T Nation

Age Related Physique Changes


#1

Thibs, something I have noticed in myself as I get a bit older is that my limbs seem to be getting "leaner" (more veins and leanness in my forearms / biceps even at same relative body fat levels and weight) but my trunk seems to be a little softer (abs "blurry", love handles a bit more pronounced).

I kinda figured since the arms are involved in EVERYTHING they receive such a frequent stimulus that they might be more inclined to "look trained"

Have you noticed anything similar in your athletes or in yourself?


#2

I would REALLY be interested in Coach’s response here as I have noticed the same exact thing…at 45 yrs of age.

JJ


#3

[quote]jjcrugby wrote:
I would REALLY be interested in Coach’s response here as I have noticed the same exact thing…at 45 yrs of age.

JJ[/quote]
I’ve noticed it with a lot of people too.

The effect of hormone on fat distribution can give us a clue about what’s happening. Regardless of if you are a believe or not in Charles Poliquin’s Bioprint, the scientific literature is pretty clear on the effect of certain hormones on the pattern of fat storage.

It has been solidly established that there are in fact general effects when it comes to hormones and fat storage.

An hormone (or low level of an hormone) can either increase fat storage centralization or decentralization.

For example:

Testosterone and growth hormone decentralize fat storage. So a higher level of testosterone leads to less fat being stored centrally (mid-section, torso, hips) and proportionally more in the limbs.

Healthy levels of estrogen actually decentralize fat storage in females (higher level of estrogen = more fat in the limbs less in the mid-section et al.) but it can actually centralize fat in males.

Cortisol elevation increases fat centralization. So more cortisol = more fat stored in the mid-section and between the organs and less in the limbs.

Insulin magnifies the effect of cortisol on fat storage. For example if cortisol is low and testosterone/GH are at a healthy level, insulin wont lead to more mid-section fat gain. BUT if cortisol is elevated, elevating insulin too will increase central fat storage.

So the logical assumption is that as we age, testosterone and growth hormone levels decrease (which is a fact). That alone would have an impact on fat centralization. And cortisol might tend to be higher too (if you produce less testosterone, you have more pregnenolone left to produce cortisol) then it would enhance the development of that pattern even more. This is also why people gain belly fat more easily as they age: it’s not their metabolism slowing down… it’s that eating foods that elevate insulin when you have lower testosterone and higher cortisol will speed up fat centralisation.

Activity level, increased stress (from lifestyle changes and more responsabilities) and hormonal changes might explain why fat distribution changes as we age.


#4

So just to be crystal clear… Your recommendation is to start on a regimen of Test, gh, and slin right? :slight_smile:

Thanks for that reply CT, very enlightening. As always you are a wealth of knowledge


#5

Absolutely awesome. I echo Lonnie’s response re: enlightenment. Thanks so much, Coach.


#6

I’am 51 also. Any idea how you are going to control this situation. very helpful.

thanks.


#7

[quote]Lonnie123 wrote:
Thibs, something I have noticed in myself as I get a bit older is that my limbs seem to be getting “leaner” (more veins and leanness in my forearms / biceps even at same relative body fat levels and weight) but my trunk seems to be a little softer (abs “blurry”, love handles a bit more pronounced).

I kinda figured since the arms are involved in EVERYTHING they receive such a frequent stimulus that they might be more inclined to “look trained”

Have you noticed anything similar in your athletes or in yourself? [/quote]

I have noticed the same exact thing and my buddy thought I was nuts since I’ve been complaining to him about this the past few years, (I’m 54).

To make things worse I’ve always had trouble with gaining arm size and always had a tendency to store most of my fat in my lower pecs, lower abs and love handles, while my legs and arms were lean and kind of on the small side even when I was younger. Now its worse than ever. And like Thibs stated I really believe it has to do with rising cortisol(along with low T etc.). As my life got more stressful with kids work etc., my problem areas became more of a problem.

As to what I do to combat it, I try to control my calories and carb intake and center carbs around my workouts and stay fairly lean year round. When I get sloppy in winter my fat areas get worse and more difficult to lose come spring cutting cycle. My workouts have reduced in volume because I noticed pump/volume type training makes me look worse and I lose strength. I stick to ramping up to 1-5 reps (ever since Thibs article on the perfect rep) and do multiple sets of heavy low reps with maybe 1 or 2 down sets at the end.

I do an upper/lower split. Vertical push/horizontal push, vertical pull/horizontal pull, quad dominant/ham hip hinge dominant type split with usually only one big “bang for your buck” movement per workout. I keep repeating the split until I feel I need a rest day.

