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March 16, 2020

The 9 keys to being fit over 40

It can feel like an insurmountable effort to get and stay fit when you're over 40. In this episode, I share 9 keys to getting you and keeping you fit.

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Hello and welcome to today's podcast. I am so glad you're here. Thank you so much for being a part of 40+ Fitness Podcast. Today we're going to talk about 9 keys to being fit after 40. You know, there's a lot of folks out there that you'll see and they, they seem really, really fit and they're over 40. You know, you have to ask yourself, what are these people doing that's allowing them to accomplish this? I was having a conversation with a guy at the gym, you know, we're both over 40. He's an excellent shape. He does the CrossFit style type workouts. And so I was, I was just asking him about it and what he was doing in his training and where he was getting his training materials from. They're always varied, different workouts.

And, he enjoys doing them and that's cool. And he's really good at it and he enjoys it and it's a different kind of fit than I am. I'm more of this strong, slow, I can carry heavy stuff. I can do all the things I want to do. And so we have a different mindset of what fitness is. And we get to talking about that a little bit because he was thinking he might want to get into competition. Now if you're not familiar with the CrossFit competitions, they're quite intense. Uh, and I was explaining to them, I said, you know, the last time I saw one of the, uh, the big ones, uh, the guys that were over 40, the masters level athletes, they were just in tremendous shape. I mean, the things they were doing was just actually quite insane. And we even got into that, why are they doing all of these insane things, over the age of 40, over the age of 50, that, you know, I would say even 20 years ago, no one would've dreamed someone over that age would be doing things.

And we see this every day and I do like sharing these in the Facebook group. If you're not a member, you should go to 40plusfitnesspodcast.com/group. I share all kinds of information, and if I see a 72-year-old woman doing a deadlift that's over her body weight. Yeah, I'm going to probably share that because it's pretty cool. But there's different looks and feels to fitness and I said it in the book, The Wellness Roadmap, and I'll say it again. Fitness is not a look. Fitness is about you being fit to task. So I think that's the first key for you to pick up on as we kind of go through this whole view of fitness is that fitness is not a look. A fit grandmother is someone who's able to be a great grandmother to her children.

She's able to do the things that they want to do. She's able to get out and be with them. She's able to provide for them. She's able to be the person she needs to be, that's her fitness. For someone like my friend Glen who wants to compete in CrossFit games, he is going to push himself a lot harder and that might not be entirely healthy, which is another whole other conversation we could be having. Being fit doesn't necessarily mean you're healthy. And that's why I call it wellness of having all three. So fitness is not necessarily a look, it's a way you feel, the way you're able to do the things you want to do. And to this point, I am there and will I always be there? I don't know. You know, like I said, I want to be the a hundred guy who is 105 who can wipe his own butt.

I want to be independent. I want to be able to take care of and help my family and my wife. I don't want to be dependent on others. And so my fitness regime is based around those things. So one of the big things when I go into fitness is do no harm. So as I'm lifting, I'm trying to make sure that I'm not hurting myself. I'm only making myself stronger or maintaining strength in certain areas. The other work that I do is about just trying to avoid injury and staying fit. So that's one thing. People who are fit are doing, they're not evaluating themselves relative to other people. They're not trying to compete against their 20 year old selves. They're doing what's necessary to be fit to task. The second thing is they have a focus. It's very easy for people to get into a kind of a routine, a habit, or they show up at the gym or they do their morning thing.

They do their run, they do their, maybe there's some lifting, but they just are kind of putting it all together. They walk into a gym or they walk into a workout either doing the same exact thing they do almost every time, or they come into the gym and they really don't have a plan at all. You'll see a lot of this now, it's a lot more common to go into a gym and see that half the people are sitting there looking at their phones. Now, if they're looking at their phones because they're trying to figure out what their next set is, or they've got a timer, then that's cool. But most of the time we know that's not what they're doing. They're texting their friend, they're doing this. Real fitness is going to come from application. It's going to come from being engaged in what you're doing.

