In this four part article I am going to look at the problems and solutions, for Those of us who are “youthfully challenged”, attending a gym for the first time.
Starting any gym can be intimidating but going to a gym for the first time aged 45+ would be terrifying! There are a lot of fit, young people, with great bodies and they all seem to know what they are doing. The key to going to the gym is having an understanding about what you are going to do and keeping it as simple as possible. For middle aged gym users an effective workout trains the body as a whole unit, avoiding isolation exercises and following Janda’s principles.
Strengthen what Janda called the Phasic muscles, ie glutes (butt), deltoid’s (shoulders), triceps and core while mobilising what he refers to as the tonic muscles, ie the hip flexors , hamstrings (back of legs), biceps and pecs (chest).
The reasoning behind this is simple. As we age the Phasics weaken and the tonics tighten, especially in today’s society with modern living. Walking around holding mobile phones and everything involving sitting, our tonics have become extremely tight, effecting our posture. Over time, this can lead to imbalances and pain. Pain is bad!
What exercises to use:
Glutes: Kettlebell swing, deadlift, goblet squat, hip thrusts, hill running (if able). The glutes are the biggest muscle in your body. This is where the power comes from. The strongest, fastest, most explosive athletes always have strong glutes. Work them and work them well.
Deltoid’s: Single arm Kettlebell press is one of the best IMO and everyone no matter what their level should include it in their training. As it is a pressing exercise it will also work the tricep. When doing a pushing movement it is always advisable to add a pulling exercise. This could be a bent over row or a single arm row using a Kettlebell or if available, a suspension trainer like the KO8. Other exercises to include that work your shoulders as well as the retraction element would be T’s, Y’s and I’s. These are also completed using a KO8.
Core: Plank. Learn how to a proper plank. Work up to being able to hole it for 2 minutes. Once this has been achieved begin using the hardstyle plank for up to 20-25 seconds of full body tension.
Hip flexors: A simple half kneeling hip flexor stretch is perfect for most people to start off with and as you progress raising the foot of the kneeling leg will increase the stretch. (You can see these exercises on our YouTube channel)
Hamstrings: I love using the straight legged bear crawl as a hamstring stretch. Another added benefit of it is as it is a four limbed gait based movement you will get a bit of a shoulder workout as well.
Biceps & pecs: Dan john showed me a game changer stretch called the Stoney stretch. It also requires a KO8 and believe me once you start using this on a regular basis you will feel a million times better.
T-spine: This is one other area I would also suggest you focus on. Driving, siting on a computer, holding your mobile phone. All these actions place our backs into an unnatural position, resulting in our Thoracic spine, which is made for mobility, tightening up, leading to shoulder and back pain. One of the simplest and best exercises I know is called six point Zenith. Easy to understand, carryout and the results are instantly noticeable.
As a warm up, I would recommend the “get back up” workout. A simple, do anywhere warm up. Remember though, simple does not translate to easy. For some people the warm up will end up being the workout. If that is the case then so be it, it is what it is. You know where you are starting out from and you will move forward from here.
The get back up warm up involves going from standing to lying prone, back to standing 20-24 times (depending on time and ability) gradually decreasing the amount of limbs you can use to aid yourself.
The order is always as follows.
Lie on your front…. Get back up
Lie on your back…. Get back up
Lie on your left side…. Get back up
Lie on your right side…. Get back up
Next round requires you to place your left hand on left knee and repeat. After that, it’s right hand on right knee and repeat.
Following this it is left hand on right knee then right hand on left knee
Last round you interlock your fingers behind your head and complete the cycle.
This may not seem like much but it will get a light sweat going and the continuing up and down action will definitely raise the heart rate.
In part two will focus on the strengthening exercises, part three will look at mobility work and part four will go through how to structure the exercises into a workable program that won’t take all day.