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Most Important Exercise For Seniors to Master

This article is a transcribed edited summary of a video Bob and Brad recorded in May of 2021. For the original video go to

Bob: So today we're going to show you the most important exercise for seniors to master. Do we mean seniors in school? Sophomores? Juniors?

Brad: Bob, Bob, we're talking about people like us.

Bob: That's right.

Brad: In our wiser years.

Bob: Yeah we're uh, slipping down the slope. So, the squat not only strengthens the main muscles of the leg but it's also extremely important in everyday life. You need it to get out of chairs, to get out of bed, to pick up all objects on the floor, it's just essential.

Brad: There was a study that was done on, I had read that if there's one exercise that seniors should do to help their balance with walking and get out of chairs, it is the squat.

Bob: This is it. This is it.

Brad: This is necessary and needed.

Bob: So we're going to start off with beginners, you know and when we say beginners, we mean beginners.

Brad: If you've been sedentary all your life and you have really done nothing, you don't like to exercise but you realize it's important.

Bob: Maybe you're even having trouble getting out of chairs.

Brad: That's a great way to do this.

Bob: So that's why we're going to start with bridging. Bridging, you can do this in bed, you can wake up and just roll onto your back, and you're going to start putting your feet flat on the bed and you're going to lift your butt up like this. You start and squeeze your butt cheeks together while you're doing this. Now, this is going to start working on the quads a little bit, but also the Gluteus Maximus, and it'll start strengthening those muscles you need for standing up or bending over.

Brad: That's right

Bob: Now, as you do these, you can do like three sets of 10, again for beginners, if you can do that, do less.

Brad: Do what you can to start with.

Bob: But eventually, if you want to, you can add some weight to this.

Brad: The other thing is if you're starting this, you might find your feet slipping on the bed. That might be something you have to figure out. Bob's got his shoes on, but you don't have to wear your shoes to bed.

Bob: You can do it on the floor if you're able to get down to the floor but I assume you can't. So here I'm adding a little bit of weight, and I'm making it a little bit harder on myself here.

Brad: Yeah, you don't have to use a kettlebell.

Bob: No, you can use any sort of weight. I don't know what would you have, or use around the house, Brad?

Brad: Well, Bob, I was just thinking you could use a big, big book.

Bob: Oh, uh, maybe. Some people, for some women, their purses probably weigh about 25 pounds.

Brad: Now we're going to get in trouble, Bob.

Bob: No, it's true! Okay. Next, Brad's going to show how to do a wall slide, versus using a ball. The ball is better, but if you don't want to spend the money on a ball, just do wall slides. You find a slippery surface.

Brad: Yeah. A lot of times if you have a good solid door that has a finish on it, they are slippery, or slippery walls. If you have a rough wall, this won't work. Or, you know, with that texture on it, I have some like that at in my house. So, find a smooth wall, door, whatever, get your feet out so they're wide, so they're not touching but they should be shoulder-width wide at least. Make sure you have shoes on that are sticky to the floor. If it's carpet, you could probably maybe use your socks but you should have some shoes on, get back and you just simply slide down and up, baby squats I call them to start out with, and you can go down a little farther as you feel comfortable going back up. You don't want to get this down so far that you can't get back up, it's obviously a bad situation you're going to end up in a bad, dangerous situation.

Brad: Now the ball Bob was talking about, If you have an exercise ball, you know if you're a beginner, you probably do not have one of these, but I'll just show you what he's talking about.

Bob: There are other things you can do with the ball besides squats. Brad does a lot of different exercises with the balls. You can really do a controlled squat without not bending the knees too far over the front of the foot.

Brad: So you can have a chair right in front of you, use that for balance and stability.

Bob: You can actually, even if you have some knee pain, quite often you can do shallow squats and you can get away with it, it doesn't make the pain worse. So then, okay, you've done that for a while, you've gotten stronger, now you're going to progress to real squats. Now you can actually start on the corner of a bed, Brad. You can go like this and, especially if the bed's a little bit higher, and you can work on just standing up and sitting down, or, you want to show on a chair, Brad?

Brad: So, if you've got a chair, you should have armrests so you can use your arms to help, and if you're having a hard time getting out of the chair you might want to put a pillow down or some kind of cushion, and it's amazing what one inch of elevation can do.

Bob: Makes a huge difference.

Brad: Yeah it does, it really, really helps a lot. So you might start out pushing up with two hands, and just take your time to go up, again shoot for 10 repetitions. You might start with five and you'll have enough and you may be short of breath. Then make sure you rest, you don't want to do this when you're out of breath, or feeling unsteady. Make sure you are safe. Once you can do 10 with the cushion, then you can get rid of the cushion, and then you're going to find, that you may only be able to do six or seven and then work on those for a few days, again using your arms to help, and you might even get to the point where you can put your hands on your knees and do the 10, that's a little bit next step up, and then the most aggressive is going like this. When you're doing 10 like this you're feeling pretty good about it, you've really accomplished some strengthening. That may take a few weeks from the start of this.

