Lifting weights is easy. Staying injury free is far more difficult… especially when you get older. Here’s my advice on how to stay healthy while still getting results.
I had an injury about a month ago that I honestly thought was going to impact me forever. I almost felt like I had a torn rotator cuff in my left shoulder, and as many of you know in my age THAT can be a death sentence when it comes to weight training.
It hurt to lift things that weren’t even heavy. It hurt when I went to bed it even hurt sometimes when I was just sitting in my chair. The worst part was had I’d listened to my own advice, it never would have happened in the first place.
It’s not uncommon for somebody to ask me how to lift weights and when they do I first ask them their age – if the answer is 40 or younger, I’ll find out what their objectives are.
If they’re looking to gain mass I usually recommend lifting heavy, maybe three to five reps per set.
If they are looking to gain definition, I recommend a program more centered around volume – somewhere in the 12 to 15 rep range.
I recommend a mixture of free weights and machines and I recommend a couple of minutes between sets if there would be heavy – around 30 seconds between sets if they’re doing volume training. I keep things simple because to be honest with you, in my experience, simple works just as well as complicated does.
If they’re over 40 I recommend a different approach because at that age you should be over this whole getting huge phase of your life. You’re probably just trying to look better naked I’m gonna call the process I recommend Musticular Cruising. That’s mainly because i like to make up new words.
To better explain what i’m talking about I’ll use a vehicle analogy. You find a comfortable cruising speed you set the cruise control and you don’t sacrifice safety for performance. You’re still making progress but it’s slower. We have to understand is this should be a marathon, not a sprint. The guy that has 20 more years to lift without injuries will always surpass the guy that has to quit in two because he did something stupid.
Here are the components:
First – heavy lifting is out. There’s no reason to debate it the answer is just no. Heavy lifting at that age is just asking for injuries. WHY? Because at 40 and older your tendons, ligaments, and joints aren’t nearly as strong as they used to be. The problem is your muscles are capable of pushing far more weight than the supporting structure around them can handle and you’re only as strong as your weakest link. If we return back to this vehicle analogy, you could have the most powerful car on the road but if you blow a tire you’re not going anywhere. Unlike a car, when it comes to the human body, you’re not carrying a spare in the trunk. A single injury at that age can end your lifting career forever.
Next – free weights are out. There is no reason to pay that the answer is just no maybe some barbell curls but that should be the extent of it. Use machines! Machines follow a specific path for a reason. It’s the path that allows you to focus on working a specific muscle. Are you utilizing stabilizer muscles with machines – no – but you’re not training for a physique competition anyway. We are just trying to look good naked. There’s too much margin for error in free weights, too many ways to cause injury, too many things can go wrong. The benefits simply aren’t worth the risk.
Then there’s intensity – I’m certainly not the first one to talk about the mind to muscle connection. For those of you that haven’t heard of it, it’s when you intensely focus your mind on the movement of the weight as your body pushes or pulls it through space, making sure that the muscle you’re working is the only muscle, or at least the primary muscle, that’s being utilized at that point in time. If you slow down and make that connection between your mind and the muscle you can use far less weight and it feels ten times heavier. In fact, I would argue that this is probably the single most important tip to follow if you want to prevent injuries.
So how do you know when you’re finished with your set? It’s when you reach technical failure, when you can’t move the weight anymore while still keeping perfect form. No jerking the weight, no moving your body so other muscles can help finish. No! If you can’t lift the weight with the same form you used on the first rep, you’re finished. Put it down.
Can you still work out with an injury? Of course you can. You see it all the time with guys my age. Elbows wrapped, knees wrapped, they walk around like they’re 90 years old because of the pain. How long can you do that? How long can you continuously irritate and injury and expect your body to perform? The better question is Why wouldn’t you prevent it from happening in the first place by implementing smart lifting practices into your weekly workout sessions? I’ve said it before – a monkey can lift weights. If you want to waste your time combing the internet for how to get a bigger back or how to make your biceps grow 10 inches, or any other video some genetically gifted guy put together and pretends like he’s just an average guy, be my guest. You’re going to get a bigger back because you put the time in and your genetics allows you to. Not because you pull a cable in a new and innovative way.
My point is lifting weights is the easy part. Diet and hormone balancing -that’s the tricky part. That’s also a different topic, but in the end it’s all about results. I’ve tried every method you could think of when it comes to lifting weights and at my age I promise you the advice I’m giving you right here right now can keep you from making a huge error that could potentially affect the rest of your life. It still allows you to make progress, to be the best version of you that’s possible under your unique genetic limitations.
So to finish the story about my shoulder – I did two weeks of BPC 157 and TB 500 and fortunately the issue one away. I almost feel like I was given a second chance to do things right this time, to not be stupid. I’m not 25 and if I don’t constantly remind myself of that, my body will do it for me. So take care of yourself, lift responsibly, and don’t let your ego get in the way of common sense.
Most importantly – always remember you are Never Too Old To Live Like a Viking!