Last week I started a series of posts titled Fitness After 40 – and boy did we get a big response!
The post turned out to be one of our most popular articles here at Angry Trainer Fitness – and I’m really pleased to see that there are so many of you out there 40+ who are taking your health and fitness so seriously.
To be honest many of the suggestions I made are the same suggestions I make to trainees of all ages, but as we age some issues become more important in attaining fitness success than others. The older we get, the more on the ball and smarter we need to be when it comes to exercise and nutrition. Your body isn’t what it was half a lifetime ago, and you more than likely have different needs.
Hopefully some of my tips resonated with you and you realize that while your training may need to change, you can still be fantastically fit in your 40’s!
So with that in mind – here’s some more 40+ training tips!
1. Aim For Balance – Usually when we speak about “balance” in a fitness regimen, it’s in reference to using a variety of exercises and not concentrating on discipline excessively (running, weight lifting etc.) But this time around I’m referring to your actual ability to balance. It’s no secret that as we age many people lose their balancing abilities. In fact, some will argue it’s the first thing to go. How many older people fall easily and have terrible balance? It doesn’t have to be that way!
It’s crucial that you incorporate balance exercises in your routine to help keep your mind sharp and focused. When you were younger and possibly more active, you used your body in ways that required a certain level of ability. But as we get older, use our bodies less and sit around more, much of that ability is lost. But balancing on one foot, using a Swiss or Bosu ball, or even exercising with your eyes closed helps to keep your body’s “awareness” up. We know that balance work in the gym hones your neural drive, meaning your ability to focus and multi-task will be greater. Plus balance helps in developing strength. Got it!
2. Use Big Movements – Remember the days of training biceps and glutes for hours and how much fun it was? Well, it ain’t fun any more. I’m sure your schedule is tighter and more demanding now that you’re a bit older, after all you probably have more responsibilities. And since I spoke of training for health in the first post, this suggestion fits perfectly. Unless you’re a body builder you shouldn’t be training like one. If you’re like most people, you want to get in the gym and get out, while gaining the best benefits.
When you go to the gym or workout, I suggest using multi dimensional exercises like reverse lunges with biceps curls, squats with shoulder presses, pushups with alternating knee pulls etc. With this technique, you’ll be increasing your overall fitness and getting more done in less time. Of course a few sets of isolated arms or leg exercises are always great, but as a rule, make at least half of your exercises the ‘big’ kind.
3. Watch Your Lower Back – How many of you suffer from low back pain? I’m guessing the numbers are quite high. There’s two reasons for this – one, you’ve been sitting down more than standing up for the last 30 years, which shortens your abdominal muscles and deconditions your lower back. And secondly, many people over-train their stomach muscles, which make this condition worse.
I usually suggest for every abdominal exercise you do, you also include at least one low back exercise. But in your 40’s I’d go a bit further and recommend a specific low back workout once per week. I’d include dumbbell and one-legged deadlifts, kettle bell swings, low back extensions and corrective exercises like reverse sitting to keep your back healthy and fit.
I need to make this clear – I look at the 40’s as a turning point in life. Up until that time, it’s possible you’ve been riding the wave of youth and gotten by with little activity. But as time creeps up, the effect of being inactive start to show. You may experience aches and pains, I usually see bad posture and round backs starting to form, and of course for women, the seriousness of Osteoporosis starts to become an issue.
While when you were younger exercise was just about looking good, in your 40’s you may have some skeletal and muscle imbalance issues that need to be addressed. And as far as I’m concerned, the older you get the harder it is to fix. Sure, you can improve your fitness and health at any age, but why not start now?
But what do you think? Do you include balance in your training or have you noticed that you’ve lost some? Do you have back pain and have you included low back exercises to alleviate it? I’d love to hear your comments… and there’ll be more Tips next week!