T Nation

Age, Power, SPEED


#1

Hi Coach,
I have been following your work/programmes for close to a decade.
I have had particularly good results from your “Black book”, CAD and low rep power progressions.
I compete nationally and internationally in a sport which emphasises agility and speed and find it has worked well coupled with the principles of another great Canadian coach, Charlie Francis. (what’s in the water up there in Canada?)

My query today is related to age and speed.
I know you have worked with many speed/power athletes over the years
(bobsled etc).
Is there a particular age bracket where you have noticed a drop off in acceleration/max velocity in athletes? and is this related to power output or to something else?

I am approaching 40 and have maintained my speed/accel until this season.
All my indicators ,vert & horizontal jumps, and max lifts are still there but I am struggling sprinting. (I have dropped 0.5sec over 60m)
I know it is impossible to diagnose on a forum but I am looking for some correlations, so I can either shrug it off as age, or re think my training tactics some what.
(I am currently on a pendulum style ECC/ISO/CON programme, coming into the an explosive phase)

Any incite you have on this would be greatly appreciated.
Thanks for all the great work!!


Don't Want to Modify "Look Like a Bodybuilder" But May Have To
#2

[quote]mospeed wrote:
Hi Coach,
I have been following your work/programmes for close to a decade.
I have had particularly good results from your “Black book”, CAD and low rep power progressions.
I compete nationally and internationally in a sport which emphasises agility and speed and find it has worked well coupled with the principles of another great Canadian coach, Charlie Francis. (what’s in the water up there in Canada?)

My query today is related to age and speed.
I know you have worked with many speed/power athletes over the years
(bobsled etc).
Is there a particular age bracket where you have noticed a drop off in acceleration/max velocity in athletes? and is this related to power output or to something else?

I am approaching 40 and have maintained my speed/accel until this season.
All my indicators ,vert & horizontal jumps, and max lifts are still there but I am struggling sprinting. (I have dropped 0.5sec over 60m)
I know it is impossible to diagnose on a forum but I am looking for some correlations, so I can either shrug it off as age, or re think my training tactics some what.
(I am currently on a pendulum style ECC/ISO/CON programme, coming into the an explosive phase)

Any incite you have on this would be greatly appreciated.
Thanks for all the great work!!

[/quote]

Maintaining speed up until you are 40 is pretty darn good. I believe that with proper training it can be maintained until fairly old age but it remains the hardest physical quality to maintain and it is not necessarily related to a loss of power or strength. In my opinion it might have to do with tissue elasticity and maybe a slightly slower neural drive.

IMHO you should strive to work on sprinting mechanics a bit more as well as do more mobility work to maintain optimal sprinting form and being able to stay relaxed when sprinting.

I also believe that neurologically training takes a bigger toll when you are older for some reason. So what can happen is that your training sessions might lead to more residual neural factice which can hurt sprinting performance. So you might not be slower, but in a suboptimal neural state when running.

So reducing the frequency of highly demanding sessions might be a good strategy to use.


#3

Thank you for the expertise
Those points make complete sense.
As I still peaked reasonably well at my last big comp with a 10 day taper.
I have set about trying to sort some of the technique deficiencies, which are also likely related to your advice to increase mobility work with age.
As I am currently using one if your pendulum style programmes 3 times a week.
I will look at maybe cutting back to twice a week with the extra day used for recovery and/ or technique on the track.
Feeling motivated to go out and nail it.
Now for the hard part, not over training haha

Thanks again
I really appreciate the message and advice


#4

[quote]mospeed wrote:
Thank you for the expertise
Those points make complete sense.
As I still peaked reasonably well at my last big comp with a 10 day taper.
I have set about trying to sort some of the technique deficiencies, which are also likely related to your advice to increase mobility work with age.
As I am currently using one if your pendulum style programmes 3 times a week.
I will look at maybe cutting back to twice a week with the extra day used for recovery and/ or technique on the track.
Feeling motivated to go out and nail it.
Now for the hard part, not over training haha

Thanks again
I really appreciate the message and advice [/quote]

I think lowering volume in the hard sessions might be more important than lowering frequency of those sessions.


