There are numerous workouts that are promoted by different certified personal trainers and various fitness websites. First and foremost, I believe all physical activity is good and it’s imperative that we get moving since we are dealing with many health issues, including America’s No. 1 heath problem that centers around overweight and obese individuals which represent a large percentage of the population! Americans clearly need to exercise more since 80% of all adults are not getting enough exercise and a staggering 49.6% of adults are not exercising at all! A lack of fitness and overall activity along with a poor diet are clearly the driving forces in the 71% of the people in the United States that are unhealthy and overweight.
New Year’s Fitness Resolutions
With a new year upon us, many will embark on various fitness programs to help them lose weight and become more fit. Gym memberships spike every year in January and then taper off after the first month or two. Why is this? It’s because many will not achieve the success and results they expected because the fitness activity they select is not aligned with their goals or level of fitness. By selecting the right fitness activity which is aligned with your goals, it will increase your chances of reaching your New Year’s resolution. Going one step further, by defining your motivations for getting fit, this will also help you a great deal.
My belief is that your workout should be based around what your specific fitness goals are and your own personal level of fitness. All too often, an individual will aspire to an activity that isn’t the best choice to achieve their goals. I’ll use myself as an example. I’d like to add some new muscle to my physique and I will try to accomplish this by doing more repetitions instead of lifting heavier weights. My thought behind this logic is, at 58 years of age, I do not want to overuse or potentially injure myself. It’s hard to make progress if you suffer an injury.
Important Considerations When Selecting Your Workout:
- Will the workout help you achieve your health and fitness goals?
- Is the workout balanced, meaning a workout involving cardio, core exercises and weights? Most people who workout do not have balanced workouts.
- Can you safely perform the workout?
- Are you trained on the specific exercises you will be doing? If you’re a novice and just starting to workout, then hiring a personal trainer might be worth it.
- How much time do you have to dedicate to fitness? Do you have 4 to 5 days per week to invest in yourself? Once or twice a week isn’t going to change all of the unhealthy and overweight people in the United States.
Important Considerations for Middle Aged People:
- Avoid overusing your muscles.
- Always warm-up properly before lifting weights.
- Avoid exercises that pull muscle away from bones and joints such as flyes.
- Use a weightlifting belt for support.
- Stay away from high impact exercises like excessive running, CrossFit, kettlebell training and martial arts.
- Get your blood test done to check your hormone levels. Working out and eating right will not provide maximum results if your hormones are not balanced. 9 out of every 10 people who I recommend having a blood test done, find out that either their testosterone or estrogen levels are out of balance. This is one of the primary reasons that middle-aged people experience little to no results with a fitness program.
Common Workout Flaws I See 90% of People in The Gym Make:
- Not warming up correctly (cardio or stretching).
- Lifting too heavy. Many believe that improving their fitness and increasing muscle size and definition is based on increasing the amount of weight being lifted. Let’s face it, your joints and muscles can only lift so much weight. This type of super heavy lifting can easily cause injury.
- Limited core exercises. Remember the “core” is the center of your universe and protects your spine which sends signals from your brain to the rest of the body. Protect your body by developing your core muscles and develop some nice definition in your midsection at the same time.
- Most people perform far too many “push” type exercises and not enough “pull” exercises for their back muscles which causes imbalance and potential injury.
- Using too many exercises that target the same muscles and joints. The objective of a good workout is to increase your physical capabilities, not to decrease them and potentially cause injury.
- Inconsistent workouts. Overusing muscle groups will cause your muscles to get smaller, not bigger (overtraining syndrome). Remember, muscle is your best friend when it comes to burning unwanted fat.
