I am not one of those people who think 40 is old. I'm a few weeks from hitting that milestone, and I'm not having a midlife crisis -- well, at least not yet.
I am, however, changing how I work out and eat. Long gone are the days of leg-pressing 800 pounds (my only weight-room brag), bench pressing, and carbo-loading. With minor hip and shoulder surgeries along with a broken bone in my foot behind me, I'm more cautious at the gym.
Here are a few hacks that keep me pain-free and fit:
Speed walking: Trust me, I never wanted to admit to speed-walking; I once guilted a client into running because I incessantly made fun of her power-walks. Now, I love it. It doesn't hurt my foot like running and I still feel like I'm getting my heart-rate up. If I'm not outside, I'm using a self-propelled treadmill because it's a more natural motion and you burn more calories doing it. My favorite is the Woodway because its surface is easier on your joints then the usual treadmill.
Workout prep: I warm up before workouts, and use a foam roll often. If I'm at the gym, I head to the sauna for five minutes before working out. It's a great way to warm up my muscles. After my hip scope, my doctor suggested it, and I'm hooked. When I get out on the gym floor I'm doing butt-kicks, high-knees, hip-swings, shuffling or some forms of yoga moves before I hit the weights. I use a foam roller after workouts, and if I don't have time, I'll do it at home while watching TV.
Body weight exercises are my jam (I think that's how kids are using that word)! I use a TRX often for rowing exercises and legs. I'm a huge fan of single leg exercises like squatting and deadlifting. Since my wrists are a little creaky I like to use a Perfect Pushup to perform pushups or use two dumbbells instead of putting my hands flat on the ground. I do pump some iron and use a lot of bands.
Recovery: I'm ok with being sore after a workout, but if I feel like I was hit by a car, I'll make sure to change my workout next time. I am also a huge fan of massages. I don't get them often enough, but if you can afford it, do it. Just make sure you find a good masseuse.
Cold showers are also part of my routine after a workout. They wake me up and help cool me off so I'm not a sweaty mess when I return to work. When I have time, I'll take a bath in Epsom salt. I love getting in the water and I try to swim or at least walk in the water once a week or more during the summer. I also love Forrest Yoga. I recommend trying to find a yoga class you really like and mixing it into your routine once a week. On days I do not workout, I'll do a handful of yoga poses at home. Since my 4-year-old does it at school, it's a fun family activity.
Along with foam-rolling, I like to use a tennis ball or lacrosse ball to massage my muscles and bands for stretching. My only tip here is start easy and warm up the tissue before digging real deep. Kelly Starrett has a bunch of interesting videos online where he uses bands, rollers and balls for stretching. It's also important to listen to your body. If you have a tough workout planned but feel like crap, take it easy.
Time: I could easily spend a few hours in the gym, but who has that type of time? With a full-time job, a part-time job, a wife and two crazy boys, I want to get in and out of the gym. I also move a lot throughout the day. I'll get up and do some stretching in my office. My boss is on to me -- he'll look at me in a meeting and know my subtle move is a stretch. Since I do not have a ton of time in the gym, I take little breaks when I work out and I am big fan of intervals. Interval training is when you increase and decrease your intensity level during the workout. A basic example: sprint for 30 seconds, and then walk for 30 seconds, repeat that for 20 minutes. This type of training has shown tremendous results for weight loss, and speed improvement.
Sure, I still want to look good in my Speedo (for the record, I don't really own a Speedo), but I'm training for life. I want energy to keep up with my boys and the strength to be able to toss them in the air for a long, long time.
If you're not exercising, get moving. Start slow and listen to your joints, whether they're antiques like mine or still young and fresh.