Sadly most weight loss after 40 talk is centered quick fixes and fad diets.
Grrrr. Nobody is talking about consistent exercise, solid nutrition, and a balanced life. I get it, that stuff isn’t exciting or headline worthy. So we don’t see it.
Long term results come from proper training and eating well. Training your body correctly will have a direct effect on how you look, but also on your major health markers like cholesterol, blood pressure, and blood sugar.
I don’t want to mislead you, fat-loss training and nutrition for the over-40 crowd is not drastically different from those under 40. We’re all still humans. But, there are a few new factors that come into play as we age.
Disclaimer: I’m not over 40. But almost all of my clients are.
Life changes after 40. Family, work stress, and social obligations vie for your limited attention and time. Since none the aforementioned “life things” are going away, you need to learn how to deal. Use the following planning strategies to make your fitness fit around your life.
Find someone to write your workout program. Get a good coach. If you can’t find someone in person, find a program online that lines up with your goals and follow it. If walk into the gym or go out on a run without an aim and a mission, you’ll wind up not making progress.
Without a strict schedule, you’ll end up going days without getting a solid workout in. Here’s a sensible sample schedule:
- Monday: 50 minutes of strength training. 10 minutes of power training (jumping, skipping, throwing, etc.)
- Tuesday: 60 minutes of cycling outdoors.
- Wednesday: 50 minutes of strength training. 15 minutes of HIIT Training
- Thursday: 10 minutes of power training (jumping, skipping, throwing, etc.)
- Friday: 50 minutes strength training. 15 minutes HIIT
- Saturday: Hike or Run outside 60 minutes
- Sunday: Off or Yoga
If you have an audacious weight loss goal, you need to track everything you put in your mouth. If you want make progress in your running or cycling, you need to track every workout to see if you’re getting faster.
Tracking your workouts is a good idea as well.
You’re busy. That’s why your gym time can’t be consumed with Facebook and emails. We have a “no cell phones during sessions” policy at Village Fitness. I want our clients to be fully focused on each exercise. If your time to exercise is limited–like most folks over 40–you have to make the most of it. Keep rest between sets to a minimum, focus on challenging strength training and interval training as opposed to slogging away on the elliptical for hours.
At some point (or many points) fitness and eating well will be inconvenient and challenging. Most exercisers get discouraged and call it quits when things get tough. Our bodies are not perfect machines. Even if My Fitness Pal says you’ll be 10 pounds lighter by next month, it may not happen. In fact, it probably won’t. Dang you, My Fitness Pal!
Stay the course and keep with it no matter what.
There will be days where you feel amazing and days where you feel like you have ZERO energy. Listen to your body. This doesn’t mean you don’t get to the gym if you didn’t get a great night of sleep or don’t feel 100%. Tailor the intensity of your workouts to how you feel. Don’t do heavy deadlifts when you feel run down. Avoid hard intervals when you’re fighting off a cold or running on little sleep. Take advantage of days where you feel great by lifting heavy and working hard.
There is a difference between pain and “the burn”. The whole goal of training is to crush muscles and keep joints, tendons, and other connective tissue nice and healthy. Being out of breath and burning muscles are a good things during training. Pin-point pain is much more serious. Back it off when you feel like you should, but don’t skip out on getting in your workouts because you’re tired. Capiche?
Keep it fun
The best way to keep fitness fun is to enjoy the process. It’s not simply reaching your goal of looking great in a tight-fitting outfit next summer, it’s the daily joy of exercise and movement that will help push you through the find.
You need to find the intrinsic enjoyment in training.
“But I don’t like training,” you say.
“Ahh, but what you’re doing isn’t training,” I say. Walking into the gym and aimlessly doing a few sets of curls and triceps extension then doing the elliptical while you watch Law and Order isn’t likely to be enjoyable.
Lifting heavy weights, intentionally planning running or cycling workouts and getting better every day is training. You can find enjoyment in the process of seeing yourself get stronger, more fit, or changed mentally
Get off the treadmill
Aside from the increased craziness of life, your body responds differently after 40.
Call it hormones, an increased eagerness for the body to store fat, or whatever you want. It doesn’t matter. The body does indeed burn a few less calories than it used to.
But, the treadmill is not the answer.
You don’t have to resign yourself to long, boring hours slogging away on the treadmill. Fat-loss training is about priming the body to become a fat-burning furnace, rather than trying to burn as many calories as possible. What you need is a plan that will get your metabolism running higher than normal so it can be as efficient as possible.
Traditional cardio is beneficial. It does great things for our heart and well-being. But when it comes to losing unwanted body fat, intervals and strength training are paramount. You no longer need to be chained to the treadmill. If you love to run or cycle, don’t stop. I run and ride my bike every week simply because I enjoy getting outside and moving.
Nutrition After 40
How you eat has a major impact on how much fat you carry after 40. Nutrition is important at any age, but it becomes even more important after 40. Even if you exercise hard every day and lift weights, you can’t out-exercise a bad diet.
