June 7, 2010
Posted: 04:11 PM ET
Swimmer Dara Torres filled the record books with her accomplishments. World records and Olympic medals littered her resume. Then she won 3 silver medals at the Beijing Olympics - at the age of 41. Torres has written a book about how she did it called Gold Medal Fitness. Below, Torres shares a few of her tips (complete with pictures). We encourage everyone over 40 to read this, especially LKL Blog Producer Jason Rovou, who turns 40 TODAY (he's actually only 36, but it's a running joke).
After the 2008 Beijing Olympics I met hundreds of women and girls who wanted to hear about how I had made a comeback as a 41-year-old athlete. I spent a lot of time on the road meeting hundreds of people, many of whom approached me with questions: “How do you do it?” “I can’t believe you’re still going so strong! What’s your secret?”
I began to think about how I approach training and how my regimen might actually help other people—regardless of their age or level of athleticism—get into better shape. Yes, I’ve been a competitive athlete for a long time, and I probably do have a genetic edge in terms of body type and athletic skill. But I am also just like you—a busy woman and mother, juggling work, child-raising, and training (my primary job). And like you, my day doesn't end when I finish training for the day —I then turn to my very active four-year old daughter who wants to play, read, and have dinner!
I realized that over the years, I’ve had to adjust my training for better results and a changing body. I also realized that training does not mean focusing on one part of your body or group of muscles: it’s a full-body experience and approach to taking care of oneself. For all of you women out there who think you might have what it takes—to get physically fit, regardless of your age, your shape, your weight, or your long list of endless responsibilities—you definitely can!
So you play a big role in how successful you will be. Can I guarantee that you’ll have six-pack abs? No. But if you want them, I can show you how to get them (you can start with the exercise below – it works like magic!). And if you don’t, but instead just want to slim your waist and strengthen your core so that your lower back doesn’t bother you, or so you have more stamina and accuracy when you play tennis, or so that you simply feel better as you get in and out of the car, run through your day (as most women do—kids or no kids), then you can learn to accomplish that too.
My new book Gold Medal Fitness is filled with many ways you can stretch, strengthen, tone, and stabilize your body. I know these exercises work because they are exactly what I’ve been using before and since the Beijing Olympics. These exercises helped me focus my core, realign my skeleton, and strengthen the muscles around my joints, making me more stable.
They also helped stimulate my nervous system so that my muscles worked more fluidly in coordination. And one of the absolute keys to this stability, strength, and flexibility is your core’s ability to rotate. The exercise below does all three. You can try this one at home or at your gym. All you need is a Swiss ball and a cable machine, as depicted in the photos.
Swiss Ball Cable Rotation
This exercise enhances your rotation ability on the transverse plane only. For this exercise, you need a cable machine, such as a FreeMotion or Keiser machine, and a Swiss ball.
Most people don’t rotate well, and this is a good way to activate the muscles of the back, arms, and abs that enable rotation.
When using any cable machine or other weight- bearing machine, begin with the lowest amount of weight and gradually increase over a couple of weeks.
2. Wrap your arms around the Swiss ball and press it against your body. Try not to round your back over the ball.
3. Grab the cable with your right hand, staying extended through your spine.
4. Rotate toward your right arm side without moving your hips or your lower body.
5. Do 5 reps, 5 sets, and repeat on the opposite side.
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