Fun and Fit

Author Archives: Fun and Fit


Ten Ways to Get Healthier in Under 10 Minutes

Ranch cactusDid you know you can get healthier in ten minutes or less? Little habits add up to big changes.

After more than 30 years as fitness and health educators, we know that most habits, good and poor, come in small increments. And these small increments are the path to better health and fitness. With this in mind, we’re adding our 10 cents, based on the successful experiences many of our students and clients have had. Ten tips, and all 10 are under 10 minutes each.

Alexandra’s Top 5 Tips

Brush your teeth before sitting down to watch a TV show. You’ll be less likely to eat those high-calorie, no nutritional benefit snacks.

Write out your grocery list, then stick to it. If marshmallow caramel chocolate double-dipped snack-a-doodles aren’t on your list, they don’t go in the basket. You can’t eat what isn’t in the house.

fitness trackerWear a fitness tracker so you get a realistic sense of the number of calories you’re burning daily. You may be surprised how low the number is.

Whenever you have to wait for someone (a child at school, spouse at an appointment, friend at the movies), walk while you wait instead of sitting. If you have to stay in one place, then stand and move about the room (or fidget). If it’s a 10-minute appointment, go for a 10-minute walk. You’d be amazed at the number of steps you can add to your day just by NOT sitting.

Los Angeles TheatreBuy foods in bulk. If your rice is in a 5-pound bag, then you are lifting a 5-pound weight when you carry it. Do a few bicep curls before you use up all the rice! You don’t need fancy weights to work out. An overhead press with a 5-pound bag of flour works… and leaves you with a nice powdery dusting in your hair.

Kymberly’s Top 5 Tips

1. Get up during tv commercials and either walk or jog in place or grab a broom and sweep the floor. Yup, do a chore; it’s not a bore; you can reap more… when you move during ads.
walk the labyrinth2. Set a timer to remind you to stand up and walk at least 100 steps every 20-30 minutes. Takes just 2 minutes and prevents the physical and mental atrophy that comes with sitting too long at a stretch.

3. Meditate to relieve stress, increase cognitive skills, enhance compassion, reduce blood pressure, and send more blood and oxygen to your brain. Take advantage of free phone apps to build in a 5-8 minute meditation. Longer is great; but even a short meditation session will bring benefits. For suggestions on apps you can download, click to our post Meditation, Menopause, and Memory.

Meditating at Rancho la Puerta

Kymberly Meditating at Rancho la Puerta

4. Repeat Yourself Yourself. When you go to sit down, sit, then stand, then sit. Then when you are ready to get up again (see my second tip), stand, then sit down, then stand and go!  Congrats! You have just completed two squats. If you repeat this down-up-down up-down-up pattern a few times a day, you’ll have easily and quickly worked in a full squat set. Hello easy lower body strengthener!

5. Swap out your computer, office, or tv watching chair for a stability ball. At least you will get some core activation while sitting. Takes fewer than 10 minutes to switch the chair for the ball, but you’ll reap the rewards the entire time you are on the ball. Yes, get on the ball people!


Action: Reading and exercising make you smarter, which also leads to brain health, right? So subscribe to our twice-weekly posts. They’ll get you all smartened up. And first crack at our upcoming Ultimate Abs Workout Collection for Women Over 50 program.

Alexandra Williams, MA and Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA


Keep Your Family (and Self) Healthy and Happy

Over the past year, and especially the last few weeks, my family’s happiness (and mine) have been on my mind. A lot. Mainly because there hasn’t been much of it, due to a life-altering medical issue that occurred in the family.
Manhattan Beach PierWithout dwelling on unhappiness and un-health, I’ve now made some changes that were imperative to our health and happiness. You need both to have a quality life (plug here for exercise – do it).

So this post is about some of the things I’ve recently done that make life easier and more enjoyable. And yes, much happier and healthier. See if any of these resonate with you.

orchid from orgainAttend ShiftCon – This social media conference focuses on wellness, health, and the environment. Bloggers, brands and non-governmental organizations come together to share information about living our values through our food, skin care, household products, activism, and how we treat the environment. Keep a particular eye out for Orgain, Thrive Market, and Stonyfield Organics. They are game-changing companies.

