Ask The Trainer: Building Leg Strength As You Age

It’s never too late to start. That’s Doug Quinlivan’s motto when it comes to fitness. No matter your age, he says there are things you can do to improve your quality of life.

In part one of this two part series, Doug; a trainer at Ascent Fitness in Denver; is showing leg strength moves.

“The number one reason why people are in assisted living facilities is because they can’t do simple weight transfer. So they can’t get up out of bed. They can’t get up out of their chair. They can’t get off the toilet,” Doug said.

A troubling fact. Even though Doug says it’s harder to get into shape the older that you get, it’s not impossible.

“There’s never a point in your life, ever, where you can’t build muscle. Can’t build strength.”

That’s especially important for women. “Once you’re about 35, you start to lose a percent of muscle mass each year if you’re not doing something to actively or maintain it or increase it,” said Doug.

Here’s how to start. Go easy with a basic half-squat. Doug said, “I want you to feel those muscles. As you go down you will feel those quads engage.” If you need to grab a hold of something to steady your balance, that’s ok. Just workup to letting go.

If a half-squat is too easy you can try going all the way down.  “Come down and lightly touch the bench and come back up.” The goal is to avoid rocking and having to use momentum to get up. Use your muscles instead.

For those with stronger legs, try a squat on one leg. “Anybody can do this exercise and get good benefit out of it.”

Next, try a stationary lunge. First, half-way down. When you’re feeling stronger, get your knee almost to the ground. Really put the focus on the front leg that will help those stabilizer muscles work too.

Finally, something that can help with the simple tasks like picking something up off the floor.

“It stretches the hamstring, strengthens the hamstring and the glutes and the lower back,” said Doug.

When you’re ready, add a twist. Then you can even add weights. Most importantly, it’s never too late to start.

Doug said, “There’s an old Chinese proverb that says what’s the best time to plant a tree? 10 years ago. What’s the second best time, right now.”

If you have a question for Doug, email AskTheTrainer@KWGN.com