Where Will Over 40’s Health & Fitness Be 1 Year From Now?

Each year we lose an average of 1lb of lean muscle. Now that may not sound like much, but when you bear in mind that muscle is the one thing we have control of that drives your metabolism, we want to keep as much of it as possible. Not only that but studies show the more of our muscle we can take with us in to later life the longer and the better our quality of life is likely to be.

So, is there anything we can do to future proof our bodies?

Yes, fortunately the loss of muscle as we age can not only be stopped but reversed. Our muscles still react to weight training in the same way they would in your teens or early twenties. But there are differences in the way we need to train.

1 Training frequency

While muscles are still capable of growth the recovery rate reduces, especially if we have been inactive for a while. whereas in our twenties training everyday may have been possible now you should be thinking 3 to 5 times a week, with at least 1 day off if not 2 before training the same muscle groups.

2 Tempo

Don’t rush! Building muscle shouldn’t be about ego anymore. While you obviously need to move some resistance to overload your muscles to make them grow, you can do this with lighter weight by just slowing your tempo. Try lowering the weight for anywhere between 2 and 4 seconds with a short pause each end, rather than beating the reps out as fast as you can.

There are exceptions to this rule. The first is high blood pressure. If you suffer with high blood pressure do not hold the weight static at each end. Instead just keep a continual movement going for the desired reps, and avoid holding your breath. This is because holding a weight still increases the blood pressure higher than at any other stage in the lift.

The second exception is arthritis. If you have arthritis whether rheumatoid or osteoarthritis, increase the length of the holds each end, while ensuring the joints aren’t locked out. This is to reduce wear on the joint; 3 to 10 second hold can work well if you’re in this group. If you are a rheumatoid arthritis sufferer avoid training on days when your arthritis is inflamed. While as a osteoarthritis sufferer you will benefit from pushing the joint through their fullest available range of movement, but only after a thorough warm up.

3 Sets and reps

The key to muscle growth is not the amount of weight you lift but the amount of times you lift. Let’s compare power lifters to bodybuilders the power lift will handle a lot more weight but can still remain comparatively small. Whereas the bodybuilder will perform a much high volume of work with lighter weight, albeit somewhat heavy for the volume he or she is doing.

If your new to resistance exercise start slowly! 1 or 2 sets of 15 to 20 reps will work well for the first month or so. After the initial conditioning, you can then increase the sets to anywhere between 3 and 10 sets. For growth, ideally, we want to work between 8 and 12 reps after our initial conditioning phase. But both higher and lower reps can also work on stubborn areas.

4 Post exercise nutrition

Now is the time to eat your carbs! If you listen to much of today’s hype, carbs are the villain. This is over simplified rubbish at best. Carbohydrate is needed for performance enhancement. Eat them around your workout. This will ensure they are optimized and reduce the storage of body fat, while fueling your muscle growth and repair.

Your muscles become hypersensitive to insulin after exhaustive training. So triggering an insulin spike with a high carb meal will push carbs available protein into the muscles rather than fat cells. Notably however if you only train occasionally, say twice a week or less, your muscles will refuel to the same extent without the high carb meal. If you are training more than that the increased recovery of those meals will prove beneficial.

Your post exercise meal should be high carb with moderate protein and low in fat. If you want to lose fat while still growing muscle, have all your carbs in this one meal.


7 Little Changes That’ll Make A Big Difference With Your Over 40’s Health & Fitness

We it comes to health and fitness, most of us don’t want change to be thrust upon us. For some that’s the only way they will change. The important thing is not whether or not to change, but what to change. Below are 7 little changes that will have the greatest effect.

  1. Drink Water
  2. Eat Slowly
  3. Move More
  4. Breathe
  5. Sleep Well
  6. Take Time Out
  7. Find Your Balance

1 Drinking

Men should drink 3 litres of water a day, women should drink 2 litres.

At the end of the day we are just a hairy bag of water as someone once said. So fluid loss of 2% of body weight will reduce circulatory functions and lower performance levels. With thirst alone being a poor indicator of how much water is needed.

Sedentary men should consume 3L (13 cups) and women and 2.2L (9 cups) of water per day. Those after fat loss should drink another 8 ounce glass of water for every 25 pounds they carry above their ideal weight. Water should be increase if you are exercising briskly or in a hot climate.

Benefits of adequate water include improves endocrine function, reduced fluid retention and better liver function, In addition your natural thirst returns, greater metabolic function, improved nutrient distribution to the body, body-temperature regulation and blood volume are normalized .

So drink 1/2 – 1 Ltr 2 hours before exercise. Drink 6 to 12 ounces of fluid every 15 to 20 minutes. Fluids should be cold because of more rapid gastric emptying.

If training over 1 hour use a sports drink (containing up to 8% carbohydrate), for less than an hour, water is experts’ choice.

2 Eat Slowly

Eating Slower can reduce the overall amount you eat.

