Just because you've hit the big FOUR - O, there is no reason to consider yourself done with living a full, vibrant life. The choice is yours to make. At thirty years of age, I felt like my life was literally over. I had been abusing my body, and let myself slide from a fit young man, to a person who was literally a shadow of his former self.
I allowed myself to continue this less than optimal lifestyle that I was living, for many a year. I was small, weak, usually drunk, and had no self-esteem whatsoever. At the age of 38, I had a moment of clarity... or "Divine Intervention..." or maybe I just woke up.
Call it whatever you want but it literally saved my life. I actually looked into my mirror one morning, and realized finally, that I better get on the stick, as my life was literally being wasted right before my very own bloodshot eyes.
Right then and there I made a pact with myself to make some changes, and be part of the solution to my problems, rather than me being the problem itself. I had always, up until this period in my life, lived a healthy lifestyle, and even competed previously in powerlifting meets, and later in a bodybuilding contest, placing fourth in a field of six entrants.
I had been working out from around the age thirteen, built myself a great physique, even though I was rail thin and had less than perfect genetics. Now that I'm older I can definitely say that I am in the best condition of my life at 48 years old and improving steadily!
I hate the fact that I'm getting older, as I'm sure most of us do. We all think about it from time to time. We begin to get forgetful, cranky, irritable, our eyesight starts to fail, and we inevitably begin to miss a step or two here and there. Eventually we begin to accept this as just a part of our evolution into middle age.
It is our lot in life to get older, and wither away until we hit the old nursing home and wait to die! Right? WRONG! In the rest of this article I will show you how you can maintain a healthy energy, and get back in the game of life. Life doesn't end at 40 unless you say it does.
Winning The Race Against Time
The most important thing you HAVE to do for yourself today, is to resolve to get back in shape. This entails a lifestyle change that will propel you, once again, into the land of the living, rather than the land of the nearly dead!
Start a journal and write down your commitment/promise to yourself that you will change your lifestyle no matter what the sacrifice. Remember there is no dress rehearsal in life, this is it, live it to the fullest at any age, not only when you are young.
The old adage "You're only as old as you feel," applies to us over 40 type people!
What I'm really trying to convey here, is that a positive outlook, and an optimistic mindset, is imperative to regaining the youthful appearance we have managed to lose somewhere along the line.
If you act like you're over the hill, you are kaput, but if you believe that with a few changes, and a lot of hard work on your part, that you can once again capture the vitality you once possessed you will do just that.
Remember, bodybuilding is one of the pastimes that enable you to actually get better as you age. Most other sports require you to stop competing fairly early while you are at peak performance level. They all deem the term peak performance differently, but it's usually still at a fairly young age. I have met many men and women who compete in bodybuilding well into their seventies and eighties.
For those of you who aren't interested in competition, there is nothing better for you as you age than weight training, coupled with cardiovascular work, and a healthy diet. Strength training stabilizes bone density, and supports fat loss by adding lean muscle tissue to your frame. For every pound of muscle you add to your body you will burn more calories even at rest. Adding lean muscle promotes an already healthy metabolism.
Setting The Plan In Motion
My recommendations to those who want to begin working out at 40 or older are as follows:
Start Out Slow
You didn't get out of shape overnight and you won't get into shape overnight either. Pace yourself and add more work to your routine when you are able to. Keep it progressive, and never sacrifice good form just to add weight to the barbell or dumbbell. Impeccable form is crucial for making progress and to prevent injury. Train sensibly!!
More Is Not Better, Better Is Better
Contrary to popular belief you do not have to literally live in the gym to make progress. Workout 4 days a week with weights, keeping the actual workouts to 45-60 minutes. Work hard with impeccable form, and go home. Be serious in your endeavors, and keep socializing to a minimum while training. Weight training is not a sprint it's a marathon. Make it part of your lifestyle and enjoy the journey.
Warm Up Good
As we get older and do physical exercise, we need a better warm-up before beginning the actual workout. Our younger counterparts can waltz into the gym and just dig right in without too much concern, although it's not advisable to do so they are still less prone to getting injured because of their age.
Always begin your training by riding a stationary bike, or walking on the treadmill for 5-10 minutes to get your core body temperature up a bit. Do a light set of the actual exercises you perform in your training before adding weight. Pyramiding up in weight while decreasing reps is a great way to train and ensures that you will be sufficiently warmed up when you go heavier.
Always do some type of cardiovascular exercise after you are finished with the weights. There are a myriad of machines and apparatus available today to keep cardio interesting, so you never get bored doing it.
Most people love to hate cardio, but it is a necessary evil ,especially for us older folks. It will increase lung power, keep your heart and arteries pumping at optimum levels, help aid in your recovery from training, and the best part of all, is it's ability to help out in the fat loss department. No matter what type of cardio you choose, you should in my opinion, start out easy just walking on the treadmill.
As you progress raise the incline on the treadmill to make it progressive as it gets easier, and you get into better shape. Graduate to a more advanced piece of machinery after a while such as the Recumbent Bike, Elliptical Trainer, Stair Stepper, etc. If all else fails just go out for a walk in good weather and keep it brisk and enjoy the scenery!
Keep A Journal
Right from the start you should keep a training and diet log to keep track of your progress, and to learn in retrospect, what worked for you, or did not quite cut it as far as diet and training go.
Things you may want to record daily are:
- Mood Before Training
- Poundage's Used For Exercises
- Comments Critiquing The Workout
- Cardio, Distance And Calories Burned
All of the effort you put into the weights and cardio will be for naught, unless your diet is in order. Try to get in 1 gram of good usable protein, per pound of bodyweight. Weight training and cardio, along with your other daily activities demands that we eat better, and ingest more protein than the average couch potato.
The requirement recommended by the nutrition experts, for the average man or woman, are just that average, and who may I ask wants to just be average? Carbs and fats will be an individual thing, depending on your present condition.
As a rule of thumb, try to get 1.5-2 grams of carbs per pound of bodyweight to start with, and simply keep fats to a minimum. Get most of your fats from good healthy sources, and you may want to supplement with EFA's to ensure that the fats you ingest are healthy fats. For the sake of keeping things brief, concise, and easy to understand, I will list the foods that you should use in your diet for best results.
Nutrition is of the utmost importance, and I don't mean to slight it here, but it would take novels to teach you all you need to know. Buy a good book or two, and read them from cover to cover, and avoid fad diets and quick fix methods at any cost, PLEASE. Above all stay away from useless junk food, except for the occasional rare treat. Sugar is sweet, but it's a surefire way to defeat your hard work.
Water, in copious amounts, is essential for bodybuilding and for overall good health, and proper bodily functions. Carry a 20 oz. sports bottle of water with at all times, and refill it when needed. Water is often the most overlooked component in a fitness regimen.
There are far too many benefits from drinking water to list here, but it is imperative to drink a gallon a day as a minimum amount for most hard training active people. Water will also create a sensation of fullness which in turn will keep you from overeating.
There you have it, a good starting plan to get you off the couch and back into the race. Just because we are getting on in years doesn't mean that it is a signal to just give up on life. The discipline that bodybuilding requires will carry over into your everyday lives. It will also make previously impossible tasks relatively easy.
You'll find yourself getting compliments from friends, and strangers alike, and walking with a new spring in your step. There is so much more involved that you will find out on your journey to better health, and a better physique.
Former Mr. America and Mr. Universe, Boyer Coe, said that, "Age is just mind over matter... if you don't mind it don't matter!" Take a tip from Boyer and think young to regain your youthful appearance. Good luck, and train hard!