FOR BETTER RESULTS IN MUSCLE DEFINITION, TRAIN AT YOUR HIGHEST INTENSITY TWICE A WEEK. YOUR MUSCLES WILL THANK YOU LATER.
We all know wisdom isn’t the only thing that comes with age. Our bodies change, too. But some of the things women associate with the tip over 40—muscle loss, a slowed metabolism, stubborn fat, lower energy—don’t have to be your destiny. There are plenty of ways to maximize your results. What follows is a high-intensity workout and training guide for lasting fitness.
Former IFBB Fitness Olympia champ Monica Brant has crafted a full-body circuit that targets hard-to-sculpt areas with strength exercises, plyometrics, and lateral and forward/ backward moves that prime every muscle. Follow it along with advice from top fitness experts on how to keep your metabolism fired up at any age.
BY CAT PERRY | WORKOUT BY MONICA BRANT | PHOTOGRAPHS BY PER BERNAL
1. INCLINE TREADMILL OR STEP MILL (10 MINUTES)
DO IT! PERFORM THIS ENTIRE WORKOUT (INCLUDING CARDIO) AS A CIRCUIT
ADVANCED: REPEAT 4x
For treadmill: Without holding on to the handles, walk at the highest incline you can manage at whatever speed you can maintain for 10 minutes. (Shoot for 10–15%.) If you feel like you have to hold on, slow your pace down instead. For StepMill: Start with a resistance of 3, 4, or 5, working up to 15 over a few weeks. Keep the tempo slow and steady.
2. WALKING LUNGE FORWARD & REVERSE
(12 FORWARD, 12 REVERSE)
Stand with your feet hip width, holding a dumbbell in each hand. Keeping your hands by your sides, step yourright foot forward a few feet, lowering into a lunge until your front thigh is parallel with the floor and your back knee nearly touches the floor. Pause at bottom, then power through your front heel to quickly return to standing. Immediately lunge your left foot forward. Do 12 forward lunges and 12 reverse lunges.
3. ELBOW PLANK WITH LEG EXTENSION
(10 REPS EACH LEG)
Begin in plank with forearms on floor and hands clasped, forming a straight line from head to heels. Brace abs and slowly lift left leg a couple of feet. Squeeze at top, then lower to start and repeat. To make it harder, place hands on Bosu, round-side down.
Don’t Skip Rest Day
As you get older, it takes about 36 to 48 hours for your muscles to recover from training, says Higgins. (Teens can fully recover in 14 to 18 hours.) Splitting your cardio and resistance into alternate days can help: That will give your muscles enough time to rest and fully recover before you hit them hard again.
Follow the 10% Rule
Don’t increase your total training volume by more than 10% per week. If you’re doing 10 reps of a 100-pound volume, for example, don’t lift more than 110 pounds the next week. If you’re running 10 miles a week, step up to no more than 11. This slow shift helps your muscles, tendons, and joints adjust to the added work, says Higgins.
4. SUMO SIDE WALK (10 REPS EACH SIDE)
Stand with feet wider than shoulder-distance apart and toes pointed out 45 degrees. Lower hips back into a sumo squat, keeping chest high and hands clasped together (A). This is your starting position. Begin walking your feet to the left one at a time, keeping feet wide apart and staying low in the sumo squat (B). To make it harder, add a resistance band below knees or hold a pair of dumbbells in front of your chest throughout the move.
Turn in Earlier
A good night’s sleep is key for more than just your beauty rest. It’s when you recover from training and is crucial for reducing the effects of stress hormones like cortisol, which is linked to higher levels of belly fat. “Go to bed between 10 and 11 p.m., when your melatonin levels are at their highest,” says Gino Caccavale, Hers technical adviser.
Modify Your Menu
“Insulin can be your best friend or your worst enemy when it comes to fat loss,” says Brant. Aim for more lower-glycemic-index (GI) foods such as lean protein, healthy fats, and high-fiber carbs. Pair higher-GI foods like sweet potatoes with lean protein like grilled chicken to lower their net impact on your body, she adds.
5. FROG JUMP (10 REPS)
Standing with feet shoulder width, toes facing forward or just slightly out, lower you hips into a mid-squat. Swing your arms back (A) and then to the front as you leap forward (B), landing softly in a squat position (C). Quickly swing your arms back to starting position, then leap forward again. Jump as high and as far as you can, staying as low as possible once you’ve landed in the squat.
6. BALL CRUNCH (20-23 REPS)
Sit on a stability ball, then roll your body forward until only your lower back is supported on the ball. Bend knees 90 degrees and brace your abs to support your upper torso. Place your hands behind your head (A). From this starting position lean back for a good stretch, then crunch your torso up, exhaling all your air at the top (B); inhale as you stretch back to starting position.
7. SINGLE-LEG DEADLIFT (20 REPS TOTAL)
Stand with feet hip width, holding dumbbells in both hands (A). Bracing your abs, hinge forward from the hips and simultaneously lift your right leg off the floor, using your left glutes, hamstrings, and quads to stabilize you. Continue lowering your torso until the weights are at mid-shin (B). Pull through your glutes to return to standing. Do 10 reps; switch sides and repeat.
Roll with It
Get on a foam roller for a few minutes before your workouts to prepare your muscles for the movements to come, says IFBB figure pro Linda Stephens. Foam rolling helps increase blood flow to a given area while breaking up adhesions, improving your range of motion and making movements feel more fluid.
Cut Back on Cardio
Too much cardio increases the stress hormone cortisol while robbing your body of precious lean muscle, warns Caccavale. Shift your workouts to about 70% resistance training and 30% cardio— that’s enough to help maintain lean muscle mass, cut fat stores, and still keep your heart and lungs strong, he says.
8. SIDE PLANK WITH LEG LIFT (30 SECONDS EACH SIDE)
Begin in a side plank, left arm bent 90 degrees with elbow directly below shoulder, legs and feet stacked, forming a straight line from head to heels (A). Keeping hips high, lift your right leg; hold for 30 seconds (B). Switch sides and repeat. To make it harder, place your elbow on a Bosu ball, round-side up.
Fight Gravity with Two Moves!
The two areas that tend to succumb to gravity first as you age are your chest and your butt, says Caccavale. To help keep both parts pert, on days you’re not doing the workout on these pages target the glutes with moves like deep squats and lunges, and your chest with incline dumbbell presses and flyes.
9. TURKISH GETUP (10 REPS EACH SIDE)
Grab a dumbbell or kettlebell in your right hand, then lie faceup on the floor with your right knee bent 90 degrees, left hand 90 degrees from body, and left leg straight (A). Keeping your right arm straight, press through your right foot and shift your weight onto your left elbow (B) and then left hand until your torso is upright (not shown). Keeping your left leg straight and right arm overhead, lift your hips as much as needed to slide your left knee under you (C). Then place all your weight on that lower left leg and your still-bent right leg and lift your torso (D). Drive through your feet and press up to standing (E). Lunge back with your left leg to then reverse the process.