By Pete Sisco - Developer of Static Contraction Training
When You're Over 40
Training when over 40 years of age? Yes, I'm
very qualified to write on this subject... and
have been for years. When I was in my twenties I did
almost everything wrong in the gym. I did too many
exercises for each muscle group, I did too many reps,
too many sets and I virtually never had clear goals
for each workout.
Youth can afford to make such mistakes. But as we
age it behooves us to get more bang for the buck when
we do weightlifting. We need maximum results with
minimum time invested. And it's not just because
we lead busy lives and can't spend hours in
the gym. It's because every workout represents
a certain amount of wear and tear on the body and
there is no good reason to deplete ourselves by performing
more exercise than necessary to achieve our goals.
Fifteen years ago I used to jump right into an intense
workout and hoist hundreds of pounds without the slightest
warm up. That's pretty dumb in your twenties
but it's downright dangerous later in life.
A proper warm up increases blood circulation to the
muscles, elevates respiration to improve oxygen absorption,
and improves viscosity in the joints.
Before you start your weight lifting workout do 10
to 20 minutes of brisk walking on the treadmill or
use a stationary bike, stair stepper or other aerobic
machine. Then before you perform each lift, do a few
reps with about half of the weight you'll be
shooting for that day. For example, if your goal is
8 reps with 250 pounds, warm up with 8 to 12 reps
with 125 pounds. If you're doing static training
and are shooting for a 5 second hold with 400 pounds,
do your warm up reps for 5 seconds with 200 pounds
One of the biggest mistakes you'll see in the
gym is people who do many exercises for each muscle
group. This is not necessary. Muscles grow though
an adaptive response to the intensity at which they
are forced to work. Intensity is measured by the amount
of work done per unit of time. You will actually achieve
better results in less time if you perform one very
high intensity exercise per muscle group. For example,
some people will work their chest by doing 3 sets
of cable crossovers followed by 3 sets on the pec
dec and finally 3 sets on the bench press. Our studies
have shown that 90% of trainees will actually receive
better results by performing one set of all-out, super
high intensity bench presses of either 8 reps or 5
to 10 seconds of a static hold.
This is great news to everyone but it is particularly
good for those of us who are over forty because performing
multiple sets of multiple exercises is very depleting.
Yet it is just not necessary.
The three biggest lies in strength training are "Monday,
Wednesday and Friday"!! Fixed strength training
schedules don't work for very long. The goal
of every workout should be to increase the intensity
of work done compared to your previous workout. As
intensity increases your body needs more time to recover
(especially as we get older!) so workouts have to
be spaced further apart. This is more good news to
everyone except the exercise addict.
When you begin a strength training program you might
be able to work out on Monday, Wednesday and Friday,
provide your body can fully recover with just one
day off. But as you get stronger and start hoisting
some really heavy iron, you WILL need more time to
recover. So your third or fourth week might allow
you to train on Mondays and Thursdays. Two weeks later
you might only be able to see increases in intensity
if you train one day per week. After a month of that
you will need to train only once every ten or fifteen
days. I work with advanced trainees who now lift weights
once every six weeks and they see improvements in
every exercise on every workout.
The truth is you can achieve your optimum muscularity
by working out with precisely engineered workouts
that contain clear goals about as frequently as you
get a haircut. That's very welcome news to those
of us who just want results and don't use the
gym as a social gathering place.
Muscle Equals Youth
Have you ever seen two people who were both 60 years
old but one of them looks 70 and the other looks 45?
Age can't be measured by the calendar alone.
There are several well established "bio markers
of aging" that are used to give more accuracy
to the assessment of physical age. Guess what? The
amount of muscle your body contains is one of the
principle bio markers of aging. The more muscle you
have, the younger you are. Another bio marker of aging
is bone density. Guess what the number one method
is of increasing bone density? Heavy, weight bearing
Those of us over forty years of age can greatly slow
down (and in many cases reverse) aging processes by
performing rational, efficient strength training that
increases muscle mass and bone density. The really
great news is that it can be done without hours of
exercise performed week after week. Less wear and
tear on the body, fewer workouts and increased youth!!
It's great to finally be 'old and wise'!