#5

Perfect
I will do that.
Do you think lowering the sets or less exercises would be more beneficial?
( or maybe a little of both)

I have competed and trained at this level for so long , I always push to keep the levels of training up.
So your point of focus on technique and recovery is very accurate.

Many thanks for your time


#6

[quote]mospeed wrote:
Perfect
I will do that.
Do you think lowering the sets or less exercises would be more beneficial?
( or maybe a little of both)

I have competed and trained at this level for so long , I always push to keep the levels of training up.
So your point of focus on technique and recovery is very accurate.

Many thanks for your time[/quote]

I know it’s accurate because the same thing is happening to me. I’m 38 now and I used to be a HUGE volume guy. When I trained in Olympic lifting I could train 6 hours a day without problem. I find that now my capacity to tolerate volume is much lower. Oftentimes the gut instinct is the opposite: the body should be used to physical loading after years of training. But the reality is that I simply cannot tolerate the same workload.

Quality and CNS recovery should be the most important elements in your training.

As for your question I would reduce the number of exercises. Make selections based on being able to do the job with the least amount of different exercises possible.


#7

Legend!!
Thanks heaps
It is great to see how you have maintained your physique and power with these adaptions.
I have always admired your performance first approach.

As for the training volume.
That’s exactly the same as I’ve experienced. (Im 39 but still compete open class)

I’ll message you again with some progress and hopefully more titles in the future


#8

[quote]mospeed wrote:
Legend!!
Thanks heaps
It is great to see how you have maintained your physique and power with these adaptions.
I have always admired your performance first approach.

As for the training volume.
That’s exactly the same as I’ve experienced. (Im 39 but still compete open class)

I’ll message you again with some progress and hopefully more titles in the future

[/quote]

Excellent, please keep me posted


#9

Thanks again for the advice back in December.
since then I have implemented these changes to my programme.
cutting unnecessary volume and working on more explosive bang for your buck exercises.
explosive 3’s etc, and sometimes 3x1 clusters to maintain maximum bar speed.

The mobility work has possibly helped too. particularly the ankle and hip.
I think it was effecting my set position and drive angle, which meant I wasnt getting my mechanics right and in turn never reaching max velocity.

I am still a bit inconsistant but atleast I’m getting my speed back sometimes and nailing it.
So like you mentioned about the sprinting being the most demanding on the CNS.
I am learning to read this a bit better and Im confident that I can manipulate these good days around my comps with better programming and self regulating .

I hope things are going well with your training and family

Keep up the great work


#10

Here are two tips:

  1. See everything you do in the gym like you see sprints: minimize stress and body unnecessary tension:
  • keep a relaxed face on every rep you do
  • do not attempt a set/rep that makes you nervous or anxious
  • do no psych yourself up before any set or attempt a set that requires psyching yourself up
  1. Buy a hand grip dynamometer. Russian sport-scientists have used grip strength as a measure for CNS working state for decades.
  • Use it daily to adjust your training stress level: when your grip strength is down; reduce the amount of CNS-demanding work (lower the weights, use less “complex/demanding” exercises, reduce the volume of intense work)

  • Use it to improve your peaking procedure. The goal is to come up to a competition with a peak in grip strength: that will indicate that your CNS is in an optimal working state.


#11

I will get onto that right away.
We all love heavy power clean and bench singles haha, but they can go on the back burner in season!!
I will get a grip strength device too.
I have tried HRV apps but I think the hand grip will have more application to power training and less other factors .

Thanks again


#12

Hi coach,
Just a note to say thanks again,
Over the last year I have been implementing several of these tactics and have a better comprehension of how to manage my training load.
Whilst I understand I will never quite reach my previous level, I can get reasonably close for a small window when peaking .
Results at major comps have been good and I just have to accept that the smaller peaking windows mean lesser results at other comps during the year.

I recently won the nationals in my event for the first time in four years. Your advice definitely helped.

Keep up the great work.
I’ve really enjoyed your appearances on the live life aggressively podcast lately too


#13

Wow glad to hear that. The fact is that age does play a role in peak performance. Otherwise we would see a lot of elite explosive athletes in their 40s or even 50s. Which is not the case. But with proper application of training and nutrition we can maintain a very high level of performance nonetheless.