10 Exercise Tips for People 40 & Over

Working out in your 40s is far different than working out in your 20s. Bodies undergo a lot of changes across our lifespans; by your 40s, you’re likely losing muscle mass, taking longer to recover from injuries, noticing more joint pains, and experiencing changes in your sleep patterns. The days of chasing a “pump” or intentionally trying to make yourself as sore as possible are long gone. All we want to do now is look better, feel better, and move better. 

Try these 10 tips to help you get the most out of workouts in your 40s and beyond!

1. Never go into pain

I can’t stress this enough: NEVER go into sharp pain while exercising. The old motto of “no pain, no gain,” is outdated and untrue. Mild discomfort is okay; dull and achy can be okay; but sharp pain is a big no-no[SM1] . Pain is never a good measure of progress because it is easy to make yourself, you should be checking for progress with weights or how you feel as a indicator of progress.

2. Warm up and cool down

Warming up isn’t just stepping on a treadmill and walking for a few minutes. Your workouts should begin with foam rolling, as well as a dynamic warm-up that includes mobility exercises to get blood-flow to your muscles and to move your joints. 

Cooling down is just as important as the warm up. It brings your body back into a regular state of relaxation—which is vital to counteract the stress you just put your body through during your workout.

Click here to read more about why you should warm up!

3. Be consistent

In order for change to happen, you have to be consistent. Taking some time off here and there is okay, but skipping more than a week can put you in a bad position[SM2] . This is because we are creatures of habits, once we break routine it is very hard for us to get back on track. Remember, it’s not the 101ststrike of an axe that took the tree down—it’s the 100 before it. Being consistent over time will be one of the greatest keys to your success.

4. Stay hydrated

Drinking water is crucial when it comes to exercising. Staying hydrated keeps your muscles and joints healthy. While you are exercising, you are going to sweat and lose water, it is important to keep yourselffueled[SM3] . Begin with drinking half your bodyweight in ounces, and gradually increase from there.

5. Be patient 

It took years—decades, even—to create the bodies we have today, so why do we expect our bodies to change completely in just a few short weeks? Change takes time. Fitness and health are long-term goals, not quick fixes. By age 40, most of our bodies have gone through years of damage—we’ll have to establish and stick to new habits to reverse all that. Whatever your goal, remind yourself that it may take longer than you expect—but it’ll be worth it. 

6. Set goals 

Setting goals is like planning out a road trip: You have to know where and how you’re getting to your destination. Setting SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Time-based) goals will give you an accurate perspective on how to best accomplish your goals. Start with small changes- such as maybe eating one home meal a week or adding in one cup of veggies a day into your nutrition and begin to build toward bigger ones like eating home meals a majority of the week or limiting the amount of processed foods you are eating.

7. Work technique

If you’re new to exercising or trying a new type of exercise, hire a coach! A coach can help you with setting the right goals and making a plan, but more importantly, they do one of the most important things: teach you proper technique. Learning proper exercise technique will help you avoid injury, and get the full benefit out of each exercise, helping you to progress more safely, quickly, and confidently. 

8. Nutrition matters

Nutrition is just as important as exercising, so unfortunately eating pizza every day—even if you’re exercising regularly—isn’t the most productive way to get fit. Don’t worry, though: You can still have the delicious foods you love—you just have to eat them in moderation. Begin by planning out your meals for the week, deciding what you’ll have for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks throughout the week to reduce spur-of-the-moment decisions that tend to be less nutritious. Add healthier and healthier habits to your meal plans as the weeks go on. 

9. Take time to recover

Trying to go “beast mode” all the time at the gym is a quick way to get burnt out. We use the 80/20 rule at my gym: give us 80% now and save 20% for tomorrow. If you aren’t taking the proper time to recover between training sessions, then your body won’t be able to function as well as you want it to. Save some in the tank for another day!

10. Have fun

Exercising should be fun! It shouldn’t be a chore you dread, nor should it be punishment for something you ate. If you love lifting weights, great! If you enjoy yoga, awesome! If you are a runner, wonderful! Whatever the form of exercise, as long as you’re staying active, you’re doing it right! 

You Are Not a Number

Most of us begin exercising to lose weight. We work out multiple times a week. We plan our
meals and eat out less. We do all the right things to achieve the goal weight we have decided in
our heads.

And then the day comes: We step on the scale, only to see the number go up!? How
discouraging. How frustrating. It makes us question why we’re even trying.

When it comes to weight-loss goals, the scale can actually be your biggest enemy.

