I get asked quite a bit, sometimes on podcasts, what my day is like and what workouts after 50 work for me. So here it is. One woman’s response, was “this is for someone who lives a life of leisure.” As I wrote in You Still Got It, Girl!, If you’re crazy-making I’m not going to get in there with you.

I did this (maybe altered) even in my 40s while a single parent, shuffling to early morning basketball practices, day-long golf tournaments, while juggling two jobs, and writing a book.

Don’t play the victim card with me. If it’s working for you and you want to stay there, that’s your call. I’ll be here when you’re ready.

I say that with no judgment, you may truly be doing all you feel you can handle right now. I just want to let you know, I believe there’s something positive you can do now. The hardest thing is to ask for help. I get that. But I’m here if you need it.

Workouts After 50 – What I’m Doing Now (and when)

4:00/5:00am awake /water/2 mugs matcha latte while working (I consume 12 ounces of H20 first thing and 8 oz between matchas)

7:30am High intensity intervals 20-30 mins (treadmill, elliptical, boxing or bike)

or High Intensity weight circuit with 3-5 minutes of Core or Pilates at the end of any session

8-12 ounces of H2O

9:00am High Protein Smoothie with all the things

(vanilla Plant Power, greens, maca, turmeric, Fiber Boost, protein, minimum fruit, avocado, chia)

8 oz H2O every hour

12:30pm Lunch – sometimes a second smoothie if I’m working, or a Flipping 50 soup (there’s a seafood chowder I love)

1:00pm short walk

8 oz H2O every hour

4:00pm weight training/Pilates/or yoga

8 oz H2O before dinner

5:00/6:00pm dinner (usually a one pot meal with a protein and tons of veggies)

8 ounces H2O

8:00/9:00pm ready for bed

Every day varies but this is very typical. I don’t snack in the afternoon typically but when I was in CO I would get cold (!) and have a cup of bone broth or less frequently a matcha latte or cup of a Mushroom Blend (use code Flipping50 to try it!) in the afternoon.

Here’s the basics:

Workouts After 50 you won’t see me doing:

What I always keep the same:

These are not “rules.” This is just the formula I follow. It’s life. It emerged out of tweaking based on science the last 15 years and testing not only myself but first dozens, then hundreds, and most recently thousands of clients that find this works for them too. When you’re changing, you don’t have to (or want to) change it all at once. We go for the one biggest influencer that will help the other changes fall into place so much more easily.

Yes! It Is the exercise.

For me, it’s a catalyst. Exercise set everything else in motion for me. It makes me want to fuel better for a better workout. It makes me want to fuel better after (proven that even 6 minutes of power walking within a half of hour of lunch made subjects voluntarily choose healthier for themselves at a buffet – think of that on Thanksgiving Day!)

It’s not only exercise.

There was a question asked on a weekly webinar I host for a national organization this week. Let me give you a little background.

The webinar was about obesity: cause and effect. When the (excellent) presenter was nearly through he showed a slide about the top two external solutions being 1) exercise and 2) nutrition.

An attendee asked, “Is it true that exercise doesn’t really contribute much when it comes to weight loss?”

The presenter’s answer was that though that’s true that the calories burned don’t contribute a great deal to caloric deficit, exercise is still key. (In alignment with Flipping 50’s After 50 Fitness Formula for Women course and book) It’s about the hormone balance that proper exercise does for you that ultimately influences weight.

I won’t go into a deep lesson on hormones in this post intended to share my routine. Yet, I do want to call your attention to the fact, the reason what I do works (and is Flipping 50 program-proven!) is that it supports hormone balance. That in turn ensures that I can sleep, I can burn fat optimally, I can get hungry at appropriate times, and feel full and sated without cravings. I can concentrate. I can reap rewards of lean muscle from workouts.

How I Plan For Myself and Coach Clients

I don’t exercise thinking, “how many calories does this burn.” I do think, “what type of workout do I need on this day at this specific time to optimize hormone balance?” Most of the time that thinking comes in a weekly or monthly plan. I already know what my workout plan is for 3 weeks from today. I may have to adjust it based on life that week, but I don’t guess. I do the same for clients.

This week for instance is day-by-day changes for two of my private clients based on little “niggles” occurring for them. So we’re not doing workouts we would if they were 100% but we’re still focused on hormone balancing workouts that support their muscular needs right now.

The Question I Had

Back to the webinar, my question was, “You listed these in order of 1 and 2 making exercise first, while we’re hearing more often that nutrition makes a bigger difference. Are these in fact, in order based on importance according to research?”

The presenter addressed it but not with a definitive answer. I think because there is not one. But where obesity is concerned, insulin resistance is what we call a co-morbidity. That is, a second condition or disease. Insulin resistance occurs at some point as weight creeps up. That is a pre-diabetic or diabetic threat. And often with insulin resistance weight gain will occur if it isn’t already.

Exercise plays a key role – as long as it’s the right exercise at the right time – in improving insulin sensitivity. Nutrition also plays a key factor in blood sugar and insulin.

But… again. Exercise is a catalyst. And more important, not exercising is a catalyst for poor choices. Can you relate?

The presenter’s answer was that there is no question it is both. He didn’t however put one before the other. We do eat multiple times a day and exercise less than that. So we better get food right. There is the need however to moveoften. Don’t sit or stand in place for long periods of time.

Become someone who can’t sit still.

Moving More

Exercise less, and eat more, is the subtitle of You Still Got It, Girl! for a reason. It’s the opposite of the mantra you’ve heard too often your whole life. Women exercising themselves into more stress and cortisol, then starving themselves with a lack of nutrients create a slow metabolism by confusing their bodies.

Yes, in our sedentary contemporary society you need to exercise – and adequate intensity is important with middle and older age – but moving more throughout your day every day is more important.

If your exercise leaves you on the couch for “couch compensation” your exercise has actually hurt your health and fitness. You’re seeking the muscular strength and endurance to do what you love to do with the people you love to do it, when you want to do it.

What I’m Doing for Lean Changes!

I posted something last week on Facebook about what happens to the body with less (but the correct) kind of exercise.

And still…. A woman commented that the image (with good muscle definition and a fit and lean body) was no doubt due to my triathlon training.

I fell out of my chair laughing.

Here’s the truth. Since the advent of my triathlon training this year, and perhaps not unrelated to mold exposure for 6 months the first half of the year, I’ve gained 8 lbs.

Of not-muscle.

Bad News, Right?

Yep. I tell you the good stuff, so I’ll tell you the bad stuff. I don’t feel great. I’m getting close to the event (if you’ve been here you may know it was intended to be my “fittest year” and I’m headed to an Ironman in a week. I’m now tapering (less training in preparation for race day freshness). So I’ve already begun to see a difference in my weight or feel one more often (no scale at home).

But I was and am just “exhibit A” of what MORE volume and MORE intensity do to a woman in perimenopause/menopause. They create more stress, more cortisol, more fat storage and inflammation.

But the woman’s comment is what spurs me to do what I do. Unfortunately, too many women STILL BELIEVE that it’s about harder and more exercise and that they can never look like that because they aren’t athletic. That is the #1 MYTH and your biggest obstacle.

You do have to stop… processed foods, poor carbohydrate choices, a lack of protein, and sugar (there are no healthy forms). But you, my dear, if you don’t love exercise, may have a better chance or at least it’s equal to anyone who loves exercise.

Because like me, overexercisers are more likely to weigh more due to inflammation, and cortisol increasing fat storage and halting fat burning during midlife, specifically. Look at triathletes in their 50’s 60’s and 70s and you don’t see “skinny,” you see often the same slice of weight and body shape you would anywhere. It depends on how they train and how their body handles it. Some refer to their legs as “tree trunks” or they midsections as “budha bellies”

More is Worse Not Better

I am at a WORSE shape and weight right now because of more exercise. Is this training year different? Yes. Every year of training is going to be different. You can’t expect the same results from the same training with ever changing hormones.

Now, did I go to extremes? From your vantage point, probably so! You don’t have to tip the exercise that far though. Two or three exercise classes may be too much for you. Three days of strength training may be too much for you. Just an hour of exercise instead of minutes of optimal exercise may be putting you into cortisol trouble.

I’ll indulge in myself a bit in a blog next week to share the details of this year that contribute to my “fittest year” turning into “fittest year possible” with mold, and sudden moves, large financial loss of belongings, need to detox and change plans.

