My mom always said to me in my 20’s that I am not invincible, and was told multiple times by adults that the 20’s were the best years. Transitioning into the next stage of life didn’t really hit me until I turned 25: it took 4 days for me to recover from a hangover, what happened?
If you missed it yesterday, we talked about the fitness/health priorities for life before turning 20. Each decade of life has a specific set of requirements to be fulfilled to ensure optimal health.
Today we are going to be discussing living in your 20’s. This is a time where people may start to formulate an opinion on what they want to do with their life and grow into their specific roles in society. The 20’s can be broken into three stages with that have different priorities: early 20s (20-23 years old), Mid 20s (24-26), Late 20s (27-29).
I remember my early 20s that included the end of my collegiate swimming career and transition into graduate school to pursue my doctorate. I was a ‘retired’ athlete but was still drinking and eating as if I was training 6 days per week. As a result, I gained 30lbs in the span of one semester and I felt horrible.
The fitness priorities for the early 20s includes transitioning into adulthood. We start to take on new responsibilities bigger than waking up and attending university classes. They include: paying bills, going to work, and trying to keep up with friends as everyone parts ways. This also means that the metabolism is slower than as a teenager and it is going to be increasingly crucial to develop healthy eating habits.
If you are in your early 20s, focus on creating a regular fitness habit right now. Strength is should always be a priority but this is also a time where you can probably handle a decent amount of cardio. Include exercises like squats, deadlifts, and overhead presses as they will help you build your fitness, grow muscle, improve muscle tone, reduce fat. This is also a perfect time to start adding in some HIIT training into your weeks. If you were previously physically fit, you’d probably be able to handle between 4-6 days of training. When I retired from swimming, the switch from 6 to a 5 day training week was perfect as I would rest on Thursdays and Sundays.
If you are new to the fitness scene in your early 20s it is also the perfect time to sign up for a workout class or work with a personal trainer as you can learn how to move and lift in a supportive environment rather than having to learn everything by yourself. Aim to get 3-4 workouts per week.
The mid 20’s mark a period of both professional and personal growth. By this time, there can be some upward professional development (no longer entry level) and deeper relationships are formed with the people around you. Hangovers no longer last 1 day, in fact they impact your sleep quality, and job and life performance. The body’s metabolism starts to slow down even more and life gets busier. As a result, workout programs may start to lose its appeal. This can be remedied by working directly with a coach as your needs are a little different compared to a few years ago. The priority at this age is to continue to build up your fitness and health as we start to get a little older. We are looking at protecting the joints, building muscle, and maintaining a body fat percentage of under 25% for men and under 33% for women (anything higher elevates the risk of chronic diseases like CAD, HTN, Diabetes, etc.).
This is also the age where you reach peak muscular development (in the 20s) and it is going to be important to build as much as possible, as muscle loss increases with age.
Focus on trying to get at least 4 workouts per week, with a priority of strength training for at least three of those days. If you are feeling bored with your current program, then reevaluate your goals with a coach, join a new gym, or find some friends to hold you accountable! At this age we are going to continue to build a workout habit for life especially since life gets way more hectic as we get older.
Then we finally move into late 20s. Hopefully you’ve kept up with a fitness routine up until now. You notice that life just continues to get busier (more stress and less time) with meetings , relationships, growing families, and weddings (either yours or your friends). Following a workout routine is usually the first habit to fall to the wayside. Also, cooking and eating healthy will continue to be more challenging which results in an increase in processed food consumption and less vegetable consumption. Try your hardest to keep up with a program even if it is twice per week. We should be truly be prioritizing strength work (power lifts, dumbbells, etc). Add some very short high intensity cardio to your week like HIIT training for the cardiovascular benefits. Avoid the fringe workout trap that boasts big results in a short period of time (30lbs in 30 days) and extreme diets (anything restrictive), as jumping from program to program may cause more harm than good.
The 20s is a time of growth and development. Not only are you building your identity and understanding your place in the world, but this is also the time when for peak fitness development. As we approach our 30s, improving health and fitness becomes more challenging as life responsibilities continue to grow and the metabolic processes in this decade start to slow down.
Use your 20s as a way to build up as much as you can and the decades after as a way to maintain or slightly improve what you developed in this time.
If you’re no longer in your 20s, there is still hope for you. Stay tuned for the next couple days to discuss your specific decade and your health/fitness priorities.
If you feel like you need help getting started with your fitness routine, we work with all ages. Click here to book a free no sweat intro phone call with a team member today.
Have a great weekend!