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The definition of the best workout

The definition of the best workout
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“Ultimately the best workout for any age needs to be one that fits your time constraints and that you enjoy,” says Kyra Williams, certified personal trainer and coach. “If it doesn’t work for your schedule, it’s hard to get to, and if you tend to be all or nothing, you will end up with nothing.” The key is to find something that you can stick to long term. You don’t have to join a gym or health club. Finding something that boosts your energy and your mood will fit that bill.

The 20s workout

The 20s workout
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Be sure to incorporate cardio, weight training, balance work and stretching, says Rachel Straub, MS, CSCS, co-author of Weight Training Without Injury. She suggests sneaking in cardio at least three to five days a week, whether you prefer running, swimming, cycling or walking. “Finding a form of cardio exercise that you enjoy – and can do properly and consistently, preferably for life – is most important,” she says. She also recommends weight-training at least two days a week, challenging all major muscle groups: back, chest, arms, core, shoulders and legs.

Just make sure you pass on these moves fitness trainers think are a waste of time.

20s focus: Consider cross-training

20s focus: Consider cross-training
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Your body is most likely in its peak physical condition and is ready to tackle any challenge you throw its way. Your muscles will recover quickly – more so than they will in future decades – which is why one of the best workouts is cross-training. “This is when you combine both anaerobic (strength/resistance training) with aerobic (cardio) elements,” explains James Shapiro, a certified personal trainer. “Think of this being more of your foundation for the rest of your lift – you’ll learn how to perform movements with proper technique.”

20s focus for women: Get into weight training

20s focus for women: Get into weight training
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Too few women at this age reach for weights, says dietitian and nutritionist Roger E. Adams, founder of eatrightfitness.com. “I push all my young woman in their 20s to lift weights and do other load-bearing activities as much as possible, not only to improve body composition and build muscle, but to increase bone density during this critical period,” he says. “Incorporating weight lifting using large muscle groups are key.” He recommends adding squats, deadlifts, standing presses and other powerlifting-type movements to your workouts.

Here are 14 things that happen when you start a beginner’s weight-training program.

20s focus for men: Do yoga

20s focus for men: Do yoga
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While yoga is an excellent exercise for the body, mind and soul no matter your age, it can be especially beneficial when practised in your 20s. “Men in their 20s need to establish flexibility and mobility, particularly in today’s current culture, where we sit more than ever before and are glued to our smartphones,” says certified personal trainer Chris Ryan. “Yoga will lead to healthier posture, spinal alignment and looser muscles – especially amongst men, who have more muscle mass in their chest and shoulders compared to women, which causes tightness with excessive sitting.”

Yoga is also one of 10 ways to sneak in meditation into your everyday life.

The 30s workout

The 30s workout
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Your body is no longer at its peak, and you might feel it takes longer to recover from workouts. For this reason, Shapiro recommends you add resistance training at least twice a week if you haven’t already. “This is particularly an important time for women to start resistance training to offset any potential future complications from osteoporosis or arthritis,” he adds. Do this in addition to interval-based cardio like spinning at least three times a week.

Just avoid these 16 things you should never do at the gym.

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30s focus: Get some coaching

30s focus: Get some coaching
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You’re already starting to lose muscle: A study published in Muscle, Ligaments and Tendons Journal found that muscle mass and strength begin their steady decline once you turn 30. But you can slow that consequence of ageing, says Ryan. People lose strength faster than they lose muscle, he explains, which suggests a loss of muscle quality – and that can be fixed by strength training. Ryan recommends getting a coach to help with your form and adding a variety of functional lifts like presses, pulls, squats and deadlifts.

Try these 5 daily habits that keep your muscles strong.

The 40s workout

The 40s workout
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“If you are only doing cardio exercise – which is a tendency for many – it’s time to add strength training exercises, at minimum,” Straub says. “With age, bone density tends to decline, as does strength and muscle mass, so now more than ever, strength training exercises are essential to add to your routine.” Along with moderate-intensity cardio most days, aim for at least two days a week of strength training, working all major muscle groups each time.

Try this at-home HIIT workout you can do every day.

40s focus: Take a hike

40s focus: Take a hike
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Think of exercise the same way you do retirement planning: Starting late is better than never starting at all. If you haven’t already found a workout you love, hiking is a great pick. Just don’t jump in too quickly, warns Shapiro. “The gradient of your hike should be based upon your fitness level,” he says. “The goal here is to create more aerobic challenges and strength in your legs and hips, and gradually build up both distance and incline to avoid injury.”

The 50s workout

The 50s workout
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“Our bodies start to slow down the process of bone and muscle development,” says Shapiro. This is why the most important exercise here is – you guessed it – to continue resistance training, primarily for hips and shoulders. “Resistance or strength training improves bone density and has been shown to slow the ageing process with the loss of lean body mass,” he says. “Both men and women should perform consistent training to see tangible results.” Schedule 30 minutes of walking at least five days a week, too. You can break up the 30 minutes into three 10-minute sessions if that’s easier on your joints – or your schedule.

Here are 15 fitness myths you shouldn’t believe about exercising over the age of 50.

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