Exercises regimen for older and out of shape

by 192 · February 12, 2014 5:24 PM


I want to help my mom lose weight and get in shape. She is almost 60 and very overweight. So I am going forward with a paleo diet, intermittent fasting and daily walking.

I would also like to include intense exercise 2-3 times a week, building up to intensity and stress as we go. However, with her current physique many things I would do (push-ups, pull-ups, squats, planks, etc) are out of the question.

Can anyone suggest good whole body bodyweight exercises that a very out of shape person can do? I have a few already but would like to have a a lot of options.


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11 Replies

22684 · August 06, 2010 2:21 PM

I've helped several large friends lose weight, and was once large myself....

Lose most of the weight First.

Just eating right will melt off the pounds fast, then once not as overweight, walking will rip off more... Then you should start looking at intensity. Let her body heal before you start putting it thru acute hormesis(one of my new fav words) :)

6491 · August 05, 2010 4:52 PM

Wall push-ups. Step-ups on a stair or block. Squats using a chair (so basically going from sitting to standing).

3962 · September 04, 2010 at 12:43 AM

If she could read Dr. Harris' blog, PaNu, it would give her assurance that eating Paleo will help her.


Please, please follow Stephen-Aegis' advice about her losing weight BEFORE she starts exercising! It is dangerous for older people, especially those who are very overweight, to exercise before they lose weight. Following Dr. Harris' PaNu recommendations will help tremendously.

There are several older women who post at the forum at PaNu, if she is interested in reading some testimonies from those of us who eat Lacto-Paleo. There are also several women over-55 who post at the Dirty Carnivores forum.

I hope this helps. All the best to you.

328 · August 11, 2010 6:19 AM

I lost 120 in a year at 51 yrs - ate paleo & mostly took long walks (mixed in some weights too). Keep it simple & achievable.

65 · August 10, 2010 1:34 PM

Trying something similar myself with my mom. Good luck! I just gave her "homework" watching videos of Taubes and Lustig and going through Sisson's Primal Blueprint 101. As for exersise she is walking and untill she takes off some real weight that should be fine.

40 · August 11, 2010 2:21 PM

First, have her indulge in strict paleo for a month or so before starting to workout. This will really help with excess weight and she will have more energy which will translate into her WANTING to workout. Never try to force someone to do it, the desire they have will be much more powerful than artificial outside encouragement.

After a month or so on the paleo lifestyle... start a routine.

Do NOT run her hard on some Super High Intensity Training (abbreviation is S.H.I.T. for a reason). Eventually on this type of training a few times a week you will see immune system crashes. Use the K.I.S.S principle when getting people started on a training regimen.

Bodybuilding builds muscle through hypertrophy aka water ballooning and doesn’t really produce much strength for the size. Strength training creates dense muscle through hyperplasia, which means the muscle fiber splits into two bundles and overlaps itself like plywood. Think Olympic lifter (strength training) vs. bodybuilder, even the smallest Olympic lifter could lift more than the biggest bodybuilder. Bodybuilding is good for nothing but posing, it is not functional muscle.

Strength training increases bone mass at 12-15% per year. It is also the only thing to increase mitochondria in our cells and body. Mitochondria are the furnace of the cells; they power our bodies and produce ATP which produces energy. The fewer mitochondria we have the worse we get as we see in MS or chronic fatigue.

The key to strength training is heavy weights, low reps, limited sets and compound joint exercises. Using the most efficient upper and lower body exercise you can work out 70% of the body. The other 30% consists of your abdominal girdle (abs and lower back). You need to do 5-7 reps in 3-4 sets with heavy enough weight that the last two reps of each set are difficult. Between each set you should rest for 2-3 minutes. Make sure to increase the weight on your exercises every three weeks and go back down to lower reps.

The two exercises are chin ups (palms facing in) and squats. Then do some ab and lower back work and you've just worked out your entire body. If she wants she can do more exercises than this, but always do compound joint exercises (squat, row, shoulder press, leg press, chin up, etc.) never do isolation unless you are rehabbing a certain area.

The simpler a workout is, the better chance people will stay on it. Doing five different workouts with isolation exercises during the week is not only useless in terms of functional muscle, it is very hard to keep track of.

For your cardio, keep it under 24 minutes per session and limit to about two times a week. Anything over 24 minutes of cardio breeds inflammation and actually doesn't have any additional heart benefits in terms of strength/conditioning. Do interval training instead of just a single pace cardio workout. Look up the P.A.C.E. workout for all your cardio needs!

And most important of all, eat paleo! Maintaining an ideal weight while eating paleo is an after thought. If you just ate paleo and did no exercise at all, you'd still maintain your ideal weight.

602 · August 06, 2010 1:32 PM

Wall sits work well here too.

77338 · August 06, 2010 2:08 AM

exercise bike. 5 min warm up. 30 sec semi-sprint. then slow til she catches her breath. don't do it again for a week so you can see its effect on her. ease up or ramp up slowly based on how she recovers in that week. work up to 3 30 sec sprints with recovery in between. but first is she ok for exercise? any problems with blood pressure? blood sugar?

1930 · August 05, 2010 at 11:13 PM

Walking up and down the stairs.

Picking things up with proper form.

Tai Chi.

551 · August 05, 2010 6:47 PM

It's all about scaling down the basics moves (push ups,pullups, etc.) so she can do them

here are a few ideas. Pick some exercises and make her do them. Make sure she listen to her body and that she Doesn't go to failure. Take it slow. Even if it's just 5-10 minutes at first, no need to rush it.

I also included progression moves (not really for your mother (stick to the first moves) but for anyone who wants to train bodyweight, I figured it could serve others as well) :

Wall pushups -> pushups -> close pushups -> 1 arm pushups

Horizontal rows (scale it so most of her weight is supported by using a bench) -> Pullups with feet on a bench -> pullups -> 1 arm pullups

Bench dips -> dips

Squat using a chair -> squats -> jump squats -> ''rolling'' pistols -> pistols

Knee raises -> Leg raises -> hanging leg raises (until parallel with the ground)-> Knees to elbows -> hanging leg raises (toes to the bar)

Planks on knees -> planks -> L-sit

It's a good idea to make her walk a lot. A few stretches here and there, and most importantly, make sure to support her (motivate her, etc.).

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