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After you hit 40, you might begin to wonder what this means for your workout program. What are the best workouts for those in their 40’s and beyond? How should your workout change compared to that of someone half your age?
There’s no question that you do need to adapt your workout over time due to the changing needs of your body, but contrary to what many women might believe, it doesn’t need to change that much.
The Best Workout For Women Over 40
Hands down, the single best workout option for women in their 40’s is going to be a good resistance training program. It’s incredibly important for women at this age to start with a strength training workout if they have not yet already because at this age, you are at a higher risk of losing lean muscle mass. It’s the old principle ‘use it or lose it.’ If you aren’t putting sufficient stress on your muscles as the weeks pass by, slowly you’ll grow weaker, which can make everyday activities harder to perform.
Likewise, your lean muscle mass is the most metabolically active tissue in the body, so the more muscle you lose, the slower your resting metabolic rate will become, which can contribute to weight gain.
One of the biggest reasons why women start to gain weight into their 40’s and 50’s is because they are losing the lean muscle that helped keep their daily calorie burn higher. If you aren’t adjusting your food intake to account for this loss of muscle mass, it will result in weight gain.
Additionally, if you are in your 40’s and really looking to transform your body, weight lifting is the way to do it. While cardio training may help you burn fat, weight lifting will help you reshape your physique, adding curves and muscle in all the right places.
Finally, weight lifting is a great choice if you want to combat stress. Between a demanding career and family obligations, life can get stressful. A good weight lifting session will release a nice dose of endorphins, helping calm your body and combat that stress.
Getting Started With Resistance Training
So how can you get started? First, you’ll want to select the best exercises to make the most of your time in the gym. Chances are, you’re busy and don’t have hours to train, so you’ll want to get the most ‘bang for your buck.’
Compound exercises will work multiple muscle groups at once, help you gain functional strength, and burn the most calories per session. They should be your focus. These include moves such as bench pressing or push-ups, bent over rows, shoulder presses, squats, lunges, deadlifts and pull-ups (or pull-downs).
Focus on these first and foremost, then you can add other exercises such as bicep curls, tricep extensions, lateral raises, leg extensions, and hamstring curls if you’d like.
You should focus on lifting a heavy enough weight that you are fully fatigued by the time you finish around 8-10 reps without losing proper form. This will give you both the strength-training stimulus to help generate more lean muscle mass while keeping your metabolic rate and calorie burn higher.
Finally, rest for around 30-60 seconds between sets. You don’t want to rest too long or you’ll lose some of the metabolic boosting effects this workout provides. At the same time, don’t rest so little that you can’t challenge yourself with a heavy weight.
To help give you an idea how to implement this, let’s examine at what a full body workout for those over 40 would look like. Always begin with a brief five to ten minute warm-up and finish up with some light stretching at the end.
Full Body Workout For Women Over 40:
- Squats – 3 sets of 8 reps
- Bench Press – 3 sets of 8 reps
- Bent Over Rows – 3 sets of 8 reps
- Leg Press – 3 sets of 10 reps
- Shoulder Press – 3 sets of 10 reps
- Walking Lunges – 2 sets of 12 reps
- Superset* Bicep Curls with Tricep Extensions – 2 sets of 15 reps
- Superset* Lateral Raises with Front Raises – 2 sets of 15 reps
*Note that a superset is performing all the reps of one exercise and then directly moving to the next exercise, doing all the reps of it before taking a rest.
So if you have not yet started with resistance training, lean towards this style of exercise as you formulate your workout plan. It’ll serve you very well both in your 40’s as well as in the years beyond.