In your 50s, yes, do some cardio. You do after all have a heart. More is not just more though, more is more stress and potentially more load on a tired adrenal system. Hold onto your muscle or even build a little by keeping your cardio short most often and then focus on weight training to fatigue at least twice a week.
Make sure “functional” is tied to your goals.
This buzz word can be a buzz kill if your trainer is defining motions with his or her own defined set of exercises and not your goals. If you’re 80 and you need to stay strong to get out of a chair, a leg press is pretty functional.
In your 50s, especially if you’re a woman who wants to work on bone density and lean muscle mass or fat loss, heavy weight training done safely for you as a beginner may mean machine weights. It might deem your trainer less necessary in his or her own eyes. Promise him or her you will need them for other exercises. But tell them not to hold you back from reaching your goals.
Eat a small amount before, wait to eat after.
Studies show that those who eat a small snack before exercise (easy to digest) worked harder and for a longer duration, without perceiving it to be longer or harder. If it feels hard because you lack energy or you’re hungry, you won’t use as much energy or get as good results. Myths about exercising fasted are based on studies done on 20 year old men fed high calorie diets that were 50% fat. If it doesn’t apply, it doesn’t apply.
Waiting to eat after exercise is relatively new. There’s evidence that in your 50s, for women like you and I who want to optimize our growth hormone (we’re making less of it now than in our 20s) and muscle protein synthesis (we’re not as good at that either), waiting about an hour until the muscle protein synthesis blunting effect dissipates will help us improve lean muscle tissue. About 60-90 minutes after a tough or vigorous workout is perfect time to eat a high protein meal.
Warm up and cool down like a boss.
A proper warm up is your fat-burning primer. The more you increase your breathing and circulation the more energy you will expend during that session. Plus, you’re going to feel better while you exercise. We move away from uncomfortable, difficult, and unpleasant. Help yourself want to repeat it. In your 50s that little secret is even more important!
Stop skipping the cool down is part two of this tip. Moving through the proper stretches and a moving warm down will start the recovery process before you even finish your session. Less sore, you’ll do it more. The faster you recover the sooner you can do a high quality workout. The difference between good fitness and great is the ability to do more frequent high quality workouts.
Get off your back.
The best place to do core is not belly up. With the exception of a few stabilization exercises your goals may be realized more effectively off your back. There are dozens of exercises beyond the crunch and sit up that will help you get a flat belly more safely and effectively. Click here for my Cure for the Common Core video playlist.
In your 50s you may have already had an issue with your back. You have less wiggle room for error. Plus… you’re going to get better results off your back.
and then… a bonus #6
Relish recovery in your 50s
- Time between intervals and sessions needs to truly be recovery. Way too many women have been confused about lifting weights. More is not better. The rest between strength sessions is when you make progress! Wait at least 48 hours between and better yet is 72. Research suggests that in your 50s and beyond you can enjoy a fitness level as good or better than you had in earlier decades by working just as hard, but you may need more rest to enjoy a better fitness level.
- Nutrition and protein both have to be adequate. In the event calorie reduction occurs, adequate protein has helped prevent the loss of muscle that will happen with weight loss. Any loss of muscle is like putting the brakes on your metabolism. If you lose weight that is both muscle and fat and then regain weight, it is 100% fat. It’s that very cycle that contributes to creeping weight gain over the years.
- Active recovery is better than passive. You shouldn’t really be exercising to the point of not walking well the next day. The risk of injury when you have that much soreness is also fairly significant. Suffice to say that even with mild soreness, moving to increase circulation and warm the muscles will both speed recovery and reduce soreness.
- The ultimate recovery is sleep. Despite a perfect exercise prescription and your diligent nutrition…without sleep you have too few of the right hormones and too much of the wrong ones. Sleep is your way of sealing the deal for energy and best weight.
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