T Nation

How Will Your Training Evolve With Age?

…you have an OAP bus pass, your hair is grey and your ass is old and wrinkly?

I got to thinking about this when I was watching a video about ketogenic diets by Peter Attia (been meaning to start a thread on that - someone remind me). He gave a pretty inspiring before/after in terms of his health markers from switching to a keto diet, and said how pleased he was to be entering his 40s healthier than his 30s.

I can definitely see myself switching to a long term keto diet eventually. I am sceptical you can gain appreciable amounts of muscle on keto (some people probably can but I don’t believe I could), but the way I see it I’m 30 years old now, so I’m realistically only going to be trying to get bigger for like another 5 years, after which point I think I’d probably just maintain and lift for health purposes.

So keto diet from then on to stay lean and healthy, showing off my sexy muscles forever.

Training wise I don’t think I’d try and push the boat out too much in terms of weight lifted, and will probably do way more things like supersets, complexes, shorter rest periods, etc. Maybe I’ll feel differently when I reach that age but that’s what I’m predicting now.

Has anyone else got any kind of long term idea as to how their training might evolve as they get a little older, is it just heavy for life, bro?

I’ve always tended think when I’m middle aged or so (I’m 31 now) I might focus more on bodybuilding as opposed to strength training. Of course, if my joints feel ok with the reasonably frequent strength training that I like to do, I might just continue OR go back to hybrid training.

I’m 55 and have made the switch from mostly strength training to bodybuilding style workouts. What I mean by that is instead of doing lower reps (5 or less) , I now try to do nothing less than 12 reps, sometimes I go as high as 20.

I was reading about Doug Brignole and how he trains using higher rep ranges. Very interesting how he trains.

Since moving to higher rep ranges, my joints do feel much better.

Once I get older, I’ll let you know. :wink:

I would point out, though, that the health of joints at 50+ is directly correlated with how they were treated when one is in their 20s, 30s and 40s. It’s unrealistic to think you can thrash your tendons/joints for 20-30 years, then dial down the weights one day and expect everything to be fine.

1 Like

yogi ,
define heavy
i am 56 rapidly approaching 57
had a lot of bad life choices with bouts of training thrown in ,been lifting off and on since 14
my attitude ,nor training style has not changed over the years i do singles, low reps,high reps,short rest,long rest, train hard
however my body is beat to shit, recovery sucks,arthritis in knees, shoulder
so how heavy i go or reps range, total volume done tends to depend on how bad i am going to hurt tomorrow
sometimes this makes me cranky

Almost 50

Less is more.

Presently on Waterbury’s Methods. 3x a week, walk the dogs everyday, etc. Keeping active.

I don’t bike much anymore, but when I do, I have zero problems keeping up.

As noted above, 5 anything tends to be hard on joints. My body seems to love the 10x3, but only once a week.

Side note:Micellar protein over whey. Plazma (or BCAA’s) helps a lot, Omega’s are a must.

For my 50th birthday, I’m going to do a zercher squat.

When my body can’t deal with powerlifting I’ll give bodybuilding a go. Not sure how smart that is but that’s the plan. Hopefully I’m not going to need to implement it until I’m in my 50s.

This for me as well. I have a while to go but I figured my joints and my body would let me know when that time has come.

when you can no longer compete against every one in your weight class,
then compete in your age class
or just see how strong you can be for as long as you can

I’m more happy these days,(mid 40’s) trying to get more out of the exercise technique wise, rather than using max weights. Slowing the negative, coming to a deadstop, slight pause, total control of the weight.
I might deadlift heavy 1 out of every three back workouts. Next workout after a heavy deadlift is always light. If I feel stiff I won’t go heavy even if it is a scheduled day.

Really wished I had trained like this when I was younger.
I usually keep a couple of reps in reserve, only go to failure if I’m really feeling it on that day.

this is actually how I train now, too. Partly because I’m starting to think about the longevity of my joints, but also because I listened to a podcast where Ken “Skip” Hill was talking about how increasing weight on exercises isn’t a good indicator of progress as usually people just speed the rep tempo way up on their heavier sets. I’ve been trying to avoid that and holy shit what a difference it makes. Weights I used to throw around easily totally bury me now, and weight increases come way slower. It’s all for the greater good, I suppose.

It’s funny; we all say we’ll stop lifting so heavy and try and give our joints a break. I wonder how many of us will actually do that before some kind of major injury forces our hand…

number of people i know with joint problems who never lifted,don’t even know what powerlifting is
shows that in some cases don’t matter what you do
"I refuse to tiptoe through life only to arrive safely at deaths door" “mangone”

I think it’s interesting the amount of people saying they’ll give bodybuilding a try once they get too beat up, especially when you consider the reality that bodybuilders get beat up when they get older too. I can’t imagine the sport is somehow less stressful than others simply because weights don’t need to be pushed as high. I imagine it’s more that pursuing ANY physical activity at high levels is going to stress your body, while going a little less hardcore will keep it safe. It’s the difference between competing in strongman versus just doing events day with some friends, or competing on the bodybuilding stage versus just getting cut for the beach.

Having not at all answered the question with that reply, I have no idea what I’m going to do. Probably do the Steve Pulcinella thing and just keep finding work arounds and other solutions to deal with injuries, aches and pains until I’m out for good, and then maybe take up a lot of reading. In truth, my hope would be that, once I get old enough that hitting PRs is no longer an option, I’ll be in a position where I can coach some high school kids. I’d do it for free, so that I’m only accountable to myself, and try to pass on all the lessons that I was too stupid to learn at that age. I’d still lift and try to show them up, but it wouldn’t be about me anymore.

I thought about that. For me, the logic (such as it is) runs along the lines that as a powerlifter I pretty much have to squat, bench press and deadlift and that reasonably regularly I will do so with weights that are heavy. But, if I were a bodybuilder I would not have to do any particular exercise but simply do whatever allowed me to build a bigger, more balanced and aesthetically pleasing physique. I would also not necessarily need to move anything particularly heavy provided I stress my muscles enough. That gives me a bunch more room to work around any issues I may have. In other words, I don’t see bodybuilding as easier rather as giving more leeway and more avenues to achieve the goal.

Alternatively, as a powerlifter, you could always do something like Westside’s approach, where the competition lifts are only performed in competition. That’s pretty much how my training ended up toward the end of my powerlifting career to work around some injuries.

That’s my last ditch for staying in powerlifting. Actually, not last ditch. More one of various alternatives for when what I’m doing stops working. When I say I’d go to bodybuilding it’d be because I physically cannot straight bar squat, bench press and deadlift. Ideally that’ll never happen, but a plan B is always helpful.

I gotta imagine that at that point you’re body is going to have too many torn muscles be too weird looking for bodybuilding to be at all possible, haha. Probably more along the lines of the Dave Tate “Mashed up Meathead” style of training at that point.

It’s funny you should mention that…

My plan A is to stay in good enough nick that I can just keep powerlifting.

@T3hPwnisher @MarkKO
(can’t get quoting down on this)

I like both of these approaches (bodybulding & westside-ish); and I see them as essentially one following the other; if and when the lifts in competition are just not going to happen anymore.

Ever since I read 2x2x2 approach from 531, I thought “this is what I’ll be doing when I’m washed up but still want to show the grandkids what’s up”. Not saying I wouldn’t use that template as a late 20’s man, but it just seems like something that is well-balanced, and very maintainable; something perfect for when “health & longevity” become the goal vs placing in a competition. Although I’d probably cycle the main lifts and use less demanding percentages for higher reps to please my aging joints.

1 Like