I don’t like to take more than a day rest because I also noticed that as I got older I would get out of the zone to speak and come back a little weaker or struggle more. I didn’t know why until I read that Thibs mentioned too many days off between workouts causes you to neurologically get detrained which then made me realize what I was feeling.

I know its a long reply but I felt it was important to share what I do to combat it because it has really worked for me.

I also don’t feel like going on T therapy just yet in my life. If I live till 80 that would be 30 yrs of pinning myself every week which I’m not in the mood for lol.


#8

Thanks for the write up. I have similar issues (love handles, small arms) and have evolved a similar training style


#9

I work with someone who talked to me about this issue yesterday. In the past, he was not what you would call, a dedicated training person. I finally brought him around and now he works hard on one of CT plans and is getting discouraged, his food is as best as it can get, considering we are both on a military base in Afghanistan. What are your thoughts on ZMA and Alpha Male to help fight this problem? Any advise would be helpful.

Thank you.


#10

I’am also working heavy with low reps. more about strength instead of hyper, and the style of works and methods of Thibs help me very much. It also happen to me that if I stop working for a week my chest start feel fluffy (I HATED THAT). even though I’am making progress, my chest biceps, lats and shoulder are looking better, I still am chicken legs…lol… I can lift more heavy but still not growing much…

I would appreciate any tip. thanks.


#11

[quote]idaho wrote:
I work with someone who talked to me about this issue yesterday. In the past, he was not what you would call, a dedicated training person. I finally brought him around and now he works hard on one of CT plans and is getting discouraged, his food is as best as it can get, considering we are both on a military base in Afghanistan. What are your thoughts on ZMA and Alpha Male to help fight this problem? Any advise would be helpful.

Thank you. [/quote]

In my opinion I don’t think either will make a significant difference. Unless you’re deficient in zinc I doubt it will kick test levels up that much. I do take zinc on its own just to be sure and i take a lot of magnesium at night before bed because i notice big difference in seep quality. And same for Alpha Male depending on what your test levels are and how well you respond to it. I didn’t notice much at all. I do like the forskolin in it though and take Carbolin 19 on and off.


#12

[quote]Rickectonomore wrote:
I’am also working heavy with low reps. more about strength instead of hyper, and the style of works and methods of Thibs help me very much. It also happen to me that if I stop working for a week my chest start feel fluffy (I HATED THAT). even though I’am making progress, my chest biceps, lats and shoulder are looking better, I still am chicken legs…lol… I can lift more heavy but still not growing much…

I would appreciate any tip. thanks.[/quote]

Ironically I’ve also gotten stronger but still have trouble adding size on my legs too. Don’t get me wrong the stronger I get the bigger they get but not proportional to many others who are not anywhere near as strong as me. Not that I’m throwing around big weight but I’m thinking my legs should be bigger for someone who has done 20 reps with 315 on just below parallel squats and romanian deadlifts. I know many guys on this site who can do that and more but my frustration is when I see guys struggling to rep 225 and their legs blow mine away.
But then again I read a quote from a popular contributor on this site who said “show me a guy that can do 20 rep squats with 405 and he will not have small legs”. I guess that’s what I have to aim for lol.


#13

I’ve had success using the prowler to increase leg size. I noticed a difference using it twice a week, as in the Look Like A Bodybuilder, Perform Like An Athlete. I’ve had more success using higher frequency 3-4 times a week to increase leg size focusing on dominating the weight. I wasn’t real explosive and when I worked on that, my legs grew a few inches. In all of the years I have trained and all of the things I have done, this seems to work best for me.


#14

Thanks for the replies, I am going to add prowling to my workouts to see what result can I have. I worked with carries and give me good result in the upper body. going to try also with a test booster to.

Yesterday Poliquin posted an article what do you think about point #3. about restoring hormonal balance. somebody tried this already?

thanks.


#15

Interesting points, and the man obviously has mountains of anecdotes to make those recommendations off of.

I dont practice Intermittent Fasting myself, but the hordes of people who do manage to stay lean basically defying at least 2 of those I think. they skip breakfast (sometimes for 8 hours), and eat huge before bed.

The longer I do this and the more I see people have success with various methods the more apparent it is that manipulating body weight/fat is MOSTLY about total calories eaten over the day/week, then from there you get little “bonuses” from things like nutrient timing, macro manipulation, glycogen depletion/replenishment, hormonal factors from food, etc…