Hermosa Beach muralI support organic, non-GMO, labelled products. I want to know what I’m eating and putting on and in my body. Eighteen years ago I had to learn to cook from scratch and read labels due to my son’s allergies and delays, and his health is extremely important to me. Being unaware is an excuse, not an explanation, so I like to stay aware. And I know that my money is my vote.

Hermosa Beach bicyclist

Visit My Hometown – ShiftCon was held in Manhattan Beach, which is next to Hermosa Beach, where I grew up. So I spent some time walking and taking pictures. In some ways the visits back to Hermosa make me sad, and I’m not sure why, yet overall I feel at peace and can focus on the arc of my life. I don’t want to move back there, but I sure do love the emotional attachment, history, and memories.

Move Into Downtown Santa Barbara – For the past ten years, we’ve lived at the top of a mountain, with driving being the only travel option. Taking all the other chores out of the equation (and they are overwhelming on their own), just the chauffeuring was taking up hours and hours of my time, as I was the only driver in the house. Now my younger son and I are living in a place where he can walk or take the bus (he is blind at night, so I’ll be doing some driving, which is way better than constant driving).

Since I’m not driving as much, I’m using the time to pick up more writing and social media jobs. And put more of my photos up for sale. Feel free to hire me. I’m very good. The cat is all settled in (no more barfing or peeing on my bed), and the dog is now here too.

Surfers in Manhattan BeachBlock Out People Who Add Stress – If you get into a situation where you are the caretaker for someone, shed yourself of the idea that you have to answer to anyone except those who are directly impacted. Heck, even if you’re not a caretaker, do this. Opinions are stressful; solutions are helpful. Answer every inappropriate or judgmental question with “May I tell you how you can be helpful?” That usually works.

sandbird at the beachIf I had tried to solve all my big problems over the past year, I would have been stuck because I was too overwhelmed. So I am solving one thing at a time. I cannot help others if I don’t stay healthy and happy. The martyr thing is overmarketed. Now, who wants to come over and help me plant hedges and a garden?

What do you do to keep yourself and your loved ones healthy and happy?

by Alexandra Williams, MA

Go ahead and subscribe for our twice-weekly posts right over there ————–> You’ll be first to know when our book comes out too.
If you like pretty pictures and videos of Santa Barbara, follow me on Instagram and Periscope.


Posture Assessment from the Side

Women over 50 and those who want to be one day: How is your posture? Have the decades been taking their toll?

A Telltale Sign That You Are A Posture Cheater

Even he likes his posture

Assessing posture from the left and right – simultaneously!

You might be level- headed, but are you level-hipped and level-shouldered? What do the right and left sides of your body tell about your stance if we take a sidewards glance? Are you a “posture cheater” who displays a sneaky telltale clue that gives you away when you fake standing tall?

Part 3 of our Posture series takes a look at posture from “both sides now” to figure out how you stand (Baby boomers – did you recognize that song title? Joni Mitchell was no slouch). We know where you stand–on top! Or lifted nicely once you add our tips on assessment!



For the record, that is not a peace sign K lays on A at the end of this short video, but bunny ears. Hop to it, sis!

Wonder what you missed in Parts One and Two of our posture series?

Well, pretty much this:

What’s Your True and Natural Posture? Part 1

And some of this:

Want Picture Perfect Posture? Part 2

Action Time: Subscribe to our Fun and Fit YouTube channel. You’ll find our entire posture video series over there.

Photo credit: Creative Commons, kittykaht

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA


What is the Best Way to Train My Triceps?

Dear Fun and Fit: Hi Twins, What is the best way to control tricep flap? Pati, Mountain View, CA

Alexandra: Another popular way people ask us this question is “How do I get Michelle Obama arms?” Either way, we have suggestions for you. The best way to control “tricep flap” is with long-sleeved shirts! Or do you mean a more permanent solution? Velcro, for example. We call the triceps the “bye-bye muscle.” You wave bye-bye. You stop. It doesn’t.

Kymberly: Just like Alexandra’s humormongering at a party. Ahh haaa haa Good one, eh? “Tricep flap” is so easy to address I am surprised it has run out of control in epidemic proportions (just like all those flappers who whirled themselves into a tizzy in the Twenties). Strength train the triceps. Then give a twirl and whirl to the single weight triceps extension Alexandra shows in our YouTube video. Feel encouraged to subscribe to our Fun and Fit channel if you’d like more moves designed for women over 50.

