With personal training it's fun to see the differences between my clients. In general many have the same goal with a few minor differences. Yes the main goal is usually to lose weight and fat and gain muscle, but the secondary goals is what really individualizes a client. Some want to run a 5K, while others want to run a full marathon. Someone may want to bench press 135 pounds, where others want to compete in the powerlifting competition and bench 350 pounds.
Some of my older clients have been through the reigns before. In their younger days they may have competed in high school or college sports. They may recall the method in which they used to reach certain fitness and sport goals. Many of those people try to re-create those methods later in life to reach the same goal. Most of the times they fail miserably usually not reaching their goal and adding injury on top of it all.
So immediately they think, "I'm too old, there's no way I can reach my goal anymore. My body just can't take it anymore."
What I try to tell them is that the goal can stay the same, but the method needs to change. Just because a person may be older and have certain ailments and limitations doesn't mean that they have to limit themselves and succumb to those dreadful thoughts of "I can't do this anymore."
So here are a few guidelines that I like to follow when people have the ambitions they had when they were 20, but are no longer.
- Decrease Volume- Volume is the total amount of reps and sets you do in a workout. As you get older recovery takes longer, whether it's from injury or recovering from a workout. By limiting your volume in a workout you can recover faster and continue to workout without damaging your body. Besides, all weight training is is breaking down muscle fibers. You need to rest, sleep, and eat properly in order to build those muscle fibers back up. In a typical resistance training program performing total body workouts anyone above the age of 30 can benefit drastically from working out (moderate to high intensity resistance training) about three times a week. If you're following a bodybuilding like style program performing 3 to 4 exercises for each muscle group then hitting each muscle group once per week is plenty for a natural lifter over 30 years of age.
The stronger you become or are, then even less volume should be performed. Stan Efferding, a world record powerlifter and IFFB Profesional bodybuilder has stated numerous times how when he would squat 405 pounds for reps he could squat multiple times a week. However, weeks where he would squat above 700 pounds he saw better results if he would then take off for 2 weeks before squatting again that heavy. Did I mention Stan broke many powerlifting records and also won his pro bodybuilding card after the age of 40. www.stanefferding.com
- Increase Mobility Drills- If I was writing this blog 10 years ago when I was first starting out as a trainer I would probably have zero posts about mobility and flexibility. Now that I myself am a little older in age about 20% of my posts have to deal with mobility or flexibility. The importance of this as you age amplifies. It's a must to do mobility drills and body weight movements such as air squats lunges and push-ups almost daily. The body weight movements and mobility drills lack the intensity other forms of resistance training has therefore you could perform them everyday and not overload your overall volume.
- Nutrition- When I played high school and college football the main goal was just to eat as many calories as I possibly could. When you're that young and you're practicing and working out that much your body will metabolize almost anything and you look great. When you hit that magic switch around 30 to 35 years old nutrition better be high on your priorities. If you're lacking in any area, macronutrients or micronutrients you'll feel the effects. Proper nutrition does not just help with weight loss and weight management, but with muscle, brain, and organ function. We have all experienced this. When you eat healthy you think clearer and your muscles and bones ache less. This obviously will have a positive effect on you reaching your fitness goals. Eating your greens or a "green" supplement and eating quality omega 3's is a must as you age.
- Ego-Lastly when you step into the gym you must check the ego at the door. When you're a teenager or in your 20's you'll maybe get away with putting maximum weight on the bench press to show off for the gym crowd. Forget what you did in your 20! Heck,. forget even what you did last week! Everyday is a new day and you can't let your ego get in the way. Dial in your inner yogi and live in the now and check the ego at the door. Mind muscle connection should be priority number 1! Not how much weight is on the bar. Are you actually activating the muscle you are suppose to be with the exercise you are performing?
With these for aspects in mind I've seen many people I've trained between 30 to 80 years old reach their lofty fitness goals and surpass some of the achievements earlier in their fitness life. Remember you may not need to change your goal, but you may need to change the method in which you use to reach that goal.
Have a great week,
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Mark Radio is CPT through ACSM, certified nutritional counselor, and has a BA in Exercise Science. He is an Exercise Physiologist/Manager for Body Elite Inc. and owner of Hardcore Home Fitness, LLC.