Too many people are apprehensive with the idea of beginning a weight lifting regime as they get older. Don’t let this be you!
You can be quite successful at beginning weight training at ANY age. Weightlifting has many benefits, at any adult age. If you’re just beginning to train, you should definitely take some precautionary measures. That’s what this article is about. It’s a different set of rules if you’ve been lifting for years and just getting older by nature.
Just because your body is older and recovery takes longer, it’s no excuse to not undertake weight training, and to not do it right!
When proper planning and cautions are utilized, you have little to fear. In fact, you have a lot to look forward to! Contrary to popular belief, it is possible to drastically change your physique and your lifestyle, at ANY age. Lucky for you guys, Gone Liftin’ is going to discuss some of the major benefits, as well the do’s and dont’s of weight lifting for the advanced age athlete.
Let’s face facts – you are no longer 20, and you can’t expect to go to the gym, bust your ass day in and day out, and recover with a good night’s rest, then go back and do it again. Those over 40 cannot just throw precaution and planning to the wind by going to the gym and winging it.
Proper planning, proper steps, proper nutrition, and proper assessment are all components of successfully getting into, and staying, in the weight training life!
6 Rules to Follow for People Weight-training Over 40
While we like the article, some of the aspects of it we don’t agree with. We will outline the steps recommended in this article, and then discuss why we do or don’t agree with each step:
1. Start Slowly
Good, sound advice!
No matter your age, starting slowly and gradually and building a strong foundation is imperative to long term success in any field, let alone the rigors of weight training.
As with any new activity, it’s important that you start into it slowly, giving your body time to accommodate to the new stress being placed upon it. Weight training is no exception to this rule, in fact, it’s applies even more so than other exercises.
Weight training can be grueling and unrelenting in the beginning. It is important to know what you are going to do, and do it at a gradual pace, so that your body has the proper time and tools to adapt to the added stress, and recover properly!
Agree or Disagree? Gone Liftin’ wholeheartedly agrees!
2. See A Trainer
Another must is seeing a personal trainer. Unless you’re someone who has been training for years and is now just increasing in age, it’s important that you get started using the correct form.
Trainers are supposedly experts in the field of fitness and nutrition. Yea, ok…
Sure there are trainers that are truly refined in their fields, but some trainers are complete hacks teaching generic, cookie cutter methods with no real gain to be had past a certain point – and that point comes quick.
Most trainers will have men doing sets of 8-12 repetitions, and women doing 12-15 repetitions, with the same exercises each week, without changing intensity or technique. Sure, in the beginning that’ll help, but it will quickly become bland, and you will plateau.
Seeing a trainer is not necessarily a bad idea, as far as learning proper form and variety of exercises goes. In our opinion, you would be better off seeking advanced help, whether from an established strength and conditioning coach with proper credentials, or scouring the internet (or just hanging out at Gone Liftin’) for all the research materials you could possibly need.
It is not difficult to learn and implement proper form, lifting techniques, tempos, duration, without a trainer.
Agree or Disagree? We at Gone Liftin’ are on the fence about seeing a personal trainer at a local, commercial gym.
While some good can come of it, overall it is a waste of money if you continue to see a trainer past learning proper form and different exercises. 2 to 3 sessions with a trainer would be good to get you started, but beyond that you are just throwing away your hard earned money.
Note: this is all based depending on the type of trainer you are seeing. The adage is that those “personal trainers” that take on 10-12 clients a day are not really after your best interests, but more after your cash … Choose wisely!
3. Weight Train 3 to 4 Times A Week Max
Regardless of whether you’re new to weight lifting or are already quite experienced, as someone who is over 40 you really want to consider the total number of days you’re hitting the gym for weight training.
The idea is that with your advanced age, recovery halts significantly and more rest is needed between workouts.
This is partially true and partially false. At any age, genetics play a huge role in determining your fitness levels.
One cannot simply say “if you’re over 40, don’t lift more than 3-4 times a week!” This is hogwash, and totally untrue. While it is smart to monitor your rest and recovery with the utmost importance, if your body can handle more than 3-4 days a week of working out, then by all means, take advantage!
Athletes of all ages can get away with training 6, or even 7 days a week! You don’t have to go to the gym and bust your ass with weights for hours on end. You can throw variety into your workouts – plyometrics, explosive training, anaerobic work, cardio, etc.
There is no commandment saying that you MUST stop working out after 4 days max! Sure, you need rest and recovery like the next guy, and maybe more depending on who you are. But listening to your body is the number one determining factor, not some golden “rule.”
Agree or Disagree? Gone Liftin’ disagrees! If your body and mind can handle it, and you recovery properly, and can handle the rigors, then by all means work that bod!
4. Be Sure You’re Eating Right
Nutrition is king – first and foremost, always!
Don’t ever think that your work is done after you leave the gym. The foods you put into your body to fuel your workout with and recover from each session are going to have a big impact on the results you see.
As people get older, they are under the impression that they will gain and hold onto weight easier. This is somewhat true, but it is no reason to let your caloric intake fall to dangerously low levels.
Proper nutrition and adequate hydration is THE foundation that your lifestyle is built on. Upping your calories is actually the answer, not lowering it.
With the added expenditure from working out, your body will need to be replenished with proper, nutritious, organic foods, in order to maintain your health and energy optimally. Don’t skimp out on a meal because you think you are eating too many calories. Worry more about the nutrients and your macros, and things will fall into place!
Agree or Disagree? We could not agree more!
5. Don’t Forget To Stretch
Hmm… a topic with varying recommendations.
While younger individuals are often advised to include regular stretching as part of their program, this advice doubles for adults over 40. At this point in your life you are going to find that your muscles and ligaments are starting to tighten up to a larger degree than normal, therefore you need to be doing what you can to stay nice and limber.
When we think of stretching, we think of holding a static stretch for a certain amount of time, and moving on to the next muscle and so on and so forth. And that is indeed what stretching is.
There is, however, varying forms of “stretching” depending on the weightlifting-specific sport some are involved in.
There is dynamic stretching, static stretching, and isometric stretching, or PNF stretching. We are not going to get into the specifics of stretching, as we have a good article you should read called When Should I Stretch? How Should I Stretch?
Remember that the greater the range of motion you’re able to move through, the better results you’ll get from the weight lifting movements you perform, therefore this is one thing you definitely do not want to neglect.
Agree or Disagree? Gone Liftin’ agrees!
6. Watch Your Total Volume
This rule applies to everyone, not just lifters over 40.
This also falls back on the aforementioned topic of “Weight Train 3 to 4 Times A Week Max” Training volume is important to monitor and plan properly, but it also falls back on the premise that if your body can handle it, and recover properly, then keep your volume at levels that you are comfortable with and seeing results with.
Ideally you should be aiming for between 20-30 sets total each workout, which should be easily accomplished if you utilize the main core lifts and remove out isolated exercises that aren’t offering as many benefits.
This is more a “general” rule of thumb, but it does not hurt to build on the above principles.
Agree or Disagree? Gone Liftin’ cannot help but to agree.
Don’t Let Age Stop You!
That about covers the main components of getting into weigh training for advanced age lifters. We hope we have shed some light on how to begin a regime if you are over 40, and we urge you to plan properly, work out properly, and recover even more properly. Happy lifting, old heads!