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Discover the difference between muscle soreness following exercise activity and pain you should be concerned about in “Do I Have A Problem?”.  Jeff Tirrell gives advice for women on optimizing performance  and Mike O’Hara discusses training priorities for those over forty.

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Fitness training for those of us past 40 years of age is more complicated.  Physical performance and recovery capacity are dramatically different.  If you need proof, look for the forty year olds in the NBA or NFL.  The good news is that with proper planning, consistent performance, and the wisdom that comes with age, we can stay fit and active for a lifetime.  I have compiled a collection of tips for the forty plus fitness client. 

Train Like A Bodybuilder: Build More Muscle Mass

017It is rare to sit down with new clients who list building muscle mass as one of their primary goals and this is quite unfortunate.  The most common goals include:  tone up, lose weight, continue doing the activities I enjoy, improve balance, and build strength.  It’s important to know that every one of these goals is enhanced with more muscle mass.

The first thing people need to understand is that building muscle mass is not an easy process, and the older you get, the more challenging it becomes.  However, this goal of building or maintaining muscle mass should be at the forefront of your fitness journey.  Having more muscle mass will make you stronger, improve your balance, protect your body from traumatic injury, and better support/stabilize your joints.  More muscle mass (assuming no increase in body fat) will lead to a more toned looking physique, even without losing body fat.  A larger amount of muscle mass will increase your resting metabolic rate which will make it easier to decrease body fat and allow you to eat more without accumulating more body fat.

Muscle hypertrophy (the process of increasing muscle size) is primarily in response to training volume (sets x reps x weight).  There are a variety of ways you can go about accomplishing this goal, but the general idea is that training volume will need to increase over time–the weight you lift, the number of sets, or the number of reps. It is important to note that along with needing enough total training volume you will also need to have sufficient protein intake.  For most people, 0.7-1g/lb of body weight is recommended for this purpose.

-Jeff Tirrell, B.S, CSCS, Pn1

Fitness training for those of us past 40 years of age is more complicated.  Physical performance and recovery capacity is dramatically different.  If you need proof, look around for the forty year olds in the NBA or NFL.  The good news is that with proper planning, consistent performance, and the wisdom that comes with age, we can stay fit and active for a lifetime.  I have compiled a collection of tips for the forty plus fitness client. 

Manage Eccentric Muscle Loading

sledDuring the concentric portion of a lift, the muscles shorten as the load is moved.  In the eccentric phase, the muscles gradually lengthen as the load is lowered in a controlled manner.  Eccentric muscle activity (lengthening under tension) produces more muscle micro trauma and, therefore, requires more recuperation time.  It is the eccentric aspect of a resistance exercise that creates delayed onset muscle soreness.

Older fitness clients do not possess the same recovery capacity as younger individuals.  Utilizing exercise activities that reduce eccentric stress is a valuable training tactic.  Concentric biased training allows older trainees to perform a greater volume of work and be ready a day or two later for the next training session.
Sled work is my favorite “concentric only” fitness activity.  The muscles shorten to propel the sled and never have to lengthen against resistance.  You can push, pull, row, and press a sled at fairly high levels of exertion and still sufficiently recover between training sessions.

Loaded step ups are a predominantly concentric contraction, lower extremity strengthening exercise.  It teaches balance, core control, and improves single leg strength. The eccentric aspect of a loaded step up is minimal and this makes it an essential exercise for older fitness clients.

My favorite upper extremity eccentric only training device is the Surge 360.  The Surge provides resistance through a series of multi-directional pistons.  All exercise activities on the Surge are concentric only.

Resistance tubing is another tool that can help manage eccentric muscle activity.  The force curve (increased load as the tubing is lengthened and decreased as it gets shorter) helps reduce muscle activity during the eccentric aspect of many exercises.
-Michael S. O’Hara, P.T., OCS, CSCS

Fitness training for those of us past 40 years of age is more complicated.  Physical performance and recovery capacity is dramatically different.  If you need proof, look around for the forty year olds in the NBA or NFL.  The good news is that with proper planning, consistent performance, and the wisdom that comes with age, we can stay fit and active for a lifetime.  I have compiled a collection of tips for the forty plus fitness client.  

Process Habits

set_goalsFitness is a motivational mind game.  Setting goals provides the ongoing positive reinforcement necessary to maintain the fitness habit.  Most fitness clients set outcome goals—they want to lose twenty pounds, become proficient in pull ups, or run a 5 kilometer race in record time.  Outcome goals revolve around training activities.   I try to steer clients toward process goals—eat more protein, sleep better, daily mobility sessions, etc…  Process goals are the building blocks of fitness success and focus on your life outside of the gym.  Setting and achieving process goals creates the environment for nearly everyone’s outcome goals.  Stronger, leaner, pain-free, and faster will all follow when you have process habits working in your favor.

Every expert on habit development recommends a paper and pen.  Writing it down is part of the commitment to fitness.  Record process habits in an exercise log book or a nutrition diary.  Process goals that have worked well for fitness clients are listed below:
-Perform a daily five minute foam roll/mobility session for the next forty days.
-Weigh every serving of food you consume for the next two weeks.
-Take a thirty minute walk for forty consecutive days.
-Get an extra hour of sleep every night for the next two months.
-Drop all sweetened drinks (soda, sports drinks) for three months.
-Learn how to prepare a new healthy meal every week for six months.
Older, deconditioned, and metabolically challenged fitness clients will develop the fitness habit more readily with a dedication to process goals.  Build on the habits created by achieving ever more challenging process goals and you will reach all of your outcome goals.

-Michael S. O’Hara, P.T., OCS, CSCS

shutterstock_183593585Fitness training for those of us past 40 years of age is more complicated. Physical performance and recovery capacity is dramatically different. If you need proof, look around for the forty year olds in the NBA or NFL. The good news is that with proper planning, consistent performance, and the wisdom that comes with age, we can stay fit and active for a lifetime. I have compiled a collection of tips for the forty plus fitness client.

Set Performance Goals
Changes in body composition, bathroom scale weight, girth measurements, and fat pinch tests take too long. Fitness clients get disappointed and lose interest in training when the number on the scale does not recede on a daily basis. Physical performance improves much sooner than biometric measurements. The psychological boost achieved on reaching specific performance goals keeps people motivated and better able to maintain the habit of exercise.
The simplest performance goal is attendance. In fitness, all of the significant long term benefits happen when you show up on a consistent basis. Perform ten, well-planned training sessions a month for three months and good things start to happen.

Get better at specific lifts or calisthenics. Perform ten, wobble-free step ups with the twelve inch box instead of the eight inch box. Work your way up to ten solid and stable push ups or inverted rows. Increase the load you are able to carry with a farmers walk or suitcase carry. Link these enhanced performance skills to some dietary changes and all the biometric measurements will get better.
Michael S. O’Hara, PT, OCS, CSCS

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