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Published on August 9, 2018

Getting Fit Over 40: The 7 Best Workout Routines for Beginners

Getting Fit Over 40: The 7 Best Workout Routines for Beginners

Congratulations! You’re finally ready to shed some pounds, strengthen your heart and clear your mind.

While work-out routines are a dime a dozen, there are several routines that are proven to build strength, maintain bone density and improve balance, coordination, mobility and cardio.

While there’s been a lot of focus on the benefits of cardio training, strength training has tons of benefits as well. According to the CDC, strength training reduces the signs and symptoms of arthritis, diabetes, osteoporosis, heart disease, obesity and back pain. It even helps preserve brain function as we age.

Before starting any of the routines below, make sure to learn and focus on proper form. You should be constantly increasing your repetitions and weight to challenge your muscles to strengthen and grow.

1. 7 Minute Workout Routine

The first workout routine for beginners we’re going to preview was published in the American College of Sports Medecine’s Health and Fitness Journal.[1] The now famous 7 minute workout was found to have phenomenal health benefits for both endurance and weight loss.

The 7 minute workout uses high intensity interval training, in a sequence of 12 exercises that last for 30 seconds each, with 10 seconds of rest in between each exercise. As you get stronger, you can repeat the cycle 2-3 times.

That said, beginners can start doing the routine only once, and you’ll still get lots of benefits.

The routine itself uses the following exercises:

  1. Jumping jacks
  2. Wall sit
  3. Push-up
  4. Abdominal crunches
  5. Step-up onto chair
  6. Body weight squat
  7. Tricep dip on chair
  8. Plank
  9. High knees running in place
  10. Lunge
  11. Push-up and rotate
  12. Side plank

*Repeat 2-3 times.

The routine works all of your major muscle groups and will get your heart rate soaring. What we love about the 7 minute workout, is that it’s quick and you can do it anywhere – your home, office or hotel room. No weights, mats or special clothing required.

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You can download a 7 minute workout app developed by the New York Times, or watch and follow through this video created by Lifehack:

2. Beginner Body Weight Routine (NerdFitness)

With one of the most popular workout websites out there, NerdFitness has developed a great body weight exercise routine that doesn’t require any equipment or weights and can be done just about anywhere.

We like this routine because it’s simple and effective. Do each exercise, and move onto the next without a break. After completing the round, rest for 30 seconds and repeat.

Do about 5 minutes of stretching to warm yourself up before starting the routine.

  • 20 body weight squats
  • 10 push ups
  • 20 walking lunges
  • 10 dumbbell rows (using a gallon milk jug)
  • 15 second plank
  • 30 jumping Jacks

*Repeat for 3 rounds

Do some stretches after you’ve finished your workout.

3. Starting Strength Beginner Barbell Routine

Starting Strength is one of the most popular, widely recommended and effective barbell routines out there. Around for almost 30 years, it’s simple to follow and only uses a barbell. Nothing else.

There are 2 workouts, which you do on alternate days. You only workout 3 days a week, and never 2 days in a row. Here’s the routine:

Starting Strength Workout 1

  • 3 Sets of 5 Reps – Squat
  • 3 Sets of 5 Reps – Bench Press
  • 1 Set of 5 Reps – Deadlift

Starting Strength Workout 2

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Weekly Schedule:

  • Day 1: Workout 1
  • Day 2: Workout 2
  • Day 3: Workout 1

As you get stronger, continuously add weight so you max out at 5 repetitions.

4. Recommended Body Weight Routine (Reddit)

Based off of the principles from Overcoming Gravity, this bodyweight workout routine was developed in 2012 and has become something of an online phenomenon.

This routine will provide strength, muscle gain and fat loss, all provided your diet is in proper order.

There are only 9 exercises, which you do 3 times a week. Each exercise progresses, so that if you can’t do one now, there is a simpler form of the exercise you can start with.

