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Strength Training After 40: 5 Tips

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Strength Training After 40: 5 Tips

Strength training for those over 40 doesn’t have to turn into an episode of “Sit and Be Fit”. Nor should it be jumping to an Insanity or P90x video for those just getting started.

Daily I hear from clients, “Once I hit 40, the game changed… suddenly I gained XX pounds and everything hurt.” 😡

Well, I’m not 40 yet (37 soon) but I certainly feel “differences” now vs my early 30s. The majority of our clients are 40, 50, 60+ years old (the oldest are in their 80s) so we know a thing or two about this topic. 😉

You’re 40+ But You’re Not Dead

Let’s not forget that. 👆👆

Now that the basics are covered, here are my top 5 things to consider when strength training after 40.

1. Mobility (and Posture) Matters

Most incoming clients over 40 tell me “My flexibility is no bueno!”

And, if you sit at a desk or drive a car all day there is a great likelihood that your mobility is similar to that of the Tin Man (that’s a Wizard of Oz joke since I live in Kansas now).

After I hurt my low back (herniated disc L4-L5) about 9 years ago I started learning about mobility, corrective exercises, and how to properly warm-up and prime the body for a training session.

Gone are the days of 5 minutes on the treadmill and then go crush a lower body training session.

In fact, all of our personal training and semi-private training clients are assessed to understand how they move (or don’t move) and what needs correcting to avoid injury.

At the end of the day, training after 40 is about being healthy and avoiding injury. Longevity is the goal!

Mobility and range of motion within your joints can be achieved with a simple 5-7 minute warm-up consisting of corrective and dynamic movements. In short, the goal is to prime the body for what’s to come… lubricate the joints, elevate the heart rate, and activate muscles that will be used.

Before a full body workout a warm-up might look like…

  • Foam rolling – 2 minutes
  • Glute bridges with cross body reach
  • Scapula push-ups
  • Side planks with glute-activation
  • Walkout to Spiderman with reach
  • Deadbugs
  • Body weight squats with hip lift
  • Monster walks
  • Pledge planks
  • Jumping jacks

2. Frequency Trumps Duration

You don’t need to spend 2+ hours per day, 7 days per week to see results from strength training. In fact, 3-4x per week is ideal for those 40+. Most clients start at 2x and work their way up.

What matters most is consistency. Period.

If you go to the gym for 2 weeks and continually battle the yo-yo start/stop effect, you’re going to get frustrated with your results, or lack there of.

For strength training after 40, I recommend shorter duration bouts of exercise. Your workouts from warm-up to training to stretching shouldn’t be longer than 45 to 60 minutes long. If you really are pressed for time, I challenge you to be in, done, showered, and out the door in 60 minutes.

You just need a structured plan and to not wander around the gym for 30 minutes to only end up doing bicep curls and walk on the treadmill. If that’s you, click here and let’s talk about your goals and how we can help save you time. 👍

Gone are the days of spending 1.5 to 2 hours at the gym. Remember, the gym is just a means to long term health… the results will come from your nutrition and rest (yes, sleep matters a lot) when you’re not at the gym.

And, you NEED energy for when you leave to go LIVE your life.

3. Keep it Full Body

I still see women who are just trying to be in shape and look “toned” that share on Instagram…”Just did chest and triceps today!” 🤯

Awesome, I’m pumped to see you’re getting it in but you don’t need to train like a body builder with splitting up all the muscle groups across 5-6 days per week.

Again, frequency matters and you’re going to feel more mentally sharp and energized from a 45-60 minute full body workout than trying to destroy just your arms (and maybe your elbows in the process).

For most of our clients that we see 2-3x per week we are going to train their full body. A strength training session for a client might look like…

  • Foam-roll / warm-up / corrective exercises
  • Core activation / stabilization: Dead-bug variation
  • Power development: Medicine ball slam to plyo-box
  • Hip hinge movement: Kettlebell deadlift
  • Horizontal or vertical pull movement: Standing cable row
  • Horizontal or vertical push movement: Elevated push-up variation
  • Single leg knee dominant movement: Bulgarian split-squat
  • Rotational movement: Boxing variation
  • Cool-down movements
  • Stretching

The goal is that we progress the client week-to-week vs simply throwing challenging exercises at them that are different each time.

4. Progress Matters, Not Random Tough Exercises

The fitness “world” and society in general tells us that we should always be “mixing it up” to shock the body. Or, it just matters about how much we sweat or how high our heart rate was.

You might be able to get away with that stuff when you’re 25 years old but we’re talking Strength Training after 40, right?

The fact of the matter is that any personal trainer can make you sweat, but it takes a GREAT personal trainer (or strength training program) to make you better.

What I mean by that is simply running on a treadmill and doing random “tough” workouts is NOT the same as a being trained (or training yourself) and systematically making progress and improvements.

As you age, the risk of injury increases, so strength training after 40 is something you should take more care with and pay attention to what matters most.

That fun “Insanity” workout you attempted from the comfort of your own home is often an extremely advanced training session of random tough exercises for someone that is not YOU.

Focus on the basics and making progress week-to-week to avoid injury and stay in the gym long term. Again, consistency and long term health matters. Not sweating.

5. Work Around Injuries

I saved the BEST for last!

Strength Training after 40 comes with a lot of quirks.

Sore elbows, achy knees, busted shoulders, and tender low backs. I get it and have felt all of those myself over the 15+ years I’ve been in the gym.

My best advice is to find ways around injuries to ultimately stay consistent.

Have knees that don’t like to squat?

Let’s do dumbbell goblet squats to a plyo-box. Or, perhaps we need to retrain your glutes and hamstrings to activate first so you’re squatting correctly.

Does your low back hurt when you do XYZ? Or, simply hurt just trying to make it through each day?

Got it. Work on your core stabilization and hip mobility vs trying to run to lose weight and add to your host of muscular imbalances. And, be sure to read these 4 tips.

Have plantar fasciitis and can’t do any lower body weighted exercises?

No worries. Let’s focus on seated upper body exercises. Runners, if you’re finding life full of aches and injuries do yourself a favor and read this.

Just don’t let your age and possible limitations make you think you CAN’T do anything besides surf channels from your couch.

What’s Next?

For starters, if you’re over 40 and want to feel good and improve your overall health YOU MUST BE strength training.

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If you need help with feeling empowered with your fitness and nutrition, schedule a 10-min Intro Call with our Fitness Experts below. 👇

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