We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
Middle-aged and older people suffer from the heartbreak of Apoptosis. In this case, age-related demise of muscle cells. Only strength-building can help us stay ahead of the curve of physical decay as long as possible.
Rippetoe makes the essential point, but most people would add pull-ups/chin-ups, dumbbell rows, and maybe dips to complete the list. That's enough to keep anybody busy for 2-3 hrs/week, since none of these heavy things should pushed to the limit more than once/week by the ordinary person over 40.
What about "curls for the girls"? Non-essential. Optional, for vanity (ie to impress the girls).
What's on your list of essentials for strength-building and/or strength-maintenance?
Barbell holds for grip strength - load the barbell up (I'm currently at 170 lbs) and hold for 20 - 30 seconds. Three sets. Increase weight once you can do all 3 sets for 30 seconds. I do it in the rack so that when I fail it doesn't drop far.
big box gyms don't teach those basic exercises for two reasons:
1. So they can charge you more to use their endless array of machines. The average Joe can probably build an adequate home gym with free weights purchased via craigslist at a reasonable price - and it will fit in his once car garage. It's beyond the reach of all but a few to buy all those silly machines.
2. It costs them more to keep all the free weights picked up and in their "proper" locations. The machines stay in one place and there are (usually) no plates to deal with. Hence lower costs for the gym owner.
Over the years my workouts have oddly enough been reduced to pretty much the Rippetoe routine. Even before I ever read his book. Bench. Squats. Overhead press. Rows and lunges, but no deadlifts. I will fix that. I do "curls for girls" even though my genetic makeup is such that I don't get peaks. I do like dips.I just want to be strong. Not big. I am old.
You can get a long way on pushups (chest to floor), pullups, dips, "air squats" and kettle bell swings.
I haven't been to a gym in months (because of a move and a short term liquidity issue), but I've been doing pushups and kettle bells and some outside stuff (walking the dog, riding the bike, walking in the mountains) and I'm getting a bit more muscular. Oh, and I'm almost 50).
William O. B'Livion