Our Advice For Over 40 Trainees
At the age of 40’s one of the main fundamentals of training and continuing that road of progression, is doing your best to preserve a healthy body while being injury free.
Although the human body has a large capacity to adapt in terms of training stimulus and volume, it still has its limitations. If you are in your 40’s or over and have been lifting for the past decade or longer, chances are you’d likely be harbouring some wear and tear accumulated around your body.
Basically your recovery rate will decrease as you would have likely built scar tissue and being less efficient in producing collagen which is imperative to healing. In other words, you will not be as resilient to withstand the same stress that your teen self was able to.
Aim to maintain strength and eliminate the urge to out best yourself by lifting super heavy weights, you may not hit the same numbers as old times but you can still keep a good physique by focusing on other variables to increase training strength which will unlikely destroy your joints or aggravate past injuries. As the infamous quote ‘your only competition is yourself’, lower the competitive spirit to be the strongest on the gym floor and aim to stay injury free. that on its own is already a victory.
Four factors you can utilise to ensure you are able to train at a threshold which can stimulate muscle gain in different ways, however not all high at the same time:
Load - the amount of weight being executed with
Intensity - the level of exertion you elicit during your set
Volume - the amount of work (reps / sets) you do within a session
Frequency - the number of times you hit a certain body part within a week
Best bet would be to increase intensity and frequency while load and volume are kept much lower than in the past. Another way is to opt for lower stress exercises because of the mechanics this allows you to push the intensity up as much as possible without the running into risks of injury.
As the main two culprits are usually very heavy weights and very high volume which could potentially increase the risk of injuries and stunt recovery rate, which directly correlates to growth if recovery is stalls.
Adopt the mindset of of looking better and not striving for being the biggest and strongest, this transition is difficult if you’ve loved the ascending of lifting heavy and heavier weights but place the efforts of visual aesthetics as it will be more beneficial as you get older.
The next significant part of the puzzle is nutrition, as you are older you should aim to consume more nutritious foods to be healthy and staying lean, while not feeding with junk and high processed foods which could lead to inflammation to the body that can lead to health issues concerning high blood pressure.
Think good fats, copious amount of protein, intelligent carb intake, and supplements; fish oils, cur cumin to combat inflammation etc. These are important factors for everyone, which becomes even more crucial as we age since the capacity for volume and ability to recover is already on the decline. Try to eat 4-6 meals per day to help elevate your metabolism, stabilise blood sugar levels, and drink plenty of water (3L plus) a day to aid the digestive system while staying hydrated to boost performance / recovery rate. These are foundational for overall health, so eat your proteins, eat your greens, have balanced diet! your body will thank you!
Listen to your body and take the necessary rest protocols regarding sleep and rest days. Even
If you want to make progress, not having sufficient amount of sleep or less than 8 hours will reflect on recovery. Lack of sleep also lowers the level of testosterone and increases cortisol production, which isn't optimal for training.
Times when your body feels off, it’s feedback from your body to take it easy and to not ignore these triggers. Train around it by using exercises that are easier on the body or even lighten the load some days and just go for feel / contraction. I still recommend you squat, deadlift, bench press, and military press (main compounds) if your body permits it, but don't go crazy with volume and if needs be frequency as well. Take ample rest between demanding exercises, for example you most likely won’t be deadlifting or squatting 3 - 4 times per week at 40 as compared to the teen you, so don't dream of touching the same workout you did 10+ years ago. Choose your battles carefully for longevity!
This does not mean giving up on your goals, recalibrate them! and train intelligently, be mindful of past injuries and working around them and knowing when to take your foot off the accelerator. Getting older does mean more responsibility, usually more work, and accumulating more mileage on your muscles, joints, and connective tissue. All in all don’t give up on your goals entirely and live the days of training on maintenance mode, but remember recovery isn't something that occurs overnight like it does at a younger age.
A recovery tip would be maintaining mobility and flexibility. Before workouts incorporate some dynamic stretching to prime the muscle / warming up and after workouts using static stretching to help reduce recovery rate or tightness from resistant training.15-30 seconds per stretch is and repeat 2-3 times is a good measure.
In conclusion don’t remain within the same training protocols, nutrition approach and awareness of recovery as you did in your 20’s, your body has changed and so does your fitness goals!
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