"Twenty somethings" can put their bodies through hell. They can lift heavy weights every day, train to failure, use bad form, eat like crap and still make gains. And amazingly they don’t seem to ever hurt themselves.
The body is an amazing organism. It adapts, strengthens, grows, survives extreme conditions and conforms itself to the hardships placed upon it.
Unfortunately, our bodies age. And as they do, their ability to strengthen, adapt and grow diminishes.
Continuing to train like you did in your twenties into your fifties isn’t going to yield the same kinds of dividends it did way back when. Actually, training with that kind of fervor and blatant disregard for your safety and ability to recover will kill your chances of making significant improvements to your physical condition later in life.
You’ll wind up injured, reeling in pain, unable to get out of bed, or all of the above.
You need to train smarter, with your age-specific goals in mind.
First, you don’t need to be worried about building herculean amounts of muscle mass. If you’re incredibly lacking in muscle, it certainly won’t hurt to build a few pounds of lean mass. However, your concern should be on feeling good in your own skin, having energy, enhancing vitality and longevity.
50 Isn’t Dead
Make no mistake. For most, 50 years old is barely over half their life expectancy. But just because you aren’t close to “kicking the bucket” doesn’t mean you needn’t be concerned with your age when it comes to your training plan.
If you’ve been engulfed in intense weight training your entire life, you may not know any other way. I’m here to tell you that there is another way and it’s time for you to embrace it.
We’ll get to the proper way to weight train after 50 years of age in a moment. Let’s first look at the priorities of training after 50.
I mentioned earlier that building massive muscles shouldn’t be the concern for most after the half-century mark. So it isn’t necessary to go killing your knees with heavy squats and risking the development of a herniated disk from the spinal flexion induced by dead lifting at your 3 rep max weight anymore.
You’ll want to continue placing a certain level of emphasis on building/maintaining strength and muscle mass, but the concern for those over 50 should primarily be on cardiovascular health.
Heart conditions are the number one killer of those over 60 in the world and there isn’t any sign that this is going to be changing anytime soon. While it certainly feels great to look good with your shirt off, it’s what’s “under the hood” that is of paramount importance at this stage in your life.
This isn’t to say that you can’t look lean and muscular after 50. I’m just saying that your priorities need to change from what they were when you were a “young buck”. Instead of being only concerned with the way you look in a bathing suit, you need to give some attention to the health of your life-source - your heart.
I feel like I’ve belabored the point, so now it’s time to get into some specifics regarding what a post 50 training regimen should look like.
Training After 50 Years Old
As you may have guessed from the preceding paragraphs, training after 50 should place an emphasis on cardio training.
Cardio training is a concept that’s made to be far too complicated nowadays. Cardio is nothing more than performing some kind of activity that will elevate your heart rate and allow you to maintain it in an elevates state for a prolonged amount of time.
Running, jogging, elliptical workouts, using a rowing machine, walking on a stair machine, and interval sprints are all examples of acceptable cardio workouts.
Most youngsters can get by with three days of cardio training per week. If you’re over 50 this should be scaled up to as many as five days each week.
Weight training after 50 should also be modified.
There’s no need to kill your joints and tendons with heavy and strenuous weights performed to failure 5 days a week.
Performing 8-12 reps with weights that are challenging and hitting each muscle group once per week is sufficient.
And there’s no need to train to failure. Your final rep should be the point where you can do one more rep if you really push it. There’s no need to place any more strain on your muscles than that and risk injury.
The Over 50 Diet
Regardless of your age, the food you’re putting in your body deserves your undivided attention. But as you get older the foods you eat are going to have a larger impact on your health and the results you see from your training and your overall health.
Once you’ve surpassed the 50 mark you need to be more diligent in eating fresh and organic. You should be eating mostly fresh fruits, vegetables, wild caught fish, grass fed beef and poultry & dairy products.
Avoiding meat and poultry that have been administered growth hormones and antibiotics and supplementing with fish oil, Maca and a multivitamin is also a good idea.
This kind of diet will minimize joint inflammation, optimize your heart health and keep your metabolism running in high gear.
And, of course, calories are important. Maintaining a healthy weight is essential, so make sure you’re watching the scale and sticking around a healthy weight.
If your weight ever starts to get out of control, it’s time to decrease the calories a bit.
Keep a healthy weight, train smart, make cardio a priority and eat well. These aspects are essential at any age, but even more so after 50.
Do these things and you’ll set yourself to live another 50 years, and live it to the fullest!