Your muscles will improve better if you're focused on the movements that you're doing. So if you are a runner looking and feeling about your form and making sure that it's not breaking down versus just a mindless run, you're going to do better in fitness if you're focused on the form and the feel and the things that are going on in your body then if you're listening to a podcast or doing something else, listening to music. Sometimes that lack of focus is preventing you from reaching a level of fitness that you're interested in reaching. You know, when I go in the gym to work out, I actually like to go in there and when there's no one else there because otherwise my full introvertness comes out. And, you know, I don't talk to anybody during my workout. I don't like to talk to people during my sets.

I don't like to talk to people during my breaks. I don't like to talk at all during that time when I'm lifting. If I'm in there lifting, I'm lifting. So I actually go into my gym when no one else is there and do my own lifting. That allows me to have just complete focus on task. I don't have to do anything else. So that's the second key, focus. The third key is intensity. If you're not pushing yourself and being intense and purposeful and it's a little bit different than focus. Focus is staying engaged in what you're doing. The intensity means that while you're doing work, there's some effort to it. There's some, there's some push to it. You're finding that that line of discomfort, you're going outside of your comfort zone. So people who are really building good fitness are always right at the edge.

So there's an intensity to the work they're doing. Now they don't always stay at that edge and we'll talk a little bit about that. Then the next point. But they do have that edge, you know, they're the ones that are actually going to be very kind of happy about having a PR. Now when we talk about PR, that's a personal record. It doesn't have to be something huge and massive. But cutting 10 seconds off of your one mile walk can be great. That means you maybe, you extended your gate a little bit, you extended your speed, your pace, taking a different route and going up a, a route that has a Hill that makes that walk a little bit more difficult. There's an intensity to that purpose. So finding that opportunity to incorporate intensity into your work is going to make things a lot better when I'm working out with clients.

Now, you know, I'll get them in there and I'll add more weight and I'll be kind of pushing them while they're doing it. You know, a lot of folks they'll get in and it's hard. And they'll want to stop right at that line where it starts getting uncomfortable. And that's actually where some of the best stuff is happening. So having a little bit of intensity in the work you're doing is really, really important. The fourth point is balance. When you go into a work deal that you're going to do a workout, just, just recognizing that your, your body is an organism that can break. And it is an organism that needs to recover and rest and it's an organism that's capable of a lot of different things. But if you go in and do the same work, the same type of work all the time, you're not going to have balance in your fitness.

So if you're just going out and doing running, that's great. If you love cardiovascular training, perfect. If cardiovascular or stamina is something that's very, very important to you as a, what's your fitness should mean, perfect. But you still need to be working on those other things. You need be working on strength. You need to be working on balance. You need to be working on your mobility and flexibility. Those are very important as well. And if you're not putting balance into your fitness regime, you're getting very one sided. And that's, that's an opportunity for injury. And also means you're probably not going to be as fit as you could be because you really weren't focused on the other aspects of training. One really good way to make sure that you're getting balance is for you to kind of look at periodization. And what I mean by that is where you'll take time to say, okay, this is my running season and then I'm not going to run during my off season and give my body a time to recover.

All professional athletes do that. They have their season when they're on and they're working really, really hard. They play their season and then after their season's over, they have a recovery period. They have a time when they're doing something else. They're probably working on repairing injuries or probably working on, you know, mobility and flexibility. They're training other aspects of what they do. Not necessarily that directly in relationship to the athletic event that they're involved in. So making sure that you have balance in your training is also very important. Okay the next one, which I guess is number five is going to be patients. You've gotta be patient in this game for fitness. Our bodies will respond to stimulus. If you stimulate a muscle and you give it adequate nutrition and adequate rest, it will get stronger. But you've got to have the patients to know that that's not necessarily going to happen in a linear fashion and it won't always go up and it won't always be large increments.

You know, one of the, one of the difficulties in running a gym and working with people is that, you know, at first they're using smaller dumbbells and that's, you know, okay, cool. It makes sense. But the difference between say a five and an eight is significant in percentage wise. It doesn't seem like a lot that extra three pounds, but when you look at it from a, what you can do with five pounds versus what you can do with eight, it's a pretty big jump. And even when you get up to weights, like we're dealing with, uh, you know, 10 and 15 and 20, those are still huge, huge jumps in volume of work. And so it's really hard. A lot of times for new trainees or trainings that haven't been around to recognize that those jumps from 15 to 20 are huge and to have the patience to keep working through.

