Over 40s fitness and strength

Over 40s fitness and strength is about getting your body strong and durable with all day energy.

Physical activity is valuable for all and for some has now becomes a necessity. For us older adults’ (I was born in 1967) maintenance of good health and independence is important. It can for some be about prevention of age/lifestyle factors related diseases, potentially achieved with regular exercise. Likewise, for those now who are at a stage where you have to do something about your current condition. An over 40s Fitness and Strength approach is what you need. It’s time to take action and work on having more energy and a little stronger.

Turning 40, we should all try to do some form of physical activity. No matter what your age, weight, health problems or abilities. Respectfully for the ones that can. You have to make an effort. It’s never too late to start becoming physically active. Let’s get you started and enjoy the benefits of having more energy, minimise pain during movements and other age-related matters. Or any other ailment we have to deal with that are slowing you down.

As the ageing process is starting to take over, we tend to slow down. Nobody told you have to stop; you can still do something about it. Many improved health and well-being outcomes have been shown to occur with regular physical activity. Exercise maintains or improves physical function and independent living. It builds and maintain healthy bones, muscles and joints, reducing the risk of injuries from falls and finally it reduces the risk of heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, type II diabetes, and some cancers. A great reason to become more active and embrace general movement and exercise.

The importance of movement cannot be overstated when you are over 40. With a little fitness and strength, you should be looking at moving pain free.

Back a while when I turned 40, during my post workouts I realised that I was not able to recover like before. Even move as fast and had lost some mobility. However, it’s not to the extent that some general thinking would lead you to believe. Just because you are now a little older it’s a matter of making sure you work out a little smarter. One on the major changes with age is the issue of mobility. That is, the ability to still perform the functions that that body is designed to do. My aim is to continue moving pain free. As yours should now be.

For the unlucky ones who are carrying over some old injuries from past activities. It’s going to be little different, but not impossible. I consider myself lucky as I’m one who doesn’t carry any old wounds. Fortunately, I still have good movement in my ankle and hip joints with reasonable thoracic mobility. Bar a few bruises and scratches the old knees have survived the years of running and combat sports. Any fitness and strength programs now are catered with an over 40s fitness and strength focus. Keeping you moving well as the years add up. It’s just a matter of proper management now.

Building cardio as we age 

Start with low impact movements. And then build up. It’s ok to push the cardio once you have built it up slowly. Don’t go out too hard or too soon. Over time It will build up and for general fitness it won’t take too long. You are no longer a spring chicken and should be more cautious in your approach. As part of getting on to our 40’s the ability to take on any exercise that involves high impact is something that needs to be monitored diligently. The go hard or go home mentality should for some be a thing of the past. Whether it is running, cycling, a fitness class or walking, take it up slowly and stay consistent.

A pain free cardio workout can certainly be performed as long as you are following the process. No need to blow your lungs sprinting on day one or having an accident due to lack of conditioning. The last thing you need is an injury to recover from. Alternatively, making it too light will not have any fitness effect, Movements like walking are great in getting you started. However, building a more solid base of cardio takes a bit more effort. Take my advice, learn and be comfortable with the movement slowly build a fitness base. Any progress is still progress.

The pillars of strength for over 40s fitness and strength gains

When working with any clients who have never lifted a weight or seen the inside of a gym. It’s important to establish whether they can perform some basic mobility drills. Once cleared its time to lift some weight. When performed safely, these are the fundamental lifts that deliver best results and are clear time savers. When combined together results are usually not too far.

With any given program you first need cover the basic moves for a greater return on effort. Irrespective on the type of equipment you use (kettlebell, dumbbell, barbell, sandbag or machine) as long as you are using the fundamental movements you will improve and get stronger. This list is not extensive; however, we cover the exercises that you can build on.

Upper body chest back and shoulders

Pressing – These movement involve all pressing (Upward) away from the body. Overheads are barbell shoulder press, machine shoulder press, sandbag or kettlebell. Anything involving an upward press. Whether you are sitting or standing. My clients perform a lot of overhead pressing with the kettlebells. This tool allows a more comfortable holding position delivering a pain free movement pattern.

Pushing – (Horizontal) exercises are the classic bench press working the chest area. For starters the common lifts are flat, incline and decline barbell bench presses. The humble push up is one, you can also use machines or dumbbells. For a more strenuous workout we use the barbell and load it up. It all depends on personal needs and abilities of clients. In addition to the shoulders and chest, the triceps are also targeted.

Pull – These exercises target the back area. Generally, the muscles worked are the latissimus, rhomboids and upper back. The biceps get some work in supporting rowing movements. Bent over rows, T bar rows and dumbbell rows. Add chins and pull ups for those with great relative strength. Once you have the basics down you can add on machines and the use of cables to add or use as alternatives. As a bonus you develop some serious grip strength.

Lower body hinge 

Squats One of the major exercises in any effective training program should include the squat. When performed properly works the entire lower body utilising the legs as the main driver. The quads, hamstring and calf muscles have to work together. In addition, the core supports the upper body stability supporting any load placed on the body. Truly one of the king pillar movements when consistently used provides great results. Squats can be performed with a barbell, kettlebell, sandbag, bodyweight or dumbbells. Almost anything really. An excellent carry over exercise to sports and daily life challenges.

Deadlift – One of the most dynamic movements is the humbling Deadlift. This is basically a hinge movement (flex at the hip joint) where you are required to pull up the weight from the floor. It performed best with a barbell and with a proper set up and execution is quite safe. The use of a trap bar due to its set up requirement makes it an easier exercise. Unfortunately, it gets a bad reputation hurting your lower back, when in reality this classic pulling movement will actually strengthen and sometimes fixes you back.

With proper technique, all exercises are safe and effective.

Additional exercises supporting an over 40 fitness and strength plan

Another great optional to learn come from the Kettlebell system. They are the Turkish Get up, Goblet squat and the Swings. The combination of these 3 specific kettlebell exercises allows you to improve mobility, flexibility, and build co-ordination. Add an elevated heart rate that burns up the calories and you have an effective program. Learning to performing these key exercises is all it takes when improving your functional movement pattern. Like any resistance equipment. learn the proper form. The Kettlebell in particular doesn’t rewards bad form so let’s keep it safe.

For those who are not confident commercial gyms have a system of machines that cover a full body workout. These are easy to learn and are a great start in building basic fitness and strength.

You are never too old to move

Far too often I hear people who tell me they are too old to do anything about it. It’s disappointing in a way as most of the ones who tell me this don’t have any major injuries. They don’t have any major concerns preventing them from becoming healthier through a strength and fitness program. Unfortunately, they are simply lazy, unmotivated and for some, it’s not a priority. For the rest of us an over 40s fitness and strength approach is what we need and keep on enjoying the benefits of being fit, healthy and strong.

As we get older, we see the world a little different and place value on the time spent in doing things we like. I guess it’s now time to make exercise an activity you enjoy, any positive change making your older years pain free with a bit of strength and heart health can’t be too bad.

A positive approach towards your health should be your goal.

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