Wednesday, November 16, 2011

A Master Plan for Fitness in Your 40's

Let's start with the basics. Most fitness or exercise programs aren't age specific but rather general in suggestion. YES, the body has primary movements that it should be able to perform at any age (Flexion, Extension, Rotation, Level Changing, Pushing & Pulling) but at 40 years of age the body quite simply has different 'needs' than that of a 20 or 30 year old.

At 20 years of age you can pretty much lose an appendage and grow a new one within a season (much like a stone crab.) In your 30's there are few aches & pains that a good night sleep and Advil can't fix. Once you hit 40 however, you start asking the serious questions like "So Doctor, what do you think?"

Currently, the conventional thinking is that a greater emphasis on aerobic/cardiovascular fitness should be emphasized. I completely disagree. As we age, we maintain cardiovascular fitness much more easily while losing muscular strength & power much too readily. I'm not advocating an abandonment of aerobic activities, I'm simply recognizing that we need to have a healthy appreciation for strength & structural integrity. In my opinion 3 days a week of strength training exercises (see below) along with 3 days a week of aerobic/cardiovascular fitness training is optimal for not only physical betterment, but for combating disease, aging, and weight gain.

If you are new to exercise you might think this sounds like a lot. If you are an avid exerciser or an ex-athlete you will likely think it's not enough. What I suggest is that you save judgement until you do it, then your opinion will have much more credibility. Sound fair? Good. Now let's get to work!

Always start with mobility exercises to loosen up your joints and prepare your body for the movements to follow. A greater emphasis should be placed on joint mobility. Especially of the hips & upper back.

Mobility Warm-Up:
- Cat & Camel
- Hip Circles
- T Spine Rotations
- Cobra Stretch

*I'm not a fan of 'reps' to warm-up. The number of 'reps' it takes to feel fluid & loose is always the right amount.

"Movement Prep" is a term that has grown in popularity. What really matters is that the body is prepared to move. How this is best achieved will likely be subject for debate for some time?

Movement Prep:
- Bird Dog x 15 per side
- Side Plank Ups x 10 per side
- Bicycle Maneuver x 20 reps
(repeat 2x)

Strength training should be performed with your feet on the ground whenever possible. On the field, on the road, or in life, we seldom are asked to exert force from the seated position.

Strength Training:
- Squats, Lunges, or Step Ups x 10-15 reps
- Pullups, Cable/Band Row, DB Row x 6-10 reps
- Deadlift, Single Leg Reach, Back Extension x 6-10 reps
- Pushups, Band Press, DB Press x 6-10 reps
- Cable/Band Chops, Twists, Reverse Chops x 6-10 reps
(repeat 2-3x)

"Core Training" is another term that has grown in popularity. This simply is defined as your ability to maintain a neutral spine under stress. The core is less about muscles and more about a relationship to stabilize the body when exerting force.

Core Exercises:
- Prone Plank x 15'' - 60''
- Supine Bridge / Plank x 15'' - 60"
- Standing Core Press using Cable/Band x 10" - 20"
(repeat 2x)

I mentioned this earlier but as we age we maintain our aerobic fitness at the expense of our muscular fitness. We also loose our anaerobic power at a significant rate. This needs to be addressed in our conditioning.

- 20" hard rowing/punching w/ 10" rest x 6-10
- 100 yd sprints w/ full recovery x 6-8
- 8 minutes @ 85%+ Heart Rate (Cycle, Row, Run, ARC/Elliptical)

Recovery is the most underrated aspect of most fitness programs. While many recovery & regeneration methods exist, myofascial release or foam rolling is perhaps the one within the means of most.

Foam Roll the following:
- Posterior including Extensions of the Thoracic Spine
- IT Band
- Quadriceps & Hamstrings
- Feet (using a Tennis or Lacrosse ball)

*Like in the warm-up - I'm not interested in a certain time or number As long as it takes to feel fluid & loose is always the right amount.

Aerobic exercises are fun. Cycling, Running, Dance, or Martial Arts all benefit our Cardiovascular system and give us the joy of play (something we don't get enough of at any age.)

* Limit running time to 20-30 minutes & cycling time to 60-90 minutes. Endurance athletes or those preparing for an event will typically go much longer - more frequently but for 'fitness' goals it's not necessary. Train Smart then Go Live Your Best Life!

Frank Pucher
CEO, Fitness 121 Personal Training
Platinum Level Coach - Todd Durkin Mastermind

Fitness 121
5 Becker Farm Rd. Roseland, NJ 07068
Office: 973.535.1177
Named "Best Exercise Studio" 2010 & 2011 - New Jersey Monthly Magazine.

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