However, much as I love my sis, I actually prefer the following moves for triceps: tricep kickbacks–kind of like political life and funding flaps in certain countries; or triceps overhead extensions–what many people could use with their mortgages; or triceps push-ups– Similar to chest push ups, but with the arms narrower and elbows tucked next to the rib cage throughout the exercise. Yes, keep your arms parallel to your body. If you have not done this move before, start with the knees on the ground.

What if Fat is Covering Your Triceps?

And if, diplomatically saying that if you were carrying any extra fat globules in the arm area, well… time for some cardio and general strength training of the major muscles. You want to reduce fat with an overall exercise program while strength training the triceps. Let those triceps babies show their fulsomeness. No longer need they hide under any fat. Of course, no longer need they be ignored either. Kind of like what people might want to do to Alexandra’s jokes at that same party.

Alexandra: What party? Just because you left town and I got all the cute guys to myself. Yup, just me and my sleeveless shirt. And my lack of wingspan, as a friend calls the triceps (okay, my imaginary friend). Another way to control tricep flap is with an air-control tower. By this I mean, control the amount of air-speed created by those flappers. “What… is your quest?” “To seek the Holy Triceps.” “What is the air-speed velocity of an unladen tricep?” “What do you mean, an African or European tricep?” “Huh? I…I don’t know that.” (Bioioioioing, extra flap just thrown over). This Monty Python digression has been brought to you by an exercise called the “Skull Crusher,” which Fun and Fit feel is a very Pythonesque name. See, I did get around to the “bye-bye muscle” by and by.

Oh, and we also got around to another post that will give you more ideas to get great arms. Click to laugh and to access.

Readers: To whom and what would you love to say “bye-bye?”

Action Option: Ok, ok, so in the hundreds of videos we offer on our YouTube channel, we are pitifully scarce in the triceps department. So we know what our next shoot needs to focus on. Your task — subscribe to our channel. You’ll be the first to find out when our triceps videos get published.

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA


Women Over 50 – We Are NOT Aging Healthfully

Celebrate Healthy Aging Month

Kym at RanchThe last of the baby boomers turns 50 this month, which is also Health Aging Month. But are we baby boomers aging healthfully? Apparently not if dying from preventable diseases is any indicator. The number one cause of death in women is what most people think of as a men’s killer – cardiovascular disease. Yep, that’s what knocking women off their block. And we women die of strokes more often than men. Are you cheered up yet? Well you are still here, so that’s something to be cheery about, right?

Freak Out from these (Un)Fit Facts

What percentage of women in the US are inactive?  It’s not even Halloween, and the statistic should scare us all. 82%  This high number of sedentary women is particularly worrisome when you consider that “active” is defined as engaging in a mere 2.5 hours of exercise per week. Whaaaaat??!!  That’s an average of less than 22 minutes per day of movement.  So 82% of our nation’s women are struggling to work in even 22 minutes a day of activity.

Attain Superstar Statistics Status

Let’s hope you are a stat buster making up for the rest of the nation! If not, you can be by sneaking in at least 150 minutes of exercise per week. Need ideas how to start, restart, or up the ante? Check out some of our posts that will help you activate to health and super stats status:

How to Start an Exercise Program

I Want to Get Fit, but Where Do I Start?

How Do I Fit in Exercise When I Don’t Have Time to Exercise?

Have a good guess at the percentage of US women who are overweight? If you’ve ever been to a shopping mall in middle America, you may have a good idea.  67%. Was your guess close?

Take a gander at the Healthy Aging for Women infographic below from the University of Florida online, which offers some interesting and perhaps even motivating stats and scoop.

Call to Action: Once you’ve done that, take one more action to improve your health — subscribe to our site if you are not already part of our community. You can use either the pop-up box or the box in the sidebar.

UF Online Infographic: Health Aging for Women

by Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA


How Can I Get Better Posture?

