Over 40: 4 Tips On What To Do In The Gym

Over 40: 4 Tips On What To Do In The Gym

Over 40: 4 Tips On What To Do In The Gym

So, you’re in your 40’s or 50’s. Congrats, God willing you have reached the midway point of your life.

But, now that you are here does that mean that you need to start training your age, start training with precautions and restrictions because you might break?

First a Funny Story

My loving husband, who is 10 years older than me, gives me a heads up with every passing decade as to what to expect both physically and mentally for the years ahead.

For example, when he turned 30 he enlightened me that my body was going to start to change shape (in case you are doing the math in your head I meet the love of my life when I was 19 years old. 25 years later he’s still with me.).

Sure enough at 30 years my hips grew wider (a lot wider) and things shifted. I was happy though. Prior to that I was kinda built like a boy. Now I had me some curves.

At 40 he then warned me that simple tasks, like getting up and off the floor, was going to start getting harder. As well, things that I completely take for granted now, like reading the small print on food labels, or menus in a dark restaurant, would go the way of the dodo.

On top of that he coached me that I will also experience a big decline in my energy levels and I won’t be able to, nor want to be able to, be in a constant state of motion like I was in my 20’s and 30’s.

Sitting at 44 years now, with 45 staring me in the face, he has been, and is right on target.

About-PJ-Fitness-with-PJ

I’m Old So Therefore I’m Frail

Many people, including loving husband, think that as we age we tend to slow down and do less because of aging. For the most part this is complete and utter BS (sorry loving husband).

Much of the physical frailty attributed to aging is actually the result of inactivity, disease or poor nutrition.

The good news, many of these problems can be helped (or even reversed) by improving lifestyle behaviors, such as exercising on a regular basis and eating a whole food diet.

The Effects of Aging

Aging muscles:

  • Shrink and lose mass with age. This is called sacropenia and it is a natural process, but a sedentary lifestyle will also speed this nasty process up.
  • The number of our muscle fibers decrease as we age, which means that it takes longer to respond in our 40’s and 50’s than it did in our 20’s.
  • The water content of the tendons decrease which makes our tissues stiffer and less able to handle stress.
  • The heart muscle becomes less able to propel large quantities of blood quickly which means that we tire more easily and take longer to recover.
  • Our metabolism slows down (this is how quickly our body converts energy) which means we don’t burn fat like we used to.

Aging bones & joints:

  • The mineral content in our bones decrease (for both men and women) making our bones more fragile.
  • The connective tissue that attaches bones to bones (called ligaments) become less elastic which in turn decreases our flexibility.
  • Cartilage, which provides the cushioning between our bones and in our joints, changes. With these changes comes less water content and a joint more susceptible to wear and tear (ie. arthritis)
  • Our joint motion becomes more restricted due to these changes in our tendons and ligaments making us all around less flexible.

Over 40: 4 Tips On What To Do In The Gym

 

1. Build a fitness base.

If you are just starting a fitness program you need to build a base first. This is extremely important, especially in our later years as it is much easier to get injured and it takes longer to get better when we do injure ourselves.

Why is it easier? You can thank the decreased water in our tendons and ligaments, as well as our restricted range of motion in our joints and our loss of muscles mass and muscle fiber size.

 

My recommendation: perform a strength training workout 3 times a week, 1 set an exercise, and then the next week do 2 sets, the week after add about 10% more weight to what you are lifting and then on the fourth week add another set.

2. Lift heavy.

Once that base is built, or if you are already fit, start lifting heavier but for fewer reps. If your joints and cartilage have already encountered years of wear and tear (which we know that they have by mid-life), and they don’t have the water content that they used to, a weight training program with lots of reps will only inflame the joint further.

Instead, lift a weight that you can maintain good form with, but are starting to crack by the end of your rep range of 12-15.

3. Watch out for long distance, repetitive workouts.

Cross training is your goal in your later years. If you like running, great run but keep the mileage down and perform other activities as well. But, if you run and run and run (or bike and bike and bike, or swim and swim and swim) be prepared to hurt.

