T Nation

Your Best Advice For The Aging HIT Lifter?

Having talked a bit about this in various threads (train on less days, lower intensity and volume etc.) as well as in Christian Thibadeau’s great article on rules for the older lifter - I was wondering what advice you would share? What to do, and what not. Any excercises to avoid? Please share your experiences. Also, it would be very interesting to hear Dr Darden’s opinion on this.

Personally, I would say do not train two days in a row. Now at 47 yo I can max train three days a week, and realize every third day is my best (in terms of performance vs recovery). Obviously, this applies under full body HIT regimen.

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One of the selling points for HIT style training was that it was supposed to be sustainable over the course of one’s life. If that is true, then only minimal adjustments should be required? Of course, when you are young, you might not truly understand how aging will affect your ability to do things in old age. I have wondered if aging HIT guru’s sometimes discover that the HIT methods of their youth are not as sustainable as they once thought? I have wondered if Dr. Darden’s shift to Not to Failure training with 30-10-30 isn’t a discovery born of an aging body?


All-out ‘To Failure’ training all the time is not the answer. Dr D’s writings have reflected this for some time now. Even people like Dante T of DC Training has had to reflect on these matters. I like cycling my work moreso than ever. Focus on periods of Progression — interspaced with or followed by — lighter regimes like 30-10-30 or just plain lighter weight/ higher reps, are the plan for me.
Short rests for a good pump and heart health are more important than ever.
Also, the Full Range of Motion mantra has to be tempered with caution for many of us. Certain ranges are just too risky with any appreciable weight (for example the very bottom portion of presses).


Thanks Simon! Good point there on rep ranges! I used Zone Training to rehab myself out of the recent adductor strain. Could not do any leg work with hips/legs more than 75 degrees. Zone Training in the upper two zones solved it. Now back on regular leg training, but careful not overdoing it. Not til failure that is.

I’ve been training for 30 plus years now using primarily hit methods and over the years I’ve made my best gains by varying my workouts both in terms of volume, frequency and intensity.

The totality of demands and how you regulate them are what keeps you moving forward, so if my life is particularly stressful I’ll back off on the intensity and increase the volume slightly. Or I may reduce the frequency but increase the intensity via more demanding training protocols.
At present due to my work commitments in A&E I currently train once every 6 days using a full body workout, using either the 30-10-30 method or some negative variable. So far it’s working out well for me.


Petterson. My friend, you are not ageing but in your prime… Galloping sarcopenia is snapping at your heels though, and though inescapable, is ameliorated with resistance training. The key word is ‘resistance’.there are those who advocate a gentle walk,prune the roses and use light weights. But it needs to be hard or it doesn’t work.The weight must be ‘meaningful’ (thanks Richard Winett) and serious effort for those last reps. An under recognised benefit - forgetting the everyday. There is an element of zen in those last reps. You can’ worry about those things that are stressing you every day. And it is somewhere to go in your head when you can’t sleep… I am 39 years older than you are.Ageing? Not you…

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Ken Hutchins believes the future is statics.

Valsalva can be virtually eliminated with statics. Much harder with dynamics movement.

Years ago German coach Woldemar Gerschler came up with interval training based on heart rate - ie. Science!

Emil Zatopek broke up distances into smaller interval units repeated at faster speeds.
These intervals allow blood pressure to normalize.

Resistance training is good for the coronary arteries.

It would not surprise if interval statics could be quite beneficial.

Maybe Grant had a point!

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Have a day in the gym just for metabolic work/active recovery followed by a ton of stretching and mobility work. …focus a lot on hips and shoulders/posture

Go for a proper walk at least once a week

Drop any move that irritates your knees

Not Dr Darden but he’s Editor of the site and has some interesting perspectives here…


Thanks for this, sir!

I may not feel younger but it’s both impressive and a great hope for the future, you keep on doing the iron game. You are a true role model! I will put a frame around “the weight needs to be meaningful”. Probably the best advice in strength training I’ve ever heard!

Do I dare asking what your routine may look like?

My routine. The basics, full body, Mon Weds,Fri at a 3/3 cadence. Sat and Sun rocking chair

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So perhaps we can borrow Micheal Pollan’s advice on diet ("Eat food, not too much, mostly plants), and apply it to strength training:

Lift weights, not too much, mostly with meaningful resistance.

Then add to the recipe:

  • Be physically active most days, doing easy stuff like walks, or other forms of easy exercise (see below). This helps preserve metabolic health and offsets the know detrimental impact of being completely sedentary.
  • Push your heart rate up with some kind of cardio once or twice week; intervals are good for this.
  • Don’t dismiss the value of other kinds of exercises (yoga, light calisthenics, stretching) that keep the joints mobile and the body flexible. Even if those don’t build muscle, they improve your ability to function, don’t excessively tax your recovery, and likely make everything ache less.

Yes av.al I think you put that very well. As usual

I do some form of exercise (cardio and/or weights) 6 days a week - sometimes even 7. But working from home on a computer necessitates more activity.

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