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A Good Post on Aging by a 50 Year-Old on T-Nation

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  • A Good Post on Aging by a 50 Year-Old on T-Nation

    This was posted in the Over-35 Forum of T-Nation and I thought you might find it interesting. I didn't edit the colorful language.

    I've been working out for the last 20 years on and off, and I have noticed some real changes in the way my body responds, both to diet and to exercise. I am not the same man I was, and if you are reading this, neither are you. So far, I've not seen anything here on T-Mag that addresses this specifically, so let's change that.

    Bear in mind that the below is from my own experience, and mileage may vary.

    Metabolic changes:
    Supposedly, our metabolic rate drops as we get older. You see this assumption in most any chart or study that purports to give us guidelines for calorie intake. I question this. I think that at the very least until your mid 60s, it has more to do with your activity level and body composition.
    If I am right, this is something we can all manipulate to our advantage.

    My workouts take longer for a given number of sets. I need a more extensive warmup than I used to. In my 30s I could just walk into the gym and grab a bar. That is out of the question now, both due to old injuries, and to the fact that I seem a little stiffer upon rising (I work out first thing in the AM).

    Now I have to get a minimum of 5 minutes of medium intensity whole body type cardio to get a light sweat going, and follow that up with another 10 minutes or so of stretching. I also take longer rests between sets when I am lifting heavy. I am in the gym longer.

    Does this translate to more calories burned? I think so, as I am careful to never stop moving while I am in the gym, and I never let my heart rate get all the way back down. Don't let the sweat dry!

    Lift four days / week for 45-60 min. Make sure you do a good warmup / stretch. Don't ever stop moving in the gym. You should be sweating after your warmup, drenched halfway through, and soaking wet at the end. If this is not the case, decrease your rest intervals, even if it means dropping the weight. Don't let your ego get in the way of your progress. That shit is for 20 year olds.

    Make sure your form is perfect. If you aren't sure about a given exercise, ask someone. Pick an older guy that looks like you want to look, and seems to know what he is doing. Your gym staff is probably clueless.

    DO NOT use the Smith machine, or any machine that forces your joints into an unnatural position or pattern during the movement. I am not against machines by any means, but a lot of them do more harm than good.

    A good test is to perform the movement with free wieghts first. Take the dumbbell overhead press, for example. Do a nice, slow set with a moderate weight. Concentrate on the movement, and note the way the muscles and your joints feel.

    Now try the machine you are considering. Does the movement feel natural? Do your shoulders feel constricted, or somehow out of position?
    If so, eliminate that machine from your routine. Yes, even if the 20 year old chippie the gym hired puts it on your "workout card".
    My guess is that you will end up going with free wieghts for most movements.

    Aside from my warmups before lifting, I think the best time to do it is in the evening, after dinner. Yep, you read that right. I find that since I know I am going to hit the Lifecycle for 30 minutes around 60-90 minutes later, I tend to eat less for dinner. Cardio should be hi-intensity intervals. I am lucky enough to have a 9500R with a hill program that fits the bill perfectly but sprints work too. After the "evening burn" I shower, relax, and here lately, sleep like a baby.

    On two of your non-workout days, do hi-intensity interval training in the evening. On your one off day of the week, do only light activity. Give yourself a chance to recharge.

    Jump on them immediately. If you are in the middle of a workout, do not continue or try to "work around" it. I can tell you from experience that you often don't know how badly you're hurt until hours later - sometimes the next day, when you can't get out of bed. If you think you tweaked something, start NOW with some nsaids, ice, rest, etc. You will thank yourself later.

    The weiner factor:
    Fuck your sweetie every chance you get. Make it last. Regular sex burns calories, and contributes to a better outlook generally, better sleep, stress relief, and I think it makes you stronger. And of course, your relationship will improve. Younger guys will read this and say "No shit" but it is easy to let this part of your life slide when you have the job, the wife, the kids, friends, the kid's friends, and maybe the kid's kids (you old fart) to worry about.
    Fuck her every chance you get. If she doesn't seem as appealing as she once did try cutting down on the masturbation, you pervert. She'll look fine if you haven't spanked it for two weeks.

    More and more evidence is piling up that weight loss is easier if you get a good night's sleep. My own experience supports this. I go to sleep when I'm sleepy and sleep until I wake up. If you can't get up without an alarm, go to bed earlier. Afraid you'll miss Rescue Me? That's why they invented TIVO.
    And another thing - I think I learned this in Boy Scouts - when you wake up, get up. When you get up, wake up. Get moving and start accomplishing something. If you work out first thing, you will find that you have more energy all day long.

