Many of my personal training clients—whether in their 40's, 50's, or even 80's —share this common complaint when it comes to staying fit: "It's not as easy as it used to be." OK, that may be true. It does get harder to get and stay in shape as the years go by, but you can get and stay in great shape over 40, and beyond.
Speed that metabolism back up by adding lean muscle to your body and altering your eating habits.
Here are four tips to turning back the fitness clock and looking and feeling great.
1) Boost Your Metabolism
Every decade, starting in your early 20's, your metabolism naturally slows down. This means that even if you're as active and eat as well as you did when you were younger, you will start to pack on extra pounds of fat. The solution? Speed that metabolism back up by adding lean muscle to your body (see below) and altering your eating habits.
Eating within 30 minutes of getting out of bed—a mix of lean proteins, starchy and fibrous carbohydrates in roughly equal proportions provides the nutrition you need. Then, continue eating throughout the day—yes, all day—about every 3 hours or so. Your body needs fuel all day long, so feed it frequently to burn all of the calories you take in. Minimize or eliminate simple sugars, processed foods, white flour and hydrogenated fats and get plenty of water (at least one ounce for every two pounds of body weight) and your metabolism will be firing on all cylinders.
2) Add Lean Muscle to Your Body
No, you don’t need to become a bodybuilder. But lean muscle is your body's fat-burning machine, and adding just 3 pounds of lean muscle to your body will help you burn almost 20 extra pounds of fat each year, even if you do nothing else. What is the best way to add this muscle? All you need is about 45 minutes of strength training. Make your workouts short and intense. In every workout, you should put out maximum intensity on each exercise. That is, if you're shooting for 12 repetitions, you need to choose a weight that will allow you to complete 12 reps, but fail at 13. On your next workout, lift just a little bit more weight. Keep track by writing it down so that you'll know that you're improving with each workout. When improvements start to reach a "plateau" you know it's time to change your program. And do not forget to eat (see above)! After just three hours without food, your body starts to break your muscle down and use it for energy.
3) Choose Supplements Wisely
Supplementing daily with a multi-vitamin for men and a multi-mineral go a long way. Additionally, as we get older, stress takes a greater toll on our bodies. During times of particularly high stress, your immunity drops and your body has a greater tendency to cannibalize muscle for fuel. To combat this, one can supplement with 5-10 grams of L-Glutamine and 8-12 grams of your Branched Chain Amino Acids (Leucinee, Isoloceine and Valine). But remember, the word supplement means "extra" or that little bit of insurance for your diet; try to get most of what you need from eating healthy foods frequently.
4) Don’t Forget to Stretch
We need to stretch every time we use our bodies— after strength training, a jog in the park, even after taking an extra-long walk. However, never stretch when you're body is "cold" (think of trying to stretch a rubber band that's been in the freezer—ouch!). Always warm up first. Ten minutes on the treadmill will do it. Stretching after your workout is always preferable to stretching before. The best book I've seen on stretching is called "Stretching" by Bob Anderson. Other options include taking a yoga class, booking a massage or personal training session and asking your therapist or trainer if they can spend some time stretching you at the end of the session.-- Greg Rothman, MS PT