The scale only does one thing: It gives you a number—nothing more. When you see that
number, and its not what you want it to be, it can feel like you stepped on broken glass. All your
hard work gets discredited by three digits.

But those numbers aren’t an accurate representation of who you are or what you’ve
accomplished. Those numbers do not define you.

Measuring your weight is one of the smallest elements of your equation for improved health.
Read on for five better ways to measure progress toward your weight-loss goals.

How you feel

Remember how you felt three months ago, before you started exercising? How many aches and
pains you had before you got stronger and more mobile? What about your energy—how low
that was prior to exercising?

Having less pain throughout the day, having more energy to do stuff with the family, being able
to walk up a flight upstairs without feeling gassed: These are huge strides forward that you’ve
made.

The scale does not depict how you feel now compared to how you felt when you first started.

Your strength

Before you started your fitness journey, perhaps doing a single push up was completely out of
the picture. Now you can do five in a row, no problem!

You’ve started using heavier weights now because the weights you used in the beginning are no longer challenging enough.

The scale does not represent how strong you have gotten. It doesn’t show all the new skills
you’ve developed.

Your confidence

Going to the gym used to be the worst feeling in the world. You felt intimidated and
uncomfortable. Maybe you didn’t know what you were doing, or you didn’t know anyone.
Maybe you felt as if you had a big sign on your back that said HEY, EVERYONE, STARE AT ME!!!

Now you proudly walk into the gym looking forward to what you get to work on today. There’s
no more fear everyone staring at you or not knowing what you are doing. You might even be
able to help someone who’s new to the gym because you remember how it felt when you first
started.

The scale does not show how much more confident you are now.

How clothes fit

Losing weight can be expensive because you need to buy new clothes again! What a great
problem to have. When you first started working out, you may not have felt comfortable in our
clothes because they were either too tight or excessively baggy.

Now you’re buying new pants and shirts that you may never have considered wearing because
“there was no way I can fit into that.” As you begin to build more lean muscle, clothes begin to
fit better.

The scale does not have your sense of style—it’s just a number.

Better habits

The biggest one of all: The newly formed habits you’ve created for this new lifestyle. Remember
how you used to drink five pops a day? How you never ate vegetables? How about the idea of
exercising? What about how you almost never planned out what you were going to eat
throughout the week?

The list goes on and on—We all had negative habits prior to starting this journey. Now you have
a whole toolbox of improved habits, like drinking more water daily, reduced sugar intake,
weekly meal planning, and regular exercise.

The scale does not measure all your great new skills.

Stop thinking of your progress at the gym in terms or nothing but a number.

YOU ARE NOT A NUMBER. You’re a human being. You’re complex, and so is your progress as
you work toward bettering your health.

The Best Squat You’re Not Doing

The Goblet Squat is one of the best exercises to learn when you are new to exercising. Often times when we think of squatting, we automatically jump right into barbell back squat. Though this is a great exercise to use, sometimes it may not be the best choice for us. 

Why the barbell isn’t the best choice for squatting when you’re new to the gym.

1. We do not have the necessary mobility for this exercise yet.

The barbell back squat is a very advanced exercise that requires a lot of mobility and technique to do.

2. It requires a lot of technique.

The barbell back squat is an advance exercise that requires a great amount of skill to perform.

3. We are recovering from an injury.

If we are coming back to the gym after recovering from an injury of some sort, sometimes the barbell may not be the most accommodating tool to use right away being that it places you in a fixed position.

So, what should we do instead? 

Let’s Goblet Squat!!  

Goblet squatting is one of the best forms of squatting that anyone can do. The reason that this exercise is pure gold is because it is a great exercise for learning proper squatting technique and it doesn’t require a great amount of mobility.

To learn how to goblet squat, follow these 4 cues.

1. Tall & tight.

We want to begin in a tall and tight position. This allows for us to maintain proper position throughout the movement. Pinch your shoulders back and keep everything tight.

2. Reach your hips back.

Rather than just dropping down into the bottom of the squat, begin by reaching your hips back to create more room for the hips. 

3. Spread the floor with the knees.

Pull yourself down, as if you are going to sit between your feet. You want to actively spread the floor with the knees. What this means is to widen your knees as you go down. This gets your inner thigh and hips muscles to be more engaged. 

4. Drive through your feet.

When you reach the bottom of your squat you want to make sure that you drive your feet into the ground as you stand tall and lock out. 

Next time you are on your way to the gym, make sure to give this exercise a try!