It’s an unfortunate truth that with every passing year beyond the age of 30, you will slowly succumb to the natural effects of aging.
Decreased strength, loss of power, decreased mobility… all of these things will start to become more prevalent as time goes on. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t take preventative measures to help mitigate some of these less than desirable changes. And while you may not be able to replicate the physical feats you were capable of in your teens and twenties, there are definitely steps you can take to feel young and remain athletic into your later years.
Stay diligent with mobility work
In terms of things on this list, daily mobility work is perhaps the lowest hanging fruit. The level of intensity and effort needed to complete this is relatively low from a physical perspective, but it’s payoff is greatest when it’s done on a consistent basis.
All of your joints need and crave movement on a regular basis in order to maintain a large, pain free range of motion. When a sedentary lifestyle slowly becomes your norm, your body and joints will adapt, resulting in mobility and movement restrictions. The phrase ‘if you don’t use it, you lose it’ applies heavily to joint mobility.
Start making soft tissue work, like foam rolling, a regular part of your daily routine. Foam rolling can help keep muscles and connective tissue healthy by flushing nutrient rich blood and fluid into muscle tissue and joints, help decrease neural tone (tell your brain to stop contracting muscles which is the root cause of muscles feeling ‘tight’ for seemingly no reason), and just get you moving in general.
5 minutes of rolling combined with 5-10 minutes of some dedicated mobility drills is a simple yet highly effective way to prevent your body from ‘becoming rusty’ so to speak. Stay consistent with mobility work, and you’ll feel like a well oiled machine for a long time to come.
Play around with plyometrics
When you run, jump, skip, and basically do anything that involves quick, reactive movement, your muscles go through what’s known as the stretch-shortening cycle (SSC). This is a fancy way of describing what happens when your muscles are loaded with an external force (and therefore stretched), and then contract quickly thereafter, taking advantage of the natural elasticity of your muscles and tendons.
When this ability is maintained into your later years, that ‘spring in your step’ sticks with you. When it diminishes, the result is a body that reacts and moves more slowly. So when it comes to feeling and moving like a nimble jungle cat, training the SSC is vital.
And despite what social media will have you believe, plyometrics don’t have to be extreme. Simple things like skips, shuffles, cariocas, hurdle hops, and sprints can all be effective ways to make sure you maintain your bounce well into your 40’s and beyond. This is especially vital if you still like to participate in recreational sports as this will help keep you competitive, but also guard against injuries.
An extremely simple way to get some low level plyometrics into your training routine is simply jumping rope. While it may take some practice, the benefits and low learning curve serve for an awesome, low intensity plyo that many people can benefit from.
Get on the ground
Let’s not sugarcoat this next fact: if you struggle to get off the floor from a supine position (laying on your back), you die sooner. It’s been proven in numerous studies.
And you can’t exactly maintain your youth and athleticism into your older years if your older years never come.
The simple fix for this is to simply spend more time on the floor. Get your butt off your couch and spend more time down on the good ol’ ground. Sit in various positions. Find different ways to lay down. Being on the floor, regardless of you how do it, requires your joints and muscles to work through ranges most of us aren’t accustomed to nowadays. We’ve become too spoiled by chairs, couches, and beds that require very little physical exertion to use.
And while the luxuries of modern day amenities are all well and good, our joints are being robbed of precious movement by taking advantage of the convenience of modern day seats.
You can even take this a step further by incorporating ground to standing exercises in your workout routine. Things like Turkish getups and transitioning from kneeling to standing positions are all great ways to maintain your youth.
Forget a max bench or squat. _ How much can you getup? _ Every time I do Turkish getups I forget what a big slice of humble pie they are. _ Try them out and you’ll see why anyone who can do a getup with big weight is a guaranteed beast. _ #tgu #getup #cstrainingsystems #workout #fatloss #exercise #fitness #weightlifting #personaltrainer #trainer #strength #strengthtraining #muscle #movement #fit #getfit #fitpro #health #movebetter #kettlebell #dumbbell #barbell
A post shared by Chris Sanchez (@cpsanchez89) on Sep 4, 2018 at 5:07pm PDT
(Pardon the shirtless-ness, my garage gets hot).
Incorporate more single leg strength training
If you really take the time to think about it, life and athletics take place predominately on one leg. Walking, running, jumping, cutting, climbing… all one leg. Knowing this, it makes complete sense to make training this way a priority.
Being strong on one leg will transfer greatly to overall stability, something that is crucial for not only remaining dominant in athletics, but staying healthy in the long run. Balance also becomes a huge issue for many folks later in life. This is not because they simply suck at balancing, but because they become too weak and slow to control their joints, mainly at the ankle, knee, and hip. This makes balancing way harder, which is why falls can be such a big deal the older you get. (It’s worth nothing that strength training will also make you ten times more resilient if you do happen to fall. Stronger bodies are more likely to get up and brush themselves off.)
Making sure you’re strong on one leg will take your weebly wobbly legs and turn them into firmly rooted tree trunks.
Train your core the correct way
Making sure you’ve got a strong core is important, but just make sure you’re not going about it the wrong way. Your lumbar spine (low back) is right at the heart of the core. Yet despite being surrounded by various core musculature, the lumber spine is not really designed for movement as it’s big, bony vertebrae don’t allow for a ton of movement. This means things like crunches, side bends, sit-ups, and anything requiring movement of the low back are not the best way to go about training your core.
Instead, focus on movements that resist movement, like planks, side planks, chops, deadbugs, and bear crawls. Training your core to isometrically resist movement of the low back and pelvis will spare you of years of unnecessary back aches and discomfort.
In addition to staving off injury, a strong core allows for optimal transfer of force between limbs, meaning you can run faster, swing harder, and play better.
Train in multiple planes of movement
Being able to move adequately, and more importantly, display strength in multiple planes of movement is a game changer from an athletic point of view, but even more so from a longevity standpoint.
Getting outside of the sagittal plane (forward/backward) can keep your hips mobile and expand your movement capabilities, all of which translates into a healthier, younger feeling you.
Start incorporating more lateral lunges, lateral squats, lateral step ups, lateral sled drags, shuffles, and rotational movements into your training routine. This is important for everyone alike as most of us spend 95% of the day moving in the sagittal plane. But if your goal is to keep kicking ass and taking names into your 50’s and beyond, this is mandatory.
Your ability to produce force, or move explosively, diminishes very quickly as you age, unless you take some preventative measures. Quickness and speed are basically synonymous with youth and athleticism, so training this way is vital as you age.
One of the best, and arguably most fun ways to do this is to throw things… and throw them hard!
Med ball shot put tosses, scoop tosses, overhead throws, overhead slams, and any other variation you can think of are all tremendous ways to help you stay powerful and stay quick. In addition to this, throws tend to be very low impact, which can spare the joints over the long haul. Many variations are also done outside of the sagittal plane (see “Train in multiple planes of movement” above), so you’re really killing two birds with one stone. You can perform these as dedicated power exercises, or even as part of a fat-loss centered circuit.
Plus, these are quite possibly the best way to work out any pent up aggression.
Do we really need to elaborate on this one?
Don’t get caught up in being such an adult all the time. Go out, be active, and have fun! Start playing some rec sports, be more active with your kids, pick up an active hobby, just do something that involves you dropping some inhibitions and running wild from time to time.