I was recently asked to research and write an article on problem areas for women in their forties and fifties. Though I am far from these glorious perimenopausal years, it was interesting hearing the feedback from many Charlotte studios. Did you know Barre is the best workout for your skin? I learned a lot – and wanted to share with you, too! Here’s the best exercise to keep arms, knees, and belly taught – at any age.
t’s been said that “life begins at forty.” Unfortunately, so do stubborn weight gain, unwanted sagging, and perimenopause – that dreaded transition into some of the hottest years of our lives. While everyone else is fearing the inevitable – Scoop wants to help you take charge of the change.
Both men and women begin to lose muscle tissue as they age. Sadly, women are looking at an average of about a half a pound per year beginning at age forty. Less muscle + lower metabolism = more weight gain. Ugh. On top of that, women are having to deal with a loss of approximately 1% of bone every year as well. Luckily adding simple strength training and weight bearing exercise combined with targeted cardio to our over 40 routines can help to slow these changes and keep us healthy once “life begins.”
Strength training is one of the best things we can do for our bodies as we grow older to retain and build muscle and prevent its loss. Because muscle cells burn calories so much faster than fat cells, strength training is going to retain muscle and maintain that metabolism. Combining strength training with consistent cardio will keep us looking and feeling our best. Dedicating time to our bodies now has been proven to give us even more time later. In fact, a recent Harvard study showed that every minute of exercise increases our lives by up to seven minutes.
Notorious problem areas for women in the 40s & 50s are saggy knees, flabby arms and an ever expanding waistline. Looking for some guidance to target aging arms, legs and bellies? Look no further than Charlotte’s fitness experts.
Hillard Studio Method
Good news – even “knee pushups” count! Hilliard Studio Method deems the good ‘ol push up the “magic bullet” for toning arms over 40. The key is proper form – walk your hands wider than your shoulders with fingers angled slightly in and bend elbows to lower chest in line with elbows. Inhale on your way down, exhale on your way back up. HSM recommends starting with ten at a time and adding more reps as you feel those arms get stronger and stronger.
Worried about wings? IM=X Pilates and Fitness says highlight those triceps. Use the edge of a chair to to perform tricep dips. Line wrists under shoulders and bend elbows making sure they point directly backward as you inhale and push up using the back of your arms (not your legs) as you exhale.
Core Revolution targets their arms with an overhead tricep press. Simply hold a dumbbell weight horizontal and overhead with arms extended. Bend elbows 90 degrees, keeping biceps in line with cheeks, squeezing elbows toward each other. Release, extending arms to the top and repeat.
Target three muscles in your arms for maximum strength training: shoulders/deltoids, triceps, and biceps. Flywheel recommends combining these exercises for best results: rows, rear flys, lateral and front raises, overhead shoulder press, bicep curls, and long arm cable chops. Looking specifically to target that jiggly part of your arm that doesn’t seem to ever go away? Try lat pullovers.
Bar Method Charlotte
To target those “bat wings,” Bar Method Charlotte reccomends reverse push ups. Since the largest muscle in your arm is your tricep, toning it makes the biggest physical difference in both defining your arms and tightening the skin. Start by sitting on the floor, placing feet flat and walking hands to under your shoulders. Turn fingers outward slightly to protect your wrists. Lift your hips off the floor and guide your ribcage between positioned arms. Bend elbows directly behind you one inch down and one inch up. What a difference one inch can make! Try thirty a day for one week and notice a difference quickly. Lost? Let Bar Method Charlotte show you how.
Pushups are your best bet for targeting chest, shoulders, and and triceps all at once. Be sure you are using proper form – without it, we could be doing more damage than good. Orange Theory is always happy to help demonstrate.
Target weak knees and thighs with Reverse Chair demonstrated by Core Revolution. Place back up against barre or counter right about where your scapula (fancy word for angel wings) is. With arms by your side, sit in a chair position with feet flat on the floor. From this position, lift and lower hips to until you feel the burn.