Dear FnF – K and A: For better posture, what exercise/stretch can I do to keep my shoulders pulled back ? Thanks for the straighter scoop.  Sharon, Santa Barbara, CA

Straight Scoop on Super Posture

Kymberly: Hold on a moment. Did someone other than F and F just slip in a word play? Stand tall and proud just for that. While you’re standing, do some pec stretches and mid-back strengtheners. The stronger your back muscles are – especially the ones between your shoulder blades, such as the trapezius and rhomboids – the more those muscles will contract to lift your spine erect and to keep your shoulders back.

Yeah, you could hire someone to nag you to bring your shoulders down and back, but that’s no fun is it? Instead let’s think of fun things that FnF could stand for (as seen in your salutation).

Alexandra:What? That is a gimme. Anyone who’s seen my high school photos knows that FnF means Foxy and Fine! Hello? Did you not see those HOT photos of me that were never taken? Let’s pretend for a moment that we are answering Sharon’s question…nope, it’s passed.

But in the spirit of general pride and gaining two inches in height, I’ll give you our mom’s secret (she was a modern dance teacher)–ask someone to poke you between the shoulder blades at the dinner table. It’s a quick, yet mildly annoying, reminder to contract your mid-traps (that is fancy-talk for “pull your shoulder blades toward each other”). Or you could read our post, Look Younger and Thinner Instantly with Better Posture, which is not annoying at all.

Kymberly: Also try our zip trick to remind you that posture involves all the abs, uses the entire core, and requires activating the back side of your body as well.

Plank push up combo from Kymberly

If Only I Could Achieve Good Posture While Standing

Alexandra: I also see that Kymberly mentions chest stretches above. What she didn’t mention was that standing up taller and opening up the front of your body makes you more–caution, technical term coming–stacked! Not just appear so, but actually more frontal real estate. And you can then breathe better too. Since it’s hard to remember to pull your shoulder blades into a close, personal relationship, I’ll share a hot little workout trick I made up years ago. Do some of your exercises with your back and shoulders against the wall. For example, bicep curls or forward raises. Even though you aren’t actively focusing on “moving” your back, it will be easy for you to notice if you fall forward off the wall. Find out more about these quick and easy posture reminders at our post, Posture to Perfection.

K: In short, worry less about what you see in front– the pecs and anterior deltoids — and more about what’s happening behind your back. Just like in high school.

A: Did someone say “Off the Wall?” When the world is on your shoulders, Gotta straighten up your act and boogie down. Quick, who sings that?  If you can sing and dance this entire song with shoulders back, you win a free Moonwalk lesson!

Readers and posturemongers: What reminders do you use to maintain good posture? Who had a mom who nagged you to stand up straight?

Action Item: Subscribe to our site. Enter the word “posture” in our search box at the top of our page. Find our series on posture that includes some videos. You will not only get current active aging advice twice a week, but also lots of great ways to assess and improve your posture. Yup, stand tall and subscribe!

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA


Camping for Boomers Who Don’t Like Camping

I’m known for saying that I don’t like camping because dirt is involved. I’ve always loved being in the outdoors, especially if hiking is involved, but I’ve never enjoyed sleeping in the outdoors. I also frequently say that I’d happily go camping if it involved air conditioning, private hot showers and was a hotel room. Joke’s on me as it turns out that kind of camping actually exists.

This past weekend I was invited to the Entertainment New Media Network Conference. Day One – the KOA (Kampgrounds of America) Ventura Ranch in Santa Paula. Yup, do you see the word “campground” kind of hidden in there?

Ventura Ranch KOA

interior of KOA teepee

We got a tour, and I saw the inside of a very appealing teepee. Okay, it had beds and was cute, and even had privacy. But it was about 100 degrees that day and the teepee was hot. In short – camping. I was inside long enough to take a few pictures and admire it from a “that’s great for people who like camping” detached perspective. Really, I was just being polite and marking time till we got to do ziplining. That’s some Active Aging right there, eh? My videos show that I thought the ziplining was a highlight. You know, ‘cause I was up real high. Oh, the videos are sideways due to a change in the app I used to record. But you get a better feeling of the adventure with it sideways anyway.

