Best Exercises for Women Over 40
Many women feel that after they reach forty years old, they need to change their workout program. Yet they wonder what the best exercises for women over forty actually are. Should their workout program change as compared with women in their twenties? Certainly, some adaptation is needed to an exercise program as the body ages; however, most women don’t realize that the changes are not that drastic.
After forty, most women find that they gain weight, particularly around their middle, even if they continue to exercise and focus on proper nutrition. Due to this change, women over forty need to add a resistance and strength training program to their fitness routine if they do not already have one in place.
Lean Muscle Mass and Metabolism
After forty, women are at a higher risk of losing lean muscle mass. Continuous use of each muscle group is essential or the body grows weaker. If this happens, you will notice a significant change in your ability to manage daily activities, from carrying a basket of laundry upstairs to gardening or even just standing for long periods.
Lean muscles are the most active tissue in the body, metabolically speaking, so as an individual loses lean muscle, she may also gain weight. The higher the metabolism, the more calories that burn daily. Typically, women are unaware of the loss of lean muscle as they age. Caloric intake must be lowered to account for the change and lean muscle groups must be worked to increase metabolism.
Resistance Training Exercises For Women Over Forty
Compound exercises offer many benefits and should be the focus of any exercise program for women over forty. These resistance training exercises are strength building, burn the most calories, and work multiple groups of muscles at one time. Compound exercises include activities such as pull-ups, lunges, squats, push-ups, and bench pressing. Individuals can focus on these types of moves while adding bicep curls, leg extensions, and hamstring curls.
Women tend to steer clear of weight lifting, thinking it is a man’s sport. But the fairer sex is just as capable of lifting and gaining the benefits of this exercise. Try lifting a weight that is heavy enough to draw fatigue after about eight to ten reps in proper form. This strategy should effectively increase both lean muscle mass and metabolic rate while burning calories. Between each set, rest for around thirty to sixty seconds. This is short enough to keep a metabolic boost and long enough to maintain the challenge of a heavy weight.
Full Body Workout For Women Over Forty
When beginning a workout session, take five to ten minutes to fully warm up the muscles and prepare them for the movement. For a weight training session, begin with a few sets with just the bar prior to adding weight. Be sure to finish the resistance training session with some light stretching. Note that “superset” refers to doing the listed reps and moving onto the next exercise without a rest in between.
After properly warming up, follow this example routine:
- 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
Toning Exercises For Women Over Forty
As the body ages, certain muscle fibers, known as type II or fast-twitch fibers, begin to diminish. These muscles are faster and denser, allowing the body to exert power and speed when utilized. Even active women over the age of forty can lose the use of these muscles since most workouts don’t target them.
Recent research by Salisbury University found that lifting weights engages more muscles and burns 32 percent more calories. The toning exercises described below will help firm fast-twitch muscle fibers, enabling women to feel stronger even after just one workout. Combine with a healthy diet and other exercises listed in this guide to firm up trouble zones.
Perform the following exercises for women over forty, which include the use of a six-foot flat exercise band of medium resistance for three days each week. To get the best results, execute three sets of eight repetitions of each toning exercise in the order listed. Rest for thirty seconds between each set and then repeat one time for toned, fit muscles.
Begin by standing on the band with your feet shoulder-width apart and holding the ends of the band at shoulder height. Bend your hips and knees, keeping your palms facing forward. Squat while keeping your knees behind your toes as if sitting in a chair. This is the starting position.
For a quick one count, stand up, then slowly lower for a count of three. This exercise focuses on toning the buttocks and legs.
Crunch and Press
To firm the abs and triceps, begin by looping the band around a sturdy object, such as a tree. Keep the band low, near the ground. Lie with your back to the tree and bend your knees, keeping your feet flat on the ground. Hold an end of the band in each hand with your arms above your head, elbows bent and pointing up.
Quickly curl, focusing on tightening your abs and lifting your head and shoulders off of the ground. Rapidly extend your arms, straightening them and pulling hands towards your knees. Slowly return to the start position.
Place your right foot on the center of the band, standing straight and holding the ends of the band in each hand. Your left foot should be three feet to the left, with the foot turned out. Bend your left knee in a side lunge while keeping your right leg straight. Rest your left forearm on your left thigh and bend your right arm so that your hand is by your right shoulder. This is the starting position.
To firm your shoulders, quickly move your right hand over your head so that your body maintains a diagonal line from right foot to right arm. Slowly return to the starting position. Complete a full set and then switch sides to work the other shoulder.
