We all worry about it. That horrible moment when suddenly, seemingly out of the blue, the “middle age spread” finally catches up with us. Hips widen, tummies expand and thighs thicken.
So why does this seemingly inevitable weight gain occur? Mostly, it’s because as we age, the hormones that help to maintain muscle mass and metabolism start to wane, meaning suddenly you’re burning a lot less energy than you used to and your muscle mass decreases too, which compounds the problem.
The good news is, with the right approach to nutrition and a great exercise plan, you can absolutely reverse, or at least put a stop to the dreaded “spread” and who knows, if you stay committed, you may even find yourself with a hotter bod than you had in your 20s… it’s definitely possible!
When it comes to your exercise, the number one way to overcome a loss of muscle, bone and other important metabolic tissues is through a combination of cardio and weight training – it’s use it or lose it as you start to age and consistency is more important than ever before, as you’ll lose muscle mass a lot more quickly than you used to, so make sure you commit to a regular exercise program and really stick to your plan. Try using the table in the PDF as a guide.
Here’s how to make sure you get the most from your sessions…
As you age, retaining a toned, fit body is all about holding on to your muscle mass and this means the best cardio options are those focused on interval training, rather than long-haul endurance sessions. This means you need short bursts of activity, followed by active recovery periods.
You may find that as your body ages, your joints become a little more sensitive too and if this is the case, don’t feel that your only option is high impact intervals like running or plyometrics – you can get just as good a workout using low impact options like swimming, cycling, or bodyweight resistance exercises (squats, lunges, pushups, etc) to get your heart rate soaring.
Do 30 seconds of your chosen cardio exercise at 80-90% of your maximum effort. You should feel quite out of breath and ready for a break by the end of this time. Now slow down and ‘recover’ for 60 seconds before repeating the cycle 8-10 times.
Challenge your body by changing your intervals up each time. You might work for 45 seconds and recover for 90, for example. Also, try switching up the type of exercise you’re doing.
The math adds up – build more lean muscle mass and you create an instant metabolic advantage, reversing the effects of aging. It’s that simple!
It’s super important to work all the major muscle groups to get the maximum metabolic advantage, so full body workouts are best. Start with light weights or bodyweight workouts and increase the load as you become stronger.
When you first start out, it’s best to get a little help from a pro, but if that’s not an option for you, try the below age defying workout next time you hit the gym!
The BUF Age Defying Workout
Complete 12 repetitions each of exercises 1A through to 1D (in the PDF), back-to-back, without resting in between. Once you’ve completed all four exercises, rest for one minute before repeating. Complete three rounds all up, before moving on to exercises 2A through to 2D, working with the same amount or repetitions and rest. If completing both sets of exercises is a little too much for you, choose either set 1 or set 2 to complete during different sessions throughout the week and work your way up to the full double set! Remember to warm up before you start and finish with a nice, long stretch.
On active recovery days, there shouldn’t be a structured exercise session in sight, but do make sure you’re active for at least 30 minutes in some way. This might include a weekend stroll, some yoga, a morning stretch session, a game of golf, or even browsing the shops! Some gentle movement is all it takes.
Enjoy your workouts and if you need extra motivation to stick to your plan, just remember how many added benefits there are, other than just a hotter bod. Reduced risk of osteoporosis, increased mental clarity, more energy and a much more positive mindset are just some of the many benefits of increasing your physical activity as you age.
And then there’s the big one… less wrinkles due to all that extra circulation. Now if that’s not motivation enough to stick to your guns, we don’t know what is!
This workout brought to you by LifeStyle YOU and Bottom's Up Social Fitness for Women