Working out in your 40s is far different than working out in your 20s. Our 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 The old motto of “no pain, no gain,” is outdated and untrue.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 an 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 101st strike 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 your self fueled[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!