Muscles After 40!

Beachbody has some great programs for those who are deciding to get in the best shape of their lives at a later age. I will share three of the top programs for beginners that I recommend near the end of this post. But first, I wanted to talk about why maintaining or increasing our fitness levels as we age is so important, as well as what areas we should pay close attention to. 

As I get older, I am finding more and more that age really is just a number. In fact, I try to better myself every year, but I also know that as we age, we also need to be more careful, because there are changes happening in our bodies that we need to work with – not fight. 

With that said, our fitness goals may also change as we get older. It’s inevitable that our bodies change with time, so we need to be aware of that. 

Maintaining Range of Motion in Your Joints and Muscles 

As we age, we lose mobility. This is due to both our bone structure gradually changing as well as the shortening of tendons and ligaments within the joints., which is why we feel stiffer as we age. 

There are three very complex areas of the human skeletal system that tend to degenerate more quickly than other areas of the body. They are as follows: 

  • Thoracic spine 
  • Hips 
  • Shoulders 

Each day, I spend 5-10 minutes stretching these areas with basic static and dynamic stretches. This is my minimum mobility work for the day and helps me to continue to feel amazing and flexible. 

Exercises or the thoracic spine: 

  • Cobra yoga pose 
  • Cow pose/cat pose 

Exercises for the hips: 

  • Goblet squats 
  • Hip circles 
  • Hip flexor stretches

Exercises for the shoulders: 

  • Arm circles 
  • Various static stretches 

When you do these exercises, never push yourself beyond your limits.  Start slow, and if you feel any pain, stop immediately. Stretching should be pleasant and relieving, never painful. 

Self-Myofascial Release aka Self-Massage 

Trigger points are caused by trauma to the soft tissue. Basically, when the muscle tissue becomes injured, it heals itself together forming what we often refer to as muscle knots. It’s like scar tissue. Have you ever ran your hand down your sore muscle and felt a harder spot that’s sore to touch? That’s a trigger point. 

Foam rolling is the preferred way to break up these adhesions or scar tissue. When you hit a knot, you’ll know it, because it is painful, and you can often feel the foam roller going over what seems to be a hard object in your muscle tissue. But don’t let off, instead, maintain pressure on the knot for 30-60 seconds, and it should eventually release. You will notice immediate relief once it does. And don’t fret if you can’t get the knot out in one sitting. I know I can’t always. Just continue to work on it each day until it does. 

I have an entire blog post about foam rolling here. Since that article, I’ve also added a lacrosse ball and double lacrosse ball into my mobility kit, which is just an FYI if you are looking to up the intensity of your foam rolling. 

Maintain or Build Your Core Strength 

The core muscles include your abdominals, your back muscles as well as a smaller and complex system of stabilizing muscles around the pelvis that lead down the legs. The core muscles are an important area to focus on as we get older because we use them so often in our everyday lives. 

Pick something up off the floor? That’s right, you’re using those core muscles. Standing up straight? Now that is a lot of core work! When these core muscles weaken, we open ourselves to injuries in other areas of the body, as well as poor posture. Most individuals who undergo back strain have a weakened core. 

The good news is that keeping your core tight and strong can be accomplished with a few simple exercises you can do anywhere. 

For the core: 

  • Plank 
  • Side plank 
  • Bridges 
  • Burpees 

Remember to always keep your core tight when exercising as doing so will give you a lot of indirect core work and lower your risk of injury. 

Exercise & Eat Right Every Day 

The best thing anyone of any age can do is exercise and eat right. It’s not rocket science. A couple of strength training workouts each week, some cardio, a diet that is based around whole, healthy foods, and your body, mind, and spirit will thank you. 

Three Beachbody Programs I Would Recommend 

Tai Cheng: I cannot speak highly enough of the work Dr. Mark Cheng has done in this incredible workout program. This program consists of a beginning round of mobility work, followed up with a session Tai Cheng (basically Tai Chi). This program just does not get recognized enough and is the program I used as my research material for this blog post. I think it’s because the weight loss is not extreme as with other programs, although it helps you lean out, get your mobility back, and keeps you eating healthy. Ordering information can be found here

PiYo: Yoga and pilates combined, although I could say stretching and strengthening exercises combined to create a heck of a good workout. This program fixed some of my very own muscle imbalances and built my endurance while giving me a long, lean, toned look. It contains two core workouts to really help with posture, too. Here is the link to get it here.

21 Day Fix: This is the renowned portion control and 30-minute daily exercise program that was made with the beginner to exercise and diet in mind. It is a program based around creating habits (it takes 21 days to create a habit) that you can live with to lead a healthy lifestyle for life, not just the three weeks. And, being based around whole-foods, does not hurt either!  You can get the 21 Day Fix here.

Don’t Think It Can Be Done? 

Two of the finest transformations I have been privileged to be a part of is from a 53-year-old male and a 58-year-old female. He, who has now completed three programs and dropped over 30 pounds, is currently Maxing Out with INSANITY MAX:30 as we speak. She is building muscle while maintaining her flexibility with PiYo, loving every minute of it. I hope to add their transformation pictures here soon if they let me! 

PLEASE NOTE: I am not a doctor. If you have concerns about previous injuries, future injuries, or whether or not you are healthy enough to do a particular program, please consult your physician. I say this because I want you to be safe. 

Tabitha Martin 

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