How Older Guys Can Keep Their Strength Gains Going

Author, fitness model, and trainer Kirk Charles, NASM-CPT CES, knows that as you get older, life can get more complicated. But that shouldn’t prevent you from being on top of your game. He’ll help to answer the tough training questions that come with age so you too can be Fit Beyond 40.

We all want to be able to maintain our strength beyond 40 years of age. Knowing that Father Time is undefeated, we must keep in mind that the body changes—so the mental approaches we take to exercise will need to be malleable as well.

As you continue your workout regimen, consider these three ways you will be challenged that you might not have faced when you were younger. But with age comes experience, so depend on experience, hard-earned wisdom, and this advice to overcome them to be the fittest, strongest you possible.

Challenge 1

You still have what it takes to maintain a high level of physical conditioning, although your physical powers may be diminishing.

Yes, this one may be a tough pill to swallow. The key is knowing when to test yourself against younger competition and when to back down for safety reasons. You were once a young gun in the gym, showing the old guys how it is done—but now the tables have turned.

Hubby and daddy time, plus a booming career, can translate to less time for workouts, therefore it is wise to only push yourself so far. Be sensible about adjusting (i.e. lowering) your weights and reps, and don’t get yourself into a muscle-measuring contest with the young bucks. You’ve already earned respect.

Challenge 2

Recognize that recovery time may be longer, so make use of it.

Bouncing back was a piece of cake in your 20s, but your 40s and beyond is a different story. If one day of recovery won’t do after a hard training session, take two days and don’t beat yourself up about it. During the extending recovery time, pull out the foam roller and stretch, two things that may have been an anathema in your hotshot 20s.

A relaxing yoga or Pilates class may be in order for active recovery. All those so-called wimpy, fun classes can be extremely beneficial to guys, especially those who pump iron. These activities may enhance your flexibility, mobility, and balance. In addition those classes will test your strength and endurance in ways that weights may not.

Challenge 3

Warm up properly.

This may be difficult because your workout time may be limited. Who wants to waste it warming up? Burn, baby, burn, shower, and out the door is the philosophy of many; but there comes a time when that doesn’t work anymore. As you age, the warmup may become critical, otherwise there may be no workout. It’s best to start out with some light calisthenics to get the blood flowing, stretch your warmed up muscles, then start your strength training.

With those three challenges in mind, working out at 40 and beyond should be fun and effective. Remember, your primary goals should always be safety and injury prevention. Yes, you might have felt invincible back in the day—but now it’s a new day. Do the smart thing and enjoy the ride.

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