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wojo

Advice From Guys 50+

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I spent way too many years from my late 20's through my late 30's just "working out", but fortunately I rediscovered my passion for real strength training about 3 years ago and I've never been happier. I'm now 41 years old with a laundry list of goals I want to achieve before father time catches up with me.

There are plenty of really strong and accomplished guys on this board who are still kicking ass into their 50's and 60's and I plan on following in their footsteps.

I'm looking forward to this next decade of training that will bring me into my 50's and I'm curious what advice you older guys have for someone like me? What adjustments did you make in your training? What pitfalls should I look out for? If you could go back 10 years and change your approach, what would you do differently? Any insight, advice, recommendations or funny stories are appreciated!

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It may take me a few days but I'll write something up for you from my perspective anyways. I've been trying to write a book on this very subject but I'm not very focused and while I have some stuff done - it needs a lot of work to be called a book of any kind. The big problem I see with most people who are telling we "older gentlemen" :) how to train is they are being written by guys in their 20s and 30s - and they simply have no clue about the aging process and what its really like.

That old saying "if I knew I was going to live this long I would have taken better care of myself" takes on a different meaning these days.

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I'm really noticing a difference in my recovery ability since I crested the 40's.

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I'm coming up on 40, and it seems to me that good programming, nutrition, and focusing on excellent form have made certain feats a lot stronger now than when I was in my 20's.

The other thing I have found is that finding 'chinks in the armor' is particularly important. I'm always trying to find planes of movement or motion that are weak and fixing them. It helps keep the joints a lot more strong and stable, makes the primary movements stronger and prevents injury. Helps a lot with not waking up sore in the morning, and also helps me get off the floor or the couch.

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My God - you guys are younger than my kids :).

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My God - you guys are younger than my kids :).

... and you have cleaned a Gracie db. I haven't been able to even lift that yet.

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Lots of guys do not know when to set their egos aside as they age and use their head in their training. So, they deal with a lot of nagging pain and injuries that tend to linger.

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The botttom line is that I can still do most of the things I did many years ago, but I need more time to recover.

I have learned to space things out more accordingly, but started doing that many years ago when my work schedule and family commitments ate into my ability to train more than twice per week or get more than 5-6 hours of sleep per night. As I graduated to training twice per week, I found that this worked very well and have done this for the last 15 years or so. I think it has also enabled me to continue to do what I have enjoyed for so many years as well.

I tend to go a bit overboard when I am feeling good, so now I have disciplined myself to not overdo it when feeling good, or I will not feel so good (tired, achy and generally not recovered) for some time. I typically do not squat and deadlift in the same week any more. One week I will squat, and the next I will either deadlift or lift heavy stones. The other workouts of the week will consist of some sled pulling, or walking diagonal lunges and upper body work.

My schedule looks something like this:

Week One-Workout 1: Deadlift, pullover machine, presses, grip machine

Week One-Workout 2: Sled pull, pullups, pushups, chest crusher, curls, tricep machine, wrist roller

Week Two-Workout 1: Squats, pullover machine, presses, gippers

Week Two-Workout 2: Walking lunges, pullover machine, one arm dumbbell rows, isometric upper body work with iron shoe

I repeat this cycle, but in the next two week cycle, I will substitute stone lifting for deadlifts. I warm up well and limit the amount of work sets to a few.

Every so often, I will throw in some squat lockouts, deadlift lockouts or farmers walks in addition to what I am doing to spice things up, or if I know I can get some extra sleep.

This schedule is flexible, allows ample time for recovery, and keeps things fresh by not overdoing things on one exercise workout after workout. Most importantly, it works for me, and that is the most important thing- finding out what works for you by experimenting, and that means doing less in many cases.

This does not look like much on paper, but it is plenty of work, and I push myself very hard, but will not sacrifice form just to lift a weight. I am in this for the long haul. I believe that I can stay strong for many years to come. It is a matter of keeping the desire to do so, and I have worked way too hard to just let that go.

Edited by 3Crusher
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Lots of guys do not know when to set their egos aside as they age and use their head in their training. So, they deal with a lot of nagging pain and injuries that tend to linger.

I'm dealing with this at 34.