After the small teepee, we saw a bigger, cuter teepee. Still camping. Just with more people. Bye bye. But then I heard the magic words: “Come on up to the deluxe cabins, which have air conditioning.” Yes, besides “please,” there are other magic words, especially when we’re on Day 9,017 of a heat wave. Who would have thought that “deluxe” and “camping” would ever join together in peace and harmony (code for hot showers and A/C).

camping our way through Europe 1973When I was a kid, my parents would load up our family of 7 into the VW camper van and we’d go places, pitching a tent each night. Well, my dad pitched the tent. We probably ate S’mores and listened to him cursing the tent stakes. When my boys were small, I would join in the family camping adventures because I wanted to be a good mom. Jury’s still out whether I achieved that status, but the boys are now grown up and have happy camping memories. They also now go camping with their dad, leaving me at home. They know I’d give them “the look” if they invited me along.

KOA Deluxe CabinBut now I have a solution that’s perfect. The boys and I can all now go together. We’ll sit in the car and take turns driving. We can even hitch up the tiny (emphasis on TINY) Eriba camper trailer. And we’ll only stay at KOA Kampgrounds that have Deluxe Cabins… with linens. That’s their official designation – Deluxe Cabins with LInens. I’ll fall asleep caressing those linens after a hot shower and some time spent watching rescued dog videos on Facebook, compliments of the free wifi. I’ll wake up and cook breakfast in an actual kitchen. Then I’ll go for a short walk over to the site where the boys have parked the Eriba, wake them up and invite them over to my cabin for breakfast. But only if they wipe the dirt off their feet.

KOA jumping pillowKOA lunch areaI might even let them use my shower. But only if they promise to go ziplining with me after we swim in the pool. And jump on the giant pillow. And if they’re not too tired from rubbing two sterno cans together to make a fire, I might even let them beat me to the top of the climbing wall. Right after we go for a hike.

Yup, I like the math. Time with my boys + deluxe cabin – dirt and heat + hot shower – paying high hotel prices + fun activities and hiking – sharing a bathroom with strangers = Perfect Camping. And it was all less than an hour from my home, in gorgeous Ventura Country. Sign me up.

by Alexandra Williams, MA

While I’m signing up for the KOA Deluxe Cabins, we invite you to sign up for our twice-weekly posts by entering your email right over there ——-> All topics for Boomers about Active Aging. While you’re at it, please follow me on Instagram and Periscope.decorations in KOA teepee


What is Active Aging?

I was asked what active aging means a few days ago. It was a great question, though it took me by surprise, as I had made the erroneous assumption that everyone knew what I meant. Assuming didn’t work out, so I’ll share my definition.

photo shot into a ceiling mirror at Ripley's

I’m actually learning over backward to take this photo into a ceiling mirror at Ripley’s Believe it or Not in Hollywood. You are looking at me from a bird’s eye view. Active Aging includes flexibility.

Active Aging: Making frequent small choices that enable you to move as freely as possible throughout your world.

Say what?! Well, I could have said “Move a lot and exercise,” but it’s not really that. Besides, that sounds like one or two choices per day. The truth is that it is NOT so much the choice to go to an exercise class or do an activity that works up a sweat. It is the repeated small choices we make every day.

Pool at KOA in Santa PaulaI’ll give you an example that illustrates the “Use it or Lose it” principle. I was at an event this past weekend where we had access to a pool, which was at the bottom of a hill. After swimming, we had lunch at the top of the hill. It was very hot, so the 3-minute walk up and down the hill wasn’t fun. A ride was provided for those who didn’t want to walk. Nearly everyone took the ride, saying they didn’t like to walk uphill. That was a choice. Yet if we play this out, look what happens:

  • Chooses to ride due to dislike of walking once
  • Chooses to ride due to dislike of walking many more times that day
  • Walks 4,000 steps total in a day rather than the 7,000 that walking would have led to
  • Has to one day walk up a hill because no ride is available – discovers that it’s very difficult, and that the heart is pounding so much it’s scary
  • Vows to never walk up a hill again
  • Loses ability to walk up steep hills
  • Eventually loses ability to walk up short, not-so-steep hills
  • Opts out of activities that require much walking
  • Chooses only activities that are seated or can easily be accessed by car
  • World is now much smaller, as many activities are no longer considered
Tamrac Anvil Camera Bag

This is my new Anvil Camera Bag, which Tamrac sent me. Click on the photo to check out their full line of camera bags.

