25 Workout Tips For Over 40 Lifters

25 Workout Tips For Over 40 Lifters
Maintaining your body is a task in itself and age doesn't help the cause, but keeping these quick tips in mind will help keep your body in top shape.

Father Time catches up to everyone. Even the best of us can only avoid his presence so long. It is a fact of life that as people age, their health and general lifestyle depreciate. The joints weaken, the muscle mass melts away, and the bones become brittle. For most people, blowing 40 candles out on the birthday cake is when hints of these negative effects of aging begin.

But another common occurrence around this time is the ‘mid-life crisis,’ which – if done properly – can actually become something positive instead of a punch line. Rather than spending your life savings on a brand new convertible sports car, make it a point to recapture some of that youth that is slipping away - from the inside out. Implementing these tips into your workouts and lifestyle can help maintain and continue building your body enough to make people have a hard time believing your actual age:

1. Stretching

Often overlooked by men and women, young and old, making it one of the biggest mistakes that people make. The entire stretching process takes all of five minutes or less and should be done before and after exercising.

2. Sprints

The best form of cardio available, sprints have a number of advantages over your basic treadmill or Stair Master machine. First of all, they work and work fast. A 20-to-30-minute session will burn twice as many calories and fat than the aforementioned options. Also, they can be performed at basically any location – your local field, track or even the street you reside on. Start out with sprinting 20 yards with a 10-second rest in between each. As your stamina improves, up it to 30 yards.

3. Machines Over Free Weights

Barbells and dumbbells are the better choice over machines, but are more taxing on your joints and muscles. So for certain movements, use machines and save yourself some aches and pains or possibly worse. The last thing that you want to do is sustain an injury and have to sit out for weeks at a time.

4. Drop Sets

Doing tricep push-downs with 100 pounds for 12 reps and then immediately dropping down the weight to 60 pounds for another 12 is a great way to pump a lot of the blood into the muscle and help make gains or maintain what you already have. Try to implement drop sets into your regimen, preferably with an isolation movement.

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5. Lighter Weight

Remember when you first started working out? All that mattered was how much weight you could bench and/or curl. Proper form? Amount of reps? Who cared; maxing out was key. Those days are long gone and should never have been there in the first place. Now that you know better, start off with a weight that you can do a set of 12-to-15 reps with strict form. And it’s not a must that you have to always add more weight from set-to-set. Sure, if you can do so and keep the form, make sure you can still get 10 reps out of it. Anything less and you’re going too heavy.

6. Time Under Tension

This is what engages your muscles more than any other aspect of training. Keeping the target (and secondary) muscle group(s) tense throughout the entire set is going to give you the results you seek. Not using momentum to lift a weight too heavy for you and then coming to a complete stop in between each rep and having the weight rest of a particular part of your body. Here’s a perfect example: performing a set of side dumbbell lateral raises and allowing the weights to touch your outer quad at the bottom of the rep. By controlling the weight better and stopping an inch before you touch your leg, the tension is constant and your delts are really being taxed.

7. Higher Reps

This goes hand-in-hand with both the lighter weight and time under tension tips. Because you have full control over the weight, take advantage of that by doing more reps, up to 15 a set, if you have it in you. You will get more out of it than seeing how strong you are and ‘racking it’ for a handful of cheat reps.

8. Vegetables

The greener, the better. Mom was right when she told you to eat your veggies and even if you don’t like them, choke down a cup or two a day. They are vital to a nutritional diet and a few forkfuls of the steamed variety is not going to kill you.

9. Multivitamins

These get a bad rap from time to time, but take a look at the source before buying into it. One multivitamin a day will not have any adverse effects on you and one can only benefit from them. Even if you follow a clean and balanced diet, some of the foods you are not eating may include nutrients that your body needs. Why take a chance?

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10. More Protein

This is probably the easiest one to adhere to. Chicken, turkey and fish are the best options, but do not be afraid to enjoy some red meat like a nice big juicy steak once a week. If you’re working out hard enough, eating some extra fat is not going to make or break your program.

11. Planks

This is one of the better core movements available and is not only easy to do, but can be done virtually anywhere, too. Holding a plank for 60 seconds a set is a good way to start and you should be doing at least four-to-five sets. These will work your lower back, abs, legs and even your arms if you tighten them up.

