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RULES OF OVER 40 LIFTING

Geardepot

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Sooner or later...we all face it. Your joints are a little achier than those of your younger bro's and your reflexes aren't as spectacular, but you've still got most of your game.
Now tell me, should you, as an aging athlete who wants to continue to compete at a high level, or an even higher level, start training harder or easier?
Harder, of course. Or at least a lot smarter. Otherwise, your skills will diminish. You no longer have some of the luxuries of youth, so you can't take your abilities for granted. There's no time to slack off.
I realize there are some differences between 25 and 40, and probably a lot of differences between 25 and 50, but not as many as you might think, especially if you have at least 10 years' worth of training experience by the time you hit your "expiration date."
In most cases, you shouldn't start to take it easier when you near 40 or 50 or even beyond. In fact, that's the time you need to kick your training up a notch if you want to stay in the game. There are, however, some hard truths that you'll need to swallow.
1. Build up your work capacity
You can't train hard if merely pulling your pants on makes you wheeze. You need to do cardio or metabolic conditioning or whatever term you feel comfortable with. How do you expect to work hard if your lungs don't have the sass to carry on?
Moreover, your cellular batteries – the mitochondria – start to wear out, get lazy, take extended vacations in Jamaica, or die as you get older. They need a kick in the pants so they get to multiplying, and that's what intense exercise provides. At least three times a week, get on the treadmill, rower, or yes, stationary bike for a measly 10 minutes for some HIIT-style training. Focus on all-out efforts of 20 seconds, followed by 60 seconds of "active recovery".
2. Do more work
Doing 3 sets of 8 and going home is no longer going to suffice. It may have worked when you were younger and had testosteroned-up tiger blood flowing through your veins, but not so much when you've got a 50/50 blend of tiger blood and prune juice squirting through your plaque-riddled vessels.
That's why damn near every workout should contain an extended set, drop set, or finisher of some kind and if you're not making an ugly, just-got-burned-by-dragon-fire face at the end of it, you didn't work hard enough.
Do strip sets on leg press or Smith machine squats. Rep out. Pull a plate. Rep out. Pull a plate. Rep out. Pull a plate. Rep out. Collapse into a fetal position.
3. Forget your achy joints
Having achy joints is no excuse to let up. Everyone who's been doing any serious lifting for at least 10 years wakes up in the morning feeling like they spent the previous day trying to ride the back of Bodacious the bucking bull, and was flung clean over the stands into the deep-fried Twinkie concession stand.
Get over it. Sure, you can do your stretching, that hot Yoga where they treat you like a pork dumpling, or whatever rehab exercises fit the situation, but for the most part, you're always going to hurt.
Your recourse is to simply get smart about it – do exercises that don't hurt the particular joint; use grips or foot positions that allow you to train with no pain; do a reduced range of motion, or lower the weights with a slower tempo. A good 4-second descent should take the strain off any angry tendon.
4. Say goodbye to sets under 5 reps
This is your one, big, lifting concession to Father Time. You should forget about doing sets for fewer than 5 reps. There's just no need to use such heavy weight, and the risk of suffering an injury that you can't work around, like tearing tendons or ligaments that just aren't as spry as they used to be, is just too great.
No worries, though. You can stay plenty strong by devoting some time to sets of 6 to 8.
5. Lots of days off are a no-no
The conventional thinking is that older athletes need to take more time off.
It's true in one way, but false in another. Sure, older guys need to focus on recovery more than younger guys, but they often convince themselves to take off more time than necessary.
But older guys can't afford to take too much time off, unlike younger guys. If you're young and you miss a few days, it's no big deal. Your body is perpetually in the orderly throes of negenthropy, which is the opposite of entropy. The young body grows no matter what, while older guys' bodies have the propensity to deteriorate.
The old guy must continually fight against that dying of the light, and he can't fight it by taking off too many days from the gym. Don't trust how you feel, either. Your mind wants you to take a day off.
There's one thing that should tell you when to legitimately take a day off, and that's your training log. If it tells you that on Tuesday you failed to exceed, or at the very least, meet the previous workout's numbers, it's time to take a day off.
6. Deload the spine when you can
Granted, you need more rest than someone who's 25, and taking a daily nap might be impractical or a little too old-fogeyish for you, so consider spinal deloading. Doing this for just 20 minutes a day gives your spine a ton of relief, in addition to being restorative in general.
Just find some floor space and lie on your back with your lower legs and calves on an ottoman or chair so that your hips and knees are at a right angle. This takes the load off the discs in your spine and allows it to relax without having to contend with gravity.
Remember...train harder, work smarter, and dole out your energy and efforts into the right things. That's exactly what the aging lifter has to do to remain at the top level of his game!
GD
 

MonkeyBoy

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Good read....Perfect timing as well. I am 42, just ripped a tendon on my bone, had an MRI this am and probably surgery next few weeks.
 

XtremeMuscle!

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I'm a 46 year old lifter and agree with most of what you've provided. I would disagree with "doing sets under 5" is over. I believe you cannot continue to train with sets under 5, for a very long time, as opposed to when you were younger. Just my thoughts.
 

buck

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Good info. But I wonder how some one in their 40's that has been training for many years is supposed to be able to meet or exceed his previous workout. as the years and decades go by I am happy to be loosing ground very slowly. But I guess that could mean I am doing some thing wrong.
 

mytreefiddy

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I'll be 50 in less than 2 months.... i'd have to agree with all of the above...
 

gungalunga

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You are only too old to train when you start thinking "Should I go to the gym today...or maybe do some mall-walking instead. :p
 

opietaylor

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doing extremely well on a doggcrapp system with rep ranges dialed up higher no less than 12 and all the way up to 25-30 on legs since i'm 45. bodyparts being hit every 5-7 days depending on how and feel and keeping legs to every 7 days. added 100mg of deca every 10 days to my hrt and beating the log book every week with compound movements that feel comfortable to me. struggled with tendonitis in both shoulders on and off for 2 years and fixed it by dropping all presses for chest in exchange for dips. shoulders healed in about 6 weeks then incorporated a press movement for chest every other week. no direct shoulder training and my delts have actually grown.
 

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