Keeping Your Strength After Turning 50
As we all know, our body changes as we grow older, but how exactly do our muscles transition and what should you start doing differently to keep getting stronger?
Overall as we age, our bodies become much more fragile. Understandably, our strength and muscle mass begins to decline at a faster rate, along with our recovery speed. Our body begins demanding more and more concentrated rest time in order to recuperate fully. Inflexibility and injuries become a regular occurrence and our fitness levels simply deteriorate at a quicker speed than in our youth.
So what does this mean? Should we stop training? The answer is absolutely NOT! Even though your body is declining, that does not mean your training needs should decline with it. You still need to build your cardiovascular capacity, strength, and functional mobility. But the way you approach those goals needs to be tailored in a manner more targetted for your current body state.
Lets see what the experts say about evolving your training regime.
Establish a Routine
It is often believed that older people should not train as hard or with high intensity. However this is not the case. Strength training is arguably the most important part of maintaining fitness with age, even though it is regularly overshadowed by cardiovascular training. So where do you start?
Well, one of the most critical parts of your training program as you age is that you establish a regular routine and stick to it. Organise a good balance of strength and cardio training sessions through the week consisting of around 3-4 strength training sessions where you try to hit all the major muscle groups. The training experts Matt Swift and Matt Owen recommend multi-joint movements that work several muscles or muscle groups at one time, as well as functional movement patterns that use a full range of motion. The goal is to train hard, and consistently, but the important distinction that differs from young people is the extra investment into your recovery. This is vital as your body is becoming less and less durable, it takes longer to recuperate. Rest, but don’t stop for longer periods of time because if you stop training at a later age, your body starts to decline at a higher rate than younger people, and it is considerably harder to gain it all back. Therefore, find a plan that works, and don’t stop.
Increase the Volume
Trainers Swift and Owen believe that setting great value on volume is a primary target for all athletes. They advise you to build a solid foundation for your training career by focusing on preparing your body to increase volume. This will allow you to be safe and healthy as you progress towards more intensive, higher-impact goals.
Address Problem Areas Right Away
The older you get, the harder it is to come back from an injury. Swift encourages ageing athletes to do everything they can to prevent injuries in the first place. “You have to understand that not every day will be the same; there will be variations in the training load you can cope with. Make smart choices and back off when the body doesn’t feel right,” Swift says.
Invest in Your Recovery
As you age, your body bounces back more slowly from intense exercise. Successful older athletes should take their recovery as seriously as their training. Owen agrees that eight to ten hours of proper sleep is the most important part of recovery and training. It recharges the nervous system and rebalances hormones, and it’s the key to any successful weight-loss effort.