The big 40 sneaks up on us like a thief in the night. All of a sudden, it’s much easier to gain weight and much harder to lose it. As if this wasn’t enough, your muscles become more tired and everything just becomes a lot squishier.
As a result, when beach season rolls around, the chances of you taking your shirt off with enthusiasm are virtually non-existent. Thankfully, all is not lost. By adopting a health-conscious lifestyle and undergoing a heart-pumping physical regime, you can transform your body in ways that you probably never imagined.
To achieve this, we have gathered some expert advice – first tips to get your lifestyle in shape, then some exercises to get your body there.
1. Drop the Long Cardio Hours
Treadmills are a trap. When it comes to eradicating fat, the goal is getting your heart rate up and keeping it there, which then triggers a thing called excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC). With EPOC, your body will burn calories long after you have stopped exercising. A lengthy, low-intensity jogging session won’t help you get that.
2. Do Some High-Intensity Interval Training
High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) involves intense moves followed by short periods of recovery. According to a study published in the Journal of Obesity, HIIT is more effective in reducing abdominal body fat than other types of exercise. Furthermore, research has found that men over the age of 40 who incorporate HIIT into their routines enjoy similar benefits to those who started before they hit 30.
3. Take 10,000 Steps a Day
Learning to walk is not only a major milestone for infants, but it’s also one of the most important things we can do to stay in optimal health. Walking 10,000 steps a day will keep you limber, prevent muscle atrophy, and help you maintain a healthy cardiovascular function.
Drinking plenty of water, before, during, and after your exercise will keep you feeling younger. Fluids help to digest digestive enzymes and can slow down digestion and efficient absorption of vital nutrients. To get the optimal nutrition from the food you eat, drink your fluids 30 minutes before and 30 minutes after your meals.
5. Go for a Swim
One of the best places to achieve a well-rounded workout without applying too much stress and strain on your bones and joints is in the pool. A good swimming routine will work just about every muscle in your body, from your shoulders all the way down to your calves, leaving you feeling more energized than ever.
6. Get 7-9 Hours of Sleep a Night
According to the National Sleep Foundation, adults between the ages of 26 and 64 need about 7-9 hours of sleep each night for maximum muscle recovery.
7. Add Protein to Every Meal
When it comes to optimizing your diet for a beach body, protein is far and away the most important nutrient. It helps to build muscle fiber and boost post-workout muscle recovery, all while giving you essential energy. Eat lots of chicken (it’s lower in fat than dark meat) and sockeye salmon (it’s loaded it heart-healthy Omega-3s).
If you’re working out, you shouldn’t forget carbs altogether. Just be sure to eat the healthy stuff: oats, quinoa, and whole wheat options wherever possible.
9. Plenty of Fiber
Fiber is a component of some carbohydrates that cannot be digested. It pushes through our system and cleans us out along the way. As such, loading up on fiber will leave you feeling fuller for longer.
10. Ditch the Cocktails
Cocktails are one of the sneakiest culprits for weight gain: The alcohol itself is calorie-rich and these calories are nutritionally useless as well. For example, a two-ounce pour of gin can contain nearly 150 calories. This increases further after you have piled in the juices, syrups, and sugars – and there’s no way you’re having just one.
11. Keep it Consistent
Consistency is the key to getting yourself washboard abs, but as your body ages, regaining momentum becomes more difficult. Therefore, start a consistent routine and don’t stop.
1. Back – 2-Arm Dumbbell Row
Lean over two free weights. Keep your back straight and your feet shoulder-width apart. Grip the weights, and pull toward your chest until your triceps are straight. Keep the load light and aim for 4 sets of 12 reps, with just 5-10 seconds rest in between.
Keep the ball right on your waistline, and your feet flat against a wall for some stability. Push the ball out, and pull it back towards you. Do this 10 times. This inverse-crunch will have your lower back burning and will also shred the lower section of your abs.
3. Arms – Standard Dumbbell Curl
This exercise is nothing special, but there are few ways to target your biceps that are better than this. Do 10 dumbbell curls on each arm and then rest for 15-30 seconds. Carry on with this routine until you feel you have done enough.
4. Arms – Dumbbell Circles
With this retro move, you get two for one. Use lighter weights and a high number of reps to tone your arms and shoulders.
5. Legs – This Leg Circuit
Start with 20 squats, then 20 lunges, then 20 standing calf raises, and then finish with 20 back leg lifts (each side). Take about 20 seconds rest in between each set and repeat the circuit 3 times.
6. Legs – Leg Curls
This exercise will target your glutes and hamstrings. You should be prepared to have trouble walking the next day.
The pushup, if done right, will strengthen your arms, back, and core, but it primarily hits your chest. Don’t skip this classic. Work your way up until you can do 5 sets of 20 reps with a 10-second rest in between.
8. Abs – Planks
Get into a push-up position, then lower your body weight onto your forearms. Keep your back completely straight, and then lower your body weight onto your forearms. Keep your back completely straight and clench your core. Try to hold for a minute, then repeat three more times. As you build your strength, add 10 seconds to each set.
9. Abs – Flutter Kicks
Lie on your back, raise your legs and slowly flutter your legs up and down, keeping them straight. You can also experiment by placing your hands under your tailbone or out on the floor at 45-degree angles, or by keeping your head flat or raising it in an almost crunch position. Keep your lower back firmly on the floor for your own safety.
10. Abs – Reverse Crunches
While on your back, bring your bent knees together to your chest, then lower them back down again. Experiment with your head flat on the ground and raised in a crunch position.