To firm the biceps, women over forty should stand on a band with their feet a few inches apart. Hold the ends of the band and bend your arms at a right angle with your elbows against your sides and your palms facing up. Then in a quick motion, bend your elbows and raise your hands towards your shoulders, followed by slowly lowering to the starting position.
This is one of the best exercises for women over forty who wish to firm their chest area. Begin by looping the band underneath a bench or aerobic step and grasp the ends. Lie down on your back on the bench with your feet flat on the ground and bend your knees. Your hands should be by your chest with your elbows pointed slightly down and out. Quickly straighten your arms towards the sky, ensuring that your elbows do not lock, and then slowly lower back down again.
This exercise is great for firming up back muscles and reducing tightening shoulders. Sit with your knees slightly bent, feet flexed, and heels on the ground. Place the band around your feet while holding the ends. Bend your arms quickly while keeping your back straight and pull your hands toward your chest, elbows pointing behind your body. Slowly release and extend your arms back to starting position.
Another effective exercise to firm the back is the lat pull-down. Tie a knot in the center of the band and drape the knot over an open door. Keep both loose ends on the same side of the door, shutting the knot on the other side to secure it in place. Kneel on the floor facing the door with your arms extended overhead and hands wider apart than your shoulders. To firm the back muscles, quickly pull down on the bands, squeezing your shoulder blades together while pulling. Pull until your hands are chest-height before slowly releasing.
Women over forty often wish to firm their buttocks and thighs, and this exercise does just that. Lie down on your back with your legs bent in toward your chest. The band needs to be looped around the bottom of your left foot with your sole facing upwards. Hold onto the band’s loose ends and quickly straighten your left leg. Be certain not to lock your knee to prevent injury. Gradually release to starting position. Complete a full set and then switch to your right leg.
Exercise Secrets For Women Over Forty
Once a woman hits forty, it seems as if her waistline expands regardless of the amount of exercise she does or whether she follows a healthy diet. While there isn’t a magic solution, there are “secrets” that women don’t typically know that can make a difference in their weight and physique. As women age, they need to utilize particular exercises in order to reach the same goals they did when they were younger. It requires hard work and dedication, but the payoff is worth it.
Changing one’s eating habits is important when trying to lose weight after age forty. However, eating healthier will not help touch up those trouble spots on its own. It is impossible, unfortunately, to choose specific areas to lose fat. However, certain exercises can target those areas, firming up the muscles that lie beneath any layers of fat and creating a slimmer, more toned appearance.
Most women in their forties complain of persistent weight issues at the stomach and buttocks, creating a rounded shape, thicker waist, and wider hips. This is particularly true of mothers following their childbirth years. The following secret tips can help older women slim down, making them feel better, look better, and feel more energized than they have in years.
High-Intensity Interval Training
Treadmills are ineffective for women over forty. The constant, monotonous movement on a treadmill is not only a boring routine, it also does nothing to tighten muscles or remove excess fat. This goes for any type of cardio machine, including elliptical equipment, stationary bikes, and stair climbers.
Most women are surprised to discover that they do not need to spend money on any expensive, bulky exercise machines. All they need is their own body to achieve effective fat-burning exercise routines. Instead of long, easy cardio sessions, women over forty should try short, High Intensity Interval Training HIIT [unlike Low Intensity Steady State Cardio LISS]. Example exercises include jumping jacks, the squat jump, or a stationary sprint.
The squat jump is an ideal exercise and a great example of how women can effectively workout in their own home without requiring a lot of time or space. This fat-burning exercise can be easily adapted to various fitness levels by altering the height of the jump and the depth of the squat.
Begin at a squatting position. The lower your buttocks are to the ground, the deeper the squat, and the more intense the workout. From the squat position, jump straight up and fully extend your entire body, raising your arms in the air above your head and letting your feet come off the ground. The higher the jump, the more intense the exercise. As your feet touch the ground again, slow your body’s movement and return purposefully to the squat position, focusing on tightening your leg, buttock, and stomach muscles. A modified version of the squat jump for beginners is to powerfully extend without actually jumping off of the ground.
- Begin with twenty seconds of squat jumps
- Rest for ten seconds
- Repeat for five minutes or a total of ten sets
- Follow by one minute of rest
Remember that this exercise is meant to be a burst of activity that will burn a lot of calories. As you grow accustomed to the workout, more sets or repetitions can be added to further challenge your body and increase your fitness level. This high-intensity workout should increase both the heart rate and breathing level.