Stay tuned for that. For now, look at your day. Do you have a schedule? Your body likes a routine. Do you make it so it works for you? Yes, I know work, family, pets happen but they don’t control it all. You do. If you want to change you take control.

I have two suggestions:

If you have more than 20-lbs to lose, watch this webinar, first. Fit-U is on sale but I want to know you’re right for it before you do it.

If you want to have a reason to exercise for 2 ½ months AND have 4 days of movement, motivation, and mindset shifts, come to the next retreat! Message me at debra@flippingfifty.com for the current discount code – if there’s one still available we can help you get in for less! Mention the blog

Do Spot Toning Exercises Work on that Pesky Back Fat?

Does the idea of spot toning exercises for back fat appeal to you? You’re not alone! It’s a popular question and a picky irritant for many of our Flipping 50 community! There are hormones involved for sure. We’re going to address this question of spot toning exercises for back fat (often due to testosterone levels) in this episode of Flipping 50 TV. 

Today’s question comes from Michelle who’s 49 and she writes her biggest challenge is,

“Back fat and love handles and overall fat around my middle.”

Right away, you have to know we’ve been trying to do spot toning exercises for decades unsuccessfully. The answer isn’t in micro-movements for one small area. You can’t get the look you want without improving the root cause fat is there. That has to do with choosing hormone-balancing exercise (not too much and not too little), and overall all major muscle group focus to boost your metabolism.

Next, there’s no ignoring your daily habits (hello, sleep! and stress reduction) and the way you support exercise with nutrition. There are things you can do for natural hormone balance all day every day, and things you could be doing that unknowingly contribute to hormone imbalance. Target testosterone that’s responsible for this particular back fat issue by reducing your overall stress levels (add joy!), reducing alcohol and sugar, and doing not more exercise (that kills testosterone) but the right kind and intensity.

Minute Made Meals

Your “first two” hours of the day are so important to the rest of your day and to your metabolism. Protein at breakfast – you’re shooting for 30 grams of protein – studies show up to 35 in fact, can help your choices later in the day. So if you’re overwhelmed focus on getting your first two hours right and so much else falls into place.

A smoothie is the fastest flip at breakfast. Overnight oats is another. If you’re doing eggs make them with veggies – pair them with half a smoothie for more greens and to reach that protein goal deliciously.

Here’s a list of other ways to increase protein at breakfast if you’re not yet a smoothie girl.

Muscles in Minutes

Plan your weekly movement. If you’re randomly doing “more” exercise to get rid of fat you dislike, flip your thinking. Focus on a plan of action so you’re not doing too much and focus on creating what you do want. It’s a flip your mind has to make before your body will change.

Michelle has recently been using The Whole Flip but isn’t sure how or where to start. So I help her… and you… plan the week!

Using The Whole Flip (and the bonus planning guide that comes with sample workout plans) Michelle’s schedule looks something like this:

Michelle said she used to clean houses – a great kind of Non-Exercise-Activity-Time NEAT movement that may have meant she didn’t require a lot of additional exercise. Once you stop activities- even work that you may think is more sedentary – it still takes energy… it can easily add up to extra weight.

Boxing is a great workout for so many reasons. Not only is it easy on joints it engages some of the muscles in the shoulder and back as well as the chest  – so it’s great for the cardio segment of workouts – and targets core, arms and that under bra fat. The reason fat is there now and wasn’t is due to changes in hormones, like testosterone when it comes to back fat at the bra or lower back upper hip area.

I’m going to just give you a little sample of The Whole Flip here during a warm up and demonstrate moves that increase circulation to those tough spots.

spot toning exercisesThen we’re going to go right into a special back fat attack workout. Spot toning exercises are not a girl’s best friend unless they’re preceded by metabolism boosting exercise. Keep this in mind: you can’t spot reduce or spot fat loss. But we can spot tone. If you exercise to tone the muscle there is some increased circulation to the area and subcutaneous fat- lying on the top – will be reduced when you add shape to the muscle. Focus first on exercise that boosts your metabolism by targeting major muscles then target those tough spots and fat it will become less visible.

Here are a few of my favorite exercises in a routine for a strong and sexy back.

Warm up:

Weight Sequence:

Repeat it – 2-3 times (total)

Twice a week you want a full body workout including legs [try the Knee-Friendly Flip if your joints don’t allow squats or lunges] plus this series with an emphasis on your back. The weight day* on Wednesday can be more functional and could again include back-specific exercise. (Functional weight training requires less recovery and is a perfect mid-week workout if you need and want to do more. More, however, is not better. Effective exercise in less volume is often the best answer).

The Key Flip of the Day:

Elevate overall metabolism instead of only using spot toning exercises for the best Flipping 50 transformation.

spot toning exercises

Th WHOLE FLIP 4-part DVD set

Have you caught all the episodes of Flipping 50 TV? Here’s your FLIPPING 50 TV GUIDE to find the topics you care about most fast! (seasons I and II included, season III is in progress and will be added soon!)

A Dozen Tips for Better Workouts

This post is full of tips, tools, and tricks to make your workouts more fun, so you can stay motivated, and continue to get better results. Whether your better workouts are about enjoying them more or about avoiding injury or obstacles, you’ll find something here to inspire you!

better workouts#1 Get Gloves

You’ll get a better grip with gloves. That’s important whether it’s hot and humid in the gym, you’re sweating, or you have a little arthritis in the hands making it hard to grip. An added bonus: they make you feel just a little more badass, and that may be just what you need for better workouts.

Years ago, my client Willa was new to weight training and seeking bone loss prevention during menopause. Her hands were slipping on weights. I gifted her a pair of weight training gloves and we never looked back.

#2 Do a Challenge

Pick something that inspires you, and something that’s intelligent. If you know the facts about muscle recovery doing the same type of exercise daily for 30 days isn’t the most advantageous for your fitness level. However, a well-planned challenge that focuses on something important to you can keep you focused.

Flipping 50 Café members have 30 different challenges to choose from and there’s a new one every month to help you in whatever area you need it most. I’m there as not only your virtual trainer but your coach to help you decide which one will be most beneficial for you right now. Are you a member?

Registration is open for the 28 Day Kickstart! Save your spot for this live coaching program and get your bonuses now.

better workouts#3 Add Music

My favorite playlists match the intensity that I am shooting for during a specific workout. Whether it’s running (step tempo) or biking (pedal stroke) I use my music beats per minute to improve form. That might mean I’m going double time, half time, or right on the tempo. If you feel yourself slipping into slow slogging and heavy steps, this is a favorite coaching trick. Here are some of my favorites for matching quick steps during intervals:

One of my clients listens to spiritual music during her runs. Music is personal for sure. Try varying your music selection on your next workout if you feel like you’re no longer paying attention to it. There are workouts where that might be the goal but if you need better workouts right now try a change.

#4 Listen to a Podcast

Double dip. Catch up on something inspiring, educational , or just entertaining while you’re walking, spinning, or lifting. That’s exactly what I do weekly. I catch up on podcasts while I’m lifting weights (if I’m not shooting a video). Kinesthetic learners like me (and we all have a degree of it) retain information best when we hear it as we’re moving.

Did you know the Flipping 50 podcast was acknowledged by AARP as one of the top podcasts to listen to for over 50s?

I’ve posted some great podcasts about gut health recently on Flipping 50. You’ll find podcasts about fat loss after 50. There are podcast interviews with bestselling authors (many of whom are also flipping 50).  You can search at flippingfifty.com for a topic you want or just start binge listening from iTunes right to your phone.

#5 Wear What You Love

Buy something you love yourself in. When you where something that makes you feel amazing you will be inclined to repeat it more often. You may work a little harder, a little longer, or both. Don’t skimp on shoes or bras. You can cut corners on shorts, shirts, hoodies, and socks (this is one place I make sure I have at least two awesome pair!)

Insider tip: I love Darn Tough socks. Try a pair and you’ll know why. Besides the fact they come in colors that make me smile, they last forever, keep my feet dry, and feel like a glove. The other thing I love is color. You’re not going to see me running in gray. It’s about no one else but me, and I’m a color girl. The world has enough beige and neutral.