Unless you are one of the blessed individuals who can perform repetitive long distance workouts without injury you are going to inflame those joints of yours and send yourself to physio.

In fact, even my younger clients that only ran for their workouts prior to seeing me have a longer history of injuries than those who run as well as lift weights.

And if you are running for weight loss, just stop right now. Cause it ain’t gonna work as well as other forms of exercise will.

4. You ain’t dead yet.

I, personally, know that I could kick my 20-year old’s ass. I am stronger, faster and more focused at 44 than I was at 24.

So, once you have built that fitness base, layered on it for a year I want you to GO FOR IT – cause you ain’t dead yet.

With the advances in nutrition and fitness that we have seen in the last 5 years we can get better and live longer and play just as hard as we did in our 20’s and 30’s.

Keep training everyone.

 

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Gym Etiquette – Avoiding the Seven Deadly Sins

Gym Etiquette – Avoiding the Seven Deadly Sins

Gym Etiquette – Avoiding the Seven Deadly Sins

Lifting properly is only one area in the gym that you should be working on. What every woman (and man!) needs to know about proper gym etiquette.

The other day, when I was at the bank the nice young fellow behind the desk (jeez that line made me sound old, when the hell did I get so old?) suggested that I write about gym etiquette.

Apparently he recently had a few experiences with gym-goers who did not respect those around them because they were oblivious to the sins that they were committing.

funny-workout-bag

Gym Etiquette 101

If yoi see someone lacking some gym etiquette it could be because of one of three reasons:

  • First, they are new to the whole gym-going experience and don’t know any better. It’s like when you were learning how to ride a bike. The pedalling part you knew about, cause you’d seen it, but the getting on the bike, staying on the bike and braking was not something that you could visually teach yourself. You could eventually learn, however it would take a lot of band-aids and heart ache, or better yet, it could be taught to you by someone who has been there and done that.
  • Second, there’s the gym-goer who is a frequent participant of going to the gym, but is just unaware of the fact that they are one sweat drop away from having a dumbbell thrown at them.
  • And finally, there’s the third type of gym-goer who couldn’t care less about those around them and strut around like they own the place. This blog is not going to help them. A dumbbell dropped on their toe on the other hand…. just saying.

Now, I don’t hang out in gyms much anymore (one of the perks of having a gym in my own home), but I do remember the usual gym etiquette sins, and they can be boiled down to these seven.

The-Workouts-Fitness-with-PJ

1/ Thou shall not hog all of the equipment.
Yes we get it, you like to super set your program, however just make sure that others around you can work in on that piece of equipment as well. For new gym-goers, if you would like to use a piece of equipment that someone else is on simply ask them “Can I work in?”, and work in when their set is done.

2/ You shall have no cell phones on the gym floor.
There is nothing worse than seeing “selfies” being taken and texts being exchanged back and forth while working out. Not only is this just ridiculous to witness, it is also distracting and takes away your own workout. Trust me, your Instagram account will survive the 45 minutes without an update.

3/ Remember, you are not the only one.
If you like to listen to music, great. Just please no singing, humming, whistling or even head banging. Leave that for the drive home.

4/ Honour your workout partners.
Don’t clang your weights together, drop your weights on the ground with drama, and grunt and groan through your set. Yes, we are struggling too with our own workout, but you don’t hear us sounding like a wounded Beluga whale while doing so.

5/ Thou shall not smell.
Working out can be stinky business and that’s why they make this amazing product called deodorant. So, please use it.

With that being said don’t swing the other end of the pendulum and douse yourself in perfume, cologne, hairspray or stinky body lotion prior to either. While you may believe that you are smelling like a garden of roses, the rest of us are holding our breathe – which FYI is really challenging to do while working out.

6/ You shall remember to wipe.
Sweating is messy business, so please wipe up after yourself. To take this one step further I would encourage you to bring a towel to the gym and sit on it (when you have to sit, cause let’s face it you came to the gym to get away from sitting), drape your towel over any gym equipment that you use and use your towel as a barrier between you and the mat.