Resistance training is essential to any workout to help shape the body by toning muscles. These exercises should be done three to four times per week, alternating with other types of fitness workouts. In addition to the benefits mentioned above, resistance training helps combat osteoporosis and can build strong bones, improve joint stability, and reduce the risk of injury.
The best exercise for women over forty for resistance training is nothing glamorous, does not involve fancy equipment, and is not difficult to do. Women interested in a great resistance training exercise should focus on the simple push-up. You may remember doing push-ups in your high school gym class. It’s nothing new, but it works! Push-ups effectively target the muscles of the upper body, including the chest, shoulders, and triceps. This exercise will strengthen core muscles, but also will tone those flabby arms so they don’t look like the arms grandma has.
Proper form is important when performing push-ups. Ensure that your back is completely straight throughout the entire movement. Begin by getting into a high plank position. That means that your hands are flat on the ground, palms down and directly under your shoulders. Your back should be straight and level with the ground while your body weight is resting on the tips of your toes and your hands only. Your feet should be waist-width apart.
Slowly lower your body. Concentrate on keeping your back straight. Focus your eyes about three feet ahead in order to keep your neck in a neutral position and prevent injury or soreness. Continue to lower until your chest lightly touches the floor, and then push back up.
If the weight of your body is too heavy to start, there are different ways to modify this exercise to offer less resistance to accommodate beginners. One way to alter this exercise is to place your knees on the ground rather than your feet. Cross your ankles and raise your calves until they are perpendicular to the floor before proceeding with the push-up.
Toning The Abdominal Muscles
Many women do endless crunches or sit-ups in an attempt to lose stubborn belly fat. However, these exercises are entirely ineffective in working the muscles in the mid-section. The best exercise for women over forty who wish to tighten and tone their stomach is the plank.
Sit-ups and crunches are actually dangerous to use in a workout routine. The constant repetition that bends the spine forward could lead to a herniated disc, particularly in older women. Bending the spine in any direction is a bad idea and shouldn’t be included in any routine. The plank, however, is safe and effective. It targets and tones the abdominal muscles, strengthening the core for better posture and fewer backaches. Plus, the plank is easier to do than crunches.
Begin by assuming a modified push-up position by placing your elbows on the floor, bent at ninety degrees with both forearms resting on the ground. Your elbows should be positioned directly underneath your shoulders. Instead of looking forward, the plank position requires you to look straight towards the floor. Your body should be in a straight line extending from head to heels.
Once in position, your body should be held still for as long as possible. If unable to do so, a modified version can be used by beginning on your knees, just like a modified push-up. Once the muscles grow accustomed to the modified version, move to the full plank. Hold the position longer and longer each time to achieve a flatter, fitter tummy.
Hormonal Balance And Exercise
Exercise is important in so many ways. It strengthens more than just the muscles, helping the functioning of the lungs and the heart. It helps us to lose weight and maintain weight loss. Exercise regulates the body’s blood sugar level, improves bone density, and also stimulates hormone production, particularly of endorphins, which are known for their euphoric effect.
Women in the premenopausal phase of life experience an accompanying weight gain, sometimes referred to as “middle-age spread.” They turn to exercise to combat the weight. However, this can cause problems within your body.
It is commonly known that exercise has many benefits, but many people don’t realize the damaging effects that go hand-in-hand with a fitness routine. Exercise causes stress on the body, and not just in the wear and tear on joints and aches and pain associated with working out. It causes hormonal stress by increasing the production of cortisol in the body’s attempt to increase energy and keep the body’s systems running.
During excessive exercise sessions, the body responds with high cortisol levels that can cause extreme fatigue, reduced immune response, and low blood pressure. In women over forty, the production of progesterone drops and cortisol cannot be produced without it. What does this mean?
As the body makes cortisol to offset the stress, there is less progesterone available to balance the levels of estrogen and testosterone. This results in excessive estrogen in the body, leading to weight gain, particularly in the body’s central fat stores located in the stomach and abdomen area. So, exercise might actually add to a woman’s weight problem.
To balance the pros and cons of exercise for women over forty, the following advice should be considered:
- Focus on shorter, more intense workouts. More is not always better and this is true about exercise for women over forty. Shorter bursts of exercise will result in less cortisol production than long, slow routines.
- Choose exercises that are efficient. Compound exercises that target more than one muscle group are better than working out each muscle group individually. Not only will this burn more calories, it reduces the length of the workout.
- Add other forms of movement. Simple actions that involve the muscles without putting hard stress on the body are helpful in increasing metabolism without creating hormonal stress. Taking the stairs, parking further away, and even active play with children can be productive choices.