Less Work More Gains

Cartoon steve / homer on a nike tick. Just do it!

I train approx 5 hours per week. I’m a fitness trainer and do this for work. This does not make me an athlete no matter how much CrossFit want to call me one. Reading about a Crossfit games champion Jason Grubb, 48 I was shocked to learn just how much time he devotes to his training. He states that his training volume went from 340 hrs per year to 1400+ hrs per year in a short period of time.

I have questions!!!????

Why so much volume?

How on earth do you recover from doing this much training?

Are you even HUMAN?

As we venture into the later stages of life, particularly past the age of forty, our fitness goals and how we achieve them often need reevaluation. Whilst it can be inspiring to admire the dedication of athletes like Jason Grubb, their comittment may seem out of reach or even unnecessary for the majority of us.

Jason Grubb CrossFit Champion Age Group 45 - 49

I am intrigued though.

What is the least amount of work I can get away with whilst still making progress.

We can dress this up and make it sound a little more organised and scientific.

So, here we go: what's the minimum effective dose (MED) of exercise for men over forty to stay fit, strong, and healthy?

Let's dive in.

Building Strength: Less Can Be More
Strength training is crucial for men over forty, not just for muscle mass but for bone density, metabolism, and overall health. The good news? Significant gains can be achieved with a surprisingly manageable investment of time. Research suggests that strength training sessions twice a week, focusing on major muscle groups through compound exercises (like squats, deadlifts, and bench presses), can be incredibly effective. Each session can last between 45 minutes to an hour, emphasising the quality of exercise over quantity.

Maintaining Fitness: A Balanced Approach
When it comes to overall fitness, which includes cardiovascular health, flexibility, and muscle endurance, a balanced approach works best. Incorporating a mix of aerobic exercise, strength training, and flexibility workouts throughout the week can yield excellent results. Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous activity per week, as recommended by the American Heart Association, supplemented by your strength training sessions. I’ve personally had clients who trained 30 mins 5 - 6 times per week achieve great results in terms of maintaining muscle mass, building fitness and bone density (Actually tested bone density!)

Maximising Recovery: The Key to Longevity
Recovery is where the magic happens. It's during this time that your muscles repair and grow stronger. Prioritising sleep, ensuring you're consuming enough protein and nutrients, and integrating active recovery days into your routine are vital. Techniques such as foam rolling, gentle yoga, or simply taking a walk can aid in recovery. Also, don't underestimate the power of hydration and nutrition in enhancing your recovery processes. This is where I am putting my focus now.

Short story - This year in preparation for the CrossFit Open I overcooked it slightly and depleted my recovery to the point that every workout was a drag and my energy levels were down, my HRV (see below) was inconsistent and my resting heart rate constantly elevated. Having just completed the workouts for this year and rested for the last 3 days my resting heart rate dropped from low 50s to mid 40s. This is significant.

Here’s how you can Identify Overtraining / Under-recovery: Listen to Your Body
Even with a focused approach, it's possible to overdo it. Recognising the signs of overtraining is crucial for long-term success and health. Here are a few indicators:

- Heart Rate Variability (HRV): A significant decrease in HRV can indicate overtraining or insufficient recovery.
- Resting Heart Rate: An elevated resting heart rate over several days can signal that your body is under stress or not fully recovered.
- Energy Levels: Persistent fatigue, lack of motivation, or feeling drained despite adequate rest can be tell-tale signs of overtraining.

Next Steps
For men over forty, fitness is a marathon, not a sprint. Identifying the minimum effective dose of exercise for your goals can help you maintain a healthy, active lifestyle without the risk of burnout or injury. Remember, consistency over time trumps intensity in the short term. Listen to your body, adjust as needed, and enjoy the journey toward a healthier you.

Want to chat about a fitness plan that would make sense for you? Then hit this link to arrange a

About the Author Stephen Devine

Steve not just a skilled Crossfit Coach, but a top-tier CrossFit Competitor who's ranked in the top 1% worldwide in the 2023 Crossfit Open! And this is despite spending six weeks on crutches following surgery to fix a broken ankle just a year ago. He's Qualified as a Crossfit L1 Coach, Crossfit Gymnastics, and is also a qualified Olympic Weightlifting Coach.

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