Can a 50 Year Old Woman Get Toned?

Can a 50 year old woman get toned and in shape? In short, yes. As long as you eat a clean diet, and engage in specific exercise that will tone your muscles and burn a large amount of calories. As we age, your diet becomes an even more important factor which will determine to what extent you see success. 

In this post I will go into more detail and explain why it becomes harder to get in shape as we get older. I will also give more information on what you can do about it in terms of diet and workouts.

Why Is It Harder to Stay In Shape As We Get Older?

As we age, our metabolism tends to slow down significantly. You may find that you feel less energetic than you used to when you were younger and you will most likely find it harder to burn excess body fat.

A decreasing metabolism is just one of the symptoms of ageing. 

Over the years of eating a carbohydrate rich diet and eating frequently throughout the day, our bodies can also develop a certain amount of insulin resistance. This means  that your body doesn't process sugar and carbohydrates as well as it used to. Even if you only eat a small amount of carbs, it will take a large amount of insulin for your body to process those carbohydrates. Insulin is the 'fat storage' hormone and tells your body to store fat, which means that you find that you gain body fat a lot easier as you age.

In essence; your body doesn't process carbs as well as it used to, so your body needs to secrete more insulin to deal with them. This leads to gradual fat storage over a long period of time.

The Body Set Weight and What it Means For You

As most people age they start to panic due to their decreasing metabolism, raised insulin levels and increased body fat storage. As a result they try to quickly burn the excess fat, but by using an ineffective method. They drastically cut their caloric intake, and increase exercise levels in a desperate effort to lose the weight.

Why does this method of fat loss rarely work in the long term?

The 'eat less, move more' method rarely works because the body is like a thermostat when it comes to body weight. Your body is always trying to keep your weight a constant level. This system however, can turn into a negative feedback loop if you try to lose body fat by reducing your calorie intake an increasing your activity level

When you eat frequently throughout the day, your body 'forgets' how to burn its own excess body fat. It is almost as if the body doesn't know that you have spare body fat available to burn. This is because it has not had to burn the fat due to the body being re-fulled frequently throughout the day with starchy and sugary foods. 

Therefore, when someone drastically reduces their caloric intake and increases their exercise in an effort to lose weight, the body panics. It thinks that it is low on energy because it doesn't know how to burn the excess body fat. In response to this, your metabolism slows right down and your hunger goes way up. You also feel lethargic, miserable and hungry

As a result, you fall of the wagon!

You start eating more food due to the increased hunger, exercising less due to the lethargy and you start storing more body fat again. Cue the guilt and the second attempt to get in shape.

Its a vicious 'feedback loop' and with each attempt, you gain even more weight.

Does this sound familiar?

Over a long period of time which this cycle in motion, you body set weight increase increases as you gain weight with age

The good news is that there is a way out of this vicious cycle. You can efficiently burn fat, tone muscle, and get in shape when you understand how the body works. You need to adopt a program that works with your body, not against it.

The 3 Things You Need to Implement to Get In Shape

In order to get toned we need to work on three key areas.

They are;

  • Diet
  • High Intensity Cardio
  • Resistance/core strength Training

By far, the most important thing for you to get to grips with will be the diet. As I mentioned earlier, over many years of frequent eating throughout the day, our bodies decline in their abilities to process sugar and carbohydrates. We need to 'remind' your body how to burn it's own body fat again. This can only be done by greatly reducing your insulin levels.

If you can keep your insulin low over a prolonged period of time, then you will burn fat.

Remember that it is starchy carbohydrates and sugar that spikes insulin levels. Once you understand this, you will know how to turn your body into a fat burning machine. Not only this, but when your body learns how to tap into excess body fat, your metabolism will also increase and you will burn more calories as a result.

I recommend either intermittent fasting, or the ketogenic diet in order to achieve very low insulin levels. You can even combine the two protocols for enhanced results!

The video below gives some very good insights into fating and its benefits;

I have already written an article all about the benefits of fasting and how to do it HERE, and so I wont go into too much detail in this post. The article opens in a new window on this website.

The ketogenic diet is a low carbohydrate, moderate protein and high fat diet. The challenge with most beginners to this diet is that they are scared to eat a large amount of fat. It can take a while to break old dogma since we have traditionally been told to eat plenty of grains, and reduce fat. The latest research however, proves this not to be the case.

The daily macro ratios that makes up a keto diet are;

  • 5% Carbs
  • 20% Protein
  • 75% Healthy Fats

The videos below by Dr Fung does a great job at explaining the basics of using the ketogenic diet for fat loss and health.

