Interval Training For Seniors

Interval training for seniors involves bouts of intense exercise followed by short recovery intervals. Although this kind of workout is more vigorous than other training methods, most seniors can benefit from this kind of training if they follow a few guidelines and modifications.

Seniors and High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)

Baby Boomers are well aware of the benefits of working out, and tend to me more serious about it than the younger generation. Personal trainers must be aware of the physical condition and possible limitations of an older client. Care should be taken to ensure that the workout is appropriate and safe.

In general, seniors are fun to work with and are very determined when it comes to fitness. Older exercise-enthusiasts should feel comfortable doing the exercises and should always let the trainer know if the exercise is too difficult or if they feel any pain. Trainers should keep a careful watch over senior clients and be more flexible with the workout programming. Skip an exercise if it’s too difficult, reduce time or repetitions, lower the intensity, or use a lighter weight. Match the intensity with the fitness level.

Medical Checkup

Seniors often have medical issues like arthritis, high blood pressure, or diabetes that must be taken into account before starting with interval training. Older people, no matter how willing they are to try out more advanced drills, have to remember that their bodies do not heal or recover as quickly as when they were younger.

Warming Up

People past retirement age are more susceptible to pulled muscles and other possible injuries, so this part of an exercise regimen cannot be overlooked. Clients have to understand that the exercise warm up is an important part of preventing injury.

Allow 5-10 minutes of warming up to ensure that the body, especially the muscles and joints, are prepared for more intense movements. This also gets the heart ready for exercise. Take enough time to get the muscles ready, while not taking too much time away from the actual workout.

Sprint Interval Training For Seniors

“Sprints” do not have to be actual running sprints. Any difficult repetitive movement – fast waking, cardio rowing, battle ropes, sprint on the stationary bike – will suffice. Sprints are done for one to two minutes between strength exercises. Consider the work capacity of the person. Less-conditioned clients will need more recovery time after sprints, and will need a lower level of sprint intensity.

personal training for seniors

Exercise Selection

For HIIT, lifts that involve multiple groups of muscles are the focus. Older exercise enthusiasts can enjoy kettlebell swings, shoulder presses, push presses, burpees, Turkish get-ups, TRX rows, and other compound exercises involving multiple muscle groups.


Senior clients should be allowed to take rests whenever they feel too tired or strained by the workout. They may need more recovery time in between sets, and more recovery time in between workouts.

Cooling Down

Cooling down is just as important as warming up, especially for cardiac patients. About 10 minutes of walking or using any cardio equipment at a leisurely pace should be adequate.

interval training seniors

HIIT Workout For Seniors

Here’s an example of a interval training for seniors:

  1. Warm-up (5-10 minutes)
  2. TRX row
  3. Sprint (2 minutes)
  4. Squat to shoulder press with medicine ball
  5. Sprint (2 minutes)
  6. Kettlebell deadlift
  7. Sprint (2 minutes)
  8. Push-up on swiss ball
  9. Sprint (2 minutes)
  10. Plank
  11. Cool down (5-10 minutes)

An interval workout for seniors without exercise equipment could be hill climbing, where walking uphill would be the cardio and walking downhill would be the recovery.

When planning difficulty and workload, be sure to make the workout appropriate to the client. Someone’s age doesn’t tell you much – there are younger seniors and older seniors. There are beginner-seniors and seniors who are in- or out of shape. All this has to be taken into consideration.

personal training helpIf you’d like some professional help with an exercise program for seniors, contact Basics and Beyond to schedule a time to talk about what kind of help would work best for you. We work with a LOT of seniors, and it’s important that you get with someone who is experienced and qualified!