Another birthday coming up? Don’t think of this year as getting older; think of it as getting better and starting a new chapter. It’s important to be mindful of staying active as you age. The reason for this is your body begins to change, whether you like it or not. You start to lose muscle mass and your metabolism decreases, which makes it difficult to stay in shape. That’s why it’s essential to follow these five exercise habits to slow muscle aging, because it is your fountain of youth, after all! Keep reading to learn more.
Many older individuals make the mistake of only focusing on lifting lighter weights. Although there are benefits to lifting lighter, such as improving your strength endurance, you need enough resistance to continue building and maintaining your muscles. I recommend choosing a weight where it’s challenging in the 6 to 8 rep zone for your compound movements.
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In order to maximize your muscle gain, it’s important to lift weights in different rep ranges. Muscles respond to different reps, which is why it’s important to cover your bases and recruit all muscle fibers. For example, higher reps are great for pecs, while lower reps are good for your triceps. Hamstrings work well with lower reps, while quads should be worked at higher reps.
At the beginning of your workout, I suggest you perform 6 to 8 reps in your main exercises, then move on to 8 to 12 reps with your other movements. Finish off with 12 to 15 or more reps in your final lifts for the day.
Related: The Best Fitness Habits That Slow Aging, Trainer Reveals
It’s a good idea to use the same lifts so you can focus on either heavier lifting, performing more reps, or both. However, I recommend rotating in different exercises every 8 to 12 weeks to challenge your body. This will give your muscles new stimulation to recruit more muscle fibers. You can take the same exercises, and change up the way you do them. For example, switch from a flat to an incline bench press, or use a cable to do curls instead of dumbbells.
As you age, not only will you lose lean muscle mass, but also power and speed. If you’re only doing strength training, I recommend including power and plyometric exercises at the beginning of your workouts. It’s a great way to warm up and get the nervous system fired up to help you recruit more muscle fibers. Here are two examples of power and plyometric exercises you can do:
Medicine Ball Slams
With your feet shoulder-width distance apart, grab a jumbo medicine ball. Raise it above your head, then slam the weight down onto the floor while flexing your abs hard as you finish. Squat with a straight back to pick the ball up before performing another rep. Complete 8 to 10 reps.
Begin your Jump Squats by placing your legs about hip-width distance apart. Keep your core tight, and throw your arms and hips back at the same time. Swing your arms forward, and jump up as high as you can. Land gently into a half squat before jumping again. Complete 8 to 10 reps.
Another one of the best exercise habits to slow muscle aging and improve your fitness is to incorporate high-intensity interval training (HIIT) into your routine. Besides losing power and speed, your VO2 max also decreases with age. HIIT has many benefits, such as improved cardio, heart health, and muscle gain. I recommend performing at least one HIIT session each week to improve your anaerobic fitness.
Tim Liu, CSCS
Tim Liu, CSCS, is an online fitness and nutrition coach based in Los Angeles Read more about Tim