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Consider These Five Exercises “non-Negotiable” After 35! Plus, A Circuit That Weaves Them All Together!

Stop taking your body for granted! Stop assuming your body will effortlessly be able to do tomorrow what you can do today! Like it or not, bodies change with time. With age, our muscle and bone mass, metabolism, mobility, stamina, and strength naturally decrease, unless we make a conscious effort to mitigate the changes. Meaning…. Stop sitting for hours believing there will be no consequences! Stop pounding the pavement and/or playing intense sports without stretching or strength training — your body is not the energizer bunny or a machine! Stop eating crap and thinking it doesn’t matter! Stop neglecting your sleep.   Your future self will be less sore, stiff, and prone to injury and poor posture — and instead be healthier and happier — if you start an appropriate exercise routine now! What is an appropriate routine? What exercises will mitigate the typical changes that occur with age? Your routine should include postural exercises (such as any iteration of the row), multi-joint strength exercises (specifically the squat), single-leg strength exercises, multi-direction motions and mobility work, and cardio intervals.

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The Five Exercises

Note: Progress or regress the exercises depending on your age, fitness level, injury history, and goals. For example, add weight to the squat to make it harder, use a resistance band for the row if you train at home, and if the single-leg hip hinge is too challenging, train balance by simply standing on one leg. Basically, think of these as “guiding principles”; take the principles and make them appropriate for YOU. Check out the workouts here!

Note: Progress or regress the exercises depending on your age, fitness level, injury history, and goals. For example, add weight to the squat to make it harder, use a resistance band for the row if you train at home, and if the single-leg hip hinge is too challenging, train balance by simply standing on one leg. Basically, think of these as “guiding principles”; take the principles and make them appropriate for YOU.

Check out the workouts here!

Exercise # 1 - Rows

Any version will do. Try a machine row, a single-arm dumbbell row, rows with the band, or, a personal favourite, the bent-over dumbbell row. The purpose is to mitigate the negative effects compounded from relentless sitting and/or bending to look at phones by strengthening the upper back, thus improving and maintaining the ability to stand and walk tall — no one looks or feels good stooped over.Form tips: Initiate the motion with your upper back — imagine you are cracking a walnut with your shoulder blades — not just with your arms. Engage your core and don’t use momentum.Check out the workouts here!

Any version will do. Try a machine row, a single-arm dumbbell row, rows with the band, or, a personal favourite, the bent-over dumbbell row. The purpose is to mitigate the negative effects compounded from relentless sitting and/or bending to look at phones by strengthening the upper back, thus improving and maintaining the ability to stand and walk tall — no one looks or feels good stooped over.

Form tips: Initiate the motion with your upper back — imagine you are cracking a walnut with your shoulder blades — not just with your arms. Engage your core and don’t use momentum.

Check out the workouts here!

Exercise # 2 - Squat

Really, all multi-joint strength exercises are key — strength training increases lean muscle mass, helps to decrease the risk of osteoporosis, maintains the integrity of joints, and mitigates decreases in bone and muscle mass — but the squat should take top priority. We squat innumerable times every day; thus maintaining the ability — both the strength and the mobility — to squat is imperative! Think about it. You squat to go to the bathroom, to sit down and get up, to get in and out of the car, and even to sit down into bed. It is almost impossible to function if you don’t have the mobility and strength to squat properly. Form tips: Start with your feet hip-distance apart. Bend at your knees, hips, and ankles so that you sit backwards — as if you were sitting in a chair. As you sit, imagine your sit bones widening at the back. Watch your knees — make sure they track over your middle toes. Engage your bum and core to stand up.Check out the workouts here!

Really, all multi-joint strength exercises are key — strength training increases lean muscle mass, helps to decrease the risk of osteoporosis, maintains the integrity of joints, and mitigates decreases in bone and muscle mass — but the squat should take top priority.

We squat innumerable times every day; thus maintaining the ability — both the strength and the mobility — to squat is imperative! Think about it. You squat to go to the bathroom, to sit down and get up, to get in and out of the car, and even to sit down into bed. It is almost impossible to function if you don’t have the mobility and strength to squat properly.

Form tips: Start with your feet hip-distance apart. Bend at your knees, hips, and ankles so that you sit backwards — as if you were sitting in a chair. As you sit, imagine your sit bones widening at the back. Watch your knees — make sure they track over your middle toes. Engage your bum and core to stand up.

Check out the workouts here!