On a completely separate note, if you are sick please stay at home. The biggest cesspool of germs originate in two places: kids and gym equipment. Please don’t add to the cesspool.
7/ In the end, nobody is watching you.
Probably one of the biggest fears a new gym-goer has is that others are watching them and judging them. With this said you will be happy to hear that that couldn’t be farthest from the truth.

In fact, everyone in the gym is far too concerned with what’s going on with them that you are really just a blip on their radar. Nothing more. So, fear not and go forth and be fit.

 

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Fast-Twitch Muscle or Slow-Twitch Muscle: Which One Are You?

Fast-Twitch Muscle or Slow-Twitch Muscle: Which One Are You?

Fast Twitch or Slow Muscle Fibre – Do You Know Which You Are?

Not all of our muscles are created equal. Case in point, how I feel when I lift weights for my upper body versus when I weight train for my lower body.

With my upper body muscles, it feels like I could go forever. It takes a long time for my muscles to fatigue.

Yet, when I train my legs, after just a few reps they start to fatigue. “Why is that?”, you wonder. Well, it seems my upper body is built for endurance and my lower body is built for speed, or more scientifically, I carry more slow-twitch muscle fibres in my arms and more fast-twitch muscle fibres in my quads and hamstrings.

Muscle Fibres Explained

Our skeletal muscles, those wonderful muscles that connect the bones together and that we train in the gym, comprise about 40% of our body weight. Within each muscle are microscopic proteins bundled together to form a fibre. These fibres are then bundled together to form what is called a fascicle (rhymes with popsicle), and the fascicles are bundled together to form a whole muscle.

Within these bundled fascicles lie three different types of muscle fibres (as well as gradations between them all), which dictate how much weight, or force, it can produce and how long it can generate this force. We all have these fibres, whether we exercise or not, and they vary from muscle to muscle.

The first type of fibre is called slow-twitch fibres, or Type I fibre.

These are our Energizer Bunny muscle fibres. They are recruited for endurance work because they can go on and on and on. However, while they can carry us the distance, they sure can’t press a lot of weight. Marathon racers would have a high percentage of these fibres in their legs, while body builders wouldn’t.

The second fibre type are our fast-twitch, or type IIa fibres.

These are recruited for activities that require speed, strength and power. They contract quickly, but fatigue quickly which is why I nick-named these fibres our Arnie-fibres. Sprinters would have a lot of these muscle fibres in their legs, whereas long-distance bicyclists wouldn’t.

The third type of fibre is the fast-twitch B (type IIb) fibres.

These are our super-charged fast-twitch muscle fibres, and are only recruited for short, intense activities such as jumping, sprinting at full speed and lifting very heavy weights.

Actions of Each Muscle Fibre

All of our actions are dictated by these fibres. That is why some people can lift heavy weights, but can only run for 5 minutes on the treadmill.

Of course, all muscles can be trained for any activity, so don’t use this as an excuse not to get your cardio in, but our muscle fibres do dictate what action will be easier for the body to perform.

In an anatomy class that I took years ago, I remember the instructor telling us that in some Eastern block countries they actually used to take biopsies of children’s legs to see what percentage of fast and slow-twitch muscle fibres they had.

This test then decided what sport the child will be sent into. Because let’s face it, if someone has a lot of slow-twitch fibres (our Energizer muscle fibres) in their quadriceps, they won’t be bringing home the Gold medal in the sport of power lifting.

To determine which muscle fibre type you have ask yourself the following questions (Idea, May 2010):

Are you able to do lots of repetitions when lifting weights, or do you fatigue after a few?
If you fatigue, you probably have a more fast-twitch fibres – like I found out in my legs. If this is the case wind sprints, HIIT workouts and low rep/high weight workouts are best suited for your body type.

Are you better at sprint and power activities or at endurance activities?
If you love to sprint, then you are like me again and have more fast-twitch muscle fibres. If you are a marathoner, then you carry more slow-twitch fibres, but if you enjoy 5km & 10 km then you possess a bit more fast-twitch. I use this excuse whenever someone tried to get me to run a marathon. “Sorry, I’d would love to, but I’m fast-twitch in the quads.”

