Fifty+ Fitness: Tips for Getting the Most from Your Gym Time
It’s never too late to consider adding a workout program to your weekly routine, in fact resistance training can help slow or reverse the decline in muscle mass, bone density and strength that we begin to experience at around age 50. The most effective forms of resistance training are with free weights, exercise machines and swimming and if you’re already an advocate of spending quality time in the gym, you know that the best results come from staying focused and making the best use of every minute.
It’s easy to chip away at precious workout time by letting ourselves get sidetracked to do an errand, take a phone-call and even worse, waste time while exercising! Keeping a few common sense tips in mind will help you reduce the risk of derailing your progress.
Plan ahead – decide what your workout routine will be and stick to it. If your plan for the day is cardio, jump onto the treadmill or elliptical and focus. Have a backup plan in case your favorite machine is busy; waiting around for an available machine can set your body back to your pre-exercise state but the object is to keep moving so don’t rest more than 1 – 2 minutes between stations. If the plan is weight training, make a list of six to eight exercises focusing on varying muscle groups and work through your list methodically to get the most from your time spent.
Boost up the weight – a good rule of thumb in weight training is to boost the weight and decrease the repetitions. If you’re lifting weights that are too light, you’re not getting the maximum benefit from your repetitions and that ends up being time wasted. More bicep curls may build endurance but fewer curls with heavier weights will build the strength you’re after. Sports coach Fiona Lockhart tells her clients that if they can do more than 15 repetitions it’s time to boost the weight, that will equal time saved!
Mix it up – Change your gym routine every six to eight weeks; this is enough time for the body to benefit from the exercise you’re doing but not long enough to become too used to it. The muscles have memory and they will prepare for what’s coming next if your routine is constant for too long; mixing it up will keep you from becoming bored as well!
Work out in the morning – the later in the day you schedule your workout, the more chances for interruptions or other appointments to take priority. With a morning workout routine there’s less time to make excuses and fewer possibilities for derailing your progress. Plus people who start the day with a workout tend to feel better for the entire day!
Save visiting for the juice bar – working out with a friend is great for the support factor, but agree between you that you’ll be social during warm ups and cool downs, better yet spend time together later at the juice bar and focus on the workout at hand. If you can hold a conversation comfortably while on the treadmill, elliptical or bike, it’s too easy and to maximize your time you’re better off revving up the resistance.
Choose music over TV – If a distraction helps get you through, music will inspire you to stay in time with the beat but watching TV may be distracting enough that it takes 45 minutes to accomplish the same calorie burn that could be accomplished in 30 minutes without distractions.
If you’re working with a personal trainer at the local fitness center or an exercise coach in your retirement community, they’ll keep you on track; if you are your own coach you’ll have yourself to congratulate for staying focused on your commitment to fitness.