Exercise # 3 - Single-leg exercises

Single-leg exercises train the body to balance, dissipate forces (i.e., absorb ground reaction forces and thus avoid injury when walking, running, and playing sports), and provide feedback to the brain about the body's position in space. Try standing on one leg on floor or Bosu, balancing on one leg at the top of a step up, or a single-leg hip hinge. Form tips on single-leg hip hinge: Start standing on your right leg, chest out. Hinge forward, keeping your back flat. Keep your left hip down toward the floor as you hinge your chest forward. Use your right bum muscles to stand up. Repeat five or more times. Switch legs.Check out the workouts here!

Single-leg exercises train the body to balance, dissipate forces (i.e., absorb ground reaction forces and thus avoid injury when walking, running, and playing sports), and provide feedback to the brain about the body's position in space. Try standing on one leg on floor or Bosu, balancing on one leg at the top of a step up, or a single-leg hip hinge.

Form tips on single-leg hip hinge: Start standing on your right leg, chest out. Hinge forward, keeping your back flat. Keep your left hip down toward the floor as you hinge your chest forward. Use your right bum muscles to stand up. Repeat five or more times. Switch legs.

Check out the workouts here!

Exercise # 4 - Multi-directional strength and mobility exercises

With age the body often becomes less subtle; we lose the ability to easily rotate, bend, step or lean sideways, and react with multi-directional movements. This lack of agility not only feels terrible, but it can contribute to injuries from doing simple tasks like rotating to get something from the backseat or reaching for something awkwardly placed. The solution? Try activities such as dancing, sports that require multi-directional motion, like tennis, activities that require active mobility such as yoga, and/or multi-direction strength exercises such as side lunges.Side lunge form tips: Step your right leg sideways. Sit backwards into the right leg — as if your right bum is squatting into a chair. Keep your left leg straight. Keep your chest out and shoulders back. Engage your right bum muscles to power you back up to standing.Check out the workouts here!

With age the body often becomes less subtle; we lose the ability to easily rotate, bend, step or lean sideways, and react with multi-directional movements. This lack of agility not only feels terrible, but it can contribute to injuries from doing simple tasks like rotating to get something from the backseat or reaching for something awkwardly placed. The solution? Try activities such as dancing, sports that require multi-directional motion, like tennis, activities that require active mobility such as yoga, and/or multi-direction strength exercises such as side lunges.

Side lunge form tips: Step your right leg sideways. Sit backwards into the right leg — as if your right bum is squatting into a chair. Keep your left leg straight. Keep your chest out and shoulders back. Engage your right bum muscles to power you back up to standing.

Check out the workouts here!

Exercise # 5 – Cardio Intervals

With interval training you alternate between bouts of high and lower intensity training. Intervals improve cardiovascular health, place a high metabolic demand on the body, burn lots of calories in a short amount of time, produce a high EPOC (post-workout calorie burn), increase mitochondrial growth (mitochondria help to burn fat), and help improve one's fitness level. On any cardio machine — I love doing these when biking or running — try rolling intervals: once warmed up, alternate one minute easy, one minute moderate, and one minute hard for nine to 15 minutes. Alternatively, try jumping rope or high-intensity body-weight cardio exercises such as burpees or jumping jacks.Check out the workouts here!

With interval training you alternate between bouts of high and lower intensity training. Intervals improve cardiovascular health, place a high metabolic demand on the body, burn lots of calories in a short amount of time, produce a high EPOC (post-workout calorie burn), increase mitochondrial growth (mitochondria help to burn fat), and help improve one's fitness level.

On any cardio machine — I love doing these when biking or running — try rolling intervals: once warmed up, alternate one minute easy, one minute moderate, and one minute hard for nine to 15 minutes. Alternatively, try jumping rope or high-intensity body-weight cardio exercises such as burpees or jumping jacks.

Check out the workouts here!

Putting It All Together – A Sample Workout

Warm-up with 5 minutes of moderate cardio, preferably something like dancing or old-school aerobics moves such as side steps and grapevines (fulfilling the exercise #4 requirement).

Main circuit

Squats 12-15 reps

Bent-over rows 12-15 reps

Side lunges 10 reps each side

Single-leg hip hinge 10 reps each side

Four-minute Tabatat: Pick any cardio exercise — you could do a body-weight exercise such as burpees or use any cardio machine. Alternate 20 seconds of all-out work with 10 seconds of recovery for four minutes.

Rest for 60 seconds — have some water. Repeat the entire circuit 1-2 more times.

Prioritize your body AND don't put off to tomorrow what you can do today. Make these exercises non-negotiable and start doing them NOW. If you're 30, start now. If you're 40, start now. If you're 70, now!

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