This is a book Review of Weights for 50+ by Dr. Karl Knopf, which I think is a great resource if you are interested in strength training for women over 50. Although the book is in black & white and it is in more of a newspaper column format, the information and variations of exercises makes it well worth a look. The author, Dr. Karl Knopf, has been involved in the fitness industry for older adults and the disabled for almost 30 years. His expertise really shows through in this book.
When I researched Dr. Knopf online, I was not surprised to learn that he is a retired professor. I know from being in education myself, that teachers understand how to present material so that it is not only informative, but easy to read and learn from. I especially like his clarifications of terms which are sometimes similar but mean different things in the fitness world. Last but not least, I like Dr. Knopf’s sense of humor.
This is my favorite strength training book so far for older women. There are plenty of pros to this book, but I want to be up front that the book is not written specifically for women and does not include anatomy diagrams that might be helpful to beginners. With that in mind, you might want to add a second resource for starting out.
There are so many nice things about this book that I’m having a hard time on where to start. First, he does a nice job of explaining some fitness vocabulary so that you won’t be confused. Examples of this are the meanings of; Weight Lifting, Weight Training, Strength Training, and Progressive Resistance Exercise on page 13. He has a very motivational pep talk about the benefits of strength training, and includes an impressive amount of statistics to back them up. For instance, he mentions a study which showed that for people aged 55 to 64 “that 40% of women had a difficult time lifting and carrying 10 pounds”. There are statistics about how fast we lose muscle mass and muscle strength after the age of 30.
In Dr. Knopf’s list of reasons why people want to do strength training is not only the ability to do the things we love as we age, but to be able to maintain independent living for a very long time. There are a variety of chronic conditions we are susceptible to as we age such as arthritis, and Dr. Knopf’s discusses how strength training can help with many of them.
I found it interesting that Dr. Knopf’s take on when to breathe during repetitions of an exercise differs from most of what I have read. He believes as long as you do 1 inhale and 1 exhale per repetition, it does not matter when those occur. I will have to do more research on this. Dr. Knopf also discusses that research and studies are continually challenging what we know about exercise and fitness. He encourages us to keep up with the latest information, and listen to our bodies.
The Exercises – What do I need?
You can go to the gym and use the exercises in this book, but you can also perform these exercises at home with little equipment to purchase. The image above is from the book. Resistance bands can be used to strength train any muscle that you can do with weights or a machine. Dr. Knopf discusses the use of resistance bands, the fact that the resistance bands come in different strengths, and that some even have handles. Another nice example of information is his discussion of proper use of ankle weights and how to prevent causing an injury when using them.
A good suggestion for home equipment to use with this book is some dumbbells, ankle weights, and resistance bands. Dr. Knopf does a nice job discussing how to decide which weight is right for you and how many repetitions you want to be doing.
The Exercises – Their Descriptions
I like the descriptions of the exercises and associated pictures. For most exercises, there are variations to make the exercise harder or easier. There seems to be at least 3 pictures to depict how to compete an exercise. Many books only have one. For older adults, balance can be an issue. I like that the exercises in this book do not assume the trainee has good balance. None of the exercises appear to be overly challenging for the more mature adults. Once again, he advises that you listen to your own body. Pay attention to any pain or discomfort.
Exercise Programs – Create Your Perfect Routine
Dr. Knopf gives great advice and guidance for creating your own exercise program. His tips are worth purchasing this book alone, never mind the rest of the content. In addition, he gives some example programs that are helpful for various recreational pursuits.
The Take Away – Get the Book if You are Over 50
This book has great information, and is organized in a format that make the concepts easy to understand. It is evident in the way this book is written that Dr. Knopf is a retired professor. It is also evident that he has worked in the mature and disabled fitness industry for quite some time, and knows what he is talking about. I like that he is a lifetime learner which is shown in his up to date information and his encouragement for us to keep up with the latest studies and statistics.
If you are a woman brand new to strength training, you may want also get at an anatomy resource and perhaps a book aimed at Women such as another book I reviewed Strength Training Over 40. Strength Training over 40 also contains links to some resistance bands, weights, and a stability ball I recommend. You can find some anatomy resources in this previous post I had on Stretching for Strength Training.
I look forward to seeing your comments below in the Comments sectioins.
Founder of Strength Training Books for Women