How Your Workout Must Change When You're Over 40 from How Your Workout Must Change When You're Over 40

How Your Workout Must Change When You're Over 40

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How Your Workout Must Change When You're Over 40

People can’t ignore their age. Making this mistake can lead to weight gain, heart problems and chronic illnesses brought by unhealthy lifestyles. The older you get, the more wear and tear you have, Shane McLean, certified personal trainer at Balance Guy Training, says. People lose muscle mass and function every year after their late 30s. Those who are physically inactive can lose as much as 3 to 5 percent per decade. This means you have to rebuild muscle to increase the metabolism, which helps regulate weight and blood sugar levels, but this is much easier said than done.

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Longer warmups

“I tend to extend warm-ups and include more body work exercises for mobility such as hip extensions and wall pushups,” McLean says. A lot of the warm-up moves he recommends are to be done on the ground to get better posture before the workout routine. “The floor provides a lot of feedback about how you arch your back.”

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More stretching

“As we get older, ligaments and tendons grow more resistant to stretching,” McLean says. “Hold each stretch for at least 30-60 seconds to get the same benefit,” he adds. Don’t do static stretching before a workout. They should be done when you’re cooling down after a workout to increase flexibility, McLean says. Examples of dynamic stretches, ideal for before exercising, are walking lunges, jumping jacks, butt kicks, leg swings, and high knees.

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Focus more on flexibility

The ability to easily move around is crucial for preventing injuries and back pain, increasing blood supply and nutrients to the muscles, decreasing soreness, and improving posture. Flexibility is directly linked to full major range of motion exercises such as squats and deadlifts, which are among the most popular workouts to build muscle. Other good moves are seated twists, foam rolling, Pilates, and the butterfly stretch.

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Longer recovery

This is often up to the individual but it may take longer for the body to recover after exercises such as lifting heavy weights, deadlifts, squats or other compound exercises, McLean says. It’s not unusual to have to rest 2-3 minutes between sets.

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More full body workouts

Full body workouts are great for everybody, not just people older than 40,” McLean says. When all muscles are targeted at the same time, they get a strength and endurance workout, which means they are able to look more defined faster. A mix of full body combination moves like squats, medicine ball lifts and cardio will keep all body systems in good working order. “Do a body workout every time you train,” McLean adds.

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Lower weight

“Lower weights are less demanding on the body and it’s easier to recover after lifting less”, McLean says. Heavier weights are the opposite which is why as you get older you can’t keep up with lifting heavy all the time, he adds. “Do 3-4 weeks of lifting heavier weight than take a break and do for the next 3-4 weeks lift lower weights.” Lifting weights also helps prevent diabetes.

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Reconsider weight machines

Trainers prefer to focus on functional exercises as opposed to machines. Do exercises that will teach you how to move better as opposed to target one muscle group at a time. Movements that require you to sit are not helpful because you’ve been sitting all day. You’re only applying the same pressure on your body and the idea is to move around as much as you can. Still, machines have a role, McLean says. “They are a good start if you have not worked out in a long time and are recovering from an injury.”

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More balance exercises

Balance exercises become more and more important as you age. They make your legs fitter and that thwarts falls. (More than 300,000 people are hospitalized every year for broken hips and falling is the main cause.) McLean recommends lunges and single-leg exercises. “Lifting with one arm or leg at a time really helps with balance,” he adds. “You can hold on to a wall with your fingertips for more confidence.”

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More endurance exercises

You should be doing a mix of low-intensity cardio workouts such as walking on a treadmill for 30 minutes and intervals like biking or running as fast as you can for a few minutes, McLean says. HIIT still has its place but should not be your focus, he adds. Also, running won’t necessarily lead to fat loss. You need to be able to burn more calories when you’re resting in order to drop the few extra pounds. This can only happen if you build muscles by doing strength training.

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Do exercises for good posture

Standing up straight and not slumping your shoulders will keep you fitter in the long run. Otherwise, even though you don’t feel it right away, poor posture is taking a huge toll on your spine, shoulders, hips, and even knees. You are guaranteed to feel the effects of that later in life. They come in the form of chronic back pain, fatigue, stiffness, and headaches. Good exercises to improve posture, McLean says, include the Dead Bug, horizontal rows, TRX rows, and core stability exercises with neutral spine.

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More frequent physical activity

“Just do a bit each day,” McLean says. People at that age have busy lives – work, kids, and social engagements. “You can’t always go to the gym but you should go for a walk or throw a football around,” he adds. “An hour at the gym won’t overcome inactivity for days in a row, especially as you get older when everything takes longer.”

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Be more consistent

Everything good becomes harder when you get older, McLean says. It takes longer to build muscle and lose fat, but it’s easier to gain weight, especially around the stomach. “You have to stick with exercising a little longer to achieve a goal,” McLean says. “Ninety percent is showing up, the rest is just details,” he adds. Even a few minutes on a treadmill is better than nothing at all.

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Change goals

One of the most difficult phases of getting healthy is setting goals. You setting yourself up to fail without them, but you have to have a clear idea of how to achieve them, otherwise they are unrealistic and are likely to end up disappointed and physically hurt. “You won’t lose 5 pounds in one week,” McLean says. The older you get, the more difficult it is to lose weight or build muscle, your metabolism slows down, and the thigh gap is next to impossible.

How Your Workout Must Change When You're Over 40