WEIGHT TRAINING AS WE AGE
The right time is now to start weight training as we age! It’s never too late to start lifting weights and gaining the benefits of regular and progressive workouts no matter our age.
I have written several short articles as well as shared some good posts on how to train as we age and its benefits. It is an important topic for us all as we are living longer and learning more about how much we can still actually do as we age rather than follow old traditions and accept that as we age we become useless and decrepit. Keeping fit and lifting weights as we age isn’t just about looking great, it’s about feeling great too as well as gaining the various health benefits, and having an improved quality of life.
This is quite a mindset change for those already in their later years, it’s not too late for this demographic but it is harder to make the necessary changes to mind and body to have any real impact. If those of you who are moving through their 40’s and 50’s now and are not already active and training then it’s time to get moving. It’s not too late and changes can be made so don’t procrastinate, just get going. Those who are even younger have more to lose and can also make greater gains. Any activity at any age is better than none, but the right activity for your age will be far more productive.
Train as we age callenges
It is during our 40’s and 50’s that our lives tend to be the busiest in terms of work and family. Climbing the career ladder, running around after our children as glorified taxi drivers, and supporting them as they move through their teenage years in growing up and studying and learning about life. All these things bring their own challenges and stresses. If we want to be able to support our family and friends then we need to make sure we look after ourselves and stay healthy.
Finding time for ourselves can be a challenge, and if we want to continue to be able to support our families and have the energy to progress our careers then we need to keep ourselves fit and healthy. If time to train is a limiting factor then find a way to train that suits your schedule i.e. take short walks more often, do shorter workouts such as HIIT or Metafit.
This can be different from the training we may have done in our 20’s when how we looked or how we performed in our chosen sport was the priority. Now we need to consider what we can still do as well as what our training and lifestyle goals are too. Keeping mobile, fit and healthy must come higher on the priority list than washboard abs and bulging biceps. That said, this is still possible too with the right training programme and more than a little determination.
As I’ve said before we lose muscle at an ever-increasing rate as we age, our metabolism slows down and we take longer to recover during and from training sessions. With this in mind, it is clear that there are certain training goals that should be part of the programme irrespective of the individual’s personal goals or preferences.
- Train to keep and gain muscle mass
- Take appropriate recovery and rest between exercises and training sessions
- Ensure appropriate nutrition for lifestyle goals and training aims and recovery
- Employ both steady-state and high-intensity conditioning training methods
- Listen to your body!
Gaining Muscle Mass
Training to maintain or gain muscle mass can be achieved by a progressive overload of those muscles. That overload can be in the form of an increasing resistance or load, an increase in repetitions or a decrease in rest time. For high-intensity conditioning, Tabata or HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training) would be most appropriate. This includes Les Mills Grit, Crossfit and Metafit type training.
Stretching and mobility work is essential as we age to maintain joint range of motion. Yoga is an excellent way to stay mobile and partners well with gym training too. No matter what method you choose to work on your mobility it is important to remember to ensure as full a range of movement as possible when exercising as this will help to maintain and improve flexibility, mobility and joint range of motion whilst exercising.
There are some great Master’s programmes and groups out there, Crossfit does this well as do many bodybuilding and weightlifting clubs and organisations.
However, this may not be for you and you may wish for a more flexible or bespoke approach. If you want more specific help and advice on any aspect of your training plan then please do not hesitate to contact me via my Facebook page Get Coached.
These are my views and opinions on ageing, training, and the things we should consider to ensure we get the most from our bodies and our training sessions. There’s no real science or research behind my comments, just experience and knowledge gained over the years.
One thing we must accept is that we will age; However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that we will get “older” at the same rate that we age. I think that we need to differentiate between age as in years on this planet and getting old which I feel is more a state of mind than a physical manifestation.
So let’s look at how getting old can impact us. It’s widely accepted that the mind is a powerful thing, if you think you can or you think you can’t you are right. What I mean by this is that all things being equal as in there are no extenuating circumstances such as illness or injury then if you think you are unable to do something because you are getting old or if you think that you shouldn’t be doing something because you are getting old then you won’t be able to do it!
It’s something of a self-fulfilling prophecy, if you deliberately think negatively then eventually you will feel miserable and this has come from within you, no external input needed. Likewise, if you smile at people, say hi and think positive thoughts then some people might think you strange but you will feel happy and positive.
My point being that chronological age is no barrier to working out, attitude is everything. I have a client who started lifting towards the end of last year and wasn’t sure they could lift a 20kg kettlebell and they recently completed a Deadlift for 5 reps at 50kg. She is 70 and is continuing to get stronger!
Chronological age will bring its own issues and we need to pay heed to them. Our bodies don’t have the recovery or regenerative abilities they had at 20. Hormone levels are lower, there is a decrease in organ mass as well as a decline in the functional reserve of the body’s systems, more on this in another post. That said our bodies can still be robust and withstand quality training sessions at twice that age and more, much more. However, respect must be paid to our bodies and we accept we are aging and understand that we may have to do some things a little differently.
For example, I have played rugby for over 30 years, some of this at a reasonable standard. Fortunately, I didn’t get any serious injuries, just wear and tear. I know I can’t do a lot of running or spin classes, high volumes of jumping also aggravate my knees and back. Nothing serious but enough to be uncomfortable and slow my training down. So I don’t run, jump or spin! Rowing is fine as is Stair Climbing, and I can lift so that’s what I do.
This whole training and ageing thing can be a bit of a trial and error process, trying to figure out what will cause some kind of negative reaction and what works to improve our health, strength and fitness. Sometimes we need to take an extra rest day or change training plans to maybe do a recovery session. This isn’t quitting or giving up, it’s being sensible and listening to your body so that you get the most from it. Better to rest one day than be injured and unable to train for a week or more!
The health benefits gained by continuing to lift are many and have been covered before. So keep moving, don’t be afraid to lift weights; in fact I wholeheartedly recommend it! If you are thinking of returning to training after a long layoff or even starting for the first time as you’ve just retired then definitely do it. Check-in with your GP, talk to a Personal Trainer and go for it, you won’t regret it!
Thanks again for reading this far, I hope you have found this informative and helpful. If you have any questions that aren’t answered here please email me via my Facebook page @getcoached.net