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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.

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Last Updated on March 13, 2019

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

Have you gotten into a rut before? Or are you in a rut right now?

You know you’re in a rut when you run out of ideas and inspiration. I personally see a rut as a productivity vacuum. It might very well be a reason why you aren’t getting results. Even as you spend more time on your work, you can’t seem to get anything constructive done. While I’m normally productive, I get into occasional ruts (especially when I’ve been working back-to-back without rest). During those times, I can spend an entire day in front of the computer and get nothing done. It can be quite frustrating.

Over time, I have tried and found several methods that are helpful to pull me out of a rut. If you experience ruts too, whether as a working professional, a writer, a blogger, a student or other work, you will find these useful. Here are 12 of my personal tips to get out of ruts:

1. Work on the small tasks.

When you are in a rut, tackle it by starting small. Clear away your smaller tasks which have been piling up. Reply to your emails, organize your documents, declutter your work space, and reply to private messages.

Whenever I finish doing that, I generate a positive momentum which I bring forward to my work.

2. Take a break from your work desk.

Get yourself away from your desk and go take a walk. Go to the washroom, walk around the office, go out and get a snack.

Your mind is too bogged down and needs some airing. Sometimes I get new ideas right after I walk away from my computer.

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3. Upgrade yourself

Take the down time to upgrade yourself. Go to a seminar. Read up on new materials (#7). Pick up a new language. Or any of the 42 ways here to improve yourself.

The modern computer uses different typefaces because Steve Jobs dropped in on a calligraphy class back in college. How’s that for inspiration?

4. Talk to a friend.

Talk to someone and get your mind off work for a while.

Talk about anything, from casual chatting to a deep conversation about something you really care about. You will be surprised at how the short encounter can be rejuvenating in its own way.

5. Forget about trying to be perfect.

If you are in a rut, the last thing you want to do is step on your own toes with perfectionist tendencies.

Just start small. Do what you can, at your own pace. Let yourself make mistakes.

Soon, a little trickle of inspiration will come. And then it’ll build up with more trickles. Before you know it, you have a whole stream of ideas.

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6. Paint a vision to work towards.

If you are continuously getting in a rut with your work, maybe there’s no vision inspiring you to move forward.

Think about why you are doing this, and what you are doing it for. What is the end vision in mind?

Make it as vivid as possible. Make sure it’s a vision that inspires you and use that to trigger you to action.

7. Read a book (or blog).

The things we read are like food to our brain. If you are out of ideas, it’s time to feed your brain with great materials.

Here’s a list of 40 books you can start off with. Stock your browser with only the feeds of high quality blogs, such as Lifehack.org, DumbLittleMan, Seth Godin’s Blog, Tim Ferris’ Blog, Zen Habits or The Personal Excellence Blog.

Check out the best selling books; those are generally packed with great wisdom.

8. Have a quick nap.

If you are at home, take a quick nap for about 20-30 minutes. This clears up your mind and gives you a quick boost. Nothing quite like starting off on a fresh start after catching up on sleep.

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9. Remember why you are doing this.

Sometimes we lose sight of why we do what we do, and after a while we become jaded. A quick refresher on why you even started on this project will help.

What were you thinking when you thought of doing this? Retrace your thoughts back to that moment. Recall why you are doing this. Then reconnect with your muse.

10. Find some competition.

Nothing quite like healthy competition to spur us forward. If you are out of ideas, then check up on what people are doing in your space.

Colleagues at work, competitors in the industry, competitors’ products and websites, networking conventions.. you get the drill.

11. Go exercise.

Since you are not making headway at work, might as well spend the time shaping yourself up.

Sometimes we work so much that we neglect our health and fitness. Go jog, swim, cycle, whichever exercise you prefer.

As you improve your physical health, your mental health will improve, too. The different facets of ourselves are all interlinked.

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Here’re 15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It).

12. Take a good break.

Ruts are usually signs that you have been working too long and too hard. It’s time to get a break.

Beyond the quick tips above, arrange for a 1-day or 2-days of break from your work. Don’t check your (work) emails or do anything work-related. Relax and do your favorite activities. You will return to your work recharged and ready to start.

Contrary to popular belief, the world will not end from taking a break from your work. In fact, you will be much more ready to make an impact after proper rest. My best ideas and inspiration always hit me whenever I’m away from my work.

Take a look at this to learn the importance of rest: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

More Resources About Getting out of a Rut

Featured photo credit: Joshua Earle via unsplash.com

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