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How to get fit after 40

Updated on March 8, 2017

Getting In Shape After Some Downtime Requires Certain Care to Avoid Injury

So… you finally decided to get in shape again and that new subscription to the gym is an excellent way to do isn’t it? You already bought all your accessories; sneakers, gloves, towel, pants, shorts, and even a cute bottle for your water, and you have everything ready and packed in your shiny new backpack. You've even loaded your Mp3 player with the entire Led Zeppelin compilation. Great! Now you are ready to get in shape again, but don’t forget that while everything you have bought is new, your body is not so much anymore!

If you are like most men and women over 40, surely in the last decade or two you have forgotten to maintain a good physical condition. This happens frequently and is understandable: you had to prioritize the payment of bills, the need to attend to your work and professional obligations, taking care of your family or the mere fact of living life.

This is how we all lose firmness in the muscles; we get a little more "round" and climbing the stairs takes us a bit more time now. But and with your renewed vigor (or perhaps forced by that "subtle" recommendation from your doctor), you will go back to the gym to regain your former glory ... and end up hurting yourself.

Of course, our intention is not to discourage you, but you must be realistic: the percentage of injuries in gyms increases every year. The reason? You're not the one you were the last time you went to the gym. You have spent the last years of your adult life hunched over the PC, sitting for hours and eating food that does not precisely help maintain your muscle tone ... You have been busy getting ahead!

The last time you went to the gym regularly, you did it to improve. That's why we do exercise: to be and to feel better every day. But achieving this is a process. It is progressive. And so is getting back in shape.

Tips for Getting Fit After Some Years of Downtime

Okay, let's get to the point: the first injury usually occurs due to the fact of returning from a long break and wanting to work by exceeding yourself, and we’re not talking about just warming up on the treadmill. Surely your ego will push you to into doing things according to how you felt years ago, and not how you are now. To help you prevent this, here are 11 simple rules that will help you get back on track at the gym after a long break:

1- Warm up and stretch your muscles. Surely you will be tempted to skip this step, but it’s critical to avoid injuries to your muscles and joints due to lack of warming up. You should make sure to take enough time to prepare your body before making more demanding movements and efforts.

2- Start with light weights. You probably skipped the stretch, right? Either way, performing a series of repetitions of any exercise using light weights is always a good idea. This allows your body to know what is coming, helps your mind to understand the technique and prepare your muscles and joints.

3- Make more repetitions. If your ego has made you omit step one and two, you will hate this step. Why? Your ego will want to show that you are still in great shape and believe that the more you lift, the sooner you will improve your physical condition. But performing lighter weight reps will help you prepare your muscles for more demanding exercise. If you have skipped step one and two, your muscles are not yet ready for a greater effort. Why do more repetitions with light weight instead of fewer repetitions with more weight? Simple: to protect your joints, especially after an extended resting period.

4- Control your ego. The temptation will be there. You will want to go beyond your limits and you will do everything you can to prove that you can do it. Raising a lot of weight does not make sense. You are not competing against anyone, only against yourself and what you need is to get in shape and build muscle tone little by little, not look like a movie star after one day. Achieving more repetitions with more weight than you can actually handle is not going to earn you any medals, just an injury.

5- Focus on the workout technique. Performing all repetitions accurately and having adequate breaks between each set are essential to any good training plan.

How to Increase the Possibilities of Getting Fit

If you followed the last five rules, your chances of not thwarting your return to the gym to get in shape are much greater. But if "surviving the attempt" is not your only goal and what you want is get the best version of yourself that is possible, then the following six tips will help you to make sure you get the most out of your efforts

6- Get a trainer. Although a personal trainer is not really indispensable, at an initial stage it can be an excellent resource that will help you focus your return to the gym properly, even if your plan to get in shape only involves exercising in home. We are not saying that you should not use them in the long run, but you do not necessarily have to. Think of them as your mechanic - he knows your car really well and can give you a lot of advice about its care, but you do not need to carry him around with you every time you leave the city. Hiring a few sessions with a coach will help you define a plan, evaluate your weaknesses and give you some ideas about how to work your strengths.

7- Follow a training diary. Just counting your repetitions during the performance of your routines does not guarantee that these will be recorded in your memory. Take notes. Keep track of the number of sets, repetitions, and weight used in each exercise you do. That will let you evaluate things at home, see if you are progressing or not and adapt your plans accordingly.

8- Change and adjust your routines. Always doing the same exercise creates a kind of redundancy in the muscle where the body gets used to what you are doing and no longer progresses beyond a certain point. Every month or a month and a half you have to change your plan to make sure your muscles are constantly stimulated.

9- Rest well. Be sure to take some days off to relax your body. Exercising can be addictive and can lead to overtraining. Do not overload your body in the same way you do not over-work your mind.

10- Control your diet. Making your belly smaller or getting rid of excess fat that overwhelms other parts of your body is not possible by exercising alone. Drinking plenty of water and having a proper diet rich in protein, carbohydrates and other essential nutrients is critical to achieving this. Instead of just three heavy meals a day, have smaller ones every three hours. This will speed up your metabolism and allow you to burn that excess fat more quickly and more efficiently.

11- Do more. Being active is not limited to the gym. Go outside and do something different with those levels of strength and energy you just discovered. Try a recreational activity, go dancing, ride a bike, climb a hill with your partner, your children or your dog. This will keep you burning fat and increasing your muscle strength, which in the end will help you reach your goal of getting in shape and feeling and looking healthier day by day.

© 2017 AF


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