Bob: Exactly, and you know the other thing is you can do these throughout the today. I mean you could do, I mean, if you do want to do 10 at a time, do three, every time you get out of the chair. And as you're creating muscle memory and you're teaching them the muscles, the nerves to work together

Brad: You could avoid some muscle soreness, too. If you do a max amount, you know, you can be sore the next day, and then you may not want to continue.

Bob: I'm going to show why you want to normally have your legs wider apart when you do the squat. It's going to be easier for you to get down deeper. I'm going to show this on the mat. If your legs are close together like this, and as I started to bend down, my back is going to round out real fast, which puts more pressure on it.

Bob: But if you keep your legs apart and depending on how your sockets are developed or how you're hip sockets are made on you, most people can go down a lot further and keep their back straight. So, and that's what we had in mind. and that's why we want you to do that.

Bob: Brad, do you mind grabbing the Booyah Stik and show how you can do squats with the Booyah Stik? Now, this is for somebody who has progressed along.

Brad: Yeah, if you can already get out of the chair very easily, you're confident and you feel balanced you can try this. You don't have to have a Booyah Stik but we can show it very easily with this because of the color. You need a stick/dowel, whatever, four or five feet long.

Bob: Yardstick or a broomstick.

Brad: Yep. You're going to touch it on your back, you're going to touch your head right there.

Bob: Yeah. We want three points of contact. The head, between the shoulder blades, and down on the pelvis.

Brad: So this, obviously I'm not touching so I'm going to straighten up until it touches. Now I feel those and I going to maintain that contact as I squat down. I don’t have to go too far, because if I go down and I start losing those three points of contact you've gone too far. So it forces you to have good body mechanics while you squat. Then you don't have to have the stick there all the time. Get that muscle memory so you really feel what it's supposed to feel like to have good body mechanics.

Bob: I think sometimes the visualization that you have a stick there helps, it seemed to help my wife like, "oh! That's what I need to do. I need to keep my back straight." So now, you may need to increase the range of motion of your hips, knees, and ankles. One, I am just going to show you a little mobilization that you can do. It's not too complicated, So I thought it would be worthwhile showing here. So I'm going to mobilize the right hip here. So you have to be able to get on the floor to do this, and right now I have the hip lined up right with the knee straight up and down, but what I'm going to do is with the knee of the right angle, I'm actually going to bend over to the side like this and rotate around a little bit, and that's working on the hip socket itself.

Bob: Now you wouldn't do this if you've had a hip replacement. I wouldn't even do it if you like had rheumatoid arthritis or anything like that, but if you have a decent hip. You can do it with osteoarthritis. But you're going to actually noodle around here as Kelly Starrett, likes to say. It's like I'm trying to push my hip out, out of the socket.

Brad: But it shouldn't hurt. If it does hurt, you should not do it. It should just be a stretch.

Bob: I do that, and I go back a little bit like this Brad, and I even push my feet out like this, to work on internal and external rotation

Brad: So they could use a pillow.

Bob: Yup. I use a Pete's choice pad that works really well.

Brad: So obviously you need to feel very comfortable getting down to your knees and back up.

Bob: Yeah. Your knees have to be good enough to tolerate that. Final thing. You are going to want to make sure you have ankle range of motion.

Bob: You wouldn't want to use a pad like this cause it's squishy but if you start doing squats it's a lot easier to do if you're on a board because you can go down a lot deeper than if you take it out of there, I can't go as deep, my ankle's start to come up like this, and they're not as stable. So, you want to make sure your ankles are stretched out really well. Brad's going to show you that against the wall.

Brad: So the foot in the back is what I'm stretching. So I want to push my heels towards the floor,, contact with the floor and then lean into the wall, do that with my knees straight, okay, and then with the knee bent.

Bob: You get two different muscles there. This is a great one for every senior to do anyway.

Brad: It is, even if you're not a senior.

Bob: Right. Especially if you do a lot of walking and if you wore high heels at one point in your life like Brad did.

Brad: Well, I quit a couple of years ago.

Bob: Your calf muscles may have shortened up a little bit.

Brad: Right, yep.

Bob: So you want to make sure that stretched out, so.

Brad: I think they call them pumps, don't they?

Bob: I don't know...

Brad: Whatever.

Bob: Remember Brad, I can fix just about anything

Brad: Except for...

Bob: A broken heart.

Brad: Yeah. We'll continue to see what happens there.

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