- Not listening to your body! When something hurts, stop doing it! Seek medical care when necessary
You Need To Find What is Right for You
All exercise is good if moderation and common sense is used when selecting the activity. The objective here is to educate a beginner who is getting started with a workout plan and explain which exercises will be the best for improving their overall health and fitness. Below is just a handful of common fitness activities for people who want to lose weight and become healthier:
- Balanced Approach – This involves weights, core exercises and cardio. People who are fit, generally have balanced workouts. Most bodybuilder workouts are clearly balanced with the emphasis on the whole body along with an emphasis on size and definition. You don’t need to be a bodybuilder to get these types of results. The bottom line is that most people have weight loss and overall muscle definition as primary goals. With the help of a personal trainer, most beginners can easily adapt to a workout while performing it at their own pace. Even with this type of workout, there is some risk of injury if you lift too heavy and have poor technique. As a 58-year-old bodybuilder, I prefer this type of workout and have seen myself, and my clients, obtain great results from it with little risk of injury.
- Circuit Training – I like circuit training if the workout is balanced and you are properly trained to do the exercises you are doing. With circuit training, you need to give your body and muscles time to recover from your workouts. The “every day” or “every other day” approach can make your lean muscles get smaller and cause potential injury to muscles and joints. Always allow for a minimum of 2 days of rest before doing another circuit training session. For example, if you start your week on Sunday then your next workout will be on Wednesday, then on Saturday. Feel free to perform cardio and core exercises on a couple of your off days. My recommendation is to give your body two days rest where you do not workout in order to fully recover.
- Boot Camps – These were all the rage a few years ago with many seeing improvements in the short-term. However, many of the boot camp participants were unable to maintain the rigors of this intense training style for the long haul so they gave up and quit. Being overly challenged is not necessarily a good thing when it comes to fitness. I don’t know that many people in my circle of fitness friends who have benefited from this type of approach. I’m a big fan of gradual improvements to your body instead of the instant gratification approach which is difficult to maintain long-term and also increases the risk of injury.
- Heavy Lifting To Bulk Up – If you want to get stronger, you need to increase the weights being lifted. Far too many individuals measure their progress by how much they can lift. If that is your objective, then it’s a good fit. All too often, people who are trying to develop lean muscle and lose weight, get caught up into this. Remember, when you workout you need to think both short-term and long-term. The joints can only take so much. I’ve seen numerous people blow out shoulders, backs and knees. You can clearly increase muscle size by lifting lighter weights and doing more repetitions. Quite honestly, it’s been 35 years since someone asked me how much I bench press. I get asked daily about how I stay so lean and how to develop overall muscle tone.
- CrossFit – CrossFit is high intensity training. In my opinion, it’s great for elite athletes, but it’s not for beginners or middle-aged people. The high impact movements used in CrossFit are extremely tough on the joints. Many professional think this type of workout is too high risk and injury prone. I do not recommend this activity for beginners or older individuals.
- Kettlebell Training – As a 58-year-old, I look at this type of training as potentially very dangerous to individuals who are not properly trained on the specific techniques and for individuals with joint, back and knee problems. This type of training is more suited for elite athletes, not for beginners.
- Basic Cardio Workouts – Many beginners who are overweight perform too much cardio as their primary exercise to lose the weight. Cardio is clearly needed for good health and weight loss, but it is not the end all. Your biggest tool for dropping unwanted pounds and speeding up your metabolism as well as keeping the weight off long-term is a balanced workout program involving weights, core exercises and cardio workouts. Weightlifting will promote increased bone density and allow you to live a healthier and more active life as you get older.
- Different Cardio Classes – Cardio is great, but your workouts need to be balanced with core exercises and weights. The classes that mix in cardio with weights often don’t match up with the individual goals of the people participating in the class. My issues with this type of class is that each person is different and we have different goals with different physiques. The “one workout fits all” approach is not for everyone. If you’re doing classes that involve only cardio then make sure you incorporate a balanced weightlifting program to develop and maintain lean muscle mass.
- Bike Riding – This is a fantastic exercise and a great form of cardio. It will help with overall fitness and weight loss and it also helps to develop your lower body. You may want to incorporate some weight training with this exercise for a total body workout.