Many older people we know (and a few younger ones too, sadly) are no longer able to walk at all, due entirely to the many small choices they made over the years to NOT move. They didn’t use their legs, so they lost the ability to use their legs. They aged inactively.

What do you think might have happened if they had chosen the stairs instead of the elevator? Those were repeated, small choices. What if they had gone for a 10-minute walk around the block while waiting for their loved one to come out from an appointment or school?  What if they had gone in the pool with their kids instead of sitting on the chaise longue? Or stood up to change the TV channel instead of using the remote control? All small choices that lead to active aging.

Ziplining at KOA Santa Paula

About to go ziplining. Active Aging includes this, plus the ability to climb a tower ladder.

You don’t need to get sweaty and exhausted. You don’t need to climb a steep hill … today. You just need to make small, incremental choices every single day that lead you toward doing the things you want to do five, ten and twenty years from now. What you don’t use, you’ll lose. Once you’re in the habit of walking, you’ll find that sitting for long periods of time is actually physically uncomfortable. And you want that. You want to be more comfortable moving than not moving.

This is my plea to you – Make small choices
And this is my wish for you – Live a long, active, healthy, enjoyable life that ends abruptly, not slowly

by Alexandra Williams, MA

What are some of the small choices you make every day that lead you toward or away from activity? What do you want to be doing when you’re 65, 75, 85, 95?

Make one small choice right now and subscribe to our fantabulous posts by entering your email right over there to the right.———> They will magically arrive in your inbox two times per week. Also, subscribe to me, AlexandraFunFit on Periscope, and watch my amazing travel and fitness scopes (videos).


Oblique Ab Crunches: How to Do Them Properly

Tape measure on abs

One of our most popular post categories is Abs, especially workouts that show how to do them with good form. You want to avoid pain (and sweat), plus you want to get the most bang for your exercise buck (these posts are free), and the least waist for your workout. We are here to help you with the “muffin top / love handles” dilemma.

Our quick video tutorial gives you helpful specifics on how to perform oblique (side) abdominal crunches correctly. And as a bonus, we also show how NOT to do them.

Good news – you don’t have to learn technical terms. But just in case you’re wondering why we say “obliques” instead of “waist” or “that area that encircles your spine that used to be oh-so-tiny way back in high school,” we’ve got some quick Ed-U-Cay-Shun-al info about the technical terms.

Internal & External ObliquesYour external obliques run diagonally, forming a V in front. Imagine you’re putting your hands into a vest or front coat pocket. Feel those rock hard muscles? Yeah, me neither. But I do know that my obliques are there somewhere.

Your internal obliques run at right angles to your external obliques and form an inverted V. Put your hands on your hips with your thumbs in front and fingers behind, pointing down as if putting your hands into back pockets.
Diagonal Reverse Abs
For those of you who like the nitty-gritty, oblique-y details, here’s an excellent definition by our colleague Dr. Len Kravitz, who teaches at the University of New Mexico and is way smart!

Now you know the official terms for “I want my waist to be fit and trim, but don’t want to copy any of those lame exercises I see people do in the gym that are destined to hurt their back or neck.” More importantly, you can now confidently add oblique crunches to your exercise routine. Score!!

Not yet a subscriber? Sign up by entering your email (to the right in the sidebar ———–> and you’ll receive our handy-dandy posts two times per week. Which is probably how often you do ab workouts, am I right?

Photo credits: CreativeCommons. org

by Alexandra Williams, MA and Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA


Strength Training: How Often Should I Vary My Workout?

Dear K and A: I keep hearing I should change up my weight lifting routine to avoid muscle memory, especially once past menopause. How often should I change my strength workout and to what degree? Do I vary the repetitions?  The weight amount? Or do I choose  completely different exercises? Gina, Texas

Dumbbell, one free weight

Keep Your Mind Clear, Body Confused

Kymberly: Dear Gina: As you are doin’ the Tighten Up in Texas, keep in mind this pithy and wise quote I made up myself: “Keep the mind clear and the body confused.” Always know what, why, and how you are performing your resistance exercises.  That’s keeping the mind clear.

And change up those resistance training exercises every so often. That’s where the body confusion comes in. Be careful not to mix up the two and wonder what the heck you are doing and why, but gosh, you sure have done it for a long time. That’s akin to saying “gee the food was bad, but at least they had big portions!”