One of the best things we can do for our legs as we age is to retain quad strength. Strengthen these muscles with squats. Unfortunately knees can get grumpy as we age. IM=X has a quick fix for this problem – leg presses and jumps on the Xercizer strengthen quads without adding unnecessary stress or strain to the knees. If that isn’t reason enough, this exercise benefits core, quads, glutes, hips, inner thighs, calves, and feet all with a cardio boost.
Hilliard Studio Method & Bar Method Charlotte
Did you know that cardio only routines can actually burn muscle instead of fat causing skin to look saggy and metabolism to slow? No thank you. Hilliard Studio Method and Bar Method Charlotte recommend adding the Narrow V (watch a demo here) to your leg routine can add muscle to our legs and stability to ankles, knees and hips. Standing upright, place one hand on a chair, table, or counter. Place heels apart and toes about fist width apart. Lift heels off the floor a couple of inches and bend knees, keeping shoulders above hips until legs create a diamond shape. Move an inch up and down slowly ten times. Next speed the movement up to twenty reps. Finish with a drop as low as possible for a twenty second count. Repeat two to three times.
Orange Theory says cardio is a go-to for burning fat and targeting muscles just above the knees. Choose exercises that engage the lower body including running, the elliptical or stair climbing. Strength training that focuses on the quads like deep squats and forward lunges will also help with that problem area just above the knee.
As skin loses its elasticity, it appears droopy and sags. Keeping underlying muscles strong can help lift the problem areas of our legs. Use lunges, squats, wall sits, glute lifts, and single leg pickups/getups for strong muscle definition. The best way to target those legs? A Flywheel spin class.
Bar Method Charlotte
Bar Method Charlotte recommends working both the six pack abdominals and obliques at once to make the biggest difference to your waistline. One way to target this is with the clam. Lay flat on the floor and cross one leg over the other as if you are sitting in an office chair. Draw knees towards your chest and dangle feet downwards to the floor. Cross arms over your chest and aim elbows towards the ceiling. Use your abs to draw your core upward aiming elbows this time towards your knees. Slowly lower backwards to the floor. Repeat move both with full curls and small pulses while raised. Change legs and repeat. Need a visual tool? Bar Method Charlotte helps us with a demo here.
The best way to strengthen your core is to use it more. Instead of ten minutes of crunches, incorporate core moves into your total strength workout at Flybarre. Easy moves to target both abs and back include standing cable chops, planks with weight rows, lunges with bi-lateral band resistance, and TRX Superman to triceps.
As we age, we are prone to more belly fat due to loss of lean tissue. Plank variations are a great start to retaining this tissue. Try a slow mountain climbers or side plank hip dips to target obliques at an Orange Theory class.
Hilliard Studio Method
As with most HSM moves, this one targets several areas including the core. This move can be used both with a foam roller or simply on the floor. Place heavy weights on either side of roller and come to seated position with knees bent, feet flat on the floor. Lower your spine over roller with head on opposite end. Pick up weights and bring them to your chest then raise them straight upward. Slowly lower weights sideways to a fly position, palms to ceiling. You should feel a stretch in your chest. Slowly exhale raising weights back to starting position completing ten reps at a time.
While planks give abs a good ‘ol burn, that pooch needs a little extra lovin’ to flatten out. Try the pelvic floor contraction (or as some like to call it, the kegel). These can be done anywhere at any time so we have no excuse, ladies. Strengthening these muscles works on the lower abs and reduces urinary incontinence which unfortunately and inevitably will happen with age. Every Xercizer class at IM=Xincorporates 55 minutes of attention to these important abdominal muscles.
To perform TRX’s plank, start with knees, palms, and forearms on the ground with feet directly under anchor point. Drive up to plank with solid core contraction making sure you are engaging the core within this movement. Earns, shoulders, hips, knees and ankles should all be in line. After you master the plank, progress to the TRX crunch. Set up the same way but tuck both knees towards your chest and extend back to start. That’s one rep – repeat!
You look fabulous – now you can feel fabulous too!