#6 Get a Fanny Pack You Love

You’ve got to have some essentials. Keep your keys, lip balm, and cash in hot pink zippered pockets. You might as well love it. Most of them now breathe and have elastic so they’re comfortable. It’s the little things.

better workouts#7 Wear a Visor

A Headsweats visor is an essential for outdoor workouts. It holds your hair back on windy days, or covers helmet head after a bike or harnesses it after a swim. Most importantly keeps the sun out of your eyes so you’re not wasting energy squinting.

#8 Put the Spring Back in Your Step

If you’ve got a couple flat tires under your feet, it’s time to shoe shop. If you can afford it, buy two pair of the best fit ones for your foot (it’s not based on color until it’s based on neutral, stability, or cushioned to fit your neutral, flat, or high arch).  [I’m inserting my resources page – there’s the link to where I get ALL my workout shoes- for a lot less! You could say I buy in bulk.]

Buy two pair, then rotate wearing them so they get a chance to breath. Don’t double dip on your workout shoes wearing them for work all day and then workouts too. They’ll last twice as long. Invest in shoes for the task and you’ll have much more support and look forward to and have better workouts.

#9 Test Your Hormones

Self-assess (you body never lies) with a coach first. If you can’t figure out what your hormone status is right now so you can respond appropriately, test. Even if you’re working with a coach, I’ll sometimes recommend a client test because she’s been struggling to do the right thing (self-care, change workout timing or type). Seeing it on paper can help confirm your physical signs you’ve been trying to ignore.

I test regularly (6 or 12 months) depending on changes I make. Before or after a higher intensity training period, or if I am seeing signs that things have shifted and want to catch it before it’s gone too far. Better workouts are no accident, especially after 50.

#10 Refresh Breakfast

Shakes make an easy meal. If you’re trying to lighten up you’ll love the ease and the “no-brainer” my participants enjoy once they start. There’s no thinking about how to make breakfast either fit in, or be healthy. Where else can you add 2 cups of veggies, a small portion of berries, healthy fat, high fiber, and 30 grams of protein so easily that will keep you full till lunch time AND boost lean tissues … in a way that takes less than a minute?

My three-day reset includes two consecutive smoothie meals plus clean meals of delicious soups and easy-to-digest foods coupled with more mindful and less intense exercise. It’s a game-changer when you’re feeling overwhelmed with high-intensity exercise, life, or you’re not sleeping well. Most of us need to step back before we can go forward. Better workouts have better fuel.

better workouts#11 Register for a Race

There’s nothing like a starting line to change the way you commit to exercise. Make it big enough it makes you a little nervous and a little excited. Or make it close enough you can’t skip. Two of my clients did their first half marathon last fall. Which meant that by this time last year they were beginning to think about it and with 12 weeks to go you’ve got plenty of time (I’ve trained women for marathons in 16 weeks).

If not a race, choose an adventure that’s a commitment: an organized hike, or bike, a swim point-to-point. Flipping 50 retreat attendees have had a training schedule for the retreat weekend for two months to prepare for the hikes at altitude three days in a row. When you’re focused on something you don’t let workouts slide. When my clients know what to do when they do their workouts every week – and get results. We all need a little help putting the plan in place.

better workouts with lessons

#12 Take a Lesson

From ballroom dance to golf or Stand Up Paddle boarding (SUP), lessons can inspire your workouts in so many ways. Of course, the activity itself can be the workout. Say you get a running coach, weight training coach or a swim coach or join a master’s swim session; you’re bound to be out of ho-hum when someone else plans the session. But if you love the activity and it’s not necessarily a workout– dance or golf – and want to get better you may find that you start doing more consistent core or strength or yoga because it now has a greater purpose.

better workoutsWhat are your tricks and tips for better workouts? What makes you love what you’re doing and look forward to it? Share in the comments below and inspire someone else!

Just in case you’re looking for a bit more inspiration… try Fitx Talks for 10 minute inspirational chats. I’m there with 30 other experts sharing short sprints of just content no fluff.

Have you wondered? Could a 4 or 7-minute workout really work?

The truth and science about doing a 4 or 7-minute workout is coming right up.  Improvements in fitness can be reached in as little as 4 minutes total exercise time. However, you need to read the fine print. The intensities required to do that have to be equivalent to greater than 100% of VO2 max.

What is that?

Uncomfortable. Very uncomfortable. I often use a 0-10 scale with clients to define their “feels like” perception of exercise. Clients don’t usually reach a “10” whichis exhaustion. Working at an intensity greater than 100% feels like vomiting. That’s when you see athletes at the end of a race leaning over the side of the track. Few of us want to exercise there or want to repeat it, which is the whole point of finding exercise you love.

Still, there’s hope for adapting the protocol that works so well in science with young, fit men, to the needs of women in midlife. [Thus far there is no research on protocols featuring 100% intensities on women in peri-menopause and beyond]. So I’m exploring it here.

The research on these 4-minute workouts of a newer type show they aren’t as exhausting as those Tabata intervals done to 110% intensity. They involve exercise targeting Nitric Oxide (NO) release. NO release improves immune function, mitochondrial health and brain health.

Encouraging NO release requires high intensity exercise, but nothing like the original HIIT studies, at least featured in recent videos by the popular and respected Dr. Mercola, and Dr. Zach Bush, who Mercola credits for initiating his routine. Bush’s routine features four sets of four exercises done ten times.

Mercola’s spin on things:

I have a few concerns as Mercoloa demonstrates with poor form (head coming forward, back arching). Had he had better form, it’s a doable, routine most of us can fit into a day no matter what. You’ve got to get up from that chair at some point! You can find other ways to activate muscles that will be more joint-friendly. Keep in mind any of the videos in this post are not the only way. Mercoloa (and Bush) suggest you repeat again three times during the day with at least two hours between. (6am/10/6pm)

Thankfully, Mercola does say, his 3-4 minute exercise – doesn’t replace weight training or stretches/yoga. But according to Mercola, may replace cardio. I’d suggest that a base of cardio endurance is important. We build a more intense exercise program on top of (not instead of). If you’ve got significant weight to lose, you also want to find movement that helps you feel good doing it.

What is Nitrate Oxide? (NO)

It’s stored in blood vessels and when you run out of oxygen in the muscles you release NO. You rebuild it every couple hours. It feeds the muscles for growth.

The goal is to run out of oxygen at the muscle groups (to fatigue).

Think back to some of your early exercise sessions when you heard:

feel the burn”and you did 100 of every (tiny little) move. Those classes are back and a part of their often short-lived success may be this phenomena. (Short-lived because often overuse injuries began to occur when repetitive movements required to work muscles caused injury to joints).

Consider why people swear by their sit-ups and crunches even with mounting research that lumbar and cervical (lower back and neck) injuries are directly correlated with performance of sit-ups and crunches.

Having more nitrate oxide makes muscles more efficient requiring less oxygen to work out at higher intensities.

Our NO levels dip as early as age 25 right around the time muscles peak and then begin to drop (unless you’re consciously doing something about it, aka lifting weights, ingesting adequate protein, and getting your sleep).

Cardio revs heart rate and blood flow. A 30-minute session (of adequate intensity) regularly will increase your body’s daily production of NO. When you don’t even have 30 minutes? I’ve got you covered with a 7-minute workout below.

Beet juice flies off the shelves where endurance athletes live. I’ve seen trainers of world champions hand their athlete a bottle of beet juice after a session. Other foods like spinach also gives you a NO edge. Studies show there was an immediate performance boost after drinking 5-9 ounces of beet juice then cycling among elite athletes.

Rotate this pre or post beet smoothie (from the You Still Got It, Girl fat burning breakfast smoothie book) into your routine and enjoy the health benefits along with potential performance benefits. Combine it with an NO producing 7-minute workout

7-minute workout finisher

Just Can’t Beet It Smoothie

Now, “the performance gains aren’t as big for amateur athletes, but the nutrients certainly won’t hurt, especially since beets have a lot of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties,” stated primary researchers.

Another Easy Answer?

A study in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology said 20 minutes of sunlight (UVA rays) increased NO and decrease blood pressure. It’s not an easy fix (we’d all love one). You need to focus on the rest of your diet and lifestyle. The bottom line is you do have to exercise. You just don’t have to feel guilty about not being able to get in an hour. And on those days or weeks when you can barely get 10 or 20 minutes? It’s OK as long as you stay consistent and use that time wisely.

There could be some small benefits to exercising short, outdoors, and following it with NO rich foods. Every little bit counts.

