Articles from the world of fitness, strength training, nutrition and lifestyle for people over 40.
If you’re over 40 and struggling to get back the body you once had, keep reading. You’ll discover what’s holding you back, how to overcome the problems, and feel 10 years younger
The 40 and over crowd has a few things in common. One of these is time. As we have gotten older and family and work responsibilities have increased. Time for ourselves is in short supply.
We’ve also experienced muscle loss and fat gain as we’ve aged. It sucks. I hear you.
In fact, every year over the age of 30 you lose 1 pound of muscle. By the time you’ve hit 40, you’ve lost at least 10 lbs of muscle and have likely replaced that with unsightly fat.
So what do you do about it?
First, get your priorities straight. Your goal at this point is not to lose fat but to layer more muscle on your body.
By layering more muscle, you’ll have more muscle cells. Fat burns in your muscle cells. So layering muscle is like building a fat-burning furnace inside of your muscles.
Not that I’m not talking about building an excessive amount of muscle or turning you into a bodybuilder. You just want to look good. It can be done. It has been done. And you can do it, too..
Building athletic muscle is like your fountain of youth. It will allow you to move better, play sports again, throw the ball with your kids, or even run that Tough Mudder or whatever else comes your way.
It all gets back to muscle. One of the big mistakes guys over 40 make when they decide they want to get into shape again is doing long cardio workouts. Worse yet, they do these cardio workouts before they strength train.
Let me explain.
Long 45 minute or one hour treadmill workouts suck for helping you lose fat. In fact, they slow your metabolism down and eventually the weight comes back. This 1980’s approach is not what you want to do when you’re over 40 and trying to turn back the clock.
Instead, focus on short, intense cardio to aid in fat loss. Recent studies have shown that high intensity interval cardio is more effective for helping you lose fat. They also help with your cardiovascular health.
Be sure to do your strength training first followed by your HIIT cardio if you want to keep or add muscle, keep your metabolism high and get maximum results from your program.
Did you ever go to the gym during the first week of January? Every piece of cardio equipment is taken. People flock to the gym at that time and go directly to the cardio machines in hopes of getting rid of the fat. Then they might do a few sets of strength training or none at all… then leave. YIKES!
When you do cardio first and follow it with strength training your body wants to fuel the cardio workout by using the stored glycogen (muscle energy) from your muscle cells.
When that is complete and you then do your strength training, your body has no glycogen to fuel your strength training and will pull from your own muscle for energy. The result is a slowed metabolism and poor results.
Now, take the exact same strength workout and cardio workout and do the strength training part first. Now your body wants to use the glycogen in your muscles to properly fuel your strength training workout. When you follow that with cardio, your body will now use it’s preferred energy source (fat) to fuel the cardio workout. The result is more fat loss without losing muscle.
So many people miss that part. By simply keeping the strength training then cardio sequence you will jump-start your progress from your workouts.
Here are 2 sample weekly workouts:
1A) Dumbbell Squats - 3 x 8
1B) Incline Pushups - 3 x max reps
2A) Dumbbell Row - 3 x 8
2B) Stability Ball Leg Curl - 3 x 15
3A) Split Squat with Front Foot Elevated - 3 x 8
3B) Inverted Rows - 3 x max reps
Conditioning: Stationary Bike - warm up 5 minutes, 30 seconds fast followed by 30 seconds slow 10 times, 5 minute cool down
1A) Dumbbell Split Squats - 3 x 10
1B) Wide Grip Pull-ups - 3 x max reps
2A) Dumbbell Chest Press - 3 x 8 reps
2B) Rotational High Row - 3 x 12
3A) Dumbbell 1-Arm Shoulder Press - 3 x 10 each side
3B) Dumbbell 1-Leg Deadlift - 3 x 10-12 each side
Conditioning: Rower - warm up 5 minutes, 30 seconds fast followed by 30 seconds slow 10 times, 5 minute cool down
* Exercises that have the same number before them (ie. 1A and 1B) are meant to be performed back-to-back with no rest in between. Rest 1 minute after both exercises before repeating for suggested number of sets.
At Preston Strength we specialize in helping adults over 40 lose weight, build muscle and feel 10 years younger. We're conveniently located in the Great Bridge area of Chesapeake, across from Big Ugly Brewery :). You'll get a completely customized program to help you reach your goals in a private, supportive environment. Click the Contact button at the top of this page and fill out the form. I'll be in touch within 24 hours.
Are you in a training rut?
Have you been working out regularly but not seeing any changes?
Do you get frustrated because you’re putting in the time but not experiencing the benefits?
I’ve got good news for you. There’s a solution to your lack of workout progress.
It all starts with coming to terms with your age and training your body accordingly.
When I was in my 20’s and early 30’s I could eat anything I wanted and lift a few weights and I was muscular and lean all the time.
As I approached 40 things changed.
