One thing I always hear in the gym that irritates the hell out of me is, “I’m getting to old to do that kind of stuff”… Would you say that to this guy if he was your trainer..?!?!
Ok now your probably thinking something like, “That’s one in a million, nobody actually looks like that”. But what about this guy?
He clearly lost the weight and got crazy lean at an older age. And his age is older than most of the people who tell me, “I’m too old” in the gym! Now I could literally post a line of photo’s of older men and women who have got into crazy shape at an old age… in fact, just so you ladies don’t question me I will show you Ernestine Shepherd’s photo also (74-year-old bikini/physique competitor)..
Ok now that I got the fit older people pictures out of my system, I can continue. You’ve probably heard the phrase “Age is just a number”, well I am a huge believer in that phrase and I want everyone to be as well. I myself plan on being in the best shape of my life at an older age because I will have had so many years of experience on how to get in great shape, that I will have no excuse but to be fit. There really is no excuse to let yourself go and stop training.
Your getting old so you start eating crappy? Well that doesn’t make sense because your body is getting less and less capable of digesting and absorbing nutrients, therefore it is even more important for you to eat clean and healthy.
Your getting old so you stop training? Well that doesn’t make sense either because technically with age your body breaks down more. One of the best ways to strengthen your body’s cardiovascular, skeletal, muscular, nervous, respiratory, immune, and every other system we have is to workout; therefore you should probably consistently workout to make sure body can handle getting older.
Your retired now, so you just want to enjoy yourself? Yes I’ve heard this one, but it also doesn’t make sense because training and eating proper nutrition is proven to extend your life spam. So workout and you’ll be able to enjoy life even longer than you had planned.
These are just some of the random excuses I’ve heard from people who are “Getting older” and do not want to put in the work that they used too. Now I don’t mean to be a hard ass but I really want to make my point clear that age is only a number and you absolutely CAN do all the things you used to do in the gym, if you put your mind to it.
Ok, now that my rant is over I will get down to the facts. I’ve just made it clear that you’re not “Too old” to train, but there are key things to think about when training if you are of an older age.
MOBILITY– Mobility is key! This is going to be one of the biggest factors because movement is one of the things we lose as we age over time. For example, look at the movement of a baby… its flawless! They can squat ass to floor with staying up right, they crawl perfectly, and not to mention they do this all plus more pain-free. I can get just about anyone to squat ass to floor but it’ll either take some time correcting movement patterns and mobility or there will be some pain. So first and foremost when it comes to mobility is that you must add plenty of it into your training. It should be in your warmup, your cool down, and it would be smart to use mobility drills as super-sets or fillers. Here’s an example of a good mobility warmup:
- Foam Roll
- Squat to stand w/ overhead reach x10
- Spiderman Lunge w/ extension x10
- Inchworms x5-10
- Quadruped Crawling x5 (3 steps forward/3 steps back=1)
- Rectus Femoris/Hip Flexor Stretch x20 sec/side
This is something you should perform before every single training session (this is good for anyone of any age, FYI). After your session you should perform something very similar but not as intense, maybe drop the reps or take out a few exercises. But is important to perform a “Cool down” and these exercises are great to do so. You must also make sure to foam roll after training, this is a must! It all comes down to the fact that quality movement is the most important thing we can imply into training as we get older. Every other joint is mobile, the others are stable and it is crucial to keep this continuum perfectly in align because when one joint cannot perform its mobility the stable joint above or below it will try to take its job, which leads to injury. Mobile joints need to stay mobile and give us mobility while stable joints need to stay stable and give us stability. We lost our mobility over time by being in bad positions all day long, everywhere we go. Great example of this is how an average person is flexed at the hip probably more than 50% of the day, which means over half their life. When we drive, sit at work, sit on the couch, sit at the dinner table, and everywhere else we are we are practically sitting. So we get up and decide to get some activity in at the gym and we do crunches and ride the exercise bike… once again repeating the flexed hip motion. This is not how we are meant to live and that’s a fact.
POWER– When most people think of power exercises and training they imagine athletes, fighters, and all these extreme ideas. Your getting old though right? Why would you want to be explosive and throw things? Because you need to be able to have fast reaction time and also be able to work the Central Nervous System. Now do not over train this and destroy your CNS leaving you tired and achy, but when approached properly it is extremely important. It can be as simple as adding a superset that has squat jumps, ball slams, or med mall throws. On top of this being an important factor for the older aged person, its fun! Who doesn’t want to throw a ball as far as possible or slam a ball into the floor with everything they’ve got?! Power exercises are great to add into training because they build strength and can burn some fat while you’re at it. When we are older (when I say old I’m talking in the future, 60+) one of the biggest causes of injury and death is actually falling. Training to be more explosive and to strengthen our CNS will help us be able to react to that fall and possible catch ourselves, this is another big reason power training is important of age. But also because it can build a great amount of strengths within our body, which leads me to another key reason we must train as we get older.
STRENGTH– Building strength is huge when it comes to staying fit as we age, for many reasons. Not only is it important to keep your strength as relevant as possible for everyday activities and for whenever it is needed, but also to strengthen the body internally. When you weight train you are breaking down almost all of your body, which is good because it will repair itself stronger, bigger, and more efficient than before. So this really means your muscular, skeletal, immune, and nervous system gets better and better the more often you train. This is huge for us as we get older because as everyone knows, our bodies naturally break down with time. Now as they break down they get weaker and do not necessarily repair themselves like they do when we weight train. So you must build strength by weight training to create a much stronger body internally and externally. Part of repairing your body is proper recovery, which is my next key point.
RECOVERY– Recovery is going to be huge as we get older because we need more time to repair then we did as we were younger. So this means foam rolling and performing tissue work as often as possible to make sure that our muscle tissue is in the shape it needs to be for training. This also means performing the mobility work I explained in the text above because if we aren’t moving right, we can’t train right. Now those two are things you can perform at the gym before and after training, it’s what you perform outside of the gym that needs to have priority. I tell my clients all the time that there is 168 hours in a week, I get to train you for 3 of those hours each week which means that your responsible for 165 hours each week to do the right thing. Part of those 165 hours is sleep and nutrition which I can suggest and influence but ultimately, I cannot control. As we age these two factors become more and more important for obvious reasons… we’re getting old! Nutrition for recovery means to main things, adequate protein and quality carbs to make sure your tissue and muscles are repairing properly. Quality of nutrition is very important, keep it clean and get these nutrients from the right sources. Sleep is one of those things that people skip out on all the time for petty reasons, 6-8 hours per night is the needed amount of sleep each night to recovery properly. There is not much to say about this besides MAKE IT HAPPEN! It is needed and you will not be feeling 100% at the gym for your next session unless you make sure to get the sleep you need.
Everyone will have that fear of getting old and not being able to do all the things we would like to do or used to do. But the reality is that we really can for much longer than most people think, so don’t let that fear hold you back. Obviously there will be a time in our lives where we are too old to do many things, but this will not be for a long time. I myself have the motive to live to 100 and to train close up to that point, I also have the motive to give everyone else that same motivation. It can be done and will be done with the proper training and mindset, so go for it and don’t slow down because of age.