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If there is a secret to training into one’s old age – it’s probably to learn to understand yourself. Depending on anyone else to give you routines etc isn’t going to be as good as doing it on your own because each of us is completely unique in what we respond to both negatively and positively (and this isn’t just for older people). Something to think about is that there are 168 hours in a week and what you do in say the 163 or 4 hours you are not in the gym may be as important as the actual gym time. I’m retired and maybe you lay block ten hours a day in your 50s – I eat at home and sort of clean and you eat at Micky Ds six times a week – I don’t drink in excess and you pound a 6 pack every night after work - I’m pretty sure we need a much different approach to things training. So following any gurus advice may not take all this into account because he isn’t aware of all of this – even the best and brightest trainer or coach will have trouble if he isn’t there with you every day to see more than your online workout log. So if you’re say 50 and just starting to train you will no doubt need some help – but if you have been in the game for decades who should you listen to? Everyone and no one I feel. Read, listen, learn everywhere – but then be your own man (or women) and listen to your body and your mind – no one else is ever going to know you like you know yourself.

In regards to ego – (ego means I or self) It’s impossible to take that out of your training and your life of course but toning it down can be a good or not so good thing depending on the individual and their goals. What one person will look at as reckless training behavior will seem mild to someone else. What is important is if you “feel” good and are not injuring yourself either immediately or in the long run. Are your health markers medically good or is some aspect of your training – eating – lifestyle etc leading you in a bad (or good) direction? To me “training” encompasses more than just the workout. I look at it like everyone is training 7 days a week 24 hours a day. All the things you do outside the gym are just as important to long term health as the things you do in the gym and really become important as we age and probably become less active overall. Do you consider the walk you take every evening with the dog and the wife as a “workout”? Or is pushing yourself away from the table before that second helping “training”? Well I think everything is training and matters in the big picture.

There's a lot more that I could say but that's enough for now.

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It's such a "gradual" process, this aging business, that it is hard to offer much in specifics. I guess I think of Age 41 as young, because I did not touch a barbell between the ages of 24 and 44.

I suppose "listening to your body" would be real important. Brooks Kubik's book "Gray Hair Black Iron" is excellent, but I feel it is something one doesn't need until late 40s, after you have experienced yourself doing dumb things. If you can read it without getting overly cautious prematurely, I would say go for it. Nothing like it for aging lifters, very good.

What I have found is that even when coming back from an injury, and coming back very very slowly, the fact that you are adding weight...you eventually get back to some heavy weights! You definitely cannot get greedy on wanting fast gains...

When I was in my 20s I saw a short film on the great discus thrower Al Oerter (4 Olympic golds and 4 Olympic records, 1956-1968). He was trying to make a comeback in his mid to late 40s in the 1980s ("I want my 5th medal"). It was one of the most intriguing and inspirational stories I ever saw. He did not pull it off, but it was not for lack of trying. In training, he threw farther than he did decades earlier, but he would get injured, and it would take months to recover. That was repeated enough times that he eventually ran out of time. Ten, 15 years before I started back doing anything of a strength training nature, he was my hero. And, I guess, he still is my strength hero (died a few years back).

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It's such a "gradual" process, this aging business, that it is hard to offer much in specifics. I guess I think of Age 41 as young, because I did not touch a barbell between the ages of 24 and 44.

I suppose "listening to your body" would be real important. Brooks Kubik's book "Gray Hair Black Iron" is excellent, but I feel it is something one doesn't need until late 40s, after you have experienced yourself doing dumb things. If you can read it without getting overly cautious prematurely, I would say go for it. Nothing like it for aging lifters, very good.

What I have found is that even when coming back from an injury, and coming back very very slowly, the fact that you are adding weight...you eventually get back to some heavy weights! You definitely cannot get greedy on wanting fast gains...

When I was in my 20s I saw a short film on the great discus thrower Al Oerter (4 Olympic golds and 4 Olympic records, 1956-1968). He was trying to make a comeback in his mid to late 40s in the 1980s ("I want my 5th medal"). It was one of the most intriguing and inspirational stories I ever saw. He did not pull it off, but it was not for lack of trying. In training, he threw farther than he did decades earlier, but he would get injured, and it would take months to recover. That was repeated enough times that he eventually ran out of time. Ten, 15 years before I started back doing anything of a strength training nature, he was my hero. And, I guess, he still is my strength hero (died a few years back).

