T Nation

Old and Slow


Looking for some ideas from the older guys here on conditioning. Now in my late forties I am faced for the first time by some issues with slowing down during sparring with the twenty somethings. I don't want to stop sparring with them ( I don't think I am a effective coach ) if I am not putting in some rounds with them.

Conditioning wise I need some input on what worked for you to retain your speed. This am I did all core based routine including GHR,SU,adb roll outs,back extensions. Then did some mirror work slipping. I feel that I am missing something fundamental, I feel slow for the first time. There has to be something I could add to that core WO that would make it more geared toward retaining speed. Or something that I should be concentrating on.

A little backround to go on. Last spring I cut out all power lifting and have dropped 30 pounds down to 235, currently filling the strength component with crossfit type WO concentrating on OLY lifts and triple extension functional exercises. And am working on getting to 220. Thanks for your input.



Congratulations on keeping at it.

I was always a fan of squat thrusts/burpees as a "conditioning" tool for wind. Because they always suck.

Realistically what are you doing for cardio now?

My bias is to say injury and ortho history need to be accounted for at any age, but for damn sure by 40 there are "factors".

Examples: Swimming is great, unless you have a history of disc herniation or low back instability. Than it tends to tear folks up. Shoulder issues are a second place and could make it a "maybe".

Road work is the classic, unless your knees or ankles can't take it all that well.

Some folks do great with "seated" cardio like bicycles or rowing. Others it wrecks.

Also, at some point if not now hormonal profile changes and you may have to put some dedicated work into either general hypertrophy or at the least keeping muscle in all the "pre-hab" places so you don't get broken down by skill work.

What is your "conditioning" and other training schedule?

Any injuries, especially nagging injuries?


Robert A


First thanks for responding.. For conditioning I have been putting in about 6miles a week, trying to do one day with 1mile sprint. Thanks for the info on swimming I did not know that. I usually swim with just fins once a week in the late winter. I don't follow the pre-hab idea,I doa lot of warmup before sparring if that's what you mean. If you could expand on that a little.

Also all my medical training is in the acute care area(critical care paramedic) so I I am really clueless about the many hormonal facets to ageing other than it is kicking my ass soundly. As far as injuries ,had a bad training accident 7 years ago which resulted in three herniated disc's, but I am really aware of it and work to keep my core strong e 100%


Today ran two miles in the AM and tonight spared eight 1 minute rounds on defence with two 17 year Olds that are just beginning no rest between followed by just a couple rounds of light offense with very lite jabs and mostly working movement. They will progress to full light sparring in a week or two. Usually I am sparring with someone 4 nights a week in a coaching capacity. Seldom spar at 100% anymore.


I like that your still tearing it up

I'm posting from a phone so pardon any misspellings

I'm 43 -and currently laid up.
But I can speak to a few things that have kept me feeling spry.

For cardio I've have good results from swimming and throwing machine.
Spin bike can work but it also is hard on the hips for me

Bear crawls and other tumbling- reallyakew me feel spry
When I say tumbling I mean the things you'd see in a judo or sambo warmup.

Rolls in and out of neck bridges. Shrimping there is a bunch of stuff I like that I don't I so the names of.
It's like he cartwheel half flip.

Box jumps don't work for me but continuous broad jumps do.
Trap bar jumps when I can
I found DB snatches and or broad jumps on days I squat and pull are great.

Cleans snatches and I lift variants I have to do sparingly.

Most importantly I have to do allot to stay loose and get warm and loose.
I can't roll anymore - so this is just straight up s&c stuff


Good post.



First the Disclaimer: Nothing written below should be taken as a substitute for actual evaluation, diagnosis, and medical care. I am not your doctor.

The swimming isn't a hard and fast rule. If you like it and haven't had problems since the injury with it that I certainly am not saying it has to be avoided. I will say that the roation and unilateral work associated with swimming means it is not automatically "back safe" like so many folks think it is. If someone was just comming off an low back injury it wouldn't be my go to exercise.

I do think a bit of tailoring to your injury history could be part of the solution. I wrote up my "High Mileage" warm up in FighinIrish's log on this board. I can't remember what page it is on but searching might find it. I have to get back to work right now, but I can add some things later.


Robert A


brotardscience- Thanks great stuff, I will be trying the bear crawls, and the DB snatches on squat days. And the tumbling will get worked in ( I used to roll a lot) . Lots of good thoughts on some things to try, never done trap bar jumps but will give it a try at some point. Sorry to hear your laid up , it really sucks. Keep at it and go slow , make your mantra (No reinjury and no set backs). Thanks for the ideas.

Robert - I will find the (High Mileage WU) tonight. I think your right about tailoring at this point it may help alot, I have been probably working things I shouldn't be just for the sake of not giving in to the injury (mindset). Maybe for the next six weeks keep some notes on day to day experimental exercises and see which ones work for me better than others.


Today AM stretches and burpees x30 PUx30 did 50lb pack hiked 2 miles.