12. Water

Drink as much water as you can and then force yourself to drink more. Sure, you’ll have to find the bathroom more often but this is the healthiest thing that you can put in your body. Always have plenty on hand while training and when it comes to meals, drink a 20-ounce glass 20 minutes before and after every meal, as well as during the meal.

13. Carb Choices

There are many proponents of a low or no-carb diet and while that may show fast results, it is very difficult to maintain it and it is more common for people to come off it in a fast and bad way that brings them back to where they started. Another option is to eat carbs, but only certain varieties and at scheduled times of the day. Besides, if you deplete your body of the amount of carbs necessary for your bodyweight and activity, your energy level will plummet and training will become that chore that you don’t want it to be. So try and stick to complex (or ‘good’) carbs like oatmeal, brown rice, sweet potatoes and whole grains. The best times of the day to eat them are immediately before and after your workout but if you do have more, make dinner time the last serving.

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14. Smaller, More Frequent Meals

The ideal time frame would be to have something to eat every two-to-three hours over six-or-seven smaller meals a day. That, of course, is not always possible so preplan your day by packing a cooler with more than just your peanut butter and jelly sandwich with the crusts cut off. A few pieces of fruit, yogurt and protein bars can be carried around everywhere you go and keep you away from the fast food drive-thru window.

15. Healthy Fats

Yes, eating some fats is actually good for you, if they are unsaturated. But keep it to a moderate amount of unsalted and raw nuts, avocados, olives and the aforementioned peanut butter (better off with the natural kind). These monounsaturated/polyunsaturated fats are good for your heart and cholesterol.

16. Shorter Rest Between Sets

A 30-to-60-second rest period is the best way to go and it will accelerate your heart rate and burn fat faster. This is using the High Intensity Interval Training (H.I.I.T.) method and you will feel an incredible pump while doing this. The other benefits is that you will be forced to lower the weight and that will be better for you overall, and you will not be enduring those two hour marathons in the gym anymore.

17. Protein Shakes

Not as good as a solid meal, but a great alternative when you don’t have time for a one of those smaller meals and it is always a plus to get added protein. Nowadays, most of these taste really good and are kind of like a sweet treat. Another time to drink one is right before going to sleep at night. This will keep your body from going into starvation mode and storing fat for energy.

18. Pre-Workout Supplements

There are many different pre-workout formulas out there and you have to find the right one for you. Comes in handy, especially for those who prefer to work out first thing in the morning. Getting a little extra burst of energy may be the difference between those last few reps at the end of your workout.

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19. Post-Workout Carbs

Even though you don’t want to overdo it with carbs, the preferred time to eat them is right after you finish your workout. They will help replenish your energy and also assist in the recovery process, which is the same as the muscle growth process. So if you must have some simple (or ‘bad’) carbs, this is the time to enjoy them, as they will get your glycogen and glucose levels back up where they need to be after depletion during exercise.

20. Creatine

Good for energy and putting on a few good pounds in the form of water weight and the residuals of training longer and harder. Your muscles will feel fuller while using creatine and you will put on some extra lean muscle mass.

21. DHEA

This is a natural hormone produced by you adrenal gland and it decreases in both men and women as they age. Since it is a precursor of both testosterone and estrogen, which means lower levels will result in a lower quality of life. DHEA is often used as an anti-aging supplement.

22. Adequate Sleep

Those days of “breaking night” are long gone and it is in your best interest to get no less than six (and preferably) eight hours of sleep every day. Recovery and recuperation are vital as you age and expect to continue a vigorous training program.

23. Proper Warm-Up

Take an extra few minutes before you begin your working sets with a quick warm-up. Use approximately half the weight of your first set and do 10 reps with it, just to get the blood flowing. Another good idea is to warm up your shoulders regardless of what body part you are training that particular day, as they are secondary muscles in many exercises and injury prone. Grab a five-pound plate in each hand and do some circular motions with them to get those delts ready for action.

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24. Added Low-Impact Activity

This can be done throughout the entire day and are simple to accomplish. Instead of parking in the first row, grab a spot in the back of the lot and walk longer to the store. Take the stairs instead of the elevator and the long route instead of a short cut. All of these little things add up and burn calories.

25. Testosterone Levels

The next time that you go to your doctor for a check-up, ask him or her to test your blood for testosterone levels. Once men reach the age of 35, their test levels go down every year and this will effect their energy, libido and overall health. Your doctor may look at the results and discuss testosterone replacement therapy with you and the many different forms that can be prescribed, such as injections, patches or gels.