They say that when it comes down the biggest battle of all, Father Time is undefeated. And yes, that is without question completely accurate. No matter who you are, no matter how wisely you train or how well you take care of yourself, you will eventually succumb to the aging process. Wise lifters start to realize their impending limitations as their 30s and 40s arise, and they will adjust their training and other habits in order to match their sagging testosterone levels and limiting recovery ability. Let’s check out some ways you can mitigate the damage aging can do to the lifting physique, and learn how to get more out of the decades you have left in the gym!
Goodbye, Mr. Ego. The time has come to forever place that part of you which bragged about how much you could lift, into a very heavy box and forget about him. You’ll always have those tales of benching 350 pounds in your prime or that time you put a quarter ton on your back for 20 squats. And sure, you’ll see the occasional 70-year old powerlifter entering a competition and moving a lot more weight than competitors half his or her age. But simple cell degradation that accompanies aging dictates you cannot be pushing yourself with weights your body cannot handle, as you enter your 40s, 50s and beyond. Doing so should only be done at your own risk, as you are quickly entering the injury territory and will have nobody to thank except yourself for the consequences. Play it safe, young man… you’re not as young as you used to be!
Your health should always come first in any training system. Without it, you have nothing. Life has a tendency to throw a lot of health curveballs at us as the aging process kicks in, so it is more important than ever to be cognizant of small health concerns, and address them before they become bigger health concerns. Eat healthy, see a doctor on a regular basis, and listen to your body at all times. Lifting weights should only supplement an already healthy lifestyle. You have no idea how good your body was designed to feel, provided you give it healthy foods, plenty of hydration, and lots of rest!
Going full body?
As a young lifter, you mostly likely preferred to dedicate a single training day each week to each of your muscle groups. Chest day. Back day. Shoulders & Traps. Biceps & Triceps day. And of course, Leg day! As the years passed, all of that high volume began to wreak havoc upon your joints, tendons, and even the muscle groups themselves. Over time, many wise aging lifters decide to consolidate their daily lifting into a system more congruent with their limited recovery ability. Suddenly, they start having combined “chest, triceps, legs” days along with “back, biceps, shoulders” days. Then, as the years pass, they begin training full body with weights 2-3 times each week, instead of giving 22 sets to their chest once a week.
Focus on legs
As always, training the full body is imperative as they years begin to add up. More than ever, you will want to ensure all of the major muscle groups are receiving ample stimulation on a weekly basis, whether on the own day or as part of a combined effort. One area which should receive special attention would be the lower body. Most injuries which can really be life changing tend to occur on the lower part of the body.
For decades, we’ve continually been reminded of the good habits that we SHOULD have. Well, the time is now to be the wise man who learns from the neglectful ways of the smart man, and implement these good habits before passing on them leads to injuries and issues. Take your vitamins, enjoy adequate sleep, and about a dozen other pieces of advice you've been given for decades. The time is now to follow it!
Numerous studies have shown it is not the amount of time walking, but rather tha pace, that dictates the capability of the athlete as the years past. Those slow walkers you see in the morning have rapidly aging bodies. Those power walkers you see (often moving faster than your car when you’re stuck in traffic) are healthy and show lots of vitality. Walking most days is very important as you age to keep the many processes and systems of the body working optimally. Keeping a brisk pace when you walk is equally important!
Know your limits
There will come a day when you may eventually have to ‘retire’ certain parts of the gym which you’ve loved all of your life. There may come a day when, while facing chronic shoulder pain, you decide to finally hang up the flat bench press for good. There may come a day when the knee soreness from squats means you have to finally end your run of barbell squats and opt for machines for leg pressing. It can be sad to end partnerships with the parts of heavy lifting, but athletes in all arenas have to do the same, usually back in their high school or college days. Refocus your efforts on to lifting movements and healthy active hobbies which take a lesser toll upon the body!
They say the smart man learns from his mistakes, and the wise man learns from the mistakes of smart men. You know what aging does to the body, and you know how to lessen the impact through good habits and smart, consistent training. You should be moving and catching a pump and growing bigger, stronger and faster every minute possible. You can do it!