Mike after reading all your comments the last couple years on Gray Hair Black Iron I asked for and got a copy for Christmas last year. I thought it was the single worst training book I have ever read with maybe Matt Furey's as an exception - it's strange how different people look at it so differently.

Now Al Oerter we can agree on!

Edited by climber511

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It's such a "gradual" process, this aging business, that it is hard to offer much in specifics. I guess I think of Age 41 as young, because I did not touch a barbell between the ages of 24 and 44.

I suppose "listening to your body" would be real important. Brooks Kubik's book "Gray Hair Black Iron" is excellent, but I feel it is something one doesn't need until late 40s, after you have experienced yourself doing dumb things. If you can read it without getting overly cautious prematurely, I would say go for it. Nothing like it for aging lifters, very good.

What I have found is that even when coming back from an injury, and coming back very very slowly, the fact that you are adding weight...you eventually get back to some heavy weights! You definitely cannot get greedy on wanting fast gains...

When I was in my 20s I saw a short film on the great discus thrower Al Oerter (4 Olympic golds and 4 Olympic records, 1956-1968). He was trying to make a comeback in his mid to late 40s in the 1980s ("I want my 5th medal"). It was one of the most intriguing and inspirational stories I ever saw. He did not pull it off, but it was not for lack of trying. In training, he threw farther than he did decades earlier, but he would get injured, and it would take months to recover. That was repeated enough times that he eventually ran out of time. Ten, 15 years before I started back doing anything of a strength training nature, he was my hero. And, I guess, he still is my strength hero (died a few years back).

Mike after reading all your comments the last couple years on Gray Hair Black Iron I asked for and got a copy for Christmas last year. I thought it was the single worst training book I have ever read with maybe Matt Furey's as an exception - it's strange how different people look at it so differently.

Now Al Oerter we can agree on!

When I wrote what I wrote 3 years ago, I never spoke to a single person about it, never read what another had to say about it, and there may not have been any reviews of it. I just now spent about an hour on the Internet and read what others had to say, including the lowest review on Amazon (2 stars). Most loved it. The two star critic may have complained about the workouts and said it could have been 20% shorter. Heck, I couldn't care less about ANY of the workouts, and I think the book could have been 60% shorter. And some other fellow who liked the book mentioned that there are competitor older Oly WLers doing what Kubik is saying you ought not do. It was the repetitive talking of aging that I liked. Most younger people do not "get it". You obviously do, and if you were a lawyer (writing is one thing many lawyers are good at) or a journalist you could write a better book than any that has been published so far.

I tend to stay "general", as in my post #11, which is very general. Sometimes the entire forum seems to want to be very specific, something I don't think is a good idea, like giving tax advice or investment advice over the Internet.

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By the way, every post on this thread so far has some really good stuff. This may end up being one of the best threads on the forum.

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Mike one of the things I notice these days is how much my perception of age changes as I age personally. I can remember when I thought anyone over 50 was simply ancient and had at least one foot in the grave already - now I think of them as "those young whippersnappers". One of the things that bugs me is when guys in their 30s talk about being "old" and how they need to do so much differently than when they were "young". Yes of course you will need some small adjustments from being a teenager to 30 but that mental image they are putting forth to themselves is not going to serve them well in 30 years. As Mike mentioned the aging process is one sneaky little fellow - but I think you can help or hurt yourself quite a bit with the mental process you use to view age and your place in it. If you "think" old you will be old. If you think young, you will still be old - but in a much different way. Age might be a reason but it should never be an excuse.

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Staying consistent with the recurring theme of taking better care of yourself, I've recently started putting a much bigger emphasis on stretching and mobility work after realizing that the lack thereof has been the source of many of the aches, pains and lingering soreness I get from training. This is the one aspect of training that I have really let slip over the years and I'm determined to return to some former glory and never be that neglectful again.

Thank you to all the experienced guys chiming in on this thread! Your experience and insight is invaluable to everyone on this board.

