401 11 111 The Crucial Decade
The 3-Day, 30-Minute, Age-
Defying Full-Body Upgrade
The familiar story of the 40-something athletic comeback begins with good intentions, but usually ends with a demoralized dad
horizontal on the couch. “Too often, guys jump back into a regimen and hurt themselves,” says Kevin Elsey, a performance
specialist at Athletes’ Performance in Phoenix. The problem is threefold: Your metabolism has slowed, your muscles are wasting
away, and your tendons are more brittle. “In the past five years, we’ve seen huge advances in our understanding of human
performance,” explains Elsey. To get back in the game—the right way—embrace the new science of exercise.
Old science: Slow, static stretching prepares
the body for peak performance.
New science: Dynamic “movement prep”
exercises do it better.
Static stretches don’t improve performance or
prevent injury prior to activity, according to a
range of research. Instead, trainers recommend
“movement prep,” low-intensity moves that
prepare your body for exercise. It increases
core temperature, lengthens and loosens
tight muscles and ligaments, and strengthens
and stabilizes the body’s pillar—the critical
combination of your hips, torso, and shoulders
that is engaged in every movement you make.
Researchers found that resistance training is
the best way to slow sarcopenia, more powerful
than even growth hormone replacement or
testosterone supplementation. Does this mean
you should abandon cardio? Not at all. If you’re
a committed runner or cyclist, keep it up, but
work in weekly strength sessions as well.
Old science: Long, slow distance is best
for weight loss.
New science: Increased density and intensity
are the keys to burning fat.
“People are blown away by how many exercises
we do in 30 minutes,” says Elsey, whose
system uses efficient circuits that strengthen
movement patterns by combining strength
training with flexibility and stability moves.
A well-designed workout program can add
hours to your week in saved gym time. Case in
point: interval training. By alternating bursts of
high-intensity effort with active rest, intervals
can actually help you lose weight faster than
training at a steady state for the same amount
of time. BEN HE WI T T
Old science: Work muscles in isolation.
New science: Train the body as an
“It’s important to design your workout so that
it engages and brings balance to your entire
body,” says Elsey. “The days of walking into
the weight room and training purely for huge
biceps and calves are over. Those muscles
might look good on the beach, but if you
maintain this narrow focus at the gym, you
become a sitting duck for those aches and pains
to turn into injuries.” If your body is a temple,
your core is its foundation. Doing functional
“real-world strength” exercises will keep your
body operating at peak efficiency.
Fit at 40 Transform your body in just 30 minutes a day
As you begin the following exercise program, designed by Kevin Elsey, a performance specialist at
Athletes’ Performance, pay close attention to the quality of your movements, focusing most on form.
Do two sets of each circuit, moving from one exercise to the next without rest. This keeps your heart
rate elevated, boosting your caloric burn and bestowing cardiovascular benefits in addition to strength
gains. After a few sessions, you’ll become comfortable with the exercises and you can bump up the
resistance to the point where it becomes challenging to do the final reps of each set.
Key: black = strength; green = stability; red = mobility
( 1 set, 5 reps each)
• Forward lunges,
bringing elbow to
instep, plus rotation
• Lateral squats
• Inverted hamstrings
Old science: Cardio is king.
New science: Strength training rules.
To thwart sarcopenia, the involuntary loss
of muscle and bone that stalks every man as
he ages, it’s essential to incorporate weight-
bearing exercises that build muscular and
skeletal strength, according to a systematic
review in the journal Age and Ageing.
Day 1: (sets/reps)
• Alternating-dumbbell bench
• Y’s on a stability
• Two arm, one leg
• Supine hamstring
cable stability chops
• Thoracic spine
• Push-ups (2/10)
• Leg curls on a
stability ball (2/10)
Day 2: (sets/reps)
• Pull-downs (2/10)
• Sliding overhead
• Single-leg squats
• Quad and hip-flexor
• Half-kneeling cable
stability lifts (2/10)
• Trigger-point thoracic-spine crunches (2/6)
• One arm, one leg
• Lateral lunges on a
Day 3: (sets/reps)
• Squats to press (2/10)
• Sumo squats to stand
• Romanian dead lifts
to cable rows (2/10)
• Side-lying bent-leg
external hip rotations
• Quadruped static-hold opposites (2/6)
• One-arm half-kneeling cable chest
• Inverted rows (2/10)
wellness upgrade I create a desktop getaway
Gary Hirshberg, 54, is the chairman, president, and “CE-Yo” of Stonyfield Farm.
“For the first nine years of Stonyfield, I lost money every year. Eventually, things started to improve and I signed up to coach my then-
6-year-old son’s soccer team. It was like a forced getaway. Our weeknight practices gave me a reason to stop working and walk away
from my desk; I had a commitment to my son, his teammates, and their families. It was such a welcomed distraction to have the world
shrink down to a soccer ball. Some years, I’d coach all three of my kids’ teams at once. I traveled 200,000 air miles last year, but I can
count on one hand the number of weekends I missed being on the sidelines of my daughter’s games.”