PM had 2 for practice did 8 rounds with them I just used jab and moved a lot allowed them to go full out back to back 1 minute rounds no rest for me. 1 minute on 1minute off for them. Then we all did 50 m bear crawl x2 . After practice I did some lifting squat cleans 135# 30 reps in 5:40 followed by 50meter farmers walk with 100/hand, tried the weighted trap bar jumps with 85lbs for 50m ( total anaerobic ) and finished with 45 # plate overhead walk for 100m. Lots of new stuff guys thanks
Robert - I think I did my longest warm up ever (just as in your outline) seems to make sense while you are doing it and it seemed to help. I felt real good going into the sparring. Thank you Sir.

With more time I am thinking this will be my standard warm up from now on. Just finished thought I would write this before the prehab and hot tub. will continue short term posting results.


I hope it helps. Currently I am doing a bunch of TRX rows and pulls instead of pullups in the General Warm up, partly because I think it is easier to scale when I am banged up and mostly because the TRX straps are right next to the KB I do goblets with.

I find that as long as I do it 80% of the time I hold together better. If I have zero time I jump right into the specific warm up, but ONLY when I have less than 45 minutes of floor time.

As far as tailoring exercises for your low back history I would take note of how you feel when it is "injured" and even just "tweeked". Two very prominent presentations for back pain are "flexion is painful" and "extension is painful".

The following leans on the work of Robin McKenzie, among others, with regards to explanation but is in no way designed to teach or represent his fantastic methodology.

Flexion is Painful- These patients get worse if they "bend over", sitting aggravates their pain and symptoms, coughing, bowel movements, and anything that jacks blood pressure up can aggravate things. It has been proposed that this is discogenic back pain(McGill strongly asserts a lot is due to vertebral end plate injury, not disc proper.) Good results early on can often be had with lumbar extension exercises, what many people think of as "McKenzie Exercises".

You may not have much to do with these patients currently, but if in the past you did general paramedic transports or breeze through a lot of waiting rooms these are the patients who wince at sitting and prefer to either stand or lean on walls. These patients are usually on the younger side as well. This makes sense because disc herniation requires there to be enough moisture in the disc for herniation/bulging/extrusion to occur.

Extension is Painful- Just like it sounds, extension or "arching" is what brings pain. Proposed tissue involvement focuses on posterior structures, often either the facet joints or a narrowing(i.e. stenosis) of the spinal canal.

The "classic" here is an elderly woman or gentlemen who sits down and literally bends themselves over their cane while telling you what is wrong.

The McKenzie method involves assessing history and movement to classify directions involved, derangement vs dysfunction vs postural syndrome, and come up with a working diagnosis for tissues involved. Then a treatment course can be generated. The reason I am typing this is not so you start trying to do that yourself, but rather that if you have been around the block a bit than you already now how it feels when your back is "off".

My suggestion is that if you fit one of these two general categories, than you go ahead and classify exercises that have a high degree of the painful component as "costly" and then ask if the juice is worth the squeeze. From your post I am gathering that you coach some type of striking, perhaps boxing? If so a whole bunch of dipping and twisting has to get done. It HAS to. Make the gym/other work support rather than hinder that.

So, for example if when you tweak your back flexing forward hurts/causes symptoms than you may want to limit exercises that load your back in a seated position unless they are REALLY helpful to your goals. Shit like seated Arnold presses can become standing presses with little issue. Avoid the misconception that machines/seated bench presses are "back safe". The rowing machine may be a harsher form of cardio than running or elliptical, or a step mill. On the other hand if alternating a rowing machine with heavy bag work is what puts you in "fighting shape" than maybe you keep it because paying the cost is worth it to you. I would go ahead and do the cost benefit on any and all exercises. Part of "high mileage" is you have memories/stories for all the scar tissue so exploiting that as an asset is possible.

Does that make sense? If any of this seems dumbed down or condescending I am sorry and it is not my intent. If you want any more or different explanations for the above it is no problem.

The other factor is that you have mentioned feeling "off" sparring, but not sparring hard and doing it as a teaching tool. This can create its own problems. If you are trying to only push your students as hard as they can handle and not run them over or out game them then you are going to be working at the young man's pace and denying yourself the benefits of art and experience. I am going to dig up a post I made in Ranzo's training log about two strategies old men seem to be able to use well, and cross post it because from the sound of it you are not letting yourself do it, perhaps for good reason.


Robert A


Link to the "old man" part. The background is on the page previous as is the video of the opponent.



Robert- The level of the material is perfect , I understood a lot. Pure gold. As far as tailoring exercises , makes a lot of sense, going to immediately cut out any and all seated press variations. Seems like I fit the Extension injury pattern. But to be honest I have not had more than 1-2 flare ups in the last 5 years . I have really worked my core to avoid flare ups. I know what will happen if I even slack off a little in the core exercises, so it keeps me honest. Did I mention your post was pure gold. Coaching that I do is almost exclusively LEO in judo and boxing.

