Fitness levels, recovery periods and the body’s response to exercise changes as we get older.
How does a person over 40 get a workout that gives them results while still avoiding injury, overtraining and overtaxing your nervous system?
On this episode, Jay Campbell talks with fitness coach and writer Bryan Krahn, who provides a guide for training in your 40s.
If you’re a recreational gym guy, you’re not going to overtrain but it is very likely that you can overtax your nervous system especially if you have a stressful lifestyle. You can go beyond your ability to recuperate and you have to learn to be very intuitive, beyond looking at your log book and seeing if your weights are going up.
Listen to the full episode:
We started off the episode with the core topic of the day – fitness over 40. On the subject Bryan says it’s impossible to prescribe a blanket statement to an entire age group but there are key trends that have to be modified because you’re aging. There are people that respond much better and that’s because they come from an active background and follow a quasi-athlete lifestyle.
For older people, when your training, nutritional and lifestyle factors are dialed in you actually look better because you’re neurologically more efficient. Also, if you’ve been training for 25 years consistently with an appreciable load, your muscles develop a hardness and density that doesn’t happen over a short period of time.
Bryan added a key benefit to training when you’re older, “you get good at this, you figure out how your body works and you allow yourself to get into a really good rhythm. When you’re young you jump from trend to trend but when you’re older you figure out what truly works for you.”
To develop the kind of mastery that benefits your physique it’s important to get into habit and learn your body. “Everyone has a slightly different recovery pattern and mental things that keep them engaged and you learn what those things are.”
Jay then turned the discussion to the matter of programming. Bryan stated that he had to draw a line in the sand when it came to strength training even though there’s a huge push for it online.
“too high of an intensity and too much junk volume is what you have to curtail as you get older.” If you keep busting heavy loads and low rep sets it crushes you way faster than doing normal body building sets.
It’s way less impactful, you bounce back faster and it builds a better physique and there’s less risk of injury.
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Bryan aims to get his older clients out of the habit of loading more bars and more into the training experience, figuring out baseline volume and working their way up.
On the subject of isolation exercises for older people, Byran said:,
“isolation work is important because it allows you to have a much more focused and better mind to muscle connection, there’s a lower risk potential, you won’t injure yourself as much”.
Jay and Bryan then focus in on overtraining, which Bryan calls “the boogie man of body building.”
People over 40 typically are not overtraining and doing things like bench presses because their shoulders can’t handle that anymore. Strength training is something many glamorize but it can cause injury if you’re not built for it.
For most people who go to the gym recreationally, you’re not going to overtrain but you might overreach – especially if your lifestyle isn’t aligned to your workout regimen.
Bryan reminded us to look out for the signs, which include things like negative self-talk and feeling like exercise is a chore. When this happens, it’s time to do a little less work and get some sleep. Jay closed the interview with a question about the cardio and resistance training balance when you’re older. He said he leans more on the strength training side but he uses cardio as a stress management tool, a good stress management tool.
Bryan’s tips for training over 40 are to start off with a realistic assessment of where you are, focusing on the quality of your work in the gym instead of performance. Lastly and most importantly make sure you avoid injury because it sets you back and recovery is harder when you’re older.
Guest Bio- Bryan Krahn is a personal trainer, fitness writer, blogger, online physique coach and creator of The Physique Mastery Principles. He specializes “in helping make ordinary bodies look incredible.” Bryan is also a “semi-serious physique athlete,” who enjoys building a lean, muscular, aesthetic body which he believes makes him a better coach.
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