The Anti-Aging Workout

These unique routines will surprise your muscles and keep you feeling — and looking — younger than ever before.

Erin Calderone, MS, CSCS | April 20, 2016

Honestly, getting older itself isn’t so bad — spending time with the ones you love, accomplishing your goals, traveling the world … if only it didn’t come with the aging part. But you have in your reach a fountain of youth that is better at combating wrinkles and flabby triceps than any injection or filler around: exercise. But not just any exercise will do — there are three scientifically proven ways to fight the clock and fool Father Time.

Your To-Do List

Focus On The Right Fibers.

First up on the docket: Engage your fast- and super-fast-twitch muscle fibers. These fibers stimulate the release of age-fighting agents such as growth hormone and testosterone when trained at a high intensity at or above your anaerobic threshold, such as when sprinting or doing powerlifting-type moves or other high-volume training. Most muscle loss happens when these crucial fibers are not used and your body starts to de-innervate them, making it more difficult for you to develop force and power. So it’s in your best interest to keep them lubed up and healthy to preserve your existing muscle mass.

Load Up That Barbell!

Of course adding muscle also can help fight the aging process, but in order to best beat the ticking clock, you’ve got to lift heavy. Heavy lifting has been shown to cause the highest postworkout release of growth hormone in women, and scientists believe this acute spike is responsible for short-term muscle growth as well as long-term cell repair. And a bonus for longtime Oxygen readers: The hormones released post-exercise are said to have a stronger effect on trained athletes than they do on sedentary individuals, so essentially the more you train, the younger you’ll feel!

Speed Up Your Metabolism.

Another bummer about aging: Your metabolism slows down; the number of calories you burn on a daily basis drops and it becomes harder to cut body fat. In this instance, high-intensity workouts are again the best Rx for quelling that accumulation of body fat and keeping your metabolism revved as the years tick by.

With all that cool anti-aging science in mind, Oxygen has created three different routines to help you combat the calendar. They all use multi-joint movements for maximum muscle activation and GH release and can be integrated into any training split you’ve got going. Exercise has been and will always be the best medicine: Keep moving and stay young for the rest of your life!

Program 1: High Volume

This is a traditional high-volume, short-rest workout. It may take longer in the gym, say up to 60 minutes, but the postworkout hormone release puts that time back on your side. It’s ideal for building fat-burning and youth-promoting muscle.

* Use moderate weight (~75% 1RM).

Program 2: Heavy weight

This workout focuses on recruiting your fast- and super-fast-twitch muscle fibers with heavy weights. This is best for a strength-/power-building phase of your training program.

The clean, oblique toss and sled drive should be done explosively for maximum training benefit and to tap deeply into those fast-/super-fast-twitch fibers.

* Use heavy weight (~85% 1RM).

*EMOM stands for every minute on the minute.

Program 3: High Intensity

Amp up your fat-burning potential with this high-intensity AMRAP (as many rounds as possible) workout for 25 minutes. This is a great workout if you’re trying to get lean and fight the sneaky onset of body fat.

* Use light to moderate weight (65–70% 1RM).

Double-Kettlebell Clean

Setup: Adopt a slightly wider than shoulder-width stance with your feet turned out about 10 degrees. Position the kettlebells on the floor together in line with and between your feet. Hinge at the hips and knees to drop down into a deadlift position, grasping the inside horns of the kettlebells, arms straight. Your hips should be higher than your knees, back straight, head neutral.

Move: Extend your knees and hips powerfully to clean the kettlebells upward. As they reach chest height, rotate your wrists outward so that the kettlebells swing around your hand, and catch them gently on your forearms into the “rack” position, wrists straight, elbows down.

Tip: Avoid whacking your forearms by generating all the power from your legs, not your shoulders. Practice with a lighter kettlebell until you can perform the move properly.

Over-The-Box Jump

Setup: Choose a box about knee height or slightly lower and stand facing the box.

Move: Dip down quickly, swinging your arms back, then explode upward and forward, tucking your knees and jumping over the box to the other side. Land softly, turn and face the box, and repeat.

Tip: Use your abs and hips to lift your knees up and gain maximal height. If you’re unsure about clearing the box, choose one that’s lower or land briefly on top, then immediately jump lightly off onto the other side.

