Once you discover the first gray hair, making changes in some parts of your life may be more important than buying your first bottle of hair color for men.
If you are into hard strength training and fitness, a few definite adjustments may be needed to your workouts if you intend to keep making progress and avoid injuries.
You can lift heavier weights and do it more often during your 20s and early 30s without much trouble, even if you recklessly load your joints and spine with abandon. However, you may not be that lucky once you hit 35 and up toward the big 4-0.
If that is where you are right now, it is important that you make the following changes to your strength training and workout program.
1. Cut back on spinal loading
I recommend that young lifters squat up to three times a week, or do squats one day and the next day just deadlifts. But this idea is not that good for older lifters. In general, it takes longer for the lower back to recover than other parts of the body.
This becomes even more obvious as a person ages. Therefore, the best thing to do is perform all your intensive lower back exercises like deadlifts, squats, good mornings, and so on in one day of training. Doing that will give you a week to recover.
2. Limit lower body sessions to once a week
It is important as you get older to do more conditioning work such as running hills, jumping rope or pushing a sled. This serves both to keep body fat low and gives you cardiovascular health benefits. As you do more of this type of exercise, you will want to cut down on your strength workouts for the lower body to one day each week. This will prevent over-stressing your knees while also allowing you to get out and play or run without having recovery issues.
3. Just one day a week of heavy pressing
Most men find heavy pressing a good way to build up the triceps, shoulders and chest. However, it is very hard on the ligaments and tendons around your shoulder joints as well as the rotator cuff muscles if you do too much of this particular exercise.
Once a week is enough heavy pressing for those over age 40. Instead, substitute more variations that are joint friendly, such as a higher number of dumbbell presses or suspended pushups during upper body workouts.
4. Reduce or eliminate low-rep training
A great way to build strength is performing heavy sets of one to five reps, but doing so can beat you up a good deal. It is much harder for older lifters to recover from lifting weights that are excessively heavy, so they would find it much better to keep most of their lifts in the 8 to 12 rep range.
This range will still allow you to make great gains in strength, while protecting your joints. You will also save muscle mass. In their late 30s, men start losing muscle mass, but by staying in the 8 to 12 reps range, the muscle loss can be reversed and maybe even more mass can be added.
5. Take time for longer warm-ups
Take at least 10 to 15 minutes to warm up. Do mobility drills for hips, shoulders and other areas that are prone to injuries. Also do stretches and some light calisthenics for your warm-up. If you don’t have much time, cut out part of your workout, rather than skimp on warming up.
If you make these five minor adjustments, you can make progress and keep up your strength training for most of your life.