Patient progress for older trainers

Why is patient progress so important for older lifters? How can it be effective?
As far as I can see in most of the gyms I’ve been to the trainers do not make any progress let alone consistent progress. Most appear to be content to go through the motions with the same reps, sets and poundages having reached some imaginary plateau years before. It’s probably even more evident in older trainers who have been indoctrinated that as you age you mustn’t strain yourself by lifting anything too heavy – pitchers of beer are of course exempt from this…

Patient progress doesn’t have to mean slow progress but even if it does it’s still progress and that’s raising the bar higher than at least 50% of those training at your average gym. What are some of the considerations for older trainers then?

Injury: This is probably the principle assailant that can mug us of our hard earned gains and also one of the reasons why I’m here writing this article instead of making progress in the gym! Physical injury also attacks us mentally reinforcing our negative and overly cautious misgivings about pushing our limits.

What are the factors that contribute to causing injury in older trainers? I believe that as you age strong consideration needs to taken in warming up properly and ensuring that adequate levels of mobility are maintained however I’m sure that anyone reading this would most probably already know this. Some of the other factor may not be so obvious though.

As we get older and our training age increases our neuromuscular efficiency also improves which means that each time we expose ourselves to a dose response we are effectively digging a little further down the well of our CNS system. This along with the progressively heavier loads used can sometimes strain our recovery abilities and lead us toward over-training and perhaps injury.  We nearly always get a warning sign right before injury occurs, one that we usually ignore and pay the price for later. That minor strain in the lower back becomes something more sinister following some heavy deadlifts – but at the back of your mind you probably knew that the deadlifts were a bad idea.

3 ways to avoid injury? Now we’re back to patient progress and we can do this by considering the following plan.

1.Intelligent PROGRAM DESIGN must encompass the fundamentals of how frequently certain bodyparts are exposed to loads and stimuli. The fact that your body operates as an integrated machine contributes to how some muscles can become overworked. Certain movements share similar patterns and overlap in their recruitment of the same muscles to complete different activities.  Would anyone be stupid enough to work at heavy squats on Monday, explosive olympic lifts midweek and heavy deadlifts on Friday? Ok, yes I was…. And as I mentioned above yes I knew it was going to bite me but I was too stubborn and did it any way. Dammit why didn’t I listen… to myself. If only I had written this post last week!

2. I used to believe that PERIODIZATION was some sort of complex Soviet algorithm used only by elite athletes to get stronger whilst monitored by some scientist type in a white coat – think Rocky IV.  I still think that but now I use the general spirit of the principles and incorporate them using cycles. These tend to start off light and build in intensity and volume to a peak using various sets and rep schemes followed by a period of deload. The purpose of these cycles and periodization is to progress whilst addressing your priorities according to what stage you are at. A side effect of this is that you ADAPT and this is the magic ingredient that keeps you progressing. It can be a little confusing sometimes as it is not as straightforward as linear progress where weight is added to the bar each workout. But can be simple if the structure is followed and there are many fantastic systems out there to assist with this. I suggest checking out the following. The cube and Wendler 531

3. DELOAD is as important as the cycle that precedes it in my opinion and can greatly assist in the adaptation process. This really can be as simple or as complex as you want to make it however the main thing is to make it part of the cycle and adhere to it. Lower percentages on the main lifts and maintenance conditioning sessions or a total break, you decide. But this really must be part of the cycle and especially for older lifters as this can be mental break which fires you up to get back and attack the next stage of the program. I never really thought this part was important before but that was before my birthday cakes became fire hazzards…

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