How to Best Use Your Precious Time: 7-minute workout

You’ve really got to make the exercise anaerobic. It makes me question whether “air-pumping” arms to the ceiling for 30 seconds will take your muscles to the point that you have no more oxygen available to them. If you’re fitness level is extremely low, it might. But if you’re here reading this my, guess is that your fitness level is higher and you’ll require a little more taxing exercise.

In High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) there’s an alternating play of high intensity and very low intensity exercise allowing recovery. You’re able to work at much higher capacity for a short duration than you could ordinarily so long as you actually do take the recovery. If you’re someone who finds it hard to rest and begin too soon, or don’t actually rest between, your ability to exercise at the level intensity during work phase will be reduced and the entire activity becomes blurry. It’s potentially more risky than beneficial, as you get tired, sloppy, and lose form without recovery and fail to reach the high intensity you need to reap the physical benefit of the HIIT exercise.

In this High Intensity Circuit Training (HICT) there’s a one-and-done type strategy. You don’t have to repeat it. You’re going to take very little rest between but you are going to rotate through a variety of major muscle group exercises. This is not the high intensity of a 30 second interval. However, that could be good. The oxidative stress of HIIT means a “more is better” approach stops giving you more benefits and starts breaking down through oxidation. This short-form workout fits research findings that moderate-to-high, not low intensity, and not extreme high intensity has a sweet spot in small doses.

I’ve created a HICT set that mimics one I posted a couple years ago during “travel season.” I was off to a conference and getting ready to go, being there, and returning make a two-day trip like seven days of limited time to exercise. I can flip, trip, and fit my workouts in fast and easy anywhere, living room to hotel room when I don’t have time to get to a gym.

The 7-Minute Workout

You don’t need equipment, other than what’s nearby. A chair, counter, or ottoman will be the only prop you need. If you have knee or shoulder issues you do have to be a bit more careful. You have a few less options since body weight exercises are limited. To modify the exercises, you can go for the less stressful version or eliminate some exercises altogether and substitute the ones that do work for you.

I alternate upper and lower body exercises for two reasons:

  1. While doing an upper body exercise the lower body is allowed recovery
  2. The peripheral heart action involved means you’re working the heart a bit harder as it pumps blood upstairs then downstairs.

The goals of this short 7-Minute workout:

  1. Keep good form
  2. Keep the heart rate elevated
  3. Allow some but minimal rest between exercises
  4. Allow rest for muscle groups between exercises for same body part
  5. Alternate harder and easier exercises
  6. Insert full body cardio exercises between upper and lower body exercise

I’ve made this as knee-friendly as possible using body weight only. There are some exercises that could be too much for your knees, or shoulders and wrists. Modify or substitute another exercise, preferably that uses the same body part.

Spend approximately 30-40 seconds doing each exercise and 10 seconds in recovery as you transition to the next.

7-Minute workout set I

  1. Front Kicks & Punches
  2. Wall sit
  3. Push up (chair or wall to modify)
  4. Abdominal roll back
  5. Step up (stair, chair, or step)
  6. Squat
  7. Triceps dip on chair or step (use caution)
  8. Plank
  9. Knee Chambers
  10. Rear lunges
  11. Plank- renegade row
  12. Side plank (r/l)

7-Minute workout set II

  1. Front Kicks
  2. Wall Sit
  3. Push up
  4. Bridge – leg extension
  5. 1-2-3 knee (hop optional)
  6. Squat
  7. Triceps push ups
  8. Plank rear lift
  9. Front kick back kick (hop optional)
  10. Side lunges
  11. Pushup rotation
  12. Prone “swim”

I love to throw this workout alternative in to a reset week (I’m doing one right now) or a recovery week (for me or for a private client) that might also include conscious altered eating. Occasionally, I take an entire month and shift way down into no more than 20 minutes a day of exercise except for additional yoga (not power, not hot, for you type A’s reading). During that month I increase my vegetable intake and consciously support gut health with green smoothies, pre and probiotics, as well as plenty of rest. I don’t ignore protein but give my body a digestive break by lightening up with mostly soups, smoothies, and increased amount of plant-based* protein.

[*I know by personal testing that a purely plant-based diet does not work for me. It feels amazing for a month or so. The initial weight loss is so tantalizing. But muscle loss and weakness show up significantly during month two for me and by month three it’s noticeable not only to me but everyone. It’s temporarily sexy… we boomers (women for that matter) love a good diet right? We love those, “you look like you’ve lost weight” comments. Until we don’t. Slowing metabolism long term is not the answer, it’s part of the problem. Skinny jeans now, elastic waistband later. There isn’t a short cut.]

Is a 7-minute workout all you need ever? No. It’s a fair trade though on busy days, on recovery weeks, or days when you’re just thinking, “I’m not feeling it,” because moving a little may convince you otherwise. You will change your brain chemistry within seconds of starting exercise and you will feel a little more “badass” for having done it, and staying consistent.

That is what a #youstillgotitgirl does.

References:
https://journals.lww.com/acsm-healthfitness/Fulltext/2013/05000/HIGH_INTENSITY_CIRCUIT_TRAINING_USING_BODY_WEIGHT_.5.aspx#O3-5-11
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16825308
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29311764
https://journals.lww.com/nsca-jscr/pages/articleviewer.aspx?year=2011&issue=04000&article=00004&type=fulltext
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8897392
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17326698
https://academic.oup.com/ajh/article/20/8/825/182351
http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/2053369115623899?journalCode=minc

Spring training is in full gear. Well, almost. My late March birthday found me 8 inches deep in snow. (At least in this great state of Colorado, it’s nearly gone by evening!) Still, long bike rides, rounds of golf, and a season of sleeveless tops and shorts are approaching at the same speed! In this post I’m sharing my top tips on how to make every spring training workout count.

There are five essential components to every workout I do. Whether my workouts shrink or expand like an accordion, based on my schedule, all 5 are still all there.

Watch this video for the quick review of my “5 Must Haves Every Workout Needs,” and don’t miss the secret that pulls them all together.

SPRING TRAINING WORKOUT MUSTS

  1. Warm up. That’s no surprise, right? Warm ups improve performance, even though the static stretching you were taught (and I taught) are a thing of the past. Raising your core temperature through specific activity is what is more important. Your muscles are more pliable when warm, and your joints get lubricated by synovial fluid. Your motivation to warm up? You’ll be more comfortable during you’re workout, and are more likely to work harder without perceiving it as harder. The risk of injury also decreases when you warm up first!
  2. Warm up II. This isn’t a typo! The second part of your warm up should be either specific to the kind of challenge in your main set, or based on an imbalance or movement pattern correction you’re working on. I demonstrate in the video a warm up option for a run. It’s a simple rear lunge implementing runner arms. It makes me rehearse good form, but allows me to focus on firing the right muscles without distraction. Benefits? Your core is more engaged, and your mind is set on the workout.
  3. Main set. If you’re running, then you’re going to follow your plan for the day. You may be doing intervals, a tempo run, or a long run. If you’re doing a weight workout, this is where you do the specific sets and reps according to your goal and plan.spring training

Note: I am not a fan of mixing up strength and cardio. Neither is optimized for hormone balance when you do it simultaneously. You don’t get optimal cardio work: recovery. You don’t reach fatigue with weights. The biggest reason I don’t love this – what we’ve come to know as “boot camp” style workout – is that it almost encourages poor form. Intervals of 20 seconds with 10-second recovery are very advanced according to countless scientific studies done on elite athletes. The rest of us struggle to hold good form working at high intensity without adequate rest.

  1. Core. Your core is a big part of good form during cardio and or weight training. You want to be fresh during the main set and save the focused core work until the end of the session. Make no mistakes, it should all be core! Your core is getting good use during any activity. There may be a few things you want to add at the end. My favorite core workout includes a variety of stability, rotation, back extension, and lateral flexion. A little forward flexion is fine but this is one move we don’t need as much as we need the others. Your spring training workout needn’t be all core to work on your core. Three to five exercises for a minute each will do wonders.
  2. Cool down. This two-part component of your workout is so important! This is the time to do those static stretches I talked about earlier. In the first part consider implementing foam rolling prior to your stretches. The second part of cool down and last part of your workout is the active cool down. Whether you’ve done a vigorous cardio or weight workout, spend a few minutes walking or biking in order to enhance blood flow again after the stretch. You’ll reduce soreness and speed up the recovery process so you’re already increasing the success of your next workout!

