The #1 Fit-After-40 Workout Every Woman Should Be Doing
Are you a woman looking to stay strong, sculpted, and ultra-fit well past 40? The most efficient way to do so is by finding an attainable and sustainable program for you, says Tonal strength coach Ackeem Emmons. As you age, it's common to assume a more sedentary lifestyle where you're less mobile, and your supply of lean muscle naturally decreases. That's why it's more critical than ever before to make lower-impact exercises, progressive overload, and dynamic stretching regular players in your repertoire. Emmons is here to give your fitness routine a much-needed update that focuses on all three of those things in his ultimate workout for women to stay fit after 40.
"Mobility is the foundation to our success," Emmons explains. "Naturally, when it comes to strength training, we believe that the weight/load is the only obstacle. That is not always the truth. The lack of mobility can hinder your movement pattern, make you prone to injuries, and even decrease recovery after workouts." A simple way to solve all these issues? Do some dynamic stretching. Carve out five to 10 minutes pre- and post-workout to stretch, and you'll be so glad you did. "It can help improve your squat patterns, overhead, and chest press, and ability to articulate the spine," Emmons adds.
Another key component to staying fit after 40 is progressive overload. "Progressive overload is the recipe [for] those big lifts and increased muscle density," Emmons says. "We are all unique in where we start with training, but one thing that is consistent is the way we increase our strength and intensity. Learn where you are, find your benchmark, and start building from there." For instance, the first phase may be performing 10 reps of a particular weight on a consistent basis for a couple of weeks. The second phase would be 12 reps. Building up your strength gradually and routinely is the name of the game if you want to keep fit and continue to train without enduring an injury.
The last piece of the puzzle is performing low-impact exercises. "The goal is to train as much as we can, for as long as we can. Sometimes too much is just too much. High-impact workouts can put a lot of stress on your joints, ligaments, and tendons," Emmons tells us. "This will lead to injury, and the inability to remain consistent. I am a huge fan of HIIT workouts, but there are ways to duplicate that sensation without your body paying the price." Don't forget about taking breaks to rest, and if anything is causing you pain, that's a good sign that you need to tweak your routine. And lastly, remember that you can add power to any movement.
Solid form, speed, and following the correct program can make all the difference in the world. Keep reading for the ultimate workout for women to stay fit after 40. And when you're finished, don't miss out on the 5 Daily Exercise Habits for Women To Get Firm & Lean After 50.
It should come as no surprise that this workout kicks off with some dynamic stretching. Your main focus should be on the mobility of your core, hips, and posterior chain. "Whether it's before a workout, or a day of recovery, practicing dynamic movements is a non-negotiable for staying fit," Emmons stresses. Perform the below stretches for 30 seconds each:
World's Greatest Stretch
Begin in a high plank. Plant your left foot up by your left hand. Then, place your right hand on the ground, and extend your left arm overhead, twisting your torso to the left as you do so. You can also bring your left arm down, reach your right arm up, and twist to the right for a solid stretch. Repeat the stretch on the other side.
Lie down on your stomach so your body forms a straight line; your arms should be extended ahead of you. Focus your gaze ahead of you as you slowly lift your arms and legs off the floor. Hold this position before releasing.
Lay down flat on your back. Straighten your arms overhead. Activate your abs as you lift both legs, your torso, and your arms off the ground until you form a "V" with your body. Use control to lower to the start position. Repeat.
Hollow Body Rock
Lie down flat on your back once again with both arms straightened overhead. Your legs should also be extended together. Raise your arms and legs off the floor so your body assumes a banana shape. Lift your legs so that your body first "rocks" back toward your arms. Then, gradually bring them down so you rock forward.
"The best workout should consist of medium to heavy compound lifts, exploring all planes of motion, and relatively low impact," Emmons says. "Over time, we tend to become more sedentary and refrain from training outside of our comfort zone."
Each of the below "blocks" begins by performing a compound movement followed by an accessory exercise that complements it. The blocks wrap up with an isolating core movement for active recovery. Perform each block for two sets, and make sure you rest for less than 30 seconds between each exercise.
Neutral Grip Deadlift
Plant your feet shoulder-width apart, holding a dumbbell in each hand with a neutral grip (palms facing your body). Push your hips back as you hinge forward and lower the dumbbells down your sides until they meet the middle of your shins. Then, press back up. Complete two sets of 10 reps.
You can also perform this exercise by stepping in the center of a hex bar. Hinge your hips back, and bend your knees in order to grab onto the handles using a neutral grip. Push your hips forward in order to lift the weight up.
Set the cable machine handle at the height of your chest. Grab onto the handle with your left hand, and pull the cable out. Your feet should be staggered with your right foot forward. Bring your left arm and shoulder forward. Once you're in the correct position, pull the cable to your chest as you rotate your body to the left. Then, return. Perform the same motion on the opposite side. Complete two sets of 12 reps.
Start standing with a dumbbell in each hand. Lift your right knee up until your thigh is parallel to the floor. Step it forward as you lift your left knee up until that thigh reaches parallel to the ground. Continue to "march" forward. Complete two sets of 30 seconds.
Squat to Press
Plant your feet shoulder-width apart, and hold a dumbbell in each hand at shoulder height. Press your hips back, bend both knees, and lower into a squat until your thighs become parallel to the floor. Push through your feet to rise back up, and press the dumbbells overhead. Lower back down to shoulder height, and repeat. Complete two sets of 10 reps.
Place your feet hip-width apart. Step out to the side with your left leg, hinge your hips back, and lower into a lateral (or side) lunge. Descend until your thigh is parallel to the floor. Step back to the center, and repeat on your right side. Complete two sets of 12 reps.
Lie flat on the floor. Bend both knees and plant your feet firmly in a wide stance on the ground. Extend your arms overhead to grab the kettlebell. Take hold of the handles, and bring the weight up and over your chest. Lift your back off the floor as you crunch your body up. Use control to lower yourself back to the start position. Complete two sets of 15 reps.
Iso Split Squat Single-Arm Chest Press
Start in a half-kneeling position with the cable set to chest height. If your right knee is on the ground, grab onto the cable's handle with your right hand. Raise your knee a bit off the floor to assume a split squat position. Then, press the cable ahead of your chest. Use control to bring it back to the start position. Repeat on the opposite side. Complete two sets of 10 reps per side.
Overhead Tricep Extension
Stand up tall and hold a single dumbbell with both hands. Bring the weight to the back of your head until your triceps are perpendicular to the ground and your elbows point upward. Then, lift the dumbbell overhead until your arms are completely extended but not locked out. Squeeze your triceps. Next, gradually lower the weight. Complete two sets of 12 reps.
Kneeling Cable Crunch
Kneel on the floor facing a cable machine. Hold the rope attachment with both hands at face height. Breathe out as you bend or "crunch" down with your torso, making sure to keep your lower body still. Bring the cable down with your body as you do so. Then, breathe in as you gradually return to the position you started in. Complete two sets of 15 reps.
This workout for women to stay fit after 40 closes out with a much-needed cool-down. "The cool-down is just as important as the warm-up," Emmons explains. "After any workout, it is important to prevent injuries, and regulate your heart rate." Some of Emmons' favorite picks in Tonal include the "bretzel" stretch, 90-90 hip stretch, and sumo squat stretch, which he recommends doing for 40 seconds each.