Aging is a never-ending battle and a fight we won’t win. I myself have even noticed significant changes as I recently turned 30. But I am doing everything in my power, daily, to limit the side effects of another birthday. In our late 20s or early 30s, we all start to lose muscle mass and function. The cause is age-related sarcopenia. Physically inactive people can lose as much as 3 – 5% of their muscle mass each decade after age 30. Even if you are active, you’ll still have some muscle loss.
That why prioritizing strength as you age is so important. If you’re reading this and you’re over the age of 30 you have likely participated in some type of strength training program. Strength is the foundation of being athletic. But have you performed movements that challenge and equip you with athleticism. The answer to that likely is…. NO.
Understanding the body works as a single organism and that you are only as capable or strong as your weakest link.
When it comes to our own athletic development, we need to remain objective and look at our own fitness and athleticism through a clear, unbiased lens. But first we need to know the pillars of athleticism are so you can recognize them. I will give a brief synopsis of each, but if you want a more detailed discussion check our instagram HERE.
STRENGTH: The ability to exert force.
POWER: The ability to exert force, quickly.
MOBILITY: The ability to get to and use the most efficient and effective range of motion for a movement task.
AGILITY: How quickly can you move from one pattern to another.
STABILITY: The ability to resist force.
BALANCE: The ability to maintain a given posture in relation to the force of gravity.
CAPACITY: Both anaerobic and aerobic. The amount of work you can perform AND positively adapt from.
COORDINATION: The ability to move efficiently and effectively for a movement task in relation to the environment.
ADAPTABILITY: The ability to respond to the situation, environment, and context. An output that can be negative or positive.
RESILIENCY: The ability to manage negative internal and external stress.
HOW TO STAY ATHLETIC AT YOUR NEXT BIRTHDAY
TRAIN WHOLE BODY
Implementing exercises that involve the entire body in one movement will create global awareness and tension; which is what athletes do. Ideas include: Overhead Landmine Reverse Lunge, DB Snatch, KB Deadlift Highpull, and Landmine RDL Rows. The body is a single organism and foot position influences rib cage position during training. We don’t move in parts, we move in patterns.
TRAIN THE CORE TO RESIST and PRODUCE FORCE.
Ditch the ab crunches and sit-ups. Use the core the way it was meant to be used. You will get infinitely stronger and more athletic once you learn to use the core (pelvis-lowback) to resist movement. That’s right. It’s about anti-extension, anti-rotation, anti-sidebending. Once you can resist force in that area you can then learn how to link the upper body and body for maximal gainzzz; thru the core. Producing force through the shoulders and hips begins with the core. Make sure you have some medicine balls on hands and toss them!
TRAIN OUTSIDE OF THE SAGITTAL PLANE
You most likely spend the majority of your time in the gym moving in one plane of motion. You go up and down, forward and back. Outside the gym, of course, it’s a different story: You twist, you turn, you bend. You step in all directions. You’re a three-dimensional mover. Start moving in the frontal plane by doing some lateral lunges or lateral bounds and start rotating with some medball tosses and landmine rotational presses.
TRAIN WITH THE INTENT OF MOVING FAST
Drop the ego, drop the weight, and move fast. Power development is best trained in the 30-45% intensity range for less reps. Try to move the weight through the concentric phase quickly as possible! Have you every tried to pick up something you thought would be heavy, and then were surprised by how quickly you lifted it? This is your brain using past experience to predict how much effort it should use to perform a task. Speed, strength, and power are ultimately outputs of your brain. How you approach the task is as important as how you execute the task.
The use of plyometrics training to develop functional strength has been extensively investigated in younger adults and athletes. But what about in older adults? New research and science tells us plyometrics are good for muscle development, tendon health, cartilage regeneration, and beyond. I recommend having at least a 3-4 month resistance training cycle in your rear-view. From there once you possess and can demonstrate adequate strength and capacity; you can start with one plyometric session per week.
Simple as this:
3 sets of 3 reps jumping up to a 20 inch box. Think (touch the ceiling with each jump).
Yes. Being able to move through a full range of motion will allow you to better produce muscle tension and force. think of it as a rubber band. The more tension and elongation you place on it, the more force potential it has. Prioritizing mobility is easy and here a few actionable strategies.
Spend 10 minutes with targeted and individualized stretching prior to your current training.
Sign up for a Yoga class 1-2x per week.
Understand that having big muscles is useless outside of performance and health. Change your mindset away from aesthetics and have a deeper relationship with your training, body, and movement.
End each workout with a 5-10 minute mobility session. This is the best time to make significant changes in your mobility because post activation potential.
THREE RULES OF ATHLETIC DEVELOPMENT
1) Have a system. Systems help us develop strategic programs based on individual constraints and goals. They hold us accountable and they are repeatable and standardized. If you do not know what you a measuring how can you improve it?
2) Understand that you are not training to be a world class athlete. You are training to be the best version of yourself. From a provider standpoint; you are not training elite weightlifters or powerlifters. You have to understand how development of these pillars carries over to their goals, lifestyle, and overall development.
3) Be an athlete everyday. Not just 1, 2, or 3 days per week. Never underestimate the power of consistent efforts compounded over time. This is a life-longer pursuit. Not a checked box at the end of the day.