Distinguish Muscle Adaptation and Progression vs Muscle Memory

Anyway, we are really talking adaptation and progression here, not muscle memory. You want muscle memory, which allows you to achieve good form and coordination. And you want to constantly push yourself to progress. Once you adapt to a move,  it’s time to vary the exercise in one of many ways.

pic of TRX plank tuck

Alexandra tries different equipment. Tries.

Alexandra: I want some muscle memory. I want to remember what, why and where my muscles are! I had them just a minute ago. I think they got lost behind my Buns of Cinna! Geez, at this point I have a Samwise and pithy quote that I made up, and it’s better than Kymberly’s. It is this “Frodo, Frodo, it’s me – Sam. You have Muscle Alzheimer’s.” I too want to adapt and progress, but I call it something different. I call it “I let my boys make it through their teen years by reminding myself it would soon be over, and I would again find harmony and joy in their company.” Adapt? Yup. Progress? They’re alive aren’t they? So some days I lift my car keys and purse 15 times as I contemplate running away for 3 years. Other days I lift my car just once, and contemplate hurling it, and myself, over a cliff. Light weights one day, heavy the next.

Change Up Your Strength Training Program

Push ups can be done anywhere

Change the angle of your exercise to push progress. Pushy push-ups!

K: Ummm, so where were we? Basically, adaptation can occur anytime between 1 and 12 weeks– for each new move. Unless you are Alexandra, then it’s a lifelong process. For you, Ginaroo, I would change up about 20-30 percent  of my workout every few weeks. Don’t completely throw out one routine for another all at once. Morph your routine with one, two, or three new approaches each week without getting caught up in exact formulas. If you no longer see or feel progress with a given exercise, change something about it.  If you feel stale with a move, throw out the old Cinnabuns. Couldn’t resist.

What Elements Do You Change When Weight Training?

As for what element to change, that is the fabulosity (made up that word too and proud of it!) of resistance training. You can select to change any number of elements to keep your body adapting upwards and program fresh:

  • Number of repetitions
  • Resistance, load, or intensity
  •  Equipment or modality (a fancy term I did not make up that generally means “type”) such as free weights or tubing instead of a machine for any given exercise.
  • Range of motion
  • Organizing principle or order of your routine: from large to small muscles instead of small to large, or from head to toe vs toe to head; alternate front and back or upper and lower; or sitting to standing exercises.
  • Pace of each exercise: instead of four counts up and four counts down on a lunge for instance, do two counts down and six counts up;
  • The exercise itself; trade out one with a similar goal or focus: chest press instead of push-up;
  • Add a balance or instability factor: stand on discs or a BOSU instead of the ground; have a narrow instead of wide stance.
  • Change the stabilizing muscles: sit on a ball for tricep extensions instead of standing.
  • Substitute an isometric for an isotonic exercise (Isotonic = a move that moves with the muscles under tension. Your muscles lengthen and shorten with contraction. Isometric = a move that holds also with the muscles under tension though you are not shortening and lengthening them. A plank is an example of an isometric exercise; a reverse curl up is isotonic).

So many ways to vary: the exercise itself, the equipment, the speed, the balance factor, the resistance factor, the range of motion, the order of your routine. Get happy and choose what appeals to you.

A: Forget your troubles, come on get happy, gonna chase all your weight away. Said Hallelujah, come on get happy, get ready for the push-ups day! What appeals to me has nothing to do with working out. It involves curly dark hair and manly t-shirt smell. Really, I just go to the gym and work out so I can sniff the hotties. Oh, and I’m paid.

Total Gym workout side lunges

Who likes side lunges?

K: And whoever said to change your routine to avoid muscle memory, needs to read our blog in a big way. You change your routine to avoid lack of progress from overadaptation. Force the body to adapt upwards. Just as I have had to adapt to having a twin who lifts car keys for a workout. As you can tell by the fine quality of my advice, I do all the heavy lifting for her.

Take Action Today to get stronger! Looking to improve your strength and lose weight with exercises that are specifically designed for women over 50? Check out our other posts on weight training, strength, and busting muscle building myths.  We double dare you to click those links to see how you can get MORE fit and fab!

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Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA
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