Face it, the wild days of your 20’s and 30’s have caught up to you and your body can no longer do the things it used to. Father time has smacked you in the face with the reality that your age works against you from here on out. But, that doesn’t mean things are hopeless. What it means is that, once we hit our 40’s, we need to start exercising smarter. Be realistic! In other words, stop training like you are in your 20’s, looking to be the next Arnold Schwarzenegger, or trying to shatter your bench press record.
Weight Lifting Benefits
Weight lifting is important for many reasons. It can help slow down the effect that aging has on our bodies, builds lean muscle, increases metabolism, burns off body fat, improves bone health, makes us feel better and improves our overall daily function.
To experience these benefits, we need to approach weight lifting smarter and with a realistic plan. So, skip the gun show mentality and focus on what is practical, what is healthy and what will help you live a healthier, more functional lifestyle.
Whether it’s a few minutes on the stationary bike or some exercises with 2 pound dumbbells, implementing a warm up session into your workouts will go a long way to ensuring that your body is ready to undergo the weight lifting session. It’s also a nice segue into stretching.
Stretching has many wonderful benefits on our bodies like improving range of motion, warms us up before workouts, gets the blood pumping throughout the muscles and aids in preventing injuries.
The goal is to get through our workouts and build off of them, not to injure ourselves in the name of ignorance and vanity. Stretching is vital to getting back in shape, staying in shape and dealing with stress. Perhaps, even consider taking a yoga class. Have you noticed how many hot chicks are in yoga?
Stop the Power Lifting
Fellas, for most of you, powerlifting was never your thing. So, don’t start now. For those of you who had a respectable foray into the realm of powerlifting, leave it in your past. Our bodies can’t handle the heavy workloads like they used to. It’s ok to continue some of the powerlifting movements like squatting and bench pressing, but you must use lighter weight and perform these exercises with perfect form. One bad move or imbalance and you can sustain serious injuries. It really isn’t worth trying to do these exercises with heavy weight anymore. Be realistic. How will squatting 500 pounds actually improve your overall health or help you in life? If anything, it will cripple you.
Preserve the Joints
Another reason to skip the powerlifting exercises is that we need to start making a focused effort on preserving and improving our joint health. For those of you who suffer from joint pain or injuries, you know how difficult it is to just get through the daily routines of life. Stop the heavy lifting and train to build lean muscle, improve muscular endurance and that all-important muscular definition.
No Gym Marathons
The days of going to the gym for a few hours at a time also need to be a thing of the past. It’s all about frequent, shorter workouts. It’s better to go to the gym 5 days a week at 30 minutes a session than to go to the gym 3 days a week for 2 hours a session. Additionally, shorter sessions make it easier for you to fit into your busy schedules. In fact, a 30 minute workout is doable on your lunch breaks or before and after work.
Rest and Recovery
Another reason for the shorter sessions is that we need more time to recover now that we are over 40. Our bodies can’t bounce back like they used to. We all remember staying up all night or feeling like The Incredible Hulk in the gym, especially when taking pre-workouts, but we need to realize that level of energy and intensity is gone. Instead, we need to plan rest days, recovery times and improve our sleep schedule.
Don’t Sleep on Sleep
Speaking of staying up all night in our 20’s, have you tried doing that in your 40’s or 50’s? It feels like you have been hit by a truck by time morning comes. And, that’s because we don’t have the energy or stamina like we used to. Sleep is essential to restoring our energy levels, healing from workouts, hormonal regulation, stress management and more. It’s recommended that men over 40 get 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night. Do you get that much sleep? If not, do you take any power naps during the day?
We might have been invincible when we were 20, but now that we are over 40, father time has showed us that we really are not invincible. Trust me, a healthy sleep schedule will go a long way to improving and complementing your workouts.
As this article hits the cool down phase, and we wind up today’s lesson, start implementing a brief cool down session at the end of your workouts. Give your bodies a chance to transition from the higher levels of intensity exertion to the normal levels of exertion and energy. A few minutes of walking or stretching can help to ensure you safely transition from beast mode back to work mode.
National Sleep Foundation: How much sleep do we really need? https://sleepfoundation.org/excessivesleepiness/content/how-much-sleep-do-we-really-need-0
Active.com: The benefits of Weight Training http://www.active.com/fitness/articles/5-benefits-of-weight-training
Harvard Medical School: Benefits of flexibility Exercises http://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/benefits-of-flexibility-exercises
The Arthritis Foundation: “51 Ways to Be Good to Your Joints” http://www.arthritis.org/living-with-arthritis/pain-management/joint-protection/joint-health.php