Trainer, author, and fitness model Kirk Charles, NASM-CPT CES, knows that as you get older, life can get more complicated. But that shouldn’t prevent you from being on top of your game. He’ll help to answer the tough training questions that come with age so you too can be Fit Beyond 40.
Hip mobility is one of my main concerns as I get older. My hips have always been tight, and I didn’t have the awareness and foresight to work on them when I was younger. But as I close in on 60 years of age, sometimes the stiffness makes it cumbersome move. Father Time is closing the gap on me, so I now do certain exercises to not only move without limitations, but also to relieve pain.
To improve mobility and help with the hip pain, one exercise I do all the time (mainly before and after running) is the Spiderman Lunge. This one is not always the easiest for men in their fifties like me, but even if you’re not great at it, it will certainly help to open up your hips. You’ll especially notice its affects during your recovery from athletic activities.
To start, go into a plank position with your hands directly underneath your shoulders. Brace your core, squeeze your glutes and engage your shoulder blades, as you would with any other plank. From the plank position, step your right foot forward and place it outside your right hand. Hold your position for a count. Then return your right leg back to its original position in the plank. Then repeat the same movement with your left leg.
Ideally, when your foot is placed up near your hand, your body should be in a straight line, with your back knee and left hip fully extended. Getting in this position may be familiar and easy to those who practice yoga, but I’ve found it to be difficult for many older men. Hip flexor, glute, hamstring and groin tightness make it difficult for some men to bring their foot up to the level of their hands with good form, so getting into this position may require patience.
To compensate, many older men bend the back knee toward the floor and raise up from a flat hand position to their fingertips. If you’re making that type of compensation, start in an elevated plank position where your hands are higher than your feet. This will help keep your back knee and hip fully extended and palms flat.
For an older guy (or anyone who struggles with mobility), it’s best to start easy with this exercise because you don’t want to pull any muscles by trying to raise your foot to the level of your hands. Work on 4 sets of 5 reps on each side of the body to begin, and only move in a range of motion that works for you. As you’re doing the reps, once the foot is in position, try holding steady for up to 3 seconds so you will get a nice stretch. As you get better, work up to sets of 10 repetitions.
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