is a fact of life. But just because your twenties and thirties
have come and gone doesn't mean your chances for a healthy physique
have, too. You can keep fit and healthy well into middle age-and
some body builders look better in their fifties than they did
in their twenties.
you're just getting into body building now or you've been doing
it for some time, you need to keep in mind that age does change
your body. Here are a few things over-40 body builders need to
do to avoid those age-related pitfalls.
first. Younger body builders can show up at the gym and jump
right in. Although this isn't advisable for any age, the younger
body generally doesn't need as much preparation. When you're older,
you need to put a little more time into your warm-ups. Before
starting on the heavy weights, do 5-10 minutes of light cardio
on a stationary bike or a treadmill. Before each heavy exercise
you do, do a set of the same exercise using light weights. This
will ensure your body is ready when it's time to go heavy.
to form. As our bodies age, our joints become more and more
prone to injury. Older body builders need to be especially careful
about form to prevent injuries to the knees, hips, elbows, and
shoulders. Compromising on form to lift more weight is a common
pitfall at any age, but it's especially dangerous for those over
40. It's important to increase your weight slowly and make sure
your form is flawless before doing so.
to your body. Older body builders are more prone to muscle
tears than younger athletes, as well. It's important to listen
to your body and know the difference between normal pain that
comes with improving muscle mass, and the type of pain that's
warning you that you shouldn't be doing a certain movement. It's
fine to limit or drop a certain exercise from your routine if
it's causing you more pain than usual.
Your metabolism slows as you age. This means your body doesn't
process foods as efficiently, and it's especially important to
maintain proper nutrition. In general older body builders should
follow the same rules as the younger crowd, but they need to be
even more strict.
is a complicated subject-it would take a book to explain it all.
But in general, stay away from saturated fats, processed foods,
junk foods, and refined sugars. Eat healthy fats such as oils
and omega-3 fatty acids instead. Get plenty of protein-this is
especially important-and enhance your diet with protein shakes
and supplements. Eat four or five solid meals a day that include
vegetables or fruits and protein. Stay away from alcohol and cigarettes,
and drink plenty of water.
time to recover. As we age, we take longer and longer to recover
from injuries. If you're on a roll with your workout, it can be
tough to accept a slowdown because of an injury. When you're younger,
you might be able to get away with going back to the gym long
before your doctor gives permission. But when you're older, you're
much more likely to re-injure yourself if your body isn't ready
to take the strain. If you're injured, listen to your doctor and
don't go back to the gym until your body is ready.
back after a long break? Start slowly. If you're coming back
to body building after a break of years or even decades, don't
expect to be able to do everything you could when you were young-especially
not right away. And if you're coming back after an injury, it's
especially important to start slowly. Your body needs time to
adjust. When you're older your joints have less lubrication and
your muscles have reduced elasticity, making both prone to injury.
It doesn't mean you'll never be able to reach the level of fitness
you were once at, but it does mean you'll have to take extra time
to get there.
smarter, not longer. Most body building experts will tell
you that as you age, it's important to get the most from each
rep that you do. The longer you spend in the gym, the more opportunities
you have to tear a muscle or injure a joint. You don't need to
go to the gym every day-three or four times a week is enough.
Decrease the amount of reps that you do while increasing their
effectiveness; make sure your form is correct. Do one exercise
for each muscle group, not two or three. You should be able to
get results from an hour or so at the gym-there's no need to be
there all day.
naturally. Testosterone helps you burn fat and add muscle.
When you age, your body's natural production of testosterone tends
to fall off. There are hormone supplements out there that some
body builders swear by, but the side effects can be negative.
If you don't want to risk it, you can boost testosterone production
through exercise and diet.
shown that heavy, compound exercises that put large muscle groups
to work can give your body a burst of testosterone. Squats, barbell
rows, and bench presses fall into this category. If you have a
high body fat index, your body will have lower levels of testosterone
and higher levels of estrogen-so losing the weight is essential.
Some foods, such as monounsaturated fats like nuts, olive and
canola oil, and peanut butter, can also help you raise your testosterone
end after 40. Many successful body builders didn't start lifting
weights until they were 40 or older, and many others have continued
a successful weight lifting career into their 80's. You're never
too old to live a healthy lifestyle, and it's never too late to
Jean Lam is the webmaster of Body
Building Resource which provides articles on weight training,
nutrition and fitness, body building book and DVDs.