Which type of workouts feel easier and more natural: a) long, aerobic workouts and light weights with lots of reps or (b) sprints and heavy weights with few reps?
If you answered (a), you have more slow-twitch fibres. If you answered (b), you have more fast-twitch fibres.

 

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12 Tips To Make Exercise a Habit

12 Tips To Make Exercise a Habit

12 tips to Make Exercise a Habit

Habit. It is defined as “a regular tendency or practice, one that is hard to give up”. Things like caffeine, to brushing your teeth, to sitting on the couch and binge watching “House of Cards” are all common habits that some people have (and by “some people” I really mean me).

Exercise, however, is not usually a habit that a lot of us have, but it is something that most of us strive for.

Moving your body can help you stay above ground longer, while also giving you that extra spring in your step – something that we all desire.

If you lack exercise as one of your habits I suggest you start implementing one, or all, of the following tips.


fitness, sport, training, gym and lifestyle concept – group of women with dumbbells in gym

Best Tips to Make Fitness a Habit:

1/ Start small. First, begin with something that is super easy so that it can be done on a consistent basis. For instance, focus on 15-minute workouts before that half marathon. If the task, or goal, is too big you will give up before you even get going.

2/ Commit. Commitment is hard, but if you want fitness to become a habit than you need to buck up and commit. Join a fitness class, hire a personal trainer (most of us charge before the sessions start, giving you loads of incentive to keep coming back), or buy some exercise DVDs.

3 / Fitness buddy. Once you have committed to an activity find yourself a buddy to help hold you (and them) accountable. Agree to meet on a weekly basis and then tell the other what you will be doing for the rest of the week for exercise. Research has shown that the simple act of telling someone our intentions helps us stick to them. Join my Facebook community to start.

4/ Become a morning person. Workout first thing in the morning, before life gets in the way and the excuses of “I’ll do it later” begin.

5/ Become an after work person. If morning can’t happen, then get your workout in after work, but before you get home. Because once you get home it is way harder to get your butt moving again – especially when it knows how much easier it is to go sit on the couch.

6/ Figure out your “why”. Bikini body is nice, but dig a little deeper please. If your “why” does not make you burst into song and dance then when the chips are down you ain’t gonna get those Nikes’ on. So, figure out why you want to exercise and let that stoke the coals.

 

7/ Use technology. Use Siri, or reminders on your phone to get you moving. I also love habit-building apps like the Way of Life and Good Habits (download on iTunes). Both apps help you to develop habits by tracking what you do everyday, as well as giving you regular reminders to keep doing them.

8 / Do what you love. Tip, if you never want to make exercise a habit then do something you absolutely hate and that makes you feel awful afterwards. But, if you love it, or love the results and after-effects, you will continue on and make it stick.

9 / Do it at home. Don’t make it too hard to exercise, instead find an activity that you can do at home. I do this personally. I love yoga, but I find it challenging to get to a class. So, instead, I stream the website GaiamTV.com and get a class in, right in my own living room and at times that work for me.

10 / Mix it up. Try different activities and expand your fitness world. Keep yourself motivated and excited with change. Try mixing it up with this fun 40-minute workout.

11 / Have a plan. If you are new to exercise no matter what you do for the first 6-10 weeks you will see results, if you stay consistent. However, after the newbie-high is over you will need a plan to continue to see progress. So, arm yourself with a plan, with information and stay abreast on the latest research (like subscribing to this blog… just saying. Wink, wink.)

12 / Fake it until you make it. I am in love with TED Talks and I recently watched social psychologist Amy Cuddlyone chat about her research that she has done with people and changing how they feel by simply changing their body posture. She wanted to know if our actions, like smiling when we aren’t necessarily happy, could affect our moods, and guess what? It does.

So, fake it until you make it. Pretend you love exercise, smile even when it hurts and try to radiate health and well-being and guess what? Your body will soon follow.

 

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