It takes these five components for a great spring training workouts and three key components for a healthy lifestyle. Exercise, nutrition, and sleep each matter. The foundation of every good workout is sleep. It’s the secret to feeling like exercise and performing exercise with good form at an intensity level that gets results. As a woman over 50, sleep becomes more important! Great sleep starts with a great mattress. I love my Sleep Number mattress! I love waking up feeling like every point of my body was supported.

This post was sponsored by the great folks at Sleep Number. As always, you can count on all thoughts being my own and all research listed below.

Resources:
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19996770/
https://www.unm.edu/~lkravitz/Article%20folder/caloricexp.html
http://blog.bridgeathletic.com/the-importance-of-warm-up-and-cool-down-for-athletes
https://www.flippingfifty.com/resources

 

 

This 5-part exercise planning guide is a re-posted update of a most popular post. There’s a companion 5-part video series on Facebook that you can watch if you learn best by listening. Just click on videos once you’re logged into Facebook on the Flipping50tv page. You’ll see the 5-Part Program Design Video series on the top of all videos. 

Then you can also download the exercise planning workbook either to work through on your own or while watching the video series. It’s March and almost spring! Ready, set, go! Spring training, here we come! 

A calendar showing exactly what you need to do when it’s time to exercise makes fitness so much easier.

I started self-initiated exercise at 18. Now at 53 I do things quite a bit differently than I did for, well, about two and a half decades. I still find what was true then is true now: motion drives emotion. Every other aspect of my life is better when I am at my best physically. But there’s less wiggle room for the wrong plan. I can’t just “workout” or “go exercise” and get the same results. One of the best gifts you can give yourself and anyone else in your life is the right motion.

Finding time for hours of exercise every week, let alone every day, any more is impossible. Even the regular 20 or 30 minutes I do now can be a challenge. It’s never going to happen at all without a plan. This week, I decided to show you exactly what I do each week to plan my own workouts. The beauty of working through this exercise planning guide is that you’re not doing random exercise with random results.

First though, know that I only have to plan around my own schedule at this point. That schedule is, however, crazy. As most entrepreneurs can tell you, working for yourself in a flexible 24/7 kind of schedule is not for the meek. Most successful people get a convertible at 49: I dumped safety, security, zero debt, and a low-cost-of-living to jump headfirst in my own business and a much higher cost of living.

Second, for comparison’s sake, my own personal goals are high energy and creativity for the work I do, injury avoidance, and being at my personal physical best at every age. I too want to hear, you look good! Minus the, for your age. Forever. Why not?

My Exercise Planning Guide Process

Every session I do includes 5 components. They are crucial for success. It doesn’t matter if I have 20 minutes, an hour, or can go for a two-hour hike on the weekend. They are all there. There are days that I have to break them up over the day but no workout is complete with each of these. Without all of them it would be like taking the car in for a tune up and having someone forget to rotate the tires or check the brakes until next time. When that happens you create an opening for something to break down or not perform as well.

In fact, as I wrote in You Still Got It, Girl! about the fact midlife hormone changes change the best strategy for fitness, the things you have skipped for years become at least as important, and potentially more important than the things you’d never skip.

An adequate warm up that includes functional movements, for instance, can reduce the stress exercise puts on your system because you’re truly ready. After exercise a longer cool down helps turn off stress hormones too and starts your recovery process before you even finish your workout.

The sooner you recover, the more able you’ll be to get another high-quality workout in without overstressing your body. The difference between those who benefit from exercise and those who don’t is their ability to do not longer but more high-quality workouts more frequently. Warm ups and cool downs enhance exercise benefits (by helping you burn more fat) so your workouts can make you better not just tired and drained.

Every Workout

exercise planning guide

  1. Warm Up. I always elevate my core temperature and increase oxygen to working muscles with some lighter version of my workout activity. If I’m biking the first 10 minutes are low resistance easy spinning. Out for a run, I find a flat and do an easy jog that gets progressively faster. Lifting weights I might do lighter sets or insert some cardio exercise right before. I like boxing because it uses upper and lower body parts that I’m going to use during my workout. If I’m doing a 7 or 10-minute hotel-room circuit the warm up is the first few minutes of moves done a little lighter.
  2. Functional Warm up. I take time to increase my mobility with foam rolling or some functional exercises for hips and shoulders, do a balance exercise so my core is engaged, and boost proper alignment. If I exercise except for yoga or a dog walk at the end of the day it’s usually weight training. By the time I workout I’ve usually been sitting at a desk 6-8 hours or more so making sure my upper back and neck are relaxed and hips are open is important.
  3. Main set. I always have a plan for how many intervals I will do or the number of sets and repetitions I’ll do for the exercises I have planned. That lets me look back and see progress and plan the next workout smarter. I also plan for the rest between intervals or between sets for the same muscle group. It makes a big difference in results if I don’t have the right recovery even if the exercise and the intensity is right.
  4. I include core daily. Sometimes its five 30-second exercises, one for every function the core performs if I’m short on time. Sometimes I’ll do 20-minutes of core-only putting in 20 different exercises for a minute. If I’m doing a boxing workout or yoga, those include constant core so it’s built in to my main set.
  5. Cool down. I do light cardio followed by some foam roller then stretching. This I’ll admit the light cardio is hard to reinforce even on myself! It boosts recovery and decreases soreness so much though! Then I either do a simple set of three stretches for the front, back, and side kinetic chain. Sometimes this is a longer yoga series that opens up hips and shoulders.

Sample of My Interval Training Sessions:

[HardHR 160 +/- Recov.HR 130]**

**I’ve tested myself and know where my HR should be. The feels-like perception of intensity also works extremely well if you don’t know your HR. Hint: the charts listing HR by age don’t fit most adults. How you feel never lies. Feel breathless on hard intervals and breath easily through your nose during the end of your recovery. Use Zone Training if you don’t know HR from testing. 

Then I’ll do some kind of core even if it’s short like the following set.

30-seconds each:

Stretch:

The Weekly Plan

Every week has a pattern but two things can change my pattern. Things come up and the principle of progression means I don’t just want to do the same thing week after week if I want to see results. I have to make changes so that I challenge myself or recover depending on the week.

Everything matters though, so if I travel or have a really busy few days of work, I factor that in. Your body handles all stressors the same. So, for instance, you’re taking a big test or you’re dieting and you’re caring for someone ill in your family or completing a major project at work – it’s not a good week to add a lot of physical exercise challenges. This is where you take time to use an exercise planning guide and the reason it’s valuable is because if you get off track you have a plan to resume.

You’ve heard about the straw that breaks the camel’s back. I have learned the hard way to recognize the total stressors – even from things you choose and like – add up to more than a body can handle quickly.

3

My Weekly Planning Process

  1. Look at my life. Client and webinar schedules, project deadlines, and travel for speaking might all change what I do for exercise. Usually, Mondays are really busy. I like to get a workout in so I’m on my toes and not sluggish, but it’s best if it’s really short and early in the day! An exercise planning guide makes wise use of your real life and real time commitments.
  2. Plan my hard days. Hard days include heavy weights or high intensity intervals and can include long endurance activity if that’s involved in preparing for an event.
  3. Insert recovery days. I do moderate intensity low impact exercise on these recovery days. This kind of active recovery is so much better than passive recovery because the circulation keeps my body flushing out toxins that build up from exercise. Sometimes I put a recovery workout late in the day of a hard workout too. I might spin for 30 minutes after a tough strength training day or a harder interval training day on hills, for instance.
  4. Plan 48-to-72 hours between weight training days. Write down your workout days with this in mind and the exercise planning guide helps you track results if you test recover time.
  5. Plan at least one total rest day. Rest is one of the most forgotten parts of exercise. It keeps me fresh and ready for the next workout without burnout. I put this before or after a tough day. There’s still NEAT, non-exercise activity time, like cleaning the house or spending a little more time walking the dog, but no formal “workout.” Of all the steps in my exercise planning guide, this one is the hardest for type As. I know you’re out there!

 exercise planning guide

My Monthly Planning Process

  1. Week-by-week. Above I described how I look at each day of the week and how it relates to the one before it and after it. Because I usually do biking on the same day of the week I can look from one week to the next and plan the progression when I’m looking at a whole month.
  2. Build 1-2-3. I follow a periodization plan, like any good athlete does. And yes, I think we’re all athletes. That means I build the challenge progressively each week for three weeks and then reduce the intensity in the fourth week each month.
  3. Recovery week. The fourth week of a four-week cycle is recovery, but I still plan what I’m going to do! This week I might try to visit someone else’s yoga class and get out of my own routine or schedule a massage. Longer hikes outdoors or new activities like Stand Up Paddle Boarding or rock climbing (my camera man has promised to teach me) fit well here. It’s a refreshing way to recharge and use my body in a new way. In your exercise planning guide make notes about what you love to do but don’t due to time. Dancing? Recovery is the perfect reason to schedule it.
  4. Goal Focus. When I take the time to plan it’s easier to get the change I want by staying very clear on the goal with every workout. There’s something to be measured that is so much better than weight or inches. An exercise planning guide can’t really begin without an end goal.

