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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

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Marc Felgar

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

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Last Updated on November 9, 2020

10 Real Reasons Why Breaking Bad Habits Is So Difficult

10 Real Reasons Why Breaking Bad Habits Is So Difficult

Bad habits expose us to suffering that is entirely avoidable. Unfortunately, breaking bad habits is difficult because they are 100% dependent on our mental and emotional state.

Anything we do that can prove harmful to us is a bad habit – drinking, drugs, smoking, procrastination, poor communication are all examples of bad habits. These habits have negative effects on our physical, mental, and emotional health.

Humans are hardwired to respond to stimuli and to expect a consequence of any action. This is how habits are acquired: the brain expects to be rewarded a certain way under certain circumstances. How you initially responded to certain stimuli is how your brain will always remind you to behave when the same stimuli are experienced.

If you visited the bar close to your office with colleagues every Friday, your brain will learn to send you a signal to stop there even when you are alone and eventually not just on Fridays. It will expect the reward of a drink after work every day, which can potentially lead to a drinking problem.

Kicking negative behavior patterns and steering clear of them requires a lot of willpower, and there are many reasons why breaking bad habits is so difficult.

1. Lack of Awareness or Acceptance

Breaking a bad habit is not possible if the person who has it is not aware that it is a bad one.

Many people will not realize that their communication skills are poor or that their procrastination is affecting them negatively, or even that the drink they had as a nightcap has now increased to three.

Awareness brings acceptance. Unless a person realizes on their own that a habit is bad, or someone manages to convince them of the same, there is very little chance of the habit being kicked.

2. No Motivation

Going through a divorce, not being able to cope with academic pressure, and falling into debt are instances that can bring a profound sense of failure with them. A person going through these times can fall into a cycle of negative thinking where the world is against them and nothing they can do will ever help, so they stop trying altogether.

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This give-up attitude is a bad habit that just keeps coming around. Being in debt could make you feel like you are failing at maintaining your home, family, and life in general.

If you are looking to get out of a rut and feel motivated, take a look at this article: Why Is Internal Motivation So Powerful (And How to Find It)

3. Underlying Psychological Conditions

Psychological conditions such as depression and ADD can make it difficult to start breaking bad habits.

A depressed person may find it difficult to summon the energy to cook a healthy meal, resulting in food being ordered in or consumption of packaged foods. This could lead to a habit that adversely affects health and is difficult to overcome.

A person with ADD may start to clean their house but get distracted soon after, leaving the task incomplete, eventually leading to a state where it is acceptable to live in a house that is untidy and dirty.

The fear of missing out (FOMO) is very real to some people. Obsessively checking their social media and news sources, they may believe that not knowing of something as soon as it is published can be catastrophic to their social standing.

4. Bad Habits Make Us Feel Good

One of the reasons it is difficult to break habits is that a lot of them make us feel good.[1]

We’ve all been there – the craving for a tub of ice cream after a breakup or a casual drag on a joint, never to be repeated until we miss how good it made us feel. We succumb to the craving for the pleasure felt while indulging in it, cementing it as a habit even while we are aware it isn’t good for us.

Overeating is a very common bad habit. Just another pack of chips, a couple of candies, a large soda… none of these are necessary for survival. We want them because they give us comfort. They’re familiar, they taste good, and we don’t even notice when we progress from just one extra slice of pizza to four.

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You can read this article to learn more: We Do What We Know Is Bad for Us, Why?

5. Upward Comparisons

Comparisons are a bad habit that many of us have been exposed to since we were children. Parents might have compared us to siblings, teachers may have compared us to classmates, and bosses could compare us to past and present employees.

The people who have developed the bad habit of comparing themselves to others have been given incorrect yardsticks for measurement from the start.

These people will always find it difficult to break out of this bad habit because there will always be someone who has it better than they do: a better house, better car, better job, higher income and so on.

Research shows that in the age of social media, social comparisons are much easier and can ultimately harm self-esteem if scrolling becomes a bad habit[2].

6. No Alternative

This is a real and valid reason why breaking bad habits is difficult. These habits could fulfill a need that may not be met any other way.

Someone who has physical or psychological limitations, such as a disability or social anxiety, may find it hard to quit obsessive content consumption for better habits.

Alternately, a perfectly healthy person may be unable to quit smoking because alternates are just not working out.

Similarly, a person who bites their nails when anxious may be unable to relieve stress in any other socially accepted manner.

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7. Stress

As mentioned above, anything that stresses us out can lead to adopting and cementing an unhealthy habit.

When a person is stressed about something, it is easy for bad habits to form because the mental resources required to fight them are not available[3].

We often see a person who had previously managed to kick a bad habit fall back into the old ways because they felt their stress couldn’t be managed any other way.

If you need some help reducing stress, check out the following video for some healthy ways to get started:

8. Sense of Failure

People looking to kick bad habits may feel a strong sense of failure because it’s just that difficult.

Dropping a bad habit usually means changes in lifestyle that people may be unwilling to make, or these changes might not be easy to make in spite of the will to make them.

Overeaters need to empty their house of unhealthy food, resist the urge to order in, and not pick up their standard grocery items from the store. Those who drink too much need to avoid the bars or even people who drink often.

If such people slip even once with a glass of wine, or a smoke, or a bag of chips, they tend to be excessively harsh on themselves and feel like failures.

9. The Need to Be All-New

People who are looking to break bad habits feel they need to re-create themselves in order to break themselves of their bad habits, while the truth is the complete opposite.

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These people actually need to go back to who they were before they developed the bad habit and try to create good habits from there.

10. Force of Habit

Humans are creatures of habit, and having familiar, comforting outcomes for daily triggers helps us maintain a sense of balance in our lives.

Consider people who are used to lighting up a cigarette every time they talk on the phone or eating junk food when watching TV. They will always associate a phone call with a puff on the cigarette and screen time with eating.

These habits, though bad, are a source of comfort to them, as is meeting with those people they indulge in these bad habits with.

Final Thoughts

These are the main reasons why breaking bad habits is difficult, but the good news is that the task is not impossible. Breaking habits takes time, and you’ll need to put long-term goals in place to replace a bad habit with a good one.

There are many compassionate, positive and self-loving techniques to kick bad habits. The internet is rich in information regarding bad habits, their effects and how to overcome them, while professional help is always available for those who feel they need it.

More on Breaking Bad Habits

Featured photo credit: NORTHFOLK via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] After Skool: Why Do Bad Habits Feel SO GOOD?
[2] Psychology of Popular Media Culture: Social comparison, social media, and self-esteem.
[3] Stanford Medicine: Examining how stress affects good and bad habits

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