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This whole area of aging well is one I have obviously given a lot of thought to

The real problem with growing older

Every time age comes up on a forum related to strength or athletic performance the first thing that comes up is recovery – how we can’t do what we once could and how it takes more rest between workouts etc. It’s usually the first thing discussed. Once in a while injuries get thrown in the mix. But I have come to believe the most insidious aspect to the subject is the erosion of confidence (belief in oneself) that age brings with it. As kids most of us believed we were ten foot tall and bulletproof so to speak. We “knew” we could do IT – whatever that IT might be and so away we went, trying anything that could be thought of by an agile young mind. And even if it didn’t work out every time our belief didn’t waver that whatever life threw at us we could handle it. But adulthood brings reality and failures – and confidence erodes – so slowly and gradually that we hardly notice until one day you wake up and say those words you never dreamed of in relation to yourself – “I’m too old”. But the truth is it’s probably your mind saying no and your body is still pretty capable – maybe not at that same youthful level of performance but you don’t even try anymore and soon enough what you have come to believe is now true. I think those people who are still out there doing things as they age are those whose belief lasted longer in the possible. Oh sure there is no doubt a decline and expectations will change but the “I’m too old” excuse starts way too young for many people.

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I think that in some ways 'older' people will be at an advantage in terms of better understanding how their body works, what is unique about their skeletal structure, what types of programs they respond to, and also having the patience to work through programs and know that the gains will come. If they consider that, maybe that can be motivation.

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It's not just a mind thing in my opinion. In fact there a ton of older guys out there that have all the passion and "let's go for it" attitude. The problem is their mind is a "go" but their bodies tend to hold them back.

I think eventually goal adjustment becomes necessary and there is nothing wrong with that. Because most of the time there are things that were not done when young that can be done older.

Take myself. I am in way better condition now at over 50 than I was in my 20's. Why? Because I know more now for one. Could I have attained an even better condition than now back in my 20's. Yes, for sure. But, that's the rub in all of this. I didn't have the ability at the time. :)

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One of the nice things about "getting old" is that I think we still don't know what "Old Guys" (and Gals) are actually capable of, even avoiding the factor of HRT and the like. I really don't think in many sports that we'll get a good handle of what can be done at "Veteran" Level (which for some sports is 35 / 40) for a good twenty years yet.

I'd be very interested in knowing what Oerter was doing in 1980 that he wasn't doing in 1956.

Another question is - in the future - will Master's sports be dominated by athletes extending their careers or relative "newbies" who don't have the mileage and injuries, or somewhere in between?

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My overriding goal at this point in my life is to “age well” – whatever that means. I believe that setting and reaching goals is important for me – I seem to work best with a carrot to chase. When I was 56 I came up with the idea for a 60 – 60 list – it was simply “feats” of strength and/or fitness. The idea was to come up with a list of 60 (or more) things to accomplish before I turned 60 years old. Next came the 65 x 65 and now it’s on to a 70 x 70 list. The current list has well over a hundred items on it and now has two parts for the first time. At my age now changes are happening so much faster than before that I have goals to do at any time between 65 and 70 and a list I want to still be able to do when I actually turn 70 – it’s a wishful guessing game of course. The list encompasses all areas of health and fitness – from blood work numbers and vacations with the wife (mental health) and kids to one rep max strength – body weight and gymnastics movements – oddball things like holding my breath for a minute, endurance feats and on and on. I don’t do a lot of specific training for them - just once in a while I give an item a shot to see what happens. If my overall training program is working for me as I want it to do then I succeed or come close – if not maybe I need to adjust something. It has things on it that vary from very easy to probably impossible (for me) and each list has become easier than the last as time moves on. Some lifts I now consider as simply unsafe anymore for me and are not on the current list that were on earlier ones. Poundage goals have been lowered as well over the years – trying to project what I might be able to do at 70 is a daunting task. I can visualize the 90 by 90 list now – gum my food, try not to piddle in my pants, remember where I put the remote etc :sleeping:

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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O9d9Of1NJjs

Fred Beckey - I've known Fred for years and run into him from time to time back in the mountains. First time I met him I thought he was dead - way back in the Sierras he was laying just off the trail taking a nap. Probably 15 or so years ago - he's still out there - I sure hope I will be when I get there.

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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O9d9Of1NJjs

Fred Beckey - I've known Fred for years and run into him from time to time back in the mountains. First time I met him I thought he was dead - way back in the Sierras he was laying just off the trail taking a nap. Probably 15 or so years ago - he's still out there - I sure hope I will be when I get there.

Awesome video.

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