And sometimes you're not necessarily gonna get all the reps you want to get, but just kind of working through that process of saying, I'm going to get there. Maybe you're doing a body weight squat and you'd really like to start adding some resistance. Have the patients to really get the form down on the body weight squat, have the patients to get your strength up and to keep your form. And once you've built that strength, once you've built that mind body connection, that neuromuscular connection and your body's moving the way it's supposed to, all that's going to happen. But you have to have the patience to work through this process and then recognize again, strength gains, speed gains, distance gains, all the gains that you would see in the fitness game are not linear. You're not going to get better in a linear fashion.

There's going to be really great periods of time when things are going really good. There's going to be times when things level out. And that's just the normal state of the human body. We never function in a straight line. You don't lose weight and straight line, you don't get stronger in a straight line. None of that works that way. It's always going to be kind of up and down. You want to look at basic trends and you want to be smart about it. So have the patients. The next item is also very important as part of the three P's that I talk about in the book. The Wellness Roadmap. It's the persistence and consistency. So a lot of people will come in the gym, uh, in January, you know, new year's resolutions and they'll hop on that treadmill and they'll go for 45 minutes.

They're exhausted, they go to work, they come back the next day, they come back the next day, they come back the next day. Well, there are about three weeks in and they really haven't seen a move on the scale. You know, they give themselves an excuse to skip a day and they skip that day. And then by skipping that day, they didn't maybe skip the next day. And so they're, they're not persistent. They're not consistent, so they're not going to see improvement because they really haven't done anything long enough to give their body the stimulus to say, Oh, I'm a runner, or Oh, I need to be ready to do this energy output each day and manage that. All our people will go in and they'll lift weights and they'll get delayed onset muscle soreness. We call that Dom's for short. They'll get DOMS, it hurts. It hurts a lot. And that'll be enough for a lot of people to just quit.

They'll say, Oh, I don't like the pain, that hurt. Or worst case, you get a small injury, little tweak to a hamstring or you know, your shoulder starting to feel a little wonky. And rather than having the persistence and consistency to work around that injury, you know, you still can work your legs if you have a trouble with your shoulder, you can still probably work your back and maybe your arms, maybe your chest, but you don't, you know, you can work around a lot of these things if you're smart about it, but you still have to stick in there and do the work. Even if it's a situation where, okay, yeah, you kinda tweaked your shoulder or you're feeling a little bit sore in the elbow, maybe we avoid the weights for a period of time when we focused on a different modality.

Maybe it's time for you to do some high intensity interval training with a little more sprint work. We can do that on the exercise bike. We can do that on the elliptical. And we do that for a few weeks to kind of build some stamina while we're waiting for the elbow to recover. But that's persistence and that's consistency. That's still showing up for your fitness and you have to do that or you're not going to be fit over 40. Number seven is the third P in that I have in the wellness roadmap and that's progression. We want to make sure that what we're doing is adding value and there's going to be a point when your body gets to a given strength and you can go do a given weight. I see this in circuit training a lot. People will go up to the circuit training machines and they're always on the third peg for this machine, the fourth peg for that machine and the first peg for this one and the seventh peg for this machine.

And they go around and they set their pegs in the same hole every single time they do that machine. That's great that they're getting the exercise. I'm really happy to see them in the gym working, but the majority of the people that are doing this aren't getting any stronger in the initial peg hole that they put themselves in is not going to be the level of fitness that they really want. They're going through the motions. I don't mean any disrespect for this, but we used to call these Barbie workouts and that's where you'd see the young girls come in and they'd pick up the three pound weights and start doing curls. Number one, biceps of smallest muscle you could possibly want to work for any duration, and because they're not going to do much value for you. And number two, the amount of weight then resistance they were using wasn't going to do anything.

