Fitness Over 40 With Weight Training Exercise
In my early adult years, I was a reasonably fit guy. I paid some attention to my fitness level, but I wasn’t fanatical about it. Not surprisingly, things changed in my forties. I was no longer able to maintain a reasonable fitness level without concentrated effort. In fact, by the time I was 44, I was out of shape and overweight. I had little energy and many outdoor activities were not fun anymore. I was not getting sufficient exercise.
It is a simple fact that as we age, if we do not exercise, we will begin to lose muscle mass and gain body fat. Our metabolism slows, and this slow but steady downward spiral will catch up to us eventually. Our fitness level will degrade unless we counteract this with a physical fitness exercise program that includes a muscle building component.
I knew that I wanted, and needed, to regain a healthy fitness level. I tried various forms of exercise including jogging, hiking, walking and working out with light weights. I also made changes to my diet. And I had various levels of success with each.
What really turned the corner for me was finding the right combination of a weight training – muscle building exercise routine, with aerobic exercise and a proper nutrition diet. While it is always important to begin gradually when initiating a new exercise and fitness routine, it was not until I started pushing myself with weights that I began to notice significant progress. My wife noticed too. Initially, I had been doing 3-4 sets of 4-5 different exercises, 2-3 times per week. That is not bad. However, I was not really challenging myself. I was typically doing 15 reps of each exercise, which meant that the weight that I was using was fairly low. Again, this is not a bad thing. But what I did not realize is that rather than building new muscle tissue, I was mainly building muscle endurance instead.
But building muscle endurance, instead of building new muscle, is not going to transform your body like intense weight training exercise will. Weight training, also known as resistance training, builds muscle, which in turn increases your metabolic rate. And that change in metabolic rate is sustained throughout the day, not just while you are working out. It takes energy, and burns calories, to maintain and build new muscle. It is the exercising of muscle during a workout, followed by muscle rebuilding after a workout, that provides the desired transformation. This applies to both men’s fitness and women’s fitness. And an effective muscle building fitness workout does not require extensive home exercise equipment or an expensive gym membership. Satisfying results can be achieved with a few dumbbells and a small bench.
So, what changed for me? I changed my weight lifting workouts from usually doing 12 to 15 reps of each exercise, to a more intensive routine that provides more muscle resistance. For each exercise, I start with 12 reps and a moderate warm-up weight. On each successive set, I increase the weight and reduce the number of reps. I increase the weight on the second set and do 10 reps. For set 3, I increase the weight again, performing 8 reps. On set 4, the weight is increased again, and I do 6 reps. On the final set I change things up and decrease the weight to the amount used in set 3 and do 12 reps. This is known as an exhaustion set.
On each weight training workout, I keep written notes of my workout and progress. I then adjust the weight used for each exercise based upon how I perform on set 4. If set 4 was too easy, then I know I need to increase the weights used, starting with sets 1 or 2. The process is iterative but this is an important key. I want to keep increasing my weights until the last 1 or 2 reps on set 4 are difficult. I really push myself on this set. If I can actually perform 8 reps on this set when my target was only 6 reps, then I need to increase the weight.
The point of all this, is that I am now lifting heavier and with greater intensity than when I first started. As a result, I am building muscle and this has made a significant difference in my results. My fitness level is up. My body fat is down. I feel better and have more energy. Fitness over 40 is attainable, but consider weight training exercise as a component to build and tone healthy muscle for better fitness. It is important to combine this with proper nutrition, vitamins, aerobic activity, and sufficient rest. Good luck on your journey!