- Hiking – This is another great activity that promotes weight loss and develops the lower body. I enjoy the mental aspect of this activity while experiencing breathtaking views while hiking in the Arizona mountains. Although hiking is a great exercise, I would also add in weight training as well as core exercises to enhance your overall fitness.
- Walking – Going for long walks is a good form of cardio which promotes weight loss. For some, walking is a perfect cardio exercise. A few of my weight loss clients like to complement their gym time by going for walks on their off days. Walking is clearly an excellent exercise and when incorporated with a weightlifting and core program, it can be very beneficial in improving overall health and fitness.
- Swimming – Swimming is an amazing total body workout! It promotes cardiovascular health and is great for losing weight. This past year, I swam between 10-15 laps after working out. I noticed it helped me maintain a very lean muscular appearance and helped me recover from my weightlifting workouts.
Do Research To Find The Best Activity That Helps You Reach Your Goals
Fitness and working out is all about making continual progress. The key for the beginner is to get to a point where you can see the results. Once you see results, you will become more inspired and motivated to keep going. Be reasonable with your fitness expectations and keep your fitness activities safe. Make the activity fit in with your physical capabilities and limitations, and most importantly, choose the right fitness activity for you. It will make all the difference in the world for achieving your fitness goals and becoming more healthy and fit. Choose the wrong type of activity and you might risk injury and not get the results you expected. I want to emphasize that most fitness activities are great, but make sure to focus on your personal fitness goals, capabilities and potential limitations. Also, make sure to focus on your diet and what you eat. A clean diet coupled with an effective fitness activity is the driving force in your overall health and fitness.
Use your resources and pay attention to the people in the gym who are fit and in shape. Get to know them and engage them in conversations. Also, it’s a good idea to use a personal trainer when you first start out. I was a successful collegiate athlete and trust me, there was much I did not know about exercise and nutrition. I clearly wouldn’t be where I’m at today without great instruction from one of the top trainers in the United States. The money was well spent and allowed me to achieve great results. I exercised safely while using proper form and improved my fitness learning curve. One of my new clients told me that she spent less money using me than she did purchasing two months of meals that didn’t help her lose weight and get more fit. Lastly, consult with your doctor to ensure you are physically capable to conduct the workout you decide to choose.
Reaching Your Fitness Goals and Staying Motivated:
- Clearly define your goals.
- Define what your motivation is. Is it better health, how you look and feel, or maybe you want to live longer for your family and avoid costly medical bills. The average 65-year-old today will need about $400,000 to cover medical bills until they die. Keeping your body healthy saves you tons of money!
- Choose an effective workout plan.
- Measure your results by taking pictures, weighing yourself and taking measurements of your body.
- Switch up your workouts every few weeks.
- Talk to the experienced people at the gym to gain valuable knowledge and stay motivated.
I hope to have given each of you an idea about how to select your fitness activity that best helps you achieve your fitness goals and to maintain good health. I do not believe in a “one size fits all” approach. Your fitness activity should clearly be about yourself. My primary expertise is designing workouts that are focused on helping my clients reach their fitness goals. My own personal workout is not a good fit for most except for someone else who wants to become a bodybuilder. No matter what activity you choose, makes sure it’s right for your level of fitness and is in-line with your overall fitness goals. Remember, your commitment and consistency with your workouts and your nutrition plan, as well as measuring your progress, are all key to your long-term health and fitness success. There is nothing more gratifying than seeing progress, which helps provide future motivation, regardless of your age. Being healthy and more fit is clearly a win-win!
Above is a picture of my good friend Scott, who is also 58 years old and was my original inspiration in the gym. 8 years later, we share fitness and diet tips and inspire each other. I will never forget the moment I saw him and said to myself, “I want to look like him and I can do it.” Several weeks later, I introduced myself and shared my observations and we quickly became friends. I have about 15 men and women who are over 50 years old that I consult with on a regular basis. I am inspired by them and they are inspired by me. The gym is full of great people who will be more than happy to share information with you!