Losing weight after 40 is not as hard as you think. Although strength-training is key, new research shows that how you train can make a difference between so-so results and a metabolism that stays in high gear, burning fat and showing off lean muscle. The secret is targeting a specific type of muscle fiber called type II, or fast-twitch, that's responsible for bursts of speed and power. This type of muscle, like the name implies, is faster as well as denser, a combo that may yield quicker results.
These essential fibers, however, are the first to go as you get older (even if you're active) because most workouts don't target them. If you don't use them, you lose them. Fortunately, there's an easy antidote: speed. Research from Salisbury University in Maryland found that lifting weights faster recruits more muscle and increases calorie burn by about 32%. That's 72 extra calories per workout—the amount you'd burn walking a mile! The best part: you may feel stronger after just one workout. Combine it with our plan below to firm up your toughest trouble zones and drop a size this month.
WORKOUT AT A GLANCE
What you'll need One 6-foot flat exercise band (or two shorter ones tied together), medium resistance (available at sporting goods stores or spri.com).
SEARCH: Resistance band workouts
3 days a week Do the 30-minute speed training strength plan, below. Perform 3 sets of 8 reps of each exercise in the order listed, resting 30 seconds between sets, then repeat the entire routine one more time. Also do the 30-minute Speed Training Cardio Moves to fire up any dozing fast-twitch fibers in those hard-to-hit lower-body areas like your hips, butt, and thighs.
The rest of the week Do 30 to 60 minutes of any type of moderate-intensity cardio—such as walking—as many days as possible to keep your metabolism revved and speed your weight loss.
For faster results Limit your calorie intake to 1,600 calories a day. For most women, that's a reduction of about 400 calories, which could double your weight loss.
SPEED TRAINING CARDIO MOVES
This 30-minute workout shapes up fast-twitch fibers—and your legs and butt—with speed or climbing intervals. To meet the intense demands, your body has to recruit all those power-and speed-producing fast-twitch fibers to keep you moving. For instance, walking uphill activates 25% more fibers in your backside than strolling on flat terrain, for faster sculpting. Plus it revs up calorie burn by over one-third. You can do this routine on any cardio equipment (increase the resistance on a stationary bike to simulate hills), or walk, jog, cycle, or swim outdoors. The key is to really push yourself on the speed up/climb intervals.
Bonus: If you're planning on walking, make sure to get your muscles loose