At any age, a carb is still a carb, but you may need to make some changes to compensate for a slower metabolic rate.
Thankfully, you’re not the average sedentary person. You lift weights and eat well so you’re bound to be on the good end of the body-fat curve. Nothing will affect your overall health and well-being more than eating well and exercising.
Monitor your carbs. Instead of metabolizing half a pizza and a few beers like your body did in college, you’ll be more apt to store the extra calories as fat. Stick with quality carbs like rice, sweet potatoes, or quinoa in the right amounts (1 palmful for women, 2 for men).
Protein is king. You still need a good amount of protein to get and stay lean. Try to get most of your protein from lean meats such as chicken, turkey or fish and eggs.
Fat isn’t evil. The human body needs healthy fats to thrive. The best sources are avocados, egg yolks, coconut oil, nuts and all natural nut butters.
Be a realist. Sadly, the days of eating huge “cheat” meals have come and gone. No longer can you eat a burger and fries for dinner every night of the weekend and not wake up Monday feeling terrible and bloated. In order to get lean or stay lean, you’ll need to become more disciplined than ever before.
Train to keep your muscles
The two workouts laid out below are designed specifically to build muscle and burn fat. They are structured to be efficient and highly effective. As long as you don’t waste time looking at yourself in the mirror or glued to your phone, you’ll be out of the gym in 45 minutes.
You can alternate between these two workouts 3 days a week for up to 8 weeks. This will be a great start.
With strength training over 40, the goal is to maintain muscle mass and burn body fat. As we age, our bodies begin to lose muscle (as much as one pound per year). Less muscle means less ability to burn calories and increased fat gain.
It’s important to do a full Focus (warm-up) prior to hitting the weights. I also recommend doing ramp-up sets for any exercise you’ll be going heavy on. For example, you may do a goblet squat with 20 pounds for 8 reps, 30 pounds for 8 reps and then finally do your 3 sets of 8 with 40 pounds. It’s tempting to simply grab a heavy weight and have at it, but your body will thank you for warming up properly.
Every rep should be perfect. There’s no reason to push yourself to the point of being unable to complete every single rep.
Track your progress. Get a notebook and write everything down if you can’t remember. It’s important to go up in weight slowly. You wouldn’t want to do 20 extra pounds on squats simply because you can’t remember how much you did last time.
|Bodyweight Squat||2||30 seconds||20 seconds off|
|High Plank Steps||2||30 seconds||20 seconds off||Cue: Hold stretch at the end|
|Reverse Lunges||2||30 seconds||20 seconds off|
|Scapular Wall Slides||2||30 seconds||20 seconds off||Cue: Keep lower back against the wall|
|Goblet Squat superset with||Squat to bench no weight||Weighted Goblet squat to Bench||Weighted Goblet||3||12|
|Reverse Lunges super set with||TRX Lunge||Reverse Lunge||Weighted Reverse Lunges||2||8 each side|
|Chin-up||Stability Ball Lat Pulldown||Band Assisted Pullup||Pullup||2||5 or 10|
|Dumbbell RDL superset with||Wall Hinge||DB RDL||BB RDL||2||12|
|Side Plank||Bottom Knee Down||Normal Side Plank||Top leg lifted||2||30 seconds|
|Ball Slams||2||30 seconds||20 seconds|
|Mountain Climbers||Elevated||Slow||Fast||2||30 seconds||20 seconds|
|Jump Rope||Skip||Two Legged Jumps||Double Unders||2||30 seconds||20 seconds|
|Mini Band Squat||2||30 seconds|
|Mini band lateral walk||2||30 seconds|
|Mini band squat hold||2||30 seconds|
|Rest, then repeat.|
|Dumbbell Deadlift superset with||Lighter Weight||Heavier Weight||Eccentric emphasis||3||10|
|TRX Row||Hand Elevate Push-up||Negative pushup||Pushup||3||10|
|Band Palof Press superset with||Light Band||Medium band||Heavier band||3||8 each side|
|Goblet Pause Squat||Light Weight||Medium Weight||Heavier Weight||2||8||2 second pause at the bottom of each rep.|
|Push up superset with||Feet Lower To Make Harder||2||10|
|Farmers Walk||Light weight||Medium weight||Heavier weight||2||2 Laps|
|The Downward Spiral||Perform the given number of thrusters on the minute every minute|
|Squat to press||Total Body Extension||Weighted||Down to Ball||6||15, 14, 13, 12, 11, 10|
|Foam roll thoracic spine|
|Foam roll hamstrings & calves|
|Foam roll quads|
Life after 40
“I’m gettin’ old” is a lame excuse. I work with clients who are over 40 and in the best shape of their life. All you need to do is embrace the challenge. It’s never too late to get started. Embark on the journey towards a healthy lifestyle and enjoy every minute of it!