First off, I can’t personally vouch for training after 40 because I am not yet to that point in my life. I’m only 33:)
But what I can say is that I have worked with several males over the age of 40 and have found some good success with it.
The first question to ask is.. Should training over 40 be any different than training prior to 40? Why? Why not?
Let’s break it down a little. What are the components of training/exercise?
We have strength, power, endurance/cardio, mobility, flexibility, soft tissue, etc.
So what kind of person needs all of these? I would say everyone needs each and every one of these aspects of training to be the best athlete, human, dad, grandfather, son, or employee they can be.
I think what really matters (depending on where we are on this aging continuum) is the amount of focus we place on each of the above training components.
Research has shown there are many benefits to training after 40 (or 30). As we age, we lose muscle mass. We lose the ability to move quickly (aka power). Our muscles get tighter because we aren’t as active as we once were. Since we don’t move as much, we aren’t working our heart and lungs like we once did.
Obviously training after 40 is a big deal..but only if you want to age gracefully. If not, stop reading now!
Now, let’s quickly break down each training component and discuss why it’s important:
- Strength training should be done 2-4 times a week. Preferably a full body workout. With movements that somewhat mimic the basic human movements (squat, hinge, push, pull, and carry). Isolating muscle groups won’t allow you to age gracefully. You aren’t a bodybuilder. You are a human that wants to rid yourself of aches and pains. Whether you have to pick up a bag of mulch for your partner or pick up a screaming child/dog, you should be able to do it without the thought of, “Am I strong enough to do this?” Oh yea, it can also help in the production of testosterone. That’s kind of important. So lift heavy!
- Power has been shown to decrease significantly as we age. Think of an older gentleman tripping over the curb. You see it happen and know for a fact that he will continue falling to the ground. Now take that same man and introduce some power training in his life..His “fall” might end differently if he is able to react and take a step forward with his other foot. Power training:) Don’t forget about having to sprint into the road to grab your 3 year old before she gets hit by an oncoming car. Power training!
- Endurance/cardio is important. I mean..it’s your heart and lungs. You need those 100% to sustain life. If they don’t function optimally, your life becomes a little if not a lot harder. It’s ok to do long, slow distance on a cardio machine, but every once in a while you gotta do some sprints on the bike or whatever your desired piece of equipment is. This will help you recover during your strength training sessions. Shoot for 2-3 days a week.
- Flexibility and mobility work is not often performed by men. Especially older men. They don’t deem it manly. Get over yourself. This is a major reason this population suffers from aches and pains. Yeah you can strength train all day, but you have to be able to lengthen the muscles back to a desired length. How many males do you see in yoga? Exactly. Do some mobility/flexibility work so you can continue to lift heavy things and put them down. This type of training can be performed before, during, or after your strength work.
- Soft tissue work is something that may not be at the top of an over 40 male’s list, but it should be. Foam rolling can do wonders for those that are “stiff”. It helps loosen muscles, helps rid your body of knots, and makes you feel good (after the fact, of course:)
You get the point. A well-rounded training program includes all of these. If you aren’t doing all of these, you are certainly missing out.
Most people (men especially) stay away from the things they aren’t good at. As these are limiting factors, you won’t reach YOUR pinnacle of awesomeness if you have these limitations holding you back.
If you are a male you know someone that is interested in having an exact program that addresses each of the fitness components discussed here or if you want some ideas of what types of exercises you should be doing, reach out to me HERE.
Photo Credit: Synergy180