    Drugs / Alcohol:
    Please. You're 50. Don't be a dumb fuck.

    Test Levels:
    Get them checked. Even if you think you're OK. It can be hard to see the forest when you ARE the tree. Maybe you think you feel the same as you always did in most areas, but change is gradual, and it will sneak up on you. Make sure you are at normal or above. You can get the details on the "numbers behind the numbers" in the HRT posts on this site, but the bottom line is you want your test at normal 25 year old levels. Mine was at 292, and now it's at 892, and I am a different person. If you do go for HRT, make the way you feel the final determinant in whether or not it is working for you. Some people feel fine at 400, others don't. Some people are fine with the gel, others have to inject.

    I am definitely more sensitive to carb intake than I was in my 30s. If I am carrying extra weight, I can easily drop 5 lbs in a week by cutting them to <100 day. This was not always the case. I am not sure if this is specific to me, or a result of too many years of nachos and beer when I was younger. I've found that if I drop bread, sweets, etc and just eat clean, I don't really have to count carbs obsessively, and I feel much more clear-headed. Clearly, carbs are as near to a drug as you can get by just eating.

    I shoot for at least 1 gm per lb / bw. I make extensive use of shakes to make sure I get enough. My favorite post-workout meal is 1 cup milk, 2 scoops of protein powder, and a cup of mixed frozen berries.

    Total calorie intake:
    10 kcal / lb BW seems to maintain my weight, unless I am doing a lot of energy work. If I drop carbs, I can eat more. This will be different for everybody. You will have to experiment to find out what works for you.

    Concentrate on getting the good stuff in before you worry about keeping the bad stuff out.
    In other words, first make sure you are geting your protein, plenty of fresh veggies, fiber and water. After that, more than likely you won't have much room for garbage.
    If you need 200 gms of protein and 30 grams of fiber, and should be drinking at least a gallon of water / day, take care of that first. I've found that by concentrating on what I should eat instead of focusing on what I can't dieting is a lot easier. Usually it is 7 pm and I realize that I still need another 30 gms of protein - no ice cream tonight! I have to drink a shake.

    Why we old guys have the advantage:

    I think that a motivated 50 year old man has significant advantages over his younger brethren when it comes to getting in shape. Take a look:

    1)We don't need to impress anybody. We are already who we are going to be. With excess ego goes a lot of negative behaviors. Using too much weight with bad form for example.

    2)We are already in long term relationships. Being single sucks, and it takes a lot of time, energy and money to chase tail. We're done, and can put those recources to better use. In addition, there's nothing like positive feedback from the one who loves you most and knows you best to keep you on track.

    3)We have money. Yeah, baby. We're in our peak earning years. We can buy whatever food and supplements we want. We can afford the quality home equipment and the premium gum membership, the one that includes yoga classes with the Russian contortionist lady.

    4)We have time. The kids are out of the house. We're settled into our careers. We PAY someone to mow the fucking lawn. And you can only play so many rounds of golf.

    5)We have motivation. There is a LOT going on in the area of life extention and morbidity compression. In a nutshell, if you are 50 now, and make it to 65 in good health, you should live to be about 110, with all the "bad parts" of aging compressed into the last two years or so. There is no excuse for not taking care of yourself at this point. The progress in this area is mind-boggling. I may do a post just on this subject alone, as I don't think this gets nearly enough play in the media.

    So there it is, my take on "ageing gracefully". I hope this post helps at least one person, as it took some time to write. It started as somthing much shorter, but kind of fed upon itself.
    Scott "Old Navy" Hults
    Master Pro Bodybuilder

  • #2
    Good post, he has some good stuff to say.


    • #3
      Excellent post, thanks for posting it Scott
      My Competition Prep Journal

      Muscular Development Forum Rules


      • #4
        Good stuff!

        I'd also add pay close attention to the stretching - something I've discovered about many, many years of bodybuilder style training (muscle group) is that overall functional balance & strength can suffer - i.e. imbalances can accumulate over the years that eventually start to affect areas downstream or upstream from the initial point - e.g. a rotated pelvis in 2003 propogates to a tight IT band, which in turn can cause the place where my knee cap tracks over the joint to be off, which in turn causes bursitis, which in turn can aggravate some hereditary instabilities in my foot structure.

        Take away from this --- stretch, make sure all the overall functionality works as well - things that you could get away w/ when you were younger start to show up now and are much more fundamental than what used to be just a tight hammie.....


        • #5
          I like it.

          NYC BIG MIKE
          Looking for the "gang of 20".