This is a part of mindful eating, a subject that has been getting a lot of press of late and not without good reason. I want to go a little deeper with you in how it works.

First of all, by slowing down our eating we allow the body to register how much we have eaten. This allows the brain to tell the stomach we are getting fuller. It takes around 15 to 20 minutes for this to happen.

Secondly, it enables us to better digest our food so we get more of the vitamins and minerals from it.

Last but not least is a reconnection with the eating experience. Eating would have normally happen in times of low stress, after a hunt maybe. Gathered around with family and friends relaxing and enjoying the flavours of what was in front of us. When you do this food often takes on new flavour and meaning.

3 Move More

10,000 steps a day is roughly equivalent to 5 km or 30 mins a day.

NEAT (non exercise activity training) accounts for a large number of or daily caloric output, it’s reckoned that people with healthy body composition tend to do 10,000 steps a day or more.

Try a simple pedometer to see if your getting your feet moving enough. A lot of my clients use fitbit watches which they can pair up with other apps like myfitnesspal to monitor their intake and output.

4 Breathe

Breathing through the diaphragm can improve health and fitness and reduce stress.

Sound obvious really doesn’t it? But we tend to do it badly! We breathe through our ribs, when we should breathe through our stomach. Let me explain.

Our main breathing muscle is the diaphragm, it’s a bit like a dome; it lies between our lungs and our gut as we breathe in it tightens and flattens pulling air into the lunges. At least that’s what’s meant to happen, except with most of us if you’re asked to take a deep breath the first thing we do is expand the rib cage. While this still pulls in air it also increases stress levels in the body, something we all get plenty of with help. If you’re stressed try taking just 10 deep breaths using your diaphragm rather than your ribs. Breathe in and out though the nose drawing the breath down so your stomach expands.

5 Sleep Well

Aim for 7 hours sleep as a minimum.

Let’s look at quantity first, 8 hours is the normal recommended figure, but if you’re getting 7 hours you are probably doing ok. The exact figure is different for all of us but you don’t want to go much bellow 7. Some of the things that will make you need more are stress and physical activity. While older age requires less.

So now let’s look at time. Our body works on its own internal clock whether we like it or not so at certain times of day or night it tries to do certain things.

10:00ish to 4ish is body repair time

4ish to 6ish is mind repair time

If you are a constant early riser your mind may not be functioning quite as well as it could be, if you’re a shift worker on nights the lack of recovery can create enormous stress.

Last up on the subject of sleep is environment. Our brain receives melatonin at night to help us rest and recover better. Melatonin is affected by light (even little ones on the bedroom TV or plug socket). Try to blackout your room as much as possible, you may want to try a sleep mask, I don’t like them personally I find them restrictive.

6 Take Time Out

Spend time on yourself, not just in your business.

All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. We all need time out now and again. With this in mind the way you should look at it is recovery from work done and preparation for work to do. Taking your mind off a stressful matter can often give you a new perspective on it, daft as it sounds a lot of great ideas and solutions where thought up on the toilet, because you have to relax to go.

So, Time off training can also be a good thing if not overdone. Our bodies like our minds progress during recovery. With the mind it sorts and analyses the approach we took to a task and tries to come up with alternative better solutions even if the task is complete. With the body it’s about repairing the damage exercise or injury has done.
Try to plan into your day 5 minute window you can just sit and contemplate. Morning is work well for early birds, while I prefer just before bed. You may find you want to expand the time after a while.

7 Find Balance

Work life balance is the product of 4 not 2 things

This isn’t about standing up straight when you’re drunk. It has more to do with the balance of your inner self. We all have areas of our life that need a level of fulfilment. These being:

Comfort – Challenge – Significance – Belonging

Comfort is security but it can also be stagnation, while challenge is excitement but also risk. Significance is standing out from the crowd but standing alone can be lonely, on the other hand belonging is being part of the crowd but you can feel unimportant. So finding the right balance will enable you to do all four to operate at a higher level. E.g.

Done badly –
You stay late at work every day avoiding your family, belonging suffers. You become overworked an ineffective at your job, risking your job as well as family, security also suffers. Your efforts aren’t noted by anyone, only your lack of results, significance takes the hit. You now no longer enjoy your work, giving challenge a massive kick where it hurts.

Done well –
Fully rested you improve your productivity at work you fulfil the Challenge part of your balance possibly resulting in promotion. This in turn increases income, your security goes up and significance at both home and work. You use some of the extra funds to treat your family, belonging benefits and it’s all good.


1 NASM Study Guide – National Academy of Sports Medicine
2 Precision Nutrition – Helen Kollias
3 FitBit – Lara Rosenbaum
4 PubMed – The Effect of Diaphragmatic Breathing on Attention, Negative Affect and Stress in Healthy Adults
5 NHS – Why lack of sleep is bad for your health
6 The Miracle Morning – Hal Elrod
7 Become a life coach – Jeffrey T Sooey

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