Double-Kettlebell Squat + Overhead Press

Setup: Hold the kettlebells in the racked position and stand with your feet just wider than shoulder-width apart, feet turned out about 10 degrees.

Move: Keeping your chest up and gaze forward, squat down as low as you can by dropping your hips and pushing them backward as you bend your knees. Extend your legs explosively, driving up and pressing both kettlebells straight up overhead as you come to full extension. Lower the kettlebells back to the racked position to complete one rep.

Tip: Prevent your back from arching at the top by exhaling forcefully. This engages your internal obliques and provides more stability for your spine.

Step-Up + Reverse Lunge

Setup: Choose a box about knee height, so when you place your foot on top, your leg makes a 90-degree angle. Hold a set of dumbbells at your sides and stand in front of the box.

Move: Step with your right foot completely on top of the box, driving through your heel to come up on top. Step back down with your left foot, then immediately step backward with your right foot, dropping down into a deep lunge, keeping your knee over your toes and your weight between both feet. Step your feet back together to complete one rep. Perform all reps on one side before switching.

Tip: Maintain a tall posture throughout the move. If you have to lean forward at the waist to step up, then the box is too high.

Oblique Ball Toss

Setup: Stand sideways to a wall and hold a medicine ball at your chest with your elbows down, feet shoulder-width apart.

Move: Turn away from the wall, bending your knees and rotating your hips to load up, then quickly uncoil, turning toward the wall and throwing the ball forcefully forward so it strikes the wall at chest height. Note: You can either stand close enough to the wall to catch the ball before it lands or wait for it to hit the floor between each repetition.

Tip: Exhale and brace your core with each release to support your spine and increase your power.

Sled Drive

Setup: Load a Prowler sled with several plates and position it in a large open area. Face the sled and take a high grip on the handles with your arms extended.

Move: Push through your toes and drive forward at an even, powerful pace, keeping your arms straight, spine neutral and hips low. Drive forward for 10 steps and then turn the Prowler around and return for 10 steps.

Tip: Keep your arms locked and your shoulders packed to create a solid base, improving power capacity and helping drive the sled.

Ball Slam + Overhead Throw

Setup: Pick a heavy medicine ball and stand facing a wall about 8 to 10 feet away. Hold the ball at your chest in both hands, elbows down.

Move: Quickly raise the ball overhead, coming up onto your toes, then use your entire body to slam the ball into the floor, squatting down as you release it to generate force. Then pick the ball up, raise it overhead and throw it forward against the wall as hard as you can, stepping into the throw and using your abs and core to generate power. Continue, alternating between the slam and the throw.

Tip: For maximum power, follow through with your arms with each throw.

Barbell Press + Zombie Sit-Up

Setup: Lie faceup on the floor with your lower back arching naturally, and extend your legs along the ground. Have a partner hand you a barbell and hold it just outside shoulder- width apart over your chest with your arms extended.

Move: Lower the bar straight down until your elbows touch the floor. Then press it back up to full extension and hold it there as you roll up into a seated position, levering your body underneath the barbell so that at the top, you’re sitting tall with the barbell overhead. Roll slowly back down to the floor to complete one rep.

Tip: Squeeze your glutes as you do the sit-up to keep your feet from coming off the floor.

Should Grandma Be Powerlifting?

Maybe so! Many of the negative side effects of aging are due to hormonal changes, and according to a study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, maintaining a healthy body composition as we age is imperative. Researchers measured muscle mass, trunk-fat stores and markers associated with chronic disease in postmenopausal women. 

After a nine-month strength-training program, the women who gained more trunk fat didn’t add as much muscle as those whose body composition remained more stable. Their conclusion: The hormones associated with the accumulation of torso fat were impeding the muscle growth process. The good news is that your body can still adapt regardless of age, so start activating those muscle cells now and stay strong and lean for life!

About the Author

Erin Calderone, MS, CSCS

Erin Calderone, MS, CSCS

Erin Calderone has a master’s degree in kinesiology from California State University, Northridge, and is a kinesiology instructor at Glendale Community College. She recently started taking Brazilian jiu-jitsu classes. Her advice to dedicated exercisers? “Focus on the quality of your movement patterns. If we want to keep moving our whole lives, we have to not just move more but move well.”