cCould Nicole Kidman be real? This was the question that emerged from her photoshoot perfect magazineThe 55-year-old adopts the triumph of strength pose, flexing her arms like a bodybuilder, her biceps tight, massive, and highly detailed. She looks like an anatomical drawing, as if she could pull a truck out of a swamp. Her legs charmed me. It is difficult to see the muscle identification, head-on, on the leg. Oh boy, not anymore. The Daily Mail said she looked decades younger than her age, which isn’t true, because we don’t tend to age with our arms (it’s all in the eyes, folks). She looks totally ripped, in her fifties. She looks like an elite athlete, as she does Davina McCallShe’s 54 years old with her solid six and up How Edwards61, who caused a stir by showing off his toned torso on Instagram.
There has been a trend of visible strength in the female figure in the past few years, driven by millennials, who are exercising differently. They focus on body strength training and urban gymnastics exercises, using online trainers, motivational Instagram communities, and better, less fat-depositing lifestyles. However, the important difference lies in their sexual policies.
When we were in or about to enter our young fifties, the feminine ideal was to be incredibly fit and skinny. Defining the muscles, especially in the – may God bless you – the shoulders, was considered fat and undesirable. The triceps visible was fine, indicating low body fat, but the triceps are very difficult to tighten while leaving your shoulders unaffected. I remember being warned against paddling as an activity, with a horrifying story about someone’s sister who tried it a few times and ended up looking like a wrestler. There have been myths promoted as the fact that if you were to accidentally build muscle and then didn’t lean it, it would turn into immovable fat, hence Big Daddy. You’ll have this horrible ratchet where you’ll build muscle, take care of it, accidentally build more, and if you ever stop, you’ll run to seed, and no one will ever love you. In theory, this could last until you’re a Hulk, so it was safer to stick with the exercise. This was all based on the idea that absolute femininity should be as different as possible from the masculine, i.e. to be a woman resulting from your difference from a man, in the Dreddy tradition. Women born after the mid-80s don’t swallow that anymore.
So it has become a kind of aging Not For muscle definition, high-profile celebrities like Madonna have been pretty clear on this point for years. However, I would not say that it has completely penetrated into the general population. “People in their fifties want to get rid of their stomachs, usually,” says Leon Poulmer, 51, owner of Geezers Boxing in Heacham, Norfolk. “Most people want to look strong but natural,” says personal trainer Lucinda Mead, 58.
But let’s say being robbed in your fifties is what you want, can you do yourself any harm? How difficult is it, and can it be done from the beginning of standing (or more likely, the beginning of sitting)?
Yes, anything is possible, you say Jenny Stout57, former Olympian and the gladiator. “It all comes down to the individual and how committed they are to themselves. If you have a good enough diet, stick to your game plan, and exercise, you can definitely change your body.” However, you probably won’t end up looking like Kidman, unless you look like her at first. “We can’t legislate people’s body type,” Stout continues. “If you have a very good body composition, you are one of the lucky ones.”
So what will it take? Don’t kid yourself: When you see muscle in all its glory, it’s because it’s not hiding under a blanket of fat. Diet is a necessary but not enough part to rip off: you can strip all your fat and still have a lot of muscle to show, but you can’t see muscle if you can still see fat. And it’s harder to reduce body fat as you age, because the way you handle your blood sugar changes. I can’t stress this enough: ridding yourself of body fat means no bland, balanced diet with lots of different colors on your plate and no cake. It’s pretty extreme and not Instagrammable at all: I once met Helen O’Reilly, AKA Panther the Gladiator, when she was preparing for a competition, and all she ate the day before was 18 chicken breasts.
“So you have to think, what would your skin look like?” Meade is recommended. “What is your collagen like? I know that, for me, if I lose a lot of weight, my skin will droop.”
Stout agrees: “We have to be very careful not to get too thin and too thin, because when you get older, aging is very.”
