There are some inevitable truths we all need to accept about growing older. As in, our metabolisms will begin to slow down and our production of hormones, like testosterone, starts to decrease. We'll likely also lose muscle mass, strength, power, mobility, and flexibility. While admittedly depressing, these are also the exact reasons why it's imperative for us to stay as fit and active as we possibly can.
In order to fight off aging and add years to your lifespan, you have to build and maintain muscle and power at all costs. The best way to do that is through strength training, and more specifically, focusing on the six basic movements: squat, hinge, push, pull, carry, and lunge.
However, there are other techniques that can help fight the effects of aging beyond just besides lifting weights. I also recommend to my clients that they incorporate both plyometrics and anaerobic sprints into their workout routines. Plyometrics are exercises that use speed and force to build muscle, while anaerobic sprints consist of quick and short sessions in which you go all out, giving your max effort. This will help you build and maintain your type II fast-twitch muscle fibers (which support quick, powerful movements) and your anaerobic glycolytic endurance (aka the process of cells breaking down glucose for energy in the absence of oxygen).
In other words, adding plyometrics and anaerobic sprints into your exercise routine can help your body improve the very things it may lose as you age: muscle mass, strength, power, mobility, and flexibility.
What follows are two examples of plyometric exercises and two anaerobic sprints that you can work into your own fitness program if you're over the age of 50 (or, at any point in life) once you've consulted with your doctor. You can use the plyometric movement as a warm-up before your usual weightlifting routine, and the anaerobic sprints can be performed as a finisher to your strength-training workout or on a separate day.
For more, check out these 60-Second Workouts That Can Also Add Years to Your Life.
Plyometrics: Bench Plyo Push-Up
To perform this exercise, stand a few steps away from a bench, then lower yourself so that your hands are resting on the bench and your body is forming a straight line from head to toe. Lower your body down toward the bench by bending your elbows so that your chest touches the pad (like a push-up), then explode back up to standing as hard as you can so that your hands leave the bench. Land softly with your hands on the bench, then perform another rep. Do 8 reps three times through.
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Stand with your feet about hip-width apart. Keeping your core tight, quickly swing your arms back as you lower your hips down into a squat position, then immediately reverse the position by swinging your arms forward as you jump up as high as you can. Land soft in a half-squat position before jumping again. Do 10 reps three times through.
Anaerobic Sprints: Sled Push
If you have access to a sled at your gym, start by loading it with a light weight (one 45-lb weight if there's only one slot or two 25-lb weights if there are two). If you're new to the exercise, grip the sled high on the handles with your arms extended. Push the sled 20-40 yards one way, then back, with your body at a 45-degree angle to the bars at all times. Keep your eyes on the ground as you push. Rest 2-5 minutes before performing another set, aiming for 3 to 5 sets of 20-40 yards each.
Hop on your favorite exercise bike (stationary, recumbent, or air) and set a timer for 30 minutes. Alternate between sprinting hard at your max capacity for 20-30 seconds and then cruising at a steady pace for one minute. Perform as many of these intervals as you can within 30 minutes.
And there you have it, two plyometrics exercises and two anaerobic sprints that you can add to your workout routine (with your doctor's permission) in order to boost your longevity now—and well beyond the age of 50.
For more, check out 3 Major Secrets to Living to 99, According to Betty White.