From how to beat belly fat to the best time-short exercises, here's how to get the most out of your workout plan during your demanding thirties
Family and work demands reach their peak for most people during this stage and careers and the school run may take priority over exercise and fitness. We asked some of the best fitness pros around for their tips on exercising efficiently during your thirties.
Look beyond the physical
As people age, their basal metabolic rate – BMR, the number of calories needed to keep the body functioning at rest – and muscle mass decrease. The metabolism slows down and it becomes harder to burn calories. Jonathan Lomax , personal trainer and CEO of Lomax Bespoke Fitness, Nutrition and Wellbeing , points out that this is not just a physical issue. “Recognition of our ageing can often cause negative attitudes and often manifest itself in lethargy or in bad habits such as binge drinking. These are way more damaging than the physical changes, because motivation to change is generally only present when positive thought processes are enforced.”
Maintain good nutrition habits
Good nutrition is key and so fitness expert James Osborn recommends seeing a nutritionist to work out what your total calorie intake should be. Typically you’ll need fewer calories as you get older. Once this is calculated, and combined with the best training for you, you will have the best chance of healthy long-term weight loss. If you're looking for experts with the GTG seal of approval, check out our little book of tried and tested experts .
Say No to yo-yo dieting
Many thirtysomethings try a range of different and often ineffective diets to shift the extra pounds (we’ve all done it). However, be careful that you don’t become another yo-yo dieter - a growing trend among this demographic. James warns: “These diets are awful healthwise. They are totally unsustainable and so as soon as you come off them you pile the weight back on. Also, going up and down in weight affects the connective tissue between your skin and your muscles, which contributes to cellulite as it causes the connective tissue to lose its elasticity."
Opt for exercises that push you
We are more likely to get into an exercise rut as we age. According to Jonathan: “The best way to counter both the physical and mental challenges of ageing is through exercises that push the body beyond its comfort zone.” If you’re a beginner, he recommends running two to three times a week at first, then adding weight training.
Get into weight training
Jonathan believes that weight training is vital for both men and women. Here’s why weight training isn't just for bodybuilders:
- It challenges all the body’s systems – muscular, skeletal, nervous, hormonal – and is the fastest way to increase your BMR.
- It is easy to do and can be done in your own home with simple equipment.
- It can be adapted endlessly so that you don’t get bored.
- The results are faster and more pronounced than with cardiovascular exercise alone, and with results comes motivation and with motivation comes a positive attitude.
Both Jonathan and James highly recommend compound exercises such as squats, lunges and deadlifts for the lower body, chest presses, chin-ups and shoulder presses for the upper body. Jonathan says that by focusing on the big muscle groups, the body has to work harder in a shorter time frame. Bigger muscles also take longer to recover, meaning that you burn calories after your session too. He also suggests combining these movements with jumping and bodyweight exercises. Another plus of this workout plan is that these exercises can be done with minimal equipment.
Boost your back exercises
At this stage people are much more susceptible to back pain. James advises: “It’s very important to work on glute and core strength. Make sure you address the target areas BEFORE you get pain, prehab is better than rehab!” He also recommends doing yoga or Pilates a few times a week to increase flexibility and reduce the pressure on the back.
Prep for post pregnancy
The most important thing is for women to get back into exercise steadily and sensibly (see our article on the best exercises for those in their twenties here for more pregnancy advice). There are high levels of the hormone relaxin still in the body for several months following pregnancy, making the joints less stable and increasing the risk of injury. Jonathan says that weights and cardiovascular interval training are the best way to achieve your pre-pregnancy form, but make sure you start slowly.
James advises new mums to look at exercise as a great “brain break”, a time where women can focus on themselves for a short while and relieve some of the stresses of motherhood. It’s also a great energy-booster, always a plus with all those late nights. As well as the gym and classes, also try joining an outdoor group. These are cheap and also allow you to bring a buggy along (many are advertised through parenting charity NCT). Pelvic floor exercises are a must both pre- and post-pregnancy.
Beware the belly fat build up
Spare tyre, beer gut, muffin top. With such attractive names, no wonder we’d like to get rid of them! But what causes them? According to Jonathan: “The middle-age spread will start to develop as fat deposits build up due to reductions in metabolism. Hormonal changes will also play a part in how both men and women store fat or build muscle. Most typically there are decreases in testosterone and increases in cortisol, the stress hormone. Both lead to further muscle loss and higher propensity to store fat around the tummy.”
So how do we get rid of it? Weights combined with cardiovascular intervals are again, hugely effective. James also suggests entering a marathon, triathlon or cycle race so that you have a goal to aim for. Need motivation? Get some friends together and do one for charity. They’re great for meeting new people, relatively cheap and just think of how rewarding it will be when you cross that finish line.
Classes and clubs are also a good way to make exercise more appealing. Great classes are Zumba, HIIT training at Project Fit , spinning and resistance training at Speedflex . Also check out Les Mills classes – group fitness classes ranging from BodyAttack to RPM. Or try joining a hockey, football, rugby, tennis, squash or rowing club, as being part of a club has been shown to increase motivation. Also consider mixing up the types of sessions you do in a week, so do one gym session, a run and a Pilates class for example. Variation plays a vital part in helping you stick to a fitness regime.
Also check out leagues. Find out about the best ones here .
Jonathan recommends classes that combine different cardiovascular exercises with weights, such as Blast Class , a highly effective metabolic conditioning workout for both men and women that burns up to 1,000 calories an hour through weight exercises, body weight plyometric, Olympic lifting, agility and speed work and cardio intervals.
So there’s your action plan for getting and staying fit in your thirties. Who knew there were so many options? There are more opportunities than ever to get into shape and look your best whatever your fitness level or budget. As James says: “Most 30-40 year olds will be abusing their bodies much less than they did in their twenties so there is really no reason why you can't look like you did then.”