With a couple of 17 yo one leo son and my own. I am very interested in the posts that you mention they are spot on , difficult to instruct without impeding growth, I do go out of my way to ensure that no one is hurt. But I do spar with them and imitate styles or skill levels that I see as the biggest threat to them. I really am interested to se that post from Ranzo's log. When I say I have been off , its in the speed department. My fight weight was around 198. After my injury my weight went to the 230's, then as I recovered and got into power lifting/strongman I allowed my weight to go to 265 at its highest.

Now training for me is mostly boxing right now so I am trying to get back down to 210-220's, mostly to get back the speed and endurance. For me its about the students, no injuries , no quiting and they are learning what they need to learn to be safe in the field and go home at the end of shift full stop nothing else matters to me. I have never charged a penny for my service and never will. Thanks for taking the time to explain the above it has been very constructive. And dumbing it down is OK by me. Thanks again look forward to more, I will not be working out today as I am busy as hell today. Currently returning from a long distance critical care transfer across the state. Pecking away as my partner drives. Thanks again for your time.


I put the link at the end of the post. If you are on a mobile device that might have something to do with it. I don't get technology all that well.

Trying this again.


Below is the post. Context was an opponent of Ranzo's doing a whole lot of "hype" for thier upcomming fight. I would recommend going through the thread if you can find the time as idaho, LondonBoxer, MelvinSmiley, and Ranzo have some great material in it. I posted videos of a cat riding a roomba, so I would focus on their contributions.

I am hoping this came through.

I am glad to be of help. I just try to earn my keep around here.


Robert A


Robert- Thank you for digging that up. read it twice. Right now I really am not challenged physically to keep up but with a couple of younger LEO I hope that they surpass me at some point. Both have the ability it they apply themselves. I just see my speed as declining and that means I can't be as effective as I once was.

As you outlined there are plenty of tactics to employ to control the opponents ability to generate offence. I currently don't do much in the way of offence they are just not ready for that level yet , the two youngest have only had a couple of sessions. Yesterday I had a session with my oldest LEO , he is mid thirties and I have training him pretty intensively, but he layed off training for a couple of years and is now coming back ( kids/ family/life ) .

I warmed up (extended) and did a abd WO with some cleans and OHS before had, We worked take down defence as aq review and worked in some combos slipping and banging. Then sparred for 30 minutes lite. I really like the extended warm up as you out lined I think its here to stay in the format above. I will be working with a couple more this evening. post more tonight or in AM.


Great post by Robert that he quoted above.

Regarding speed, it's a great asset/attribute to have no doubt (probably the most difficult to deal with if the person knows how to use it), but if you are finding yourself at less of a speed advantage and are having a hard time because of it, then you need to invest your time in really developing your understanding of and use of timing. Timing is the one attribute that can beat all other attributes if utilized correctly. Also, speed can hide or make up for a lot of flaws and bad habits, so make sure you continue to work on perfecting your basics.

The other thing you want to really invest your time in is positioning (which Robert mentioned); work on getting to and maintaining a superior position and you will nullify much of the physically superior fighter's advantage.


Sento - All true. Just trying to put to together speed retention workout protocal, based on real experience of older fighters/athletes. Lots of good points above, will have me changing things up for some time.

yesterday- Prolonged warm up protocol, followed by Squat Cleans, Snatches, DL, Abd routine. Some bag work , with focus on speed.

Can say that I am feeling the effects of lift changes, also the extended warm up is allowing me to go into the work out full tilt. This may be what I am feeling more than the different lifts , it is the different intensity level.


Protocol - So far

Roberts High Mileage Warm Up - I already tweeked it a little. Three parts General,Focused,Dynamic

Plyometric lower body and upper body exercises for short and medium duration . Dynamic stretches before starting HR 120+
Lower Body . Crawl sprint. Box Jumps. Broad Jumps Bag work (kicks) Short duration 5-10sec Medium 20-30sec 5x3 of each
Upper Body. Clap push ups. Medicine Ball. Rows . Bag work combos
Pick two exercises and do after HMWU
Do every 72 hrs follow with Pre hab with foam roll and lite stretches.

Three day cycle strength, roadwork, Plyo , with sparring in the PM on any day. I think the WU and Plyo may work. The Plyo exercises will change .


With regard to maintaining speed, the older/retired fighters who I have had opportunities to train with generally say that the keys to retaining (or developing for that matter) speed lie in relaxation, efficiency (of which relaxation is a component but not all of), really developing timing speed and learning how to exploit it, deception, judgement, and continuing to strength train.

The truth is that "speed" is not a singular quality and there are not only different types of speed that can be developed, there are also different methods of appearing faster to the opponent and ways to nullify an opponent's speed advantage over you.


This is in spades. Plus a liberal portion of being so damn fast/strong when younger that even when bitching about getting old they are still above average.


Robert A


the warm up mobility activation stuff is vasty underrated.

Yes there are a million 20 something obsessing over mobility
warm ups etc and need to spend more time just under the bar.
For old farts its the reverse


double quoted for the truf.

It took me a long time to figure out -how not to judge the waning athleticism
based on the 20 year old I once was.
Its hard not to look at things very skewed