For example, if you can’t do a push-up, you can start to wall pushes, or push-ups from your knees, until you’re ready to progress to the more challenging form.

You perform the hardest exercise in the progression you can, for 3 sets of 5-8 reps. Once you achieve that benchmark, you move on to the next progression of the exercise in your next workout. Rest 90 seconds between each set.

First Pair

Second Pair

Third Pair

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Core Triplet

5. Simplefit Beginner Routine

Simplefit is another popular body weight exercise routine. It’s simple, only requires you workout 3 days a week and only involves 3 exercises per day.

Day 1:

  • Max rounds in 20 min (as many rounds as possible in 20 minutes)
  • 1 pull-ups
  • 2 push-ups
  • 3 squats

Day 2:

  • 5 rounds for time (see how quickly you can complete each round, resting 3 minutes between rounds)
  • 2 pull-ups
  • 6 push-ups
  • 10 squats

Day 3:

  • For time (one round as quickly as you can)
  • 10 pull-ups
  • 21 push-ups
  • 21 squats

You can increase the number of repetitions for each exercise as you get stronger, if you’d like.

6. Growing Stronger

The Growing Stronger Routine was developed specifically as a strength training routine for older adults at Tufts University and is recommended by the Centre for Disease Control.

The exercises are done by lifting a load (body weight or a dumbell) and holding it for a count of two to four and then lowering it for another count of two to four. You then repeat the motion, smoothly and slowly for 10 repetitions.

The program is divided into three parts as follows:

Part I: Weeks 1 — 2

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  1. Squats (onto chair): 2 sets of 10 repetitions
  2. Wall Push-ups: 2 sets of 10 repetitions
  3. Toe Stands: 2 sets of 10 repetitions
  4. Finger Walking: hold the position for 10 seconds, 3 sets

Part II: Weeks 3 — 6 (add to part I routine)

  1. Biceps Curl: 2 sets of 10 repetitions
  2. Step-Up on Stairs (1 or 2 steps at a time): 2 sets of 10 repetitions
  3. Overhead Dumbell Press: 2 sets of 10 repetitions
  4. Side Leg Raises; 2 sets of 10 repetitions

Part III: Weeks 7 + (add to part II routine)

  1. Knee Extensions: 2 sets of 10 repetitions
  2. Leg Curl: 2 sets of 10 repetitions
  3. Lying Pelvic Tilt: 2 sets of 10 repetitions
  4. Floor Back Extensions: 2 sets of 10 repetitions

7. Just Do Something!

No matter how you decide to exercise, anything is better than nothing.

Choose activities, sports or exercises you enjoy doing, it will give you a better chance of sticking to it over the long term.

That said, if you’re looking to lose weight, studies suggest you do 30 minutes a day, along with a healthy diet.[2] That could mean walking at a brisk pace, tennis, biking or the gym. Some studies even suggest that walking 15-20 minutes a day reduces your chance of getting a heart attack or stroke.

For strength training, The Physical Activity Guidelines recommend that you do resistance exercise at least 2 days a week.[3] You can do weights, body weight exercises, or physical activity like heavy gardening (digging, hoeing), calisthenics, mountain biking, skiing, etc…

Botton Line

The bottom line is to choose an activity or routine you like to do and do it at least a couple of times every week. Throw in 15-20 minutes of walking every day and you’re golden!

As a beginner, you’ll want to pace yourself and choose a routine that’s not too complex or overwhelming.

The exercise routines above are some of the most popular and time tested routines available for beginners, guaranteed to get results and get you in tip top shape. Have fun!

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Marc Felgar

Marc Felgar is an aging, health & senior care expert focused on improving the lives of mature adults.

