Tone Up Exercises for Women in Their 40s

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You’ve hit your 40s and have enjoyed a healthy physique over the past two decades and want to keep it that way. Although it may seem that a mere casual, longing glance at the dessert tray of your favorite restaurant widens your waistline, it’s your slowing metabolism, loss of muscle mass and waning hormones to blame. Even if you can’t have the toned bod you took for granted in your 20s and 30s, you can stay in great shape with regular strength training, cardio and a smart diet.

Bone Up on the Tone Up

Strength training stimulates muscle growth and strong bones. As women get older they typically become less active. This physical inactivity contributes to losses in bone and muscle mass and strength. The key to reducing these losses is weight lifting a minimum of twice a week for 45 to 60 minutes, according to the American College of Sports Medicine. Find out how much weight you can lift in one repetition without compromising good body mechanics and form. This amount of weight is called your One Repetition Maximum, ORM. ACSM recommends that older adults begin lifting 60 percent of their maximum weight, aiming for 12 repetitions for each exercise and building up to 85 percent of their maximum weight, aiming for five to six reps per set. As you advance, add more sets.

Lift Like You Mean It

Tone up with free weight exercises, such as triceps kickbacks, bicep curls and overhead presses. Hold a dumbbell in each hand. Stand with your feet hip-width apart and bend at the waist, keeping your neck and back straight and neutral. Straighten and reach your arms back so they are parallel with your obliques. Curl the forearm, bringing the dumbbells toward your chest. Perform reps with control for 60 seconds. Stand up straight and move into bicep curls, keeping the elbows stationary as you curl the weights to your chest. Perform controlled curls for 60 seconds before moving into the overhead press. Bring dumbbells close to your chest, lift them overhead with control, and return them to the center of your chest. Repeat reps for a full minute. Gradually increase weight over time to maximize toning.

Pump It Up

Cardio not only helps keep you slim so you can see the muscles you’ve worked so hard for, it’s a must for heart health. Walking at 3.5 mph or greater, jogging, swimming, dance classes and vinyasa flow yoga get your heart rate up and burn fat. Though most of your toning comes from strength training, a regular 30- to 60-minute cardio workout three days a week keeps sagging adipose fat from storing in its favorite hangouts: the belly, hips and thighs. Regular cardio boosts metabolism, too. If you stick to regular weekly workouts that include weights and cardio you won’t have to pine for that favorite dessert tray -- treat yourself once in awhile; you’ve earned it.

Warm Up and Cool Down Musts

Taking 10 to 15 minutes to warm up before working out is one of the surest ways to avoid injury. Don’t skimp on the 10-minute cool down at the end of your workout session, either. Even if you are pressed for time it’s better to have generous warm-ups and cool-downs -- in needed, trim some of your workout instead. Free weights, resistance bands and machines at the gym all work to build muscle mass, bones and strength and help you tone up. Hire a professional trainer or seek advice from your physician to help get you started and keep you going for best results.