All of a sudden, I wasn’t quite as strong as I had been. I was also gaining more body fat and didn’t look quite as muscular as I had back in the day. Yet I kept plugging away with the same training system that I had used when I was younger. Guess what? No results:(
It wasn’t until I came to terms with getting older and rethinking my fitness approach did things start to turn around. In fact, I’m in better shape now in my early 50’s than I was when I hit 40.
If you’re struggling with staying lean and muscular as you age, you’re not alone. I was there too. You just have to change a few things with your training to get on the right track again.
Here are a few tips to get that lean, muscular body as you age:
Keep Your Workouts Brief
As you get older you can still workout hard but you don’t want to get stuck doing long workouts. We require a little more recovery time as we age. It’s a natural thing. If your workouts are too long you will cut into your body’s ability to recuperate and recover.
Just as important as a good workout is proper recovery. Your body doesn’t change during the workout. It changes while you are resting. I like to set up workouts to last no longer than 35-40 minutes. Short workouts are ideal for getting in just the right amount of work, but not too much.
Stop Counting Reps
One of the biggest reasons many guys don’t get anything from their workouts is that they get locked into counting sets and reps. For example, let’s say your plan is to do 3 sets of 12 reps on an exercise. Do you reach that 12th rep and simply put the weight down? Or do you keep going until you can’t complete another rep in good form?
Listen, your muscles don’t count reps. All your muscles know is stimulus. It’s good to have a repetition “range” for each exercise you do as it will help you choose the appropriate weight. But beyond that you should aim for completing as many reps as you can with your selected weight, not a predetermined number of reps.
Choose Age- Friendly Exercises
As we age, we have to be careful not to get hurt. The last thing you want from your fitness program is for it to hurt you. I found as I hit my 40’s that I needed to replace some exercises. For instance, I rarely do barbell exercises any more. In fact, I never do squats, deadlifts and bench presses with barbells at all.
These fantastic exercises as been replaced with dumbbell, kettlebell and bodyweight exercise variations of each. This allows for working the muscle without beating up the joints.
Keep Up Your Intensity
One of the mistakes a lot of guys make as they get older is not working hard enough. Listen, you don’t need to go nuts with your workouts but you still need to push yourself. .
What does that mean? Strive to do one more repetition or use 5 more pounds on an exercise.
You can also reduce the time in between sets to increase your intensity. It’s all about the challenge. Challenge yourself to be just a bit better than the previous workout. This will help you reach your goals of weight loss and muscle gain faster too.
Hit It and Quit It
I’ve always told my clients to get addicted to the results, not the process. Of course you should be engaged with your workouts and look forward to them. But some guys think if something is working, then they need to increase it for faster results. Big mistake.
As we get older we need rest and recovery in between workouts. Give yourself 2 or 3 complete days of rest per week from working out.
That doesn’t mean you have to turn into a couch potato on the “off” days. Some stretching, walking the dog, yoga, a bike ride are all great activities to enjoy while you’re recovering from your workouts. Personally, I go with 3 non-consecutive strength training workouts each week plus 2 conditioning workouts. I like to get 2 days of rest that are usually dedicated to yard work, a little stretching and grilling:)
Train Like An Athlete
No, I don’t mean trying to keep up with some program designed for a professional athlete. That wouldn’t be a good fit.
I’m referring to a program that helps you build strength with safe, useful exercises that enable you to move better and feel more athletic. Exercises such as one-leg training, bodyweight training and core training will go a long way in making you feel, look and perform better. Conditioning should have variety these days. Try to do some H.I.I.T cardio in your training too.
Getting older is what it is. Embrace it and live in the present. But make sure you train your body with an age-appropriate system that will have you feeling better and able to do more things you used to do.
You don’t need to live in the gym either. Short, intense workouts will give you better results and give you more time to enjoy your life.
Getting older is not a pass to be out of shape. You just need to match your training to your age and needs. Once you do this your results will be amazing.
Of course, you probably don’t have time to scour the internet and try to piece together some program that may or may not work for you.
That’s where I come in:)
If you’re sick of struggling with middle age and all of the weight gain, muscle loss and aches and pains that go with it, I’m here to help you.
Let me cut years of frustration and help you get back to feeling and looking your best. The best part? It doesn’t matter what your age is or if you’re busy and don’t have much time in your schedule. We can design a complete training system to help you crush your goals.
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If you're like most of my clients over 40, many of the reasons you should strength train might leave you unconvinced. The rippling abs at the poolside and flirtatious glances across the gym are more of an irritating distraction than a persuasive reason to try a new style of training.
But "middle age" probably isn't something you're ready for either. If walking downstairs makes your knees sound like the cellar door in a horror movie. You're often resisting the lure of the afternoon nap ("I was just resting my eyes, honest!"). If you're now having to decide to either buy new pants or lose those few extra pounds you've been carrying around… Read on.