N.B. When you go for a prolonged period of time without carbs, you will experience diuretic effects. Therefore you will become more dehydrated and your body will lose a lot of salt . It is therefore important to ensure you drink plenty of water, and add a good amount of salt to your food.

Workout to Get Toned at Any Age

As well as modifying your diet, you will also need to engage in some form of exercise if you want to achieve the best results possible. You could just focus on diet and you would certainly burn a lot of body fat and look leaner. However, if you really want that toned body and flat abs, then you will need to look at a workout program.

For best results, you will want workout regimen to consist of both high intensity cardio for fat burning, and some form of resistance and/or core strength training to tone your muscles and flatten you abs.

Also, don't worry about gaining too much size as a result of resistance training. I promise you will not end up looking like a female version of Arnold Schwarzenegger. For that to happen your would need to have testosterone levels similar to that of a male bodybuilder, along with an extremely high calorie diet.

At least by doing some resistance training sessions a couple of times a week, you will tone your muscles and boost your metabolism.   

HIIT Cardio for Fat Burning

The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans advises that all adults partake in at least 150 minutes of cardiovascular exercise each week. This seems like a good number to me, especially if that time is allotted to a form of cardio that is particularly effective at burning fat.

The best form of cardio to do for burning body fat is called High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT). This involves performing a short stint of very high intensity exercise at 100% effort, and then lowering the intensity to allow you to recover. You then go back into high intensity maximum effort again and so it continues in that manner for the duration of the workout.

An example: You sprint as fast as you can on a treadmill for 30 seconds, then you slow down to a 60 second light jog to allow yourself to get your breath back and recover. Then you go back into the 30 second sprint and so on. This is just a basic example. There are many variations and forms of exercise you could perform using this principle.

HIIT exercise is extremely effective at increasing your metabolism and burning fat. This is because it keeps your metabolism raised for a long time after the workout has finished, and so you burn more calories as a result of the workout. Steady state cardio tends to only raise your metabolism during the actual workout and so it is not as effective for getting toned.

Some forms of cardio are easier on the body than others in terms of impact and stress on the body. If you have any painful joints, or you are susceptible to injury, then you may prefer doing low impact cardio such as rowing or swimming. This is especially true when doing high intensity exercise.

If you would like to read more about how to integrate low impact cardio training as part of your workout, then I strongly recommend that you read our article titled 'Best Low Impact Cardio for Fat Loss'. You can read the article HERE  (opens page in a new window on this website). 

Resistance and Core Strength Training for Muscle Tone 

Experiencing a certain amount of muscle loss is a natural part of ageing unfortunately, and according to Harvard Health Publishing, adults may lose 3-5 percent of muscle mass each year after age 30. 

Can a 50 Year Old Woman Get Toned

Therefore, as we age it becomes even more beneficial to take part in some form of resistance training. Especially if we want to get and stay toned and in shape.

Regularly doing some form of weight training along with some core strength exercise is one of the most effective ways to increase your metabolism, flatten your abs and get toned. Resistance training in general is one of the most important factors when it comes to body composition change.

There are many forms of resistance training and body weight core strength exercises you can choose from and there are far too many to mention here. However, by simply using the various weight machines in the gym on a regular basis, you will be going a long way towards preventing muscle deterioration and it will also help you get that toned physique you are working towards.

Don't worry about using the free weights if you don't want to. The machines will suffice, especially if you are new to weight training. Focus on the machines that work large muscle groups such as the leg press, the chest press and lat pull-downs and you will do just fine. Take it easy at first and give your body plenty of time to recover in between workouts as well.

I assume that one of your main goals will be to achieve those flat abdominal muscles. If you are looking for a toned midsection then you may want to look into yoga, Pilates and other forms of exercise that works on core strength as well. 

It is important to note that simply doing a load of crunches or sit ups will not get you very far in you quest for flat and toned abs. You will want to perform exercises that involves engaging your entire core.

I wrote an in depth article all about how to get toned at home without weights. The article describes how to perform one or two exercises that are great for toning your midsection all in the privacy of your own home. You can go HERE to read the article (opens in a new window on this website).


In Summary

It is indeed possible for a 50 year old woman to get toned. Even though we all experience a little muscle loss, and a slowing metabolism as we age, we can still use specific techniques and methods to get in shape, at any age.

You are never too old to get in great shape while getting fit and healthy. As I already said, diet is probably the most important factor that will determine what results you achieve. I always think it's best to change your diet first and form new habits in that department. Then you can look at the various exercise options that best suit you and your lifestyle.

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"Kettle bell squats" by PTPioneer is licensed under CC BY 2.0