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Discovering your inner Charles Atlas: Bodybuilding tips for seniors

Dec 27, 2011, 6 a.m.

You can thank Charles Atlas for paving the way and bringing bodybuilding to the masses, or you can point your praise at the legion of Hollywood action heroes who are staying fit into their 60s and 70s. Whatever you do, don't just sit there wishing you could emulate them and don't put off trying until you've saved up enough money to buy the ultimate home gym. You can achieve the same results with a cheap set of exercise weights from your local sporting goods store.

Getting started now on a strength training and weight lifting regimen can dramatically slow down the aging process. Don't expect miracles -- there's no such thing as a fountain of youth. But if you follow the tips below, you can strengthen bones, increase your body's metabolism, and lead a much more active life well into your sunset years.

Get a doctor's note. Before you spend a single dime on exercise weights and before you've fitted yourself for an exercise outfit, consult with your doctor to ensure you're in good enough health to perform certain exercises.

Hire a personal trainer. At least for a few workouts so that you can get proper instruction on the most effective weight lifting exercises and how to properly perform them.

Buy a weight belt to protect your back from injury. What good is a muscle-bound physique if you're bedridden from a thrown out back? A weight belt enforces proper posture so you don't hurt yourself.

Mix it up. Don't just focus on dumbell exercises with the intent of giving yourself Popeye forearms that you can show off to your old pals. Give you entire body a weight lifting workout by focusing on different areas of your body at different times.

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