And their concern was that they were going to get big and bulky, not gonna happen, not gonna happen for a woman. And definitely probably not even going to happen for a man over the age of 40, unless you really put in some intense work and focus on muscle building. It's not easy for us to gain muscle over the age of 40. So don't be afraid that you're going to get bulky, uh, put some progression in there. Get stronger. This is only going to help you as you get older if you're working on runs, be smart about how you do your long runs in your short runs. So that you're building a slow progression to get yourself ready for the running season. I use the term gentle nudges and I mean that your progressions should be these normal little small increments. As I said earlier, we're talking about smaller dumbbells that can actually be very difficult to do.

So it's a function of recognizing I do some sets at 20, maybe I drop back to my fifteens for my second and third set. That's cool. You're still giving yourself those gentle nudges to allow your body to get stronger. If you're doing your runs, you're looking at adding some volume to a run, but never adding much more than 10%. Uh, that's kind of a rule of thumb. Your long runs should never be more than 10% more than any other time that you were doing. And we kind of use that in bodybuilding, weightlifting resistance training as well. But in a general sense, you want these gentle nudges that are going to allow your body to have the stimulus that it needs to get stronger. A gentle nudge of progression tells your body, Hey, there's more requirement here. We're going to have to work harder next time and your body responds positively to that by getting stronger.

The eighth one is recovery, and this is one that's really hard for a lot of people. More is not better. You know, I have a workout program that I do with some group trainings and we do a full body workout twice a week, and invariably every time I talk to somebody about twice a week, they're like, Oh, well I should do this program on the days I'm not training with you. No, you should not do this program. This is a strength program that requires the stimulus, the nutrition, and then of course, the recovery. The recovery is as important, if not more important than the work. If you could imagine that you did a whole bunch of work, say you were setting a foundation for a home and you spent all this time laying the concrete and you didn't let the concrete set before you started building on top of it, obviously your foundation is not going to be there because you didn't allow it to set.

And so when you're working, you're building muscle, you're cutting muscle down. You need to give it time to recover and to rebuild. So recovery time is very, very important overall across your workouts, making sure that you do the work and you have the recovery time. Two other functions of recovery are as you're doing work, recognizing that there's times when breaks are important. We see this in high intensity interval training where there is a break period that's allowing your body to basically recover a little bit. We see this in resistance training where we'll do a set and then we'll have a little rest period. It could be for a minute, two minutes. It's really just time to let your energy systems reset and be ready to give you maximum output for the next set. So those little bits of recovery.

And then the final one I want to talk about is sleep. Sleep is hugely important to balancing your hormones, making sure you're giving your body what it wants. Most of the good stuff that happens in our body happens when we're asleep. Our brain refreshes, our body refreshes. All these things are really, really good for us. So recovery and sleep, hugely important if you want to remain fit. If you push yourself and you don't allow yourself to recover, you're going to start dealing with cortisol problems. You're gonna start dealing with other things and you're not going to reach your fitness goals. You're just not. Recovery is as important as the work. And then you see, we just had, uh, seven points that were all built around work. And I'm giving you the one recovery, but want to be very clear. Recovery is hugely, hugely important. It's as important as those others. You have to make sure you're doing the work, but you have to make sure that you're getting the recovery your body needs. So listen to your body. Uh, never should it tell you to quit, quit, and never come back. But if it's telling you you need an extra day, if its telling you you need a little bit extra sleep, the sleep, the recovery are important. So listen to your body when that's what you're hearing.

So the final point is to wellness. As I mentioned before, a lot of people will really push fitness goals and they'll push themselves to a point where they're being unhealthy. They'll push themselves to a point where they're being unhappy. If you find yourself in the gym comparing yourself to other people, you're never going to be happy with that result. You just aren't, we, we are all built on our bell curve. There's going to be a percentage of us that are outliers. You know, I see it on Facebook all the time. You know, these guys going out there and bench pressing 450 pounds, they're older than me and you know, if I sat there and said, “Oh, I have to be bench pressing 450 pounds.” I would never make it. I'll never bench press 450 pounds. I know physically it's probably outside the means of what I ever was capable of doing. But even if I took the time to do the training, I'm pretty sure soon as I found someone who is doing 450 like me and I got past 450, there'd be someone else doing 500. And so the comparisons to other people are really going to break down your happiness. And so I want you to start comparing yourself to the person you were yesterday or last year. Those are better comparisons. Maintaining your strength as we get older is a win.

