core firm. Use a mirror (especially to the side) to check your form and ensure you’re doing it right.

2. Lat Pull-downs -– ONLY in front of the head, NEVER behind. A lat pull-down behind your head is a prescription for a torn rotator cuff. I know you can “feel the burn” but, it’s just not safe. A perfect example of doing this correctly can be found in the 50plusPlusFit Online Personal Trainer.

3. Machine Adjustments -– If you’re using weight machines, be sure to adjust the seat, handles, etc., to fit your height, arm length, and so forth. For example, a chest press performed with the seat too low will engage shoulders at an angle that becomes an imbalance. If you aren’t sure how to adjust the seat, ask a trainer or other gym employee. Still confused? Skip the machines and head for free-weights. Many experts feel free weight workouts are best.

4. Deadlifts -– Without an expert to watch your form, this can be a really bad exercise – especially for your lower back. The risks outweigh the benefits of deadlifts, especially for a Boomer, so make this something you can skip. There are better ways to derive the benefits of a deadlift without doing them.

5. Crunches -– The current thought among many fitness industry experts is that the crunch should never be done again. A person is either blessed with the propensity for a six-pack or not. And, after 50, your attention should be on the strength of your core, not washboard abs. Focus on lower back strength and other ways to strengthen your core. Check out suspension training and functional training techniques to strengthen your core.

Bob Merz

Bob Merz

6. Step-Ups should never place your knee at an angle of less than 90 degrees. Avoid stepping up on a plyo box or bench that’s too high for you.

7. Upright Rows -– The vast majority of people who do this exercise perform it incorrectly. Experts agree that the upright row works very few muscles and that other exercises offer greater benefits. Skip the upright row and add in standing rows coupled with military presses instead.

8. Cardio workouts -– Your cardio should be aggressive enough that you can’t read while working out. Reading’s not exactly a waste of time but, you can improve much faster if you work just a little harder. The current cardio trend is interval training: work at your target level for a few minutes and then pick up the pace for about 90 seconds, then come back down to target level and repeat.

9. Working out on an Empty Stomach -– Did I hear someone say that they burn more fat calories working out on an empty stomach? Sorry, that is wrong! What happens when you work out on an empty stomach is that you run out of energy faster and can even become faint. Your stomach is a lot like the gas tank in your car. You fill it up and the car runs until it’s empty. Your body is the same way. So, don’t ignore good nutrition and make sure you have something healthy to eat before your workout.

10. Ignoring Hydration -– Especially when doing your cardio, make sure that you consume at least 6 ounces of water after every 20 minutes of exercise. The experts tell us to “drink before you’re thirsty” … not after.

So, be a little more aware of what you are doing at the gym and how you are doing it to enjoy a safer, more effective workout.

Learn more from Bob Merz at 50plusPlusFit … click here.


  1. Disagree about dead lifts. I do them all the time and they are great for overall strength. Sure you can get hurt doing anything wrong so you have to learn proper form. Fortunately the dead lift is not that hard to learn. It is an excellent exercise that mimics life events like picking up a sack of groceries out of the trunk of your car or bending over to pick up a small child. If you’d like to be able to safely perform these common life tasks, better start dead lifting.

  2. These are not BOOMER mistakes. I have seen gym rats in their Twenties and Thirties with improper form so bad they were at significant risk for injury.

    All exercises require strict form and the article should say these are a few examples only.
    The headline does what most workout articles aimed at Boomers do: imply that we are so weak, old and feeble we better be very careful or we will hurt ourselves. People of all ages need to be careful. I am so tired of experts trying to get more exposure by taking the information they usually deliver and putting boomer in the headline. Very lame.

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