Training in your 40’s and 50’s+ IS different – why?

I just ticked over another lap of the sun (at least according to astronomers) and into being nearer to 60 than 50 – gulp.

To celebrate I ran some intervals with some friends and they didn’t go easy on me, not that I’d expect them to but they’re all older guys too, 49, 56 and 61. I should have taken a picture, we’re all in pretty darn good shape putting a lot of younger men to shame but I was too wiped out to think of doing that.

Then yesterday I hit the gym and did some accessory work, strengthening my piriformes and knees using 2 awesome exercises I have recently begun doing. The knee exercises especially are amazing using a slant board and a small range of motion I can hit the VMO muscle, the vastus medialis oblique which is key in maintaining knee stability and strength. I play a lot of tennis and need my knees so this exercise is now done weekly.

Then I did some bench presses. You could say I earned the right to do the #1 beach muscle exercise by doing the accessory work as well.

I squeezed in 2 hours of tennis doubles (played at a decent level) with a lot of running, reactions and as heavy a serve as I coulds muster.

And today with some friends we did a lovely training session in the park, with bands that included some overhead presses, deadlifts and woodchops. We then ground out a 15 minute EMOM of squat jumps, mountain climbers and push ups – a great few days in the 56 for me!

Tomorrow to earn the right to do my backsquats I will do some accessory work on my quadratus lumborum (QL), a deep lying muscle in the lower back I injured many years ago and which I still need to strengthen weekly. I will also do some Nordic Curls which are awesome for athletic development. One of the world’s most dynamic sportsmen is a guy called Tyreek Hill, he plays for the Kansas City Chiefs in the NFL, watch this video to see what a Nordic Curl is and see if you can do any yourself!

I will add that I cannot do these the way Tyreek does them. I basically fall to the floor trying to resist gravity as much as I can before pushing myself back up to the start position. I have never seen anyone do them like Hill does in any gym I have been into. Come to think of it I rarely see people doing them at all. Not sure why when if they are done by this incredible athlete why aren’t we all doing them?

I also do hip thrusters regularly as again, any man or woman engaged in sport at whtever age should be doing these in the gym, an amazing exercise to create dynamism in the hip/glute complex, I would think all sports require this. Maybe not darts. Or chess. Not sure.

As we age we need to be doing things differently. If we’re playing sport or doing triathlons then it’s even more important we take care of our bodies by doing accessory work that strengthens joints, maintains their mobility or stability and improves performance of them. This accessory work can also help with ongoing maintenance (prehab) and even help rehabilitate areas that have been covered up and/or neglected.

When it comes to sport performance then we also need to work differently to when we were younger. Training output needs to be managed much more. When young we can train like machines all through our 20’s and even into our 30’s. Sadly and mistakenly for many in their 40’s and above, this point is not realised or if it is, accepted. The even sadder thing is you can maintain great performance by working smarter.

How do we work smarter?

Volumes decrease and work intensity is maintained or increased. We use a bit of science to do this in better understanding heart rate and its variability, being stricter around work:rest ratios, being stricter around lifting technique, session planning and rest cycles.

Ultimately it comes down to keeping track of your training and all of the important data that feeds into your health status then taking this and evolving your programming and session planning. Once you dial in the formula that presents itself at the end of this process you have a life-long tool for being a healthier, fitter and better man or woman!

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