We're dealing with sarcopenia, we're dealing with osteopenia. Uh, we are losing strength every single year unless we're doing something to prevent that. So if you are maintaining or getting stronger in your lifts, that's a huge, huge plus. If you're getting better times on your runs or at least maintaining your runs, that's a win. There's a natural aging curve. And if we're doing things to break down that, that aging curve, that's a fitness win and we should be very happy about that. So don't compare yourself with others. Compare yourself with who you are, who you know you should be. And then as far as the health aspects of it, you should never let your push to fitness break down your push to health. They're both equally important. They're all happiness, health and fitness, all three legs of a stool. And we have to have all of them in equal proportion or just not going to be whole.

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We're not going to be well. So don't let fitness overrule those other two. You need to make sure there's balance in your life as well as balance in your work. So as you'd go through the process here, I'm going to recap just a little bit, but you know the keys to being fit after 40, they're not hard. It's just a function of saying you've got to do the work, you've got to get the recovery and you got to make sure it fits within the paradigm of who you are as a person.

So going through them really quickly. Fitness is not a look. Fitness is about being fit to tasks and case in point being 105 and being able to wipe my own butt. That's a good look for me cause I don't want to be the guy who needs help going to the restroom, but I'm not going to look like maybe someone else that you would say was fit. I'm going to be fit for task.

Second is focus. When you do work, focus on the muscles you're working. Focus on the form of what you're doing that's going to help you prevent injuries. That's going to help you get better results. The mind muscle is a huge, huge proponent of making sure that you're building fitness as fast as possible.

Intensity. You need to work hard, you need to make sure you're pushing yourself in a way that when you're doing the work, you're really engaged in that work and you're getting the most out of that work. So focusing on what you're there to do, making sure that you're engaged in it. And then the third one is intensity. You know, this, this is fitness is a push. It's taking you outside of your comfort zone. So there should be some intensity to what you're doing. It's great to do some casual walking here and there. That's great for overall health. It's great for potentially weight loss and other goals that you might have. But slow walking without really putting some intensity to it is not going to improve your fitness. It's going to just basically allow you to age on a standard aging curve.

The third is balance. You know, don't just train one dimensional. Don't just say I'm a strength person, which I could very easily say, I've got to do some balance work. I've got to do some stamina work and I've got to kind of keep those in balance to meet the goals of what I think I should be as, as a fit person. Okay.

The next is patience. Fitness does not just happen and it's not something that you're going to always have. There'll be an injury if you injure yourself, you need to be patient about the recovery. You need to be patient about the time it takes. You need to be doing the, the physical therapy that's necessary and not going out there and immediately trying to get back into the workouts you were doing. Have the patience to listen to your body and do what's right for you.

The next is persistence and consistency. We have to keep showing up. We have to keep working. We can't rest on past. You know, this is not a situation where we, we built up a nest egg that we can now live off for the rest of our lives. Fitness doesn't just stay with us. We have to keep paying in so we have to keep showing up and we have to keep doing the work. Uh, progression. Uh, if we're not progressing, if we're not pushing ourselves toward progression, we're very likely more to regress. That's the aging curve. So making sure you're working towards progression is very important.

The eighth, again, is recovery. And I can't stress this enough if you're working hard, if you're doing the focus, if you're doing the intensity, you're doing all these things you need. Also let your body recover when it's time to recover. So being smart about recovery is really, really important. And then the final is don't let fitness over. Well overdue wellness. Wellness is health, happiness, and fitness. So you want to have all three in your life, so take time for all of them and don't let fitness push you out of those other two.

before you get outta here, I wanted to take just a moment to invite you to our Facebook Group. You can go to 40plusfitnesspodcast.com/group we have weekly challenges. I share all kinds of information there. It's sort of like a way to keep conversation that we have on this podcast going, so if you'll go to 40plusfitnesspodcast.com/group you can join the 40+ Fitness Podcast Group and be a part of a like-minded community. We help each other get where we want to be. We celebrate our wins. We have a good time. I hope you'll come join us. 40plusfitnesspodcast.com/group.

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