My Before and After Exercise Eating Plan

Your midlife body is already under a ton of stress. Dieting causes more stress. It tells your body to burn fewer calories. Exercise is also stress on your body. Exercise tells your body to burn more calories. What happens when you get conflicting messages? You’re just confused, right? So I almost always fuel my body before exercise with a simple protein shake (easy to digest protein and almond milk), or a half a banana and a small amount of sun butter.

Then after I exercise I wait about 60 minutes if I can (depending on my schedule) so growth hormone and muscle protein synthesis are optimal and I’ll have a meal or shake of about 35 grams of protein along with fiber, fat, and some carbs to replenish muscles. Here’s a favorite refueling smoothie that helps recovery by reducing inflammation caused by exercise:

new-premium-90-day-private-coaching-product-imageChocolate Cherry Smoothie

Blend and enjoy! It keeps me full for hours!


The other thing I stay keenly aware of is that what I ate about 16 hours ago is what fuels me. I exercise in the morning so dinner is really important. An exercise planning guide rarely includes food for most people but it should! Write down your energy level during workouts and include your pre workout meals or snacks. I make sure I’ve got some protein, carbs, and healthy fat in that meal too. I make sure I’ve digested before I go to bed after dinner too. It makes a big difference on the energy you have when you wake up if there are at least two hours between dinner and bedtime.

exercise planning guideThe Missing Piece

We are so accustomed to thinking cardio burns calories and fear weight training adds bulk not to mention stretching is overrated so we skip it too often. We’ve had it backwards for so long that it can be hard to change. It takes a new exercise planning guide. These textbook exercise programs requiring 3-5 cardio workouts, 2-3 strength and daily stretching aren’t the perfect fit for everyone. Namely you, flipping 50 babe.

Yes, stretching every day is pretty important if you want to stay injury free and mobile. Tons of cardio is not your friend, however. Weight training is about to be your BFIMAB. That’s Best Friend in Menopause and Beyond. For lean, toned, shapely muscle and fat loss plus energy to do the things you love and confidence to do it no matter who’s watching you need weights training.

It’s all based on… your hormones. When you’re a women at midlife no textbook exercise plan is going to fit perfectly. Your hormones send clues about what you need and you just need an interpreter to help you understand how to adjust and what to do now and next. If the exercise planning guide includes not just your plan but the details of the workout and your energy you’ll be able to look back and connect the dots if you need to.

My Flipping 50 28-Day Kickstart is the BEST if you want a specific exercise plan to follow each week with meal plan, daily workouts, recipes and daily menus. Plus, you get the live support of other women and me in weekly coaching session.

28-daykick-start-2

The step-by-step process for using exercise and wholefood kicks calorie counting and punishing exercise to the curb and identifies foods you’re eating that could be causing weight loss resistance. Finally, a blueprint to your best energy that is not a diet but a way to eat and exercise that gets you back to you without extreme diets or exercise! (You’ll never find a burpee on this site, I promise!)

All the workouts have videos (bonuses!), and the recipes help you eat gluten-free, grain-free, dairy and soy-free, and low sugar impact so you’ll feel better fast and permanently. You can follow my suggestions for making any of the meals vegetarian.

Click here for the details on the 28-Day Kickstart.

If you enjoyed this article, share it with a friend who could benefit from it!

And if you have a question, please put it in the comments below – I love hearing from you!


[Post publishing addition!] Since publishing this popular post, I created a special 5 part video series on my Facebook page (flipping50) and a workbook to go with it to workshop your own best exercise program along with me.

Click here for the free workbook… and then go watch the videos (all or pick and choose). I’ve linked to the first of five videos for you. I hope you’ll put this exercise planning guide to work for you! exercise planning guide

How Long Workouts Sabotage Hormones After 50…and How I’m Offsetting That at 53 is the full title and focus of this post. More specifically, this is about how I’m attempting to offset these changes for myself because I am the guinea pig. I don’t yet know the outcome. So, in this personal post about my training in preparation for Ironman Cozumel this fall I explain how as a strength & conditioning coach I’m modifying the principles of training in combination with hormone balancing needs to accomplish a goal without sabotaging my health. Imagine a committee meeting with a hormone-exercise expert, a Strength & Conditioning coach, triathlon coach, and a Medical Exercise Specialist all around the table. That’s the conversation in my head. A lot of voices!

Endurance events call for endurance training. Traditionally. When you’re short on time, and dealing with hormone change that can naturally sabotage you all by itself let alone with the wrong kind of exercise, you want to change the game plan.

So I’m minimizing my endurance training. Instead of a traditionally called for “long run” that might be 1:40 minute run or 10 miles at about this point in training, I’m reducing the time and increasing the intensity.

Eliminating Long Workouts That Sabotage Hormones

Rather than go out for a steady slow run keeping my heart rate down, I do something more like midlife woman running in mountainsthis:

Or this:

10 minutes easy followed by 45 minutes of hill running at altitude (for a sea level event) and a 10-minute cool down.

Total time = 65 minutes

And here’s why. The following hormones are affected negatively by too much long slow distance training:

Testosterone and Cortisol are directly affected and then set off a cascade of other hormone changes.

The results of hormone changes (from the wrong kind of exercise) on a midlife female will instead of increasing fitness, decrease fitness. You could take a traditional endurance training program [not adjusted] and impose it on a healthy 25 year old male or female and potentially increase fitness. If there’s any hint of adrenal fatigue or a high level of perceived stress in the athlete prior to training, however, endurance training can be detrimental at any age. If you’re 60 or over and out of the big “change” you are not immune to the effects of hormones. But just to play fair, you’re also not doomed by them. We just have to exercise smarter.

As Flipping 50 would imply, we’re most focused here on midlife and women experience the most significant changes during this time. We do have a special set of needs but both genders experience some changes. Hormone changes occur during the entire life span. Young and older athletes or avid exercisers can experience either hormone havoc or enhanced hormone health from exercise, depending on the individual and the exercise regime. When I write weekly exercise programs for private clients I am carefully calculating the work and the rest and monitoring based on feedback, what’s working and what needs tweaking. Yes, even (in fact, especially) for a CEO working behind a desk most of the time who wants to get or stay in shape in limited time and offset a sedentary life filled with demands on her (or him.)

woman swimmingHormones Negatively Influenced by Long Workouts

Here’s some insight into the how and why hormones are negatively affected with long distance and endurance* training.

Testosterone

Cortisol

Ghrelin

Growth Hormone

Insulin

middle age women lifting weightsGiving Up Long Workouts?

Considering all that, I don’t know about you but I’m tempted to dump endurance training! Yet, like anything else, the key is planning. My heart calls me to do this. I actually love every thing about it from the training to the triathlon community, to the creativity stimulated that pours out of me when I return. I love having a specific plan and accomplishing it. I am no longer an “exerciser” or motivated by just putting in time without purpose. Training, not exercise is so much more rewarding (though need not be a big endurance event).

Like the effects of aging, the negative hormone effects from long workouts are possible but not mandatory. I’m rewriting my training schedule and shifting from mostly aerobic work to include more anaerobic work without impairing the foundation of endurance I need. I’m going to exchange the traditional emphasis on long cardio workouts for an increased emphasis on (1) strength training and (2) high intensity intervals. I’m listening to signs and symptoms (sleep disturbances, cravings, appetite) that things need further fine-tuning. I’ll be monitoring hormones along the way as needed.

midlife woman bikingA Snapshot of Modified Long Workouts

The reality of this weekend’s long workouts is:

How does this make you think differently about your own training? Do you have any comments or questions? I’d love to hear them.