As for hypertrophy, the process of getting and amplifying muscle, this is not for the faint of heart. “This means training each muscle group to exhaustion, two or three times per week,” Meade says. “You destroy those muscles, then you have to relax them, and then you build up again with protein synthesis to end up getting bigger. It takes time, and you have to be prepared to get upset.” This leads us to the question: Are you ready to be the most important person on your schedule? “It is possible, but it comes at the sacrifice of everyone around you, right?” Bulmer rudely says. “You are probably at your most stressful in this decade: fathers die, men and women take full responsibility for their families. Perhaps that is the problem in your fifties — it finally comes.”
While you can get incredibly ripped when you’re younger using nothing but your own body weight and maybe some bars in a pinch, you’ll need weights as you get older as your muscles really break down (sorry for being sad). So it pays to have a pre-existing gym ethic – and you also really enjoy being there – as well as some foundation in strength training. It basically helps if I was a Stoute – “I would work all day every day if I could. That’s my sting” – but we can’t all be Olympians.
You have some advantages at this point in your life. It is said that you have more stamina as you age. This is what it’s like, if you see an old iron man or something like that, a sudden injection of staying power, an unexpected gift from the universe. That’s not all, though: “We’ve spent so much time on the planet that, by this age, we’ve had a pretty good understanding of our bodies,” says Stout. You instinctively know when to rest and how much rest you need, you never run out of steam. “We used to do the Veteran Triathlon where I worked in the Army, and their stamina was incredible. But they worked, and then lay down for 12 hours,” Polmer says.
The pitfalls are: For both sexes, you’re going to hit your knuckles unless you listen to them. If there are things Stoute can’t do because it would ruin her lower back and knees, there are definitely things You are can not do. You can’t argue with your wrists, for a start. It’s not a huge trade-off (it’ll help your joints in the long run if you build muscle around it), but it’s an ongoing consideration, which will definitely interrupt your inflation plans now and then.
Likewise, posture is key, especially your back and, for women, your pelvic floor. It’s impossible to overstate how bad they are, those five decades you just did. “It benefits you as much as it does the construction business,” Polmer says. So even though your training goals are basically trying to tire yourself out three times a week, you should also build in time for something like Pilates or yoga. “You can only do the required training if your pelvic floor is in good shape,” Meade says. “This is the main postural thing that keeps you upright. If you pee on yourself when you lift heavy weight, or have sex painfully, your pelvic floor is not OK.”
Is it worth all the pain? I did it for Fits in my forties columnAnd, for a while, between street dance classes and Hiit rehearsals, I had really big arms. I’d be in a classroom by a room-length mirror, thinking: “Wow. I could probably be in an advertisement, as long as they sprayed my head and that was an advertisement for guns.” However, I’m not sure it improved my quality of life. Ripping is primarily an aesthetic decision, and if you get a launderette, what are you going to do with it—wear a cropped T-shirt? To the garden center?
Without a doubt, whatever muscle you build, your 70s and 80s self will thank you. It’s curious how much we know (even if we don’t do anything about it) about cancer and heart disease and how to prevent it, when falls are such a huge factor in poor quality of life, and building muscle mass is a really obvious preventative.
Finally, are there any shortcuts? Yes, according to YouTube, with its multiple ads for an “electronic muscle stimulator that melts body fat.” Muscle stimulation has medical uses to re-educate muscles, reduce muscle spasms, and prevent muscle atrophy after a stroke or accident. But there is still no evidence to reduce body size, melt fat, or “rock hard abs.”
There are also blur effects that you can try. Once, a friend wanted to go to a masquerade party as a ringmaster, and had a makeup artist paint a six-pack on his stomach. It would have worked, had he not spent the entire night going: “Look at that amazing makeup job at my greasy bun.” But there are other things he could have tried, like putting on a T-shirt. It’s not in the ringmaster’s code that you have to be topless.
In conclusion, of course you can rip if you want to. This is almost the cornerstone of the health and fitness doctrine, that is, anything is possible if you want it hard enough. You have my blessing, but I’m not sure I’d bet on you.