You have to keep after it. You have to keep training.
And it should be done. There are many benefits to getting stronger as you age. The least of which is the slowing of your aging process that occurs after implementing a strength building program.
Getting started is the subject of this post. The problems you will likely encounter and a strategy for designing your fitness programs will be addressed. This is the first in a series of posts aimed at getting you started in a program that will provide eye-popping results.
Just add water and a lot of sweat.
The first step is to recognize your limitations and develop a plan to overcome them. Yes this is probably easier said than done but it certainly can be accomplished.
You will likely have some or all of the following issues:
Assessment of where you are today and what you are capable of doing is a critical factor in your fitness success.
Strength solves all problems.
Trust me on this. You want to be strong. Think about this:
Strength is like your container that holds all your stuff. The bigger your container, the more strength, power and stamina it holds. I think this is a Dan John analogy. (If you like a quick read and want to learn from a pro, read this Dan John book. Or this one. He is a good story-teller and these books are as much about life as about lifting.)
Anyway, back to the size of your strength container.
Let’s say I am twice as strong as you and we go on a fast-paced, 3000 vertical feet hike together. We both take the same number of steps and you do your best to keep up with my blistering pace.
Why are you so tired at the end and I am feeling invigorated?
You had to use twice as much of your strength reserves as I did. You had to recruit twice as many muscles fibers into action as I did. Because I am stronger, I easily completed the hike with energy to spare. You used all your juice.
So take it slow. Assess your limitations first.
You may not be ready for lifting weights yet. That’s fine.
After all, the goal is not to be able to bench press a certain amount or squat 2X your body weight. Lifting weight is just a functional exercise to gain strength.
You want practical results. You want to be able to:
These are practical reasons for fitness.
Weight training is one method to gain functional strength that allows you to perform practical, everyday tasks without injury.
That’s all you need to remember.
You want to be able to perform the five basic movements.
These practical moves are needed almost on a daily basis to get yourself through life without injury:
This stuff happens all the time. It’s called life.
You can see how mundane, everyday life requires you to perform these practical moves. Life is about movement and unrestricted, pain-free movement is what you want. You need to be able to perform the five basic moves successfully. Or you’re going to be grumpy. Test yourself. See where you are. Which ones can you do pretty well and where do you need some help?
Make your initial assessment of where you are today. You will have some mobility limitations. No problem. It is expected. You’ll just have to start working on them. Mobility work has to be part of your plan. Every home gym needs a good foam roller for muscle knots and working out trigger points. This basic foam roller is all you really need to get started and the price is right.
This is where I see a lot of you falling down. You don’t have a strategy for building muscle mass after 50 that makes sense. You really don’t know what you’re doing. The explosion of the kettle bell onto the gym scene provides a great example.
There is a saying in lifting circles:
Don’t add speed to dysfunction.
This likely describes your kettle bell swing. You don’t have the basic movement down but you’ve advanced to a complex, dynamic lift. This is how injuries happen. [adsense]
There are four levels of assessment and progression you should learn about.
The kettle bell swing is a dynamic lift. It is a complex move that requires a solid foundation of strength, coordination and properly patterned movement to perform it correctly. Why are you doing it when you haven’t learned the basic hip-hinge movement yet? Because everybody else is doing it, that’s why. Learn the basics first. You’ll ultimately progress faster and you won’t get injured.
The next post will delve into our first movement, the upper body push and describe a progression of exercises you can do to move yourself along the path to improved strength with full range of motion. Building muscle over 50 years old starts with simple, non-weighted exercises. Learn the basics, get some confidence and move forward. Your progress is only limited by your willingness to work for it. See you on the next post.
photo credit: Huffington Post
Mark aka The Old Spartan and Over-50 Fitness Savior is a 61 year old coffee guzzling father of five wandering the outdoors around Albuquerque, New Mexico. Mark helps Men Over 50 get lean, healthy and strong so they can be cool dads and grand dads using his signature Spartan Method system.
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