The stronger I was….
but it doesn’t have to be this way. When people think of strength, they usually equate it to a one rep maximum of a particular exercise like the bench or squat. Their perception of success is centered around this baseline.
Unless you compete in Olympic lifting or Powerlifting, where winners and placement is based on that one rep max, this concept is very flawed. You are setting yourself up for a lifetime of disappointments because as you age, your testosterone levels decrease, your muscles, tendons and ligaments fatigue, and at 80 years old you are just not going to be as strong for a one rep max than when you were 25.
Change your frame of mind as you age…
Just as you change your views on things as you age, you should also change your training methods. Most people think that just means lowering your intensity, weights, sets, training days, etc. Not at all!!!
You still have to keep it intense to keep it interesting and challenge your body. This is why I have trialed different training methods over the years such as:
Training a body part once a week rather than twice a week. I used to be able to hit a body part hard twice a week but as you age, you get one good workout in and another lousy workout later on in the week. Why be disappointed and waste your time? Your recovery isn’t what it used to be, so I switched to training each body part once a week but going all out.
Four to five different exercises for a total of 20-24 sets. Trust me, this method destroys the body part you are training like the good ole days but you have an entire six days to recuperate!
Changing from one rep max to extended duration sets. This can be done in many different ways. One of my favorites is 4X training where my blog post on that can be found here. The beauty about this type of training is that it is more gentle on the muscles but still overloads them to levels you have never experienced. You can also do them with any exercise.
Another form of extended duration sets is variations of the 4X method like four sets of six reps (this means heavier weights but still well below your max) with 20 second rests.
Still another form that I caught in one of those cheesy early morning workout infomercials but it showed promise, is five sets of five but rather than putting the weight down after each set, you hold it in the start position for ten seconds before doing the next set. The weights used are a lot less than 4X method but the burn and extended intensity on the muscle is just as intense.
If you do this five sets of five and holding in a start position, make sure you use a spotter when performing benches because trust me, your body will collapse at some point if you are picking your weights correctly.
In all the methods above, once you reach that last set for the determined number of reps with ease, it is time to increase the weights by five pounds.
It’s all in the mind…
When you change your training methods you are avoiding disappointment because no matter how old you are, any new method you try will always have a starting point and the amazing thing about the body, regardless of age, is that it progresses forward when you do anything new.
So although my last contest was over 30 years ago, I still am breaking records in the gym by trying new set/rep combo’s. Improvement always leads to a positive attitude and gets those ‘feel good’ hormones flowing through your body.
So never ever get caught in a rut by sticking to the same routine year in and year out. Try something new. Give it at least four to six weeks to notice improvement and you will see that no matter what, variety is the only way to be…Fit Forlife!