The 3 P’s of Getting Back In Shape In Your 50’s & Beyond

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The 3 P’s of Getting Back In Shape In Your 50’s & Beyond
© Doug Champigny,
All Rights Reserved Worldwide.

As a teenager, or in your 20’s, it only took a couple of months in the gym to build noticeable muscle and start reshaping your physique. Now that you’re over 50 you’ll find its a different story as you return to working out to get back in shape.

The good news is that your body will react just as it did then – at least, the physiology is the same. Progressively overloading the muscles will tear them down and as long as you don’t go overboard your body will respond by rebuilding your muscles bigger and stronger. What IS different is your capacity for recovery and the timeline involved. Keep these 3 P’s in mind as you head back to the gym…

Unfortunately, getting back in great shape is going to take longer than you expect, especially if you got fast results when you were younger. You’ll have to start off with lighter weights and fewer exercises and work your way up to a full workout routine. And it’s going to take longer to recover from each workout than it did back in the day.

Remember, your body didn’t get into its current shape overnight – chances are you’re feeling (and showing) the cumulative effects of decades of neglect and misuse. You can’t undo that in a few months, so be patient right from the start and just accept that every day you’ll do a bit more to put you back on track. By now you know life is a marathon, not a sprint. If you want a lot of great years ahead with less illness, fewer injuries and a reduced likelihood of conditions like diabetes and osteoporosis, understand that you’ll be building towards great health at a slower pace – but you WILL be traveling along the right path.

Trying to rush things at this point will defeat the purpose and run the risk of injury, a depressed immune system and in extreme cases can even result in death by stroke, heart attack or rhabdomyolysis. Instead, ease into your new fitness lifestyle. Start by consulting your doctor, both to see if there are any areas of concern and to get advice as to what areas you need to focus on first. In your teens and twenties your goal may have been building huge muscles, but now health, wellness and fitness should be your targets. Most importantly you’ll need time to build successful fitness habits and develop the healthy mindset required to adjust your schedule and nutrition accordingly.

As a kid you were probably always running, jumping, swimming, tobogganing, climbing on monkey bars and slides and playing on the swings in your backyard or a local park. Then there were the phys ed classes at school, and maybe you played on varsity or intramural sports teams. So when you joined the gym or started working out at home you had a surplus of energy and could breeze through shorter workouts or battle your way through marathon training sessions.

It’s going to take real focus to persevere through even a simple workout as you get started again. You’ll find it’s all too easy to use your chronic aches and pains as an excuse to stop part way through a workout or to only put in a halfhearted effort. Hip flexibility issues, sore knees, lower back pain and general fatigue can generally be reduced or eliminated by working out regularly – but not if you use them as excuses to avoid working out! Start with a shorter workout plan and moderate weights and persevere through EVERY workout – then be sure to get sufficient rest and proper nutrition for full recovery before your next training session.

Every January gyms are full of new people working out because losing weight or getting back in shape are very popular New Year’s resolutions. But by March, most are nowhere to be seen and won’t reappear until the following year when they’ll ‘try’ again. Obviously these short bursts aren’t doing them any good, and can actually set them back further as they accept failure yet again.

Psychologically, try not to think of it as ‘getting back in shape’ but rather as ‘adopting a healthy lifestyle’. The former is a limited-time endeavor with a specific end goal, and that can often lead to impatience and trying to hurry and/or cheat your way to that goal. A healthy lifestyle, on the other hand, can go on for the rest of your life, providing non-stop benefit to you as you age. And because it’s a lifestyle you’re trying to attain it’s much easier to keep up your ongoing efforts.

Everyone is going to miss at least some workouts due to events in their lives, but your goal to adopt the healthy lifestyle makes it easy to get right back to it without beating yourself up emotionally the way you would if you were simply rushing to get back in shape. Down the road your motivation will come from your results to date and the benefits those bring you, but you’ll need to really focus on your goals to find the persistence to get you to that point.

Before you head out for the gym, visualize your life once you’re truly living a healthy lifestyle. See how much better you’ll look, think about how good you’ll feel with greater strength, improved flexibility and considerably more energy. Know that you really want that and that you really can have it – as long as you’re persistent with your workouts, nutrition, rest and recuperation.

Patience, perseverance and persistence can bring health, wellness and fitness within your grasp and lead you to a happier, healthier lifestyle – get started on YOUR journey today!

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One Response to The 3 P’s of Getting Back In Shape In Your 50’s & Beyond

  1. MattToronto says:

    Great post Doug! I think as we all get older, that being realistic and being happy with the results is important too. Be realistic in that you aren’t going to transform into a fitness model likely, and be happy with what you do get done. It ain’t easy, so be proud of yourself!

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