• Joshua Li

Keep Pushing Hard After 30


For those who have been lifting at impressive levels there has to be a reality check when the 30th birthday comes around. After a certain age the levels of weight lifted can't just keep increasing, no matter how big or strong you are. The health benefits of strength training are undeniable and it's tempting to want to keep pushing on but our bodies start to have new limits at a certain point.

There has to be a compromise as we age, and if we want to still be doing this into our 70's then adjustments have to be made and realities accepted. It's just a fact that record-breaking achievements in any sport are normally the domain of athletes in their 20's, and Herculean lifts and other inspiring strength based feats are no different.

Power-lifters and strongmen, due to their bulk, always appear older than they are but in fact are generally are in their twenties , and peak around mid-twenties. At a certain point there really aren't exceptions to age having an effect of declining ability to lift heavier. For those over 30 there's a realization that with those years of experience a toll has been taken on the joints and pushing to levels not suitable any more will ultimately result in more exaggerated wear and tear and risk of lasting injury. Bravado has to take a back seat and training for the over 30's has to include considerations of easing off on the levels of weights for continuity. There's no reason for us to not continue be lifting into later years if the right changes are made to our training. Its purely a matter of training smarter.

1) Reps

For the recreational lifter the way to continue to build muscle and strength whilst avoiding over-stress of the joints is to increase reps but use lighter weights. A lifter should have no risk of injury when doing sets of 10-12 if the weight is up to 75% of his maximum. The endurance factor is important at this age and the way to successfully build is not to be racing against the clock but to go through the reps carefully and steadily, and with sufficient rest, and of course good form.

2) Train Heavy for limited periods

It isn't necessary to always train to the max. This is the time to slow down a little and then you can continue to train year round. The body can't take a battering at this stage and longevity and sustained medium level strength and muscle building is the new focus. You only have to look at the restricted movement of retired power-lifters to see what damage can be done if stress is not reduced in good time.

3) Diversification of the Routine

Bearing in mind that each fitness goal generally comes at the expense of others this is the time to diversify your exercise choices. There will no longer be focus only on the big lifts, pulls and squats so there will be time to devote to a more varied routine. Exercises can concentrate on a mix of endurance, mobility, flexibility and coordination, and in the long run produce lasting health and overall fitness.

4) Going heavy for the new regime

For the over 30's going heavy has a different meaning, but with the years of experience you've gained by this stage you will know your body well enough to push it without over-stressing. You can work the muscles just as hard but by manipulating your reps and using lighter weights you will do this with out risk. It is no longer the time to go so hard and push to the max. Take pauses and apply tempos and you will continue to train and gain strength for years to come. Use this as you age and instead of looking at your true PR redefine your PR by seeing how much you can lift with a 4-second negative and full pause at the bottom.

Good form is essential and so is plenty of work but with a new regime and consideration of suitable weights there will be years of training ahead, with minimal risk of injury, and you can continue to maintain strength, build muscle tone and reap the rewards of your training. Listen to your body and focus on your personal progress and gains.

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