*Note: long distance and endurance is relative to you. If you’re new to doing 2 miles, an increase to doing that can be the same as doing 10 miles for another person.

P.S. I’m due for a blood test to see if modifications in my supplements and nutrition habits have improved my liver function. Stay tuned for details about that and a natural liver cleanse I’m doing.

The two biggest reasons women don’t exercise are (1) time, and (2) not knowing what to do. A lack of energy is right up there but this post is targeting the biggest two obstacles so that you can exercise effectively when you are having a crazy day. I’m going to give you five busy day short exercise solutions. Further, these are tested and proven to work (better) than long workouts for most midlife women.

Who has an hour to exercise any more? My follow up question is always, who needs it? The truth for 9/10 women I work with is that our old belief that it takes an hour to exercise can keep us from even starting to use the 10 or 20 minutes you do have that might be more hormone balancing. Reality is, that is the name of the game from peri-menopause to the end of life. Your hormones play a significant role in you younger at every age. That is, you more fit, less fat, and having more fun.

My Exercise Solutions

I’m sharing 5 of my time saving exercise solutions here. If you like them, and prefer done-for-you demos, jump down below and do my 5 Day Flip. I’ll send you 5 days of short videos demonstrating how easy it can be to get healthy exercise at home or anywhere plus an at-a-glance checklist to be sure you’re focused on results-getting moves not just getting tired. I want to make it easy for you to exercise anywhere: at home, hotel room, or at the gym.

These are literally my saving grace exercise solutions.

These are not a made-up set that I might give a made-up client sometime! These are literally my saving grace exercise solutions. A house, a dog, a business of my own (two really), family and travel all make my life just as crazy as anyone’s! When I can do more, yes I do, but these keep me consistent and balanced both in body alignment and hormones. Scroll to see (two) cardio, (two) strength training, and mobility exercise solutions that you’re welcome to swipe and try yourself.

Cardio Exercise Solutions

  1. Warm up 5 – 10 minutes (always: it helps burn fat and allows more work)
  2. 10-12 minutes of interval training (yes, done correctly that’s enough)
  3. Cool down for 3-5 minutes (always: reduce soreness, and recover for a better next workout)

Guidelines for cardio intervals:

Here are my Go-To interval exercise solutions for time-crunched days:

  1. 30 seconds of a hard work interval: 1:00 of recovery
  2. 1:00 of a hard work interval: 1:00 (or more) of recovery

I can do this anywhere! Outside on a small hill, indoors on my dreadmill, and in a hotel room doing boxing moves: solutions not obstacles.

Weight Training Exercise Solutions

  1. Choose 3-5 metabolism-boosting major muscle group exercises
  2. Sequence exercises to allow a rest between using the same body part
  3. Do each exercise for specific time (I like 1 minute)
  4. Repeat the circuit to complete 2-4 times depending on time

Guidelines for weight training:

Here are my favorite exercise solutions for no-nonsense goal-getting weights:

  1. Squats, Bent Over Row, Chest Press, Plank
  2. Rear Lunges, Bent Arm Pullover, Chest Press, Single Leg March (dead bug position)

Flexibility/Mobility Exercise Solutions

Choose your personal needs moves based on:

  1. Your personal assessment (have some known issues? If for example hip bursitis or a hamstring pull has occurred more than once – this is something to tune into with regular maintenance)
  2. Your repetitive movements (You cut hair for a living? You keyboard daily?)
  3. What’s true of your yesterday and today? (Traveling for 10 hours in the car, for example? Or planting your garden this week?)

In general, we each need spinal mobility that includes flexion, extension, lateral flexion, and rotation. So flowing moves like yoga sun salutations could be a part of a short 5-10 minute sequence, or they could be the entire sequence.

If you have known hip issues, as so many of us do, yoga is an old and intelligent exercise. You may have practiced for a long time without really even processing this. For example, hip-opening poses are usually preceded by flowing moves involving the hips, then holding poses that contract the hips, and then finally poses that release the hips.

That said, if you too have tight hips from either sitting too much, exercise activity, or both, this series would be a perfect recovery day (or roadside park/truck stop) practice.

This is my 5th exercise solution for busy days. We often forget that even when it feels like a “work in” more than a workout, we still need to plan it so it happens and we can keep moving comfortably. The analogy is like putting gas in your car: we don’t forget that. But getting the car in for an oil change or tune-up we put off. (Is that just me?) If we put that off too long we’re going to suffer in a big way! (Yes, I learned the hard way in my 20s.)

You can shrink or expand the time spend on each of these so you have a 5-10 minute practice or a deeper 15-20 minute practice dedicated to hips.

Do it with me! Stop by the Flipping 50 Facebook page where I demonstrated this series for you weary travelers and desk jockeys! I just had the 10-hour car trip twice coming and going across Nebraska (that makes me hurt worse than my hips do) to make my Colorado-Iowa trip.

[You’ll find it in Videos as Hip Opening Yoga sesh and please let me know if you love it.]

There you have it, two short cardio exercise solutions, two weight training flips, and one mobility exercise solution. If you want to do 5 daily flips with me that come right to your inbox already done, click here for my cheat sheet for how to use your short time best and 5 days of exercise videos you can do at home.

I’d love to hear what you think. Was this helpful? Did I leave you with a question?

[P.S. I’m going to do an experiment and reveal the truth about my own hormones, what training for an endurance even actually does, and take you along for the ride. First post is Thursday!]

A calendar showing exactly what you need to do when it’s time to exercise makes fitness so much easier.

I started self-initiated exercise at 18. Now at 53 I do things quite a bit differently than I did for, well, about two and a half decades. I still find what was true then is true now: motion drives emotion. Every other aspect of my life is better when I am at my best physically. But there’s less wiggle room for the wrong plan. I can’t just “workout” or “go exercise” and get the same results. One of the best gifts you can give yourself and anyone else in your life is the right motion.

Finding time for hours of exercise every week, let alone every day, any more is impossible. Even the regular 20 or 30 minutes I do now can be a challenge. It’s never going to happen at all without a plan. This week, I decided to show you exactly what I do each week to plan my own workouts.

First though, know that I only have to plan around my own schedule at this point. That schedule is, however, crazy. As most entrepreneurs can tell you, working for yourself in a flexible 24/7 kind of schedule is not for the meek. Most successful people get a convertible at 49: I dumped safety, security, zero debt, and a low-cost-of-living to jump headfirst in my own business and a much higher cost of living.

Second, for comparison’s sake, my own personal goals are high energy and creativity for the work I do, injury avoidance, and being at my personal physical best at every age. I too want to hear, you look good! Minus the, for your age. Forever. Why not?

My Workout Planning

Every session I do includes 5 components. They are crucial for success. It doesn’t matter if I have 20 minutes, an hour, or can go for a two-hour hike on the weekend. They are all there. There are days that I have to break them up over the day but no workout is complete with each of these. Without all of them it would be like taking the car in for a tune up and having someone forget to rotate the tires or check the brakes until next time. When that happens you create an opening for something to break down or not perform as well.

In fact, as I wrote in You Still Got It, Girl! about the fact midlife hormone changes change the best strategy for fitness, the things you have skipped for years become at least as important, and potentially more important than the things you’d never skip.

An adequate warm up that includes functional movements, for instance, can reduce the stress exercise puts on your system because you’re truly ready. After exercise a longer cool down helps turn off stress hormones too and starts your recovery process before you even finish your workout.

The sooner you recover, the more able you’ll be to get another high-quality workout in without overstressing your body. The difference between those who benefit from exercise and those who don’t is their ability to do not longer but more high-quality workouts more frequently. Warm ups and cool downs enhance exercise benefits (by helping you burn more fat) so your workouts can make you better not just tired and drained.