Getting Fit Over 40: The 7 Best Workout Routines for Beginners Yoga Benefits for Men and Women Over 40 (And How to Get Started Now) 19 Fun Activities for Seniors to Stay Active Physically and Mentally A Definitive Guide to Healthy Aging (For Older Adults) Exercise for Seniors: How to Improve Strength and Balance (And Stay Fit)

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Last Updated on August 15, 2018

7 Amazing Things That Will Happen When You Do Plank Every Day

7 Amazing Things That Will Happen When You Do Plank Every Day

Bodyweight exercises are gaining ground in the fitness world due to the practicality and simplicity of getting in shape using your own body weight. Planks are one form of bodyweight exercises that will never go out of fashion. Planks are one of the most effective exercises you can do. Why? Because they require a small time investment on your part, and offer the chance to achieve substantial results in a relatively short span of time.

Video Summary

Why is it important to train up our core strength?

There are numerous sites and blogs which detail ways to build your core muscles or core strength. Often though, these sites neglect to explain what your core muscles actually are, and why building them is important.

This is quite surprising, as core muscles are quite easy to explain. Your core muscles are a series of muscles in your midsection, and are used in most forms of movement. Though they aren’t housed in your arms or legs, your core muscles can help transfer force from one limb to another, or are used in addition to muscles in your arms or legs to increase their effectiveness. As such a strong core will make a big improvement on your ability to move and exercise further.

Also they are great for helping other muscles in your midsection such as your abdominal muscles. Your abdominal muscles are important for supporting your back and spinal column, and as such are important aids in preventing injuries. However for them to be most effective you need to spend a lot of time developing your core muscles.

In short, planking exercises can make a huge improvement in your muscles down your whole body. Making them a hugely effective exercise to perform.

One Exercise, multiple benefits

There are few forms of exercise as effective at building your core as planking exercises. However, planking exercises benefit far more than just your core strength.

By holding yourself in the position for a planking exercise, you’ll notice that your biceps, neck, and shoulder muscles are also being tested and strained. This this encouraging their buildup and development. This is great news if you like to do press ups, developed shoulder muscles will have a big impact on your press up performance.

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When planking, you are holding yourself up through your arms and biceps and so by holding a planking position, your arm muscles are being toned and developed. Making planking a great alternative exercise to other forms of bicep developing exercises.

Moving down your midsection, successful plank exercises actually develop the muscles in your butt! These muscles tend to be ignored by a lot of exercises, so this is another great benefit of plank exercises.

In much the same way as you develop your biceps and arm muscles, holding the planking position helps develop the muscles in your thighs too.

What is even better is that planking exercises don’t take much time at all. In fact you should probably only spend about ten minutes max per day in the planking exercise.

What will happen when you start doing planks every day

    1. You’ll improve core definition and performance: 

    Planks are an ideal exercise for the abdominal muscles exactly because they engage all major core muscle groups including the transverse abdominus, the rectus abdominusthe external oblique muscle, and the glutes. The importance of strengthening each muscle group cannot be underestimated either, for all of these groups serve their own purpose. If you strengthen these muscle groups you will notice:

    • Transverse abdominis: increased ability to lift heavier weights.
    • Rectus adbominis: improved sports performance, particularly with jumping. This muscle group is also responsible for giving you the renowned six pack look.
    • Oblique muscles: improved capacity for stable side-bending and waist-twisting
    • Glutes: a supported back and a strong, shapely booty.

    2. You’ll decrease your risk of injury in the back and spinal column

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      Doing planks is a type of exercise that allow you to build muscle while also making sure that you are not putting too much pressure on your spine or hips. According to the American Council on Exercise, doing planks regularly not only significantly reduces back pain but it also strengthens your muscles and ensures a strong support for your entire back, especially in the areas around your upper back.

      Check out this article if you would like to find out about how doing planks on different surfaces can impact the effectiveness of this exercise in strengthening your core.

