It happens to all of us; one moment you’re in your twenties where exercise and nutrition don’t offer much of a conversation, then fast forward 15-20+ years and you’re left scratching your head as to how to stay in shape.
Have no fear. It takes an open mind and big toolbox to keep getting results as you get older. Here’s the most important information you need to know.
Starting a Training Regime from Scratch
That amazing period of time where you know extremely little about training and nutrition but you build muscle, strength and drop body fat anyway. It’s a magical time. Everything seems to work because you’ve gone from doing nothing to doing something. And something always beats nothing (key point – don’t forget it).
Unfortunately those rapid beginner results don’t last and eventually progress slows. This is where you have to approach your training, nutrition and lifestyle habits with an open mind and start to develop new strategies to see you continually reach your goals. Here’s some general advice.
There are numerous articles that show the benefits of strength training in preventing middle-aged spread. I would go as far as saying it’s key to longevity. Each decade after 30, muscle declines by 3-8 per cent and because it has a higher metabolic rate than fat, the more muscle you have, the more calories you burn not only during exercise but also at rest. ‘Muscle requires more blood and oxygen to be supplied to it than fat and that increases the energy expenditure the body has to do to maintain it,’ explains Professor John Brewer, head of sports and exercise science at St. Mary’s University Twickenham.
- A 2011 paper from ACSM asserts that muscle loss is the single greatest contributor to age-related decline in metabolism.
- Adding just 2-4 pounds of muscle to your body you could burn 100 extra calories a day at rest (that’s 3000 calories in a month, technically enough to lose a pound).
- Lifting workouts such as circuit training may burn about 200 calories while you’re doing them but unlike cardiovascular exercise such as running, they burn some 25 per cent more additional calories in the first hour following your workout and may keep your resting metabolic rate elevated by 100 calories a day for up to 72 hours afterwards.
- Studies carried out at Glasgow Caledonian University found that strength training improved bone density in post-menopausal women.
- One large study from the Harvard School of Public Health followed 10,500 US men aged over 40 for 12 years and found that of all the activities they did, weight training for 20 minutes three times a week had the greatest effect on preventing age-related abdominal fat.
- And while we know all forms of exercise improve depression, a review of 25 randomised controlled trials involving exercise training of depressed patients found strength training had twice the mood benefits that aerobic exercise alone had (though the best result was when patients did both).
Ok, you get it. Strength training is important. Don’t disregard cardiovascular training completely though, it has shown to reduce your risk of cardiovascular diseases when people completed 30 minute sessions, 5 days a week.
So What Should a Typical Training Programme Look Like?
4-5 days per week.
Resistance focused exercises for 2-3x per week; such as squats, pressing and pulling exercises as well as carry variations.
Smart conditioning 1-2x per week; such as HIIT training, circuit training, playing sport, cycling, running, swimming etc.
Daily mobility exercises; such as inch worms, rotations, face pulls, downward dog etc.
Build your Exercise Toolbox
This is mostly about mindset. Example:
“For legs, you ONLY need to squat with a bar on your back!”
Everyone would have heard something similar at some point in their lives. As we get older, you realise that there are many ways to hit those muscles and that movement pattern – for example there are loads of different squat variations that work great and allow you to “work around” beat-up knees and various old injuries. It is important that you fill your exercise toolbox with a vast number of alternatives and variations that WORK FOR YOU.
A bar on your back is a great tool. Adding more weight is a great tool. But if those are your only tools, you’ll have a tougher time progressing when you hit a roadblock.
Nutrition is a subject that has been extensively covered across the internet so we are going to keep it simple. As your body ages and your life changes, so should your diet. At 45 you’re not eating for a 25 year-old’s physiology anymore. There’s a word for people who try to do that: chubby.
“I have trained three times per week but I haven’t been on a strict diet at all and I have managed to lose 7kg! Super happy”
Polly, PT Client
Maybe it’s stress, maybe it’s all those extra responsibilities interfering with your workouts, or maybe it’s just a body that’s getting older and slowly accumulating minor problems. Don’t visualise 25 year-old you when you plan your nutrition. Your life is a bit different now. That usually means you’re going to have to tighten things up, diet-wise.
At SPC we help our client’s track their calorie intake where we can offer advice depending on each client’s specific goal. There is no one size fits all approach when it comes to nutrition – the best diet is one that allows each individual to turn it into a lifestyle that allows you to lose fat and keep it off because you learn how to incorporate all foods in healthy moderation.
In terms of supplementation, I can’t recommend enough the benefits of omega-3 fish oils, a high quality superfood supplement to ensure you’re eating a range of whole fruit and vegetables, vitamin D3, glutamine for digestive health and possibly even creatine for long term brain health. Just remember that food always comes first, supplements are secondary.
Lack self-discipline? Struggle with motivation? Need accountability? Find out how we can help you
Moving forward, you need to fill your toolbox with different training and diet strategies. When your favourite training or nutrition method doesn’t work anymore, you’ll have plenty of other options. Under 40? Ditch the dogma and start filling that toolbox now. Speak to someone who can help you.
Get in contact with the SPC team today:
Note: contents of this article were taken from Chris Shugart’s https://www.t-nation.com/training/tip-how-to-lift-until-youre-100