Every Workout

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  1. Warm Up. I always elevate my core temperature and increase oxygen to working muscles with some lighter version of my workout activity. If I’m biking the first 10 minutes are low resistance easy spinning. Out for a run, I find a flat and do an easy jog that gets progressively faster. Lifting weights I might do lighter sets or insert some cardio exercise right before. I like boxing because it uses upper and lower body parts that I’m going to use during my workout. If I’m doing a 7 or 10-minute hotel-room circuit the warm up is the first few minutes of moves done a little lighter.
  2. Functional Warm up. I take time to increase my mobility with foam rolling or some functional exercises for hips and shoulders, do a balance exercise so my core is engaged, and boost proper alignment. If I exercise except for yoga or a dog walk at the end of the day it’s usually weight training. By the time I workout I’ve usually been sitting at a desk 6-8 hours or more so making sure my upper back and neck are relaxed and hips are open is important.
  3. Main set. I always have a plan for how many intervals I will do or the number of sets and repetitions I’ll do for the exercises I have planned. That lets me look back and see progress and plan the next workout smarter. I also plan for the rest between intervals or between sets for the same muscle group. It makes a big difference in results if I don’t have the right recovery even if the exercise and the intensity is right.
  4. I include core daily. Sometimes its five 30-second exercises, one for every function the core performs if I’m short on time. Sometimes I’ll do 20-minutes of core-only putting in 20 different exercises for a minute. If I’m doing a boxing workout or yoga, those include constant core so it’s built in to my main set.
  5. Cool down. I do light cardio followed by some foam roller then stretching. This I’ll admit the light cardio is hard to reinforce even on myself! It boosts recovery and decreases soreness so much though! Then I either do a simple set of three stretches for the front, back, and side kinetic chain. Sometimes this is a longer yoga series that opens up hips and shoulders.

Sample of My Interval Training Sessions:

Warm up 5:00 (alternate 1 walk, 1 min jog)

Hip swings, Stretch hips and upper back

Do a minute or two jog before intervals

Hard 30-secs

recover 1:00

repeat for 10 minutes

Hard 1:00

recover 1:00

repeat for 10 minutes

CD 5:00

[HardHR 160 +/- Recov.HR 130]

I’ve tested myself and know where my HR should be. The feels-like perception of intensity also works extremely well if you don’t know your HR. Hint: the charts listing HR by age don’t fit most adults. How you feel never lies. Feel breathless on hard intervals and breath easily through your nose during the end of your recovery.

Then I’ll do some kind of core even if it’s short like the following set.

30-seconds each:

Stretch:

The Weekly Plan

Every week has a pattern but two things can change my pattern. Things come up and the principle of progression means I don’t just want to do the same thing week after week if I want to see results. I have to make changes so that I challenge myself or recover depending on the week.

Everything matters though, so if I travel or have a really busy few days of work, I factor that in. Your body handles all stressors the same. So, for instance, you’re taking a big test or you’re dieting and you’re caring for someone ill in your family or completing a major project at work – it’s not a good week to add a lot of physical exercise challenges. You’ve heard about the straw that breaks the camel’s back. I have learned the hard way to recognize the total stressors – even from things you choose and like – add up to more than a body can handle quickly.

 

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My Weekly Planning Process

  1. Look at my life. Client and webinar schedules, project deadlines, and travel for speaking might all change what I do for exercise. Usually, Mondays are really busy. I like to get a workout in so I’m on my toes and not sluggish, but it’s best if it’s really short and early in the day!
  2. Plan my hard days. Hard days include heavy weights or high intensity intervals and can include long endurance activity if that’s involved in preparing for an event.
  3. Insert recovery days. I do moderate intensity low impact exercise on these recovery days. This kind of active recovery is so much better than passive recovery because the circulation keeps my body flushing out toxins that build up from exercise. Sometimes I put a recovery workout late in the day of a hard workout too. I might spin for 30 minutes after a tough strength training day or a harder interval training day on hills, for instance.
  4. Plan 48-to-72 hours between weight training days.
  5. Plan at least one total rest day. Rest is one of the most forgotten parts of exercise. It keeps me fresh and ready for the next workout without burnout. I put this before or after a tough day. There’s still NEAT, non-exercise activity time, like cleaning the house or spending a little more time walking the dog, but no formal “workout.”

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My Monthly Planning Process

  1. Week-by-week. Above I described how I look at each day of the week and how it relates to the one before it and after it. Because I usually do biking on the same day of the week I can look from one week to the next and plan the progression when I’m looking at a whole month.
  2. Build 1-2-3. I follow a periodization plan, like any good athlete does. And yes, I think we’re all athletes. That means I build the challenge progressively each week for three weeks and then reduce the intensity in the fourth week each month.
  3. Recovery week. The fourth week of a four-week cycle is recovery, but I still plan what I’m going to do! This week I might try to visit someone else’s yoga class and get out of my own routine or schedule a massage. Longer hikes outdoors or new activities like Stand Up Paddle Boarding or rock climbing (my camera man has promised to teach me) fit well here. It’s a refreshing way to recharge and use my body in a new way.
  4. Goal Focus. When I take the time to plan it’s easier to get the change I want by staying very clear on the goal with every workout. There’s something to be measured that is so much better than weight or inches.

My Before and After Exercise Eating Plan

Your midlife body is already under a ton of stress. Dieting causes more stress. It tells your body to burn fewer calories. Exercise is also stress on your body. Exercise tells your body to burn more calories. What happens when you get conflicting messages? You’re just confused, right? So I almost always fuel my body before exercise with a simple protein shake (easy to digest protein and almond milk), or a half a banana and a small amount of sun butter.

Then after I exercise I wait about 60 minutes if I can (depending on my schedule) so growth hormone and muscle protein synthesis are optimal and I’ll have a meal or shake of about 35 grams of protein along with fiber, fat, and some carbs to replenish muscles. Here’s a favorite refueling smoothie that helps recovery by reducing inflammation caused by exercise:

new-premium-90-day-private-coaching-product-imageChocolate Cherry Smoothie

Blend and enjoy! It keeps me full for hours!


The other thing I stay keenly aware of is that what I ate about 16 hours ago is what’s fueling me now. I exercise in the morning so dinner is really important. I make sure I’ve got some protein, carbs, and healthy fat in that meal too. I make sure I’ve digested before I go to bed after dinner too. It makes a big difference on the energy you have when you wake up if there are at least two hours between dinner and bedtime.

My Flipping 50 28-Day Kickstart is the BEST if you want a specific exercise plan to follow each week with meal plan, daily workouts, recipes and daily menus. Plus, you get the live support of other women and me in weekly coaching session.

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The step-by-step process for using exercise and wholefood kicks calorie counting and punishing exercise to the curb and identifies foods you’re eating that could be causing weight loss resistance. Finally, a blueprint to your best energy that is not a diet but a way to eat and exercise that gets you back to you without extreme diets or exercise! (You’ll never find a burpee on this site, I promise!)

All the workouts have videos (bonuses!), and the recipes help you eat gluten-free, grain-free, dairy and soy-free, and low sugar impact so you’ll feel better fast and permanently. You can follow my suggestions for making any of the meals vegetarian.

Click here for the details on the 28-Day Kickstart.

If you enjoyed this article, share it with a friend who could benefit from it!

And if you have a question, please put it in the comments below – I love hearing from you!


[Post publishing addition!] Since publishing this popular post, I created a special 5 part video series on my Facebook page (flipping50) and a workbook to go with it to workshop your own best exercise program along with me.

Click here for the free workbook… and then go watch the videos (all or pick and choose). I’ve linked to the first of five videos for you. 5step workbook

This season more than ever it’s likely you’re going to be traveling somewhere. If sitting long hours on planes, trains, and automobiles gets your back cranky or the rest of you in need of some focused movement I’ve got two solutions.

This is part of a series of blogs providing you with workout solutions. You’ll find both of these tied to a video you can watch too.

If you’re connected to our Facebook community, today I’m in a hotel room in Orlando where I’m presenting for the International Council on Active Aging and the Athletic Business Conference in a whirlwind couple of days. I’m going to have to fit in a very early morning workout to wake up before my presentations first thing both Thursday and Friday. I’m going to do them live. Even if you miss the workouts… you’ll find the videos there for you.

First things first! Take care of your back if you’re sitting or even standing long periods of time! If the extension exercises seem like too much, modify with a pillow under your hips, or leave these out and focus on the mobility and stretching exercises instead. To watch this video click here. 

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If you can’t find time to fit in that workout at the gym and you’ve got some weights to use, here’s a quick metabolism boost. Major muscles are the focus. There’s also core engagement in each move. You’ll get done what’s most important, stay consistent, and get on with your day.

Warning: this one is a bit advanced. If you’ve got good core strength and have been exercising consistently, try it.

metabolism-booster

I happen to show use of a Kettle Bell. You don’t need one. A dumbbell will do just fine.

Don’t forget to join the Facebook community and me in a live workout fit for a hotel room or the guest bedroom if you’re away from home this holiday season!

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