      3. You’ll experience an increased boost to your overall metabolism

        Planking is an excellent way of challenging your entire body because doing them every day will burn more calories than other traditional abdominal exercises, such as crunches or sit-ups. The muscles you strengthen by doing this exercise on a day-to-day basis will ensure that you burn more energy even when sedentary. This is especially important if you are spending the majority of your day sitting in front of a computer. Also, making it a daily 10- to 1 minute home exercise before or after work will not only provide an enhanced metabolic rate but it will also ensure that that metabolic rate remains high all day long, (yes, even while you are asleep).

        4. You’ll significantly improve your posture

          Planking exercises have a great impact and improvement on your posture. This is great news as a strong posture brings with it a huge number of fantastic benefits .

          A good posture keeps your bones and joins in the correct alignment which means both your bones and joints will be better maintained and more healthy, but also means the overall effectiveness of your muscles will be improved.

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          A good posture will ensure your back or spine is in the correct position and so you will suffer less back pain.

          On top of everything, someone with good posture looks better, healthier, and more confident.

          5. You’ll improve overall balance

            Have you ever felt that when you tried standing on one leg, you couldn’t stand up straight for more than a couple of seconds? It’s not because you were drunk- unless you happened to be at the time!-  but rather, it’s because your abdominal muscles weren’t strong enough to give you the balance you needed. Through improving your balance by doing side planks and planks with extensions you will boost your performance in every kind of sporting activity.

            6. You’ll become more flexible than ever before

              Flexibility is a key benefit of doing planks regularly, for this form of exercise expands and stretches all your posterior muscle groups – shouldersshoulder blades, and collarbone – while also stretching your hamstrings, arches of your feet, and toes. With a side plank added in to the mix, you can also work on your oblique muscles. This will provide you with further benefits when it comes to hyper-extending your toes, a movement that is crucial for supporting your body’s weight.

              7. You’ll witness mental benefits

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                Plank exercises have a particular effect on our nerves, making them an excellent means of improving overall mood. How? Well, they stretch out muscle groups that contribute to stress and tension in the body. Just think about it: you are sitting in your chair, at home or at work, all day long; your thigh muscles get tight, your legs get heavy due to being bent for several hours; and tension develops in your shoulders due to being forced to slump forward all day. These are all circumstances that put too stress on the muscles and nerves. The good news is that planks not only calm your brain, but they can also treat anxiety and symptoms of depression– but only if you make it part of your daily routine.

                How to hold a plank position

                1. Get into pushup position on the floor.
                2. Now bend your elbows 90 degrees and rest your weight on your forearms.
                3. Keep your torso straight and rigid and your body in a straight line from ears to toes with no sagging or bending.
                4. Your head is relaxed and you should be looking at the floor.
                5. Hold the position for as long as you can.
                6. Remember to breathe. Inhale and exhale slowly and steadily.
                7. When your form begins to suffer, pull the plug. You’re only benefiting from the plank by actually doing the plank.

                Watch the video if you have any doubt!

                Here is a great infographic that shows the best plank variation exercises to evenly target all abdominal muscle groups:

                  How to improve your plank time gradually

                  1. Start with the easier variation if needed. You can start with a bent-knee plank if you can’t perform a regular plank yet. If you can hold a plank for more than two minutes with ease, you can move on to these tougher variations.
                  2. Practise every day. Space your planking exercise throughout the day and do 3-4 times every day. Try to hold the position 10 seconds longer each time.
                  3. Perform other body-weight exercises at the same time. Push-up and squat will improve your core strength too.

                  Are you ready to devote 5-10 minutes of your day, every day, to stay fit, healthy and, most importantly, strong as a bull? Then jump in and make doing plank exercises a part of your life.

                  Who Should Be Cautious Doing The Plank?

                  You need to be cautious doing Planking exercises if any of these risks apply to you:

                  • Prolapse
                  • After prolapse surgery
                  • Pelvic pain conditions
                  • Weak or poorly functioning pelvic floor muscles
                  • Previous childbirth
                  • Overweight

                  Choose an alternative pelvic floor abdominal exercise or consult your doctor before performing plank regularly.

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