T Nation

Losing a Step


My boss, a 53 year old avid lifter and softball player, were having a conversation about how older players tend to "lose a step". It always seems no matter how hard they train, e.g. Jerry Rice, they always get slower as they age.

Why is this? Is it just the neurological connections aren't as good later in life? What can be done to avoid losing speed? Thanks


Hard cold fact bro. You get old. You slow down. This cannot be attributed to a single factor. The body is very complex and as you age your body changes. Hormone levels drop, flexibility decreases, and the joints can't handle as much stress.

If you compare your performance to your prior accomplishment, you may see a decline in strengh and power. But only if you were ever at your full potential...which few people achieve. I have seen power lifters break their own PR while in their 40's. That's because, they got closer to their full potential then they did in their 20's. Make sense?

One thing that I learned as I got older, is that I no longer compare myself to my past achievements, or those of anyone else.



I remember being 27 and John Colosimo and I were sitting around talking about the same thing. I really clearly remember it. So, 21 years later...I "sorta" laugh about it. One thing that was hurting me at the time was that "gear change" of life.

You know, we both stopped simply doing fun stuff...like just tossing the frisbee between classes and chasing around and playing tag and all the other stuff. More sitting, less playing.

One thing that helped me a lot was to insist on more wandering around. At my old job, I got up every fifty minutes and did something for ten. By the way, no one ever noticed it. Ever. I would drop in other offices, make coffee, look busy, but for ten minutes, I walked around.

It's not a perfect answer...but I am convinced that you just need to add back a lot of that low level stuff like walking and moving around. Next, when you do train, try to always add something new and fun...the worst thing you can do is get on a row of machines and act like an 1890's factory worker. I have more to say on this...


For now. Who knows what kind of science they will come up with.

Have you guys heard about the worms they have in petri dishes that aren't aging?

I think with HRT we're only scratching the surface on a huge ass iceberg. Im excited about what the future brings. Who knows whats next? Gene therapy? There is no better time to be living in the history of the world, than right now.


The older I get, the faster I was.


Hahaha. Might be part of it.

Yea, my boss' big strength is that he's still extremely fast running the bases- kind of a Ricky Henderson kinda guy. Either way, he doesn't want to lose that speed because it is essential to his game.

I just keep tellin him "Hey you bastard, you're just gettin old!"; a couple of "Old man river" jokes too.

And Danny John, keep talking. I appreciate it.


I remember from a while back a couple of T-Nation 'Strong Words' quoting Satchel Paige...
"How old would you be if you didn't know how old you are?"

That one really made me think about the state of my approach and attitude towards training- and not only training.

I believe when asked about his age affecting his play, Satchel Paige is also known to have said , "Age is a question of mind over matter. If you don?t mind, it doesn?t matter."
And he backed it up.

Of course, the best boxer ever imo, Suger Ray Robinson, when asked by Francis Sinatra Jr. why he retired considering that he still was visibly in great shape responed, "Age, baby. The undefeated champion of us all."

Yet, Bernard Hopkins, like him or not,is 40 and is boxing well- 27 yr. old Jermain Taylor says so anyway.


As my old man says, "Getting older ain't for sissys".


To answer your question directly I think it has to do with the rapid deterioration of fast twitch muscle fiber as we age.

According to the research that I have done as we age fast twitch fiber goes by by long before anything else. That's one reason that I have worked extensively on sprints. In fact, those who do more steady state long distance areobics may find themselves in worse shape as far as "losing a step" than those who spend their time doing various sprint work!

I'm 49 and in order to keep my own fast twitch fibers "peaked" I do the following.

  1. Squat one day per week.

  2. 1/4 mile sprints one day per week.

  3. Hill runs or 50yd dash work one day per week.

I usually do one of the "sprint" workouts on the same day that I do squatting, it depends on my schedule.

In addition to the above I make sure that all of my weight training is done explosively. No slow motion training for this guy!

(Of course I have plenty of other things that I do to stave off the age monster. This includes a strict natural food regime, proper supplements, balance and hand eye training etc.)

I know we all have to get old and die (sniff sniff) but I'm going kicking and screaming like any good T-Man would. :slight_smile:



so true...


Thanks for the replies. And Zeb, I'll let him know about the sprinting. I kind of figured that sprints would be the best way to go, but I am far from an expert...especially when it comes to older guys.

Do you fellas need longer recovery time between sessions? How long do you take?


Sometimes. At 48, I have to pay more attention to diet and sleep. As long as I eat well, and get rest, my recovery is fine. One late night, or a day with missed meals, usually means some extra recovery time.



By the way Irish, the last guy that called me "fella" is still walking around with a 7' Oly bar sticking out of his ass.



Why is that?


I don't need longer to recuperate between training days. But, when I get an injury I notice that it doesn't heal as fast as it used to.


Just joking with ya. "fella" just struck me as a little fruity.



Uhh,.....using "ya" is more fruity. :wink:

I have definately lost a step, in fact 2 steps, but the more I train, it is coming back.


Ahh I work with a lot of old timers. The speech patterns are just something you pick up when you work with hillbillys long enough.


Zeb - Same for me, I actually use higher volume, etc now than in my 20's, but if I get hurt, I'm done for about twice as long. Contests take me about twice as long to recover from also. That said, I fully believe that you're only as old as you think you are - At least until I'm actually old!!!


Well what some of the younger guys on this thread fail to realize (fighting Irish is not one of them he's a bright kid) is that what you do NOW in your 20's and early 30's will absolutely determine how you feel when you are 35+.

If you eat fresh natural foods and supplement wisely along with training properly you can do this stuff for a long long time.

I wonder how many younger guys on T-Nation think like that. I see some short term thinkers. Guys in their 20's who never think they are going to have any sort of joint problems (for example) and train foolishly.

Guys who avoid the veggies-

Guys who take drugs for no good reason-

Guys who are not built for the Bench Press but do it anyway- (this one always makes me popular)

Oh well....