A funny thing happens to our bodies as we age: Our body doesn’t respond to exercise as it did earlier in our life. Fatigue, muscle and joint aches and increased injuries seem to happen with greater frequency.
Unfortunately, it’s not your imagination. It is a normal consequence of aging. In fact, some of the “standard” fitness rules no longer apply, at least not in the same way as they did in your 30s and even 40s.
Most people have a health goal as they age to be both “physically and mentally independent” rather than fit into a certain jean size. Everyone wants to feel better in their own skin so they can enjoy their leisure time with children/grandchildren, travel with ease of movement, or perform optimally in their careers? The trick is to attach “meaning” to your fitness goals and do the work, step by step.
You are the only one who can make and keep yourself healthy, not your doctor. Your doctor can assist you, but its 95% you. Even when surgery is involved, the outcome is more dependent on you than it is your surgeon. The surgeon makes the healing possible but if you don’t follow through with your share of the work, the surgery will fail. If you get knee surgery but don’t do any rehab other than what they force you do to in those six post-op sessions, then your knee will never be 100% and it is your fault, not your surgeons.
Rule 1 – Work Smarter Before Working Harder
Just a few tweaks to your exercise choices can make all the difference. Exercises that utilize more muscles burn more calories, and tend to also hit the larger muscles like legs and back. Hiring a trainer to run you through these more complex choices for just a couple of sessions can put you on a road to much greater progress and be worth the money in the long run….(maybe have one less bottle of wine a week to make up for it!!)
Talk To Experts – Guess work is the worst thing you can do when you exercise: it leads to poor results, and a lot of wasted time and money. If there’s a question you don’t know the answer to, just ask a pro.
Drop Your Ego – Nobody cares how much weight you lift. Nobody is watching and nobody is tracking. What does draw attention is terrible lifting technique. Lifting well beyond what you can handle just to look good in front of other people is pretty much the same as tattooing “I’m insecure about my strength” on your forehead. If you can’t bench, squat, deadlift and curl with immaculate technique, it may be time to drop down a weight, develop authentic strength and come back to lift heavier another day. If it really is respect you’re after, that’ll be how you earn it.
It’s You vs You – Never be disheartened by the progress or condition of others. Everyone has their own genetic make-up, their own goals and their own challenges. All you need to concentrate on is being a little bit better than you were yesterday.
Get Compound – Never substitute tried and tested compound exercises in the name of isolation or the latest exercise craze. The classic exercises have earned their status because they’ve been tried and tested over time. Be sure that your strength training program includes some of the following exercises such as: squats, deadlifts, barbell rows, lunges, and presses.
Have A Plan – Every time you exercise, you need to have a plan. You should know exactly what exercises you are going to perform, for how many sets and how many reps you are aiming for. Without this you will waste time and possibly select the wrong exercises. The same applies to nutrition: every day you should know how many calories you need to consume.
Rule 2 – Speed Is Your Friend
Going for an easy stroll with a friend may be a good way to get fresh air, but it won’t do much for calorie burning. Continue cardio for its heart health benefits, but focus on intervals since interval training for 30 minutes versus moderate, continues exercise decreases belly fat. Moderate cardio does not.
Interval Training – Interval training involves alternate bouts of higher intensity cardio with “rest” or easier periods. Intervals create an “after burner” effect called EPOC, which stands for “excess post-exercise oxygen consumption.” That’s a state in which your body continues to burn a higher rate of oxygen and calories after you’ve finished your workout. How many calories and for how long depends on the intensity of the intervals.
Additionally, research shows that interval training can burn more calories during exercise, which in turn will lead to a higher percentage of fat calories burned.
At low intensity exercise, your body uses mostly fat calories. At high intensity exercise, the body uses mostly glucose or carbohydrates. Because interval training is a combination of moderate and high intensity exercise, a greater percentage of fat and total calories are used.
Jump Around – Plyometrics used to be called “jump training.” It’s a technique that you can use in many different ways. Every time you land from a jump, your muscles get a stretch. That gives your next jump even more power. The combination of stretching and contracting your muscles whips them into shape.
You won’t do plyometrics every day, because your muscles will need a break from all that jumping. If you’re not active now, you may need to start working on your basic fitness first and later have a pro show you how to do the moves, so you don’t get injured.
It’s a fun alternative to an everyday strength-training workout that boosts your muscle power, strength, balance, and agility. You can either do a workout based around plyometrics, or add some moves to your usual routine without giving it an entire session.
Rule 3 – Consistency Triumphs In The End
With all the advanced training principles, dieting secrets and magic bullet supplements at our disposal, the people who really succeed in fitness are the ones that keep things simple and consistent. Great workout after great workout and clean meal after clean meal will trump any genetic or synthetic advantage over time. Decide where you want to be, take the first step and don’t stop until you achieve it. Honestly, it really is that simple.
Your health will change with age, but you have a choice in how it changes. My professor used to always state, “The human body responses to the forces placed against it. The more you do, the more your body is able to do. And the less you do, the less your body will be able to do. When you challenge the body, it grows stronger. And when you fail to challenge the body, it grows weaker.”
I learned that to successfully reach a fitness goal you need to plan your workout and then work your plan. Your body is too important to guess how to make improvements. Write down your goals, talk to an expert on how they can help you reach those goals, and get to work(out)!
For more daily information like and follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and check out our custom designed exercise programs on our website at http://www.achievingfitnessafter50.com.