Hopefully you’ve arrived here from this post’s parent The Chronic Condition You Already Have (But Don’t Know About). If not, and you’re just looking for a good strength training circuit, that’s okay. But if you’d like to learn more about sarcopenia and what you can do to avoid it, click here to read that post.
Below is the basic outline of a solid strength training circuit anyone can follow, from beginner to advance weight lifter. If you’re a beginner, just do the circuit once through, using a weight you can lift 12 to 15 times for each exercise. Once you’ve built up some strength, increase the weight so that you can only do 8 to 12 repetitions with good form, and do the circuit two or three times through. If you’re advanced, then you’ll want to work this circuit into your split routine for one to two weeks at the end of every meso-cycle. If you don’t know what I’m talking about and you consider yourself advanced, then I suggest you hire a trainer for a session or two in order to get a periodized training program set up.
Okay, onto the main event: Choose one exercise for each muscle group. If you’re doing multiple circuits, you can do a different exercise for each muscle group each time through.
Upper Legs/Glutes – Squats, Lunges, Step-ups, Leg Press
Upper Back – Lat Pull-downs, Seated Row, Bent-over Row, Upright Row, Pull-ups (wide overhand grip)
Biceps – Dumbbell Bicep Curls, Barbell or EZ Curls, Hammer Dumbbell Curls, Chin-ups
(close underhand grip)
Abdominals – Bent Knee Crunches, Planks, Dumbbell Oblique Side Bends, Medicine Ball Twists, Bicycle Crunches
Lower Back – Roman Chair, Superman, Bird Dog, Swimmers (AKA Contralateral Limb Raises)
Chest – Bench Press, Dumbbell Chest Press, Dumbbell Fly, Pec Deck, Cable Cross, Pushups
Triceps – Body Dips, Dumbbell Kickbacks, Cable Press-Downs, Overhead Dumbbell Extensions, Skull Crushers
Calves – Heel Raises (standing or seated using a weight on top of the knees)
Shoulders – Barbell Military Press, Dumbbell Overhead Press, Dumbbell Lateral Raise, Rear Deltoid Fly, Dumbbell Shrugs
Some version of this is what I’ve been doing for years with very good results. Of course, you’ll have to change up the variables (which exercises, how heavy, how many sets/reps, exercise order, etc.) in order to keep from hitting a plateau, but you can use this basic formula to very effectively keep muscle mass even while training for endurance events.