Written by
Lucy Lincoln,  Fitness Expert

January comes and the gyms are packed! Have you noticed?! Everybody is at the gym, if you’re not at the gym in January then you’ve missed the mandatory go-to-the-gym-in-January memo or you’re a resolution rebel. Whatever it may be, guesses are that health and exercise are on your list of priorities this 2014. However, when you find yourself in the gym, you’re going to be confronted with the endless list of classes to attend from cycle, Zumba, boxercise to yoga. We’re lucky to have such diversity but if you have your specific goals in mind you might be wondering how you choose the best fitness plan to accomplish them?

From the queen of wisdom herself, Oprah states “there is a big difference between how we should work out in our 20s and how we should work out when...we’re no longer 20. Find your perfect fit.”

Exercises suitable for all ages

Zumba is a fun, calorie-burning way to get your body moving. You workout at your own pace, and there are ‘advanced’ and ‘less advanced’ options to choose from.  Disclaimer: you will be smiling from ear to ear after a Zumba class. The energy is free and vibrant. Never will you feel it a drag to attend one of these classes!

Yoga is beneficial for any age. It allows you to unwind from everyday stresses, and become more flexible in a progressive fashion. Disclaimer: do not expect to be able to do a headstand or the splits by week one. Do expect to see a visible improvement in body definition over time.

Spinning/cycle you can push yourself to your own limits, notching up the gear and tension. Disclaimer: if you do not come out of this class looking like you have dived fully-clothed into the swimming pool, you have not worked hard enough. 

Skipping: Do not underestimate this playground favourite! It is an excellent form of cardio and will get your heart rate up in no time! It will also test your co-ordination and torch calories the quicker you are able to pick the pace up.

Weight-training Weight-lifting is THE component in adding definition and spiking the metabolism. Building muscle not only strengthens bone density, which fights against the formation of osteoporosis, but it increases muscle mass- and this ultimately burns fat! Imagine how your face might look if you were sucking a sour lemon- now THIS is the face you should be expressing when pushing out those last few reps- they should be hard, and challenging. For example: if it weighs lighter than your handbag UP the weight!

Bodyweight training in varying levels, from attempting your first press ups to assisted dip and chin-ups. Disclaimer: you will not be swinging from the bars like a gymnast in no time but you WILL gain muscle strength over time.

Boxing: Punching the punch bags is a great way to torch calories and get your heart rate up. This improves overall cardiovascular fitness. Disclaimer: You won’t be the next Lennox Lewis but you’ll feel like you can take on the world afterwards!


Your metabolism is likely to be in its uttermost cake-burning abilities it will ever be in your life however, this also means your body can cope with higher intensity workouts. 

  • Recommended exercises: weight training 30 minutes three times a week followed by 30 minutes of low-high intensity cardio such as running at a manageable pace, boxing, skipping, spinning or zumba.
  • The other two days I’d suggest interval training and H.I.I.T sessions. H.I.I.T is an abbreviated term for high intensity interval training. For this, you could choose the cross-trainer or running machine. You could run for 30 seconds as fast as you can followed by 90 seconds of running at a fast yet manageable pace, until you reach the time to run for 30 seconds all out again! This could last up to 25 minutes.
  • Circuits: Another way of doing interval training would be to do a bodyweight circuit. You could choose four rounds and alternate between a set of 15 burpees, sit ups, light kettle bell swings and body weight lunges.  You can up the intensity of the circuits and H.I.I.T by reducing rest times and adding weights.

Kettle bell or dumbbell swings, make sure you keep your chest up and engage your glutes as you use your core and a sharp intake of breath to swing the weight up to mid chest and lower down in a controlled fashion. The emphasis should be on controlled strength and the force and power should be with the upwards movement. Be careful not to swing recklessly during this movement, it will be tempting to give in to gravity!

tempting to give in to gravity!

            tempting to give in to gravity!


Your basal metabolism is predicted to decrease by 2-3 percent in the time from your 20s to your 30s, and another 2-3 percent in your 40s. However, in your 30s and 40s you are more susceptible to minor injuries than your resilient 20s. 

  • With that in mind, I’d suggest strength and circuit training in your thirties. Circuit training is easier on your joints than high intensity cardio such as HI.I.I.T.
  • Ideas for circuit training are using resistance bands to perform arm and leg movements

Squats are great glute activators              full-length press ups

  • Bodyweight exercises such as press-ups, dips, lunges and squats are ideal to build strength and improve conditioning lunges and lunge walking will shape quads and glutes, eventually you can add weight to these movements
  •  Squats are great glute activators

If you can not do a dip you can use the weighted assistance machine and progress until you use your own bodyweight. Body weight training is rewarding because you can watch yourself progress. For example you may start off press-ups on your knees and progress to full-length press ups. 

  • Heavy compound movements such as deadlifts and squats are advisable to be performed with an instructor if possible, to ensure form is correct and therefore minimizing injury to the joints. These are fantastic for muscle definition and strength.

Hypertrophy weight-lifting, doing six sets of 10-12 reps will change your shape. Adding muscle will not make you bulky! In your 30s and 40s it will simply turn your body into more of a fat-burning state and change your shape.


According to Pamela Peeke, author of Body for life for women

"After 40 and certainly after 50, virtually all women find that they gain fat more easily in the torso—below the bra, through the triceps area, on the back, and in the belly," she says. "You’re not doing anything wrong; your body composition is changing." Well, I’m accompanying this not so fantastic news with fabulous news ladies!

  • I recommend interval training by performing walking at a fast pace on an incline hill.
  • Lifting weights will combat changes in body composition. So, I’d suggest weight training four times a week- with intensity. Intensity means correct form and time under tension, for example, slowing down the movements to feel every muscle working.
  • Before this, resistance bands are fantastic ways to get your body used to the weight lifting movements.
  • If you start- and stick with- yoga and performing bodyweight movements such as press-ups, dips, chin-ups, you will not regret it! You will watch yourself becoming more agile, flexible, strong and in touch with your co-ordination.


  • Stretch – find a mobility circuit from the internet and constantly improve your range of movement, this is important for any age, strengthening joints and making sure you are less likely to pull a muscle while performing a simple action like picking or lifting objects.


Things to do daily and at any age and before exercise              Things to do daily and at any age and before exercise

  • Foamroll Foam-rolling will iron out the D.O.M.S.  (delayed onset muscle soreness) In your 30s and 40s your body’s recovery time after exercise will be longer, so foam-rolling will ensure muscle soreness does not prevent you returning back to your exercise schedule

NUTRITION IN YOUR 20S, 30s and 40’s

 Pre workout fuel:  Medium digesting carbs and a fat

  • a banana and peanutbutter
  • apple and almondbutter
  • oatmeal and honey
  • rye bread and avocado
  • oatcakes and hazelnutbutter
  • oatmeal fruit smoothie
  • sweet potato
  • yoghurt and almonds
  • cottage cheese and pumpkinseeds and honey
  • raw fruit bar, low sugar flapjack, protein bar
  • banana chips
  • spelt crackers and low-sugar jam
  • rice cakes and cottage cheese/honey

There is so much choice for any age, it’s all about progression in the exercise movement for example being able to do certain yoga poses, or accomplishing your first chin-up.