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How to Plan Your Training After 60

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What you need to know about training when you start to get old(er) is the fact you're getting older. I have written a lot about how to train smarter before, and the older you get, the smarter you have to train. You need to know that one of the biggest issues about getting older is that your recovery will suffer. So, you have to train smarter to get better recovery from your training.

Meet Leif
One of my clients, Leif asked me to write this article to help others who think they are too old to get any positive development from strength training. It's never too late! That old dude who asked me to write this retired at 65 years old. As a retiree, he weighed 115kg, was bottle-shaped, had no shoulders, and carried a big belly that hung out.

Now, he weighs 85kg and tells me his back looks like a big Y.

When Leif was between the ages of 65-67, the ambulance went in "shuttle traffic" between his home and the hospital. He was stricken of stroke and heart attack (three stents implanted), he had a bad throat infection so bad he was forced to spend more time at the hospital (and was minutes from getting his throat open by the doctors), and had a disc herniation which forced him to spend one week in the hospital. Oh, he also had a groin hernia with a net implanted.

When he started to feel a little better, he began light training at the gym, then did Bodypump for one year. Then he began to train heavier and soon started to train for strongman. My wife and I were involved in his first Swedish Strongman Championship for pensioners. Before that, he made his debut in strongman in a lighter competition.

The rest is history.

He visits several times to check how his body works since I write his training programs. During these gym visits, I also check his technique in the competition and regular lifts.

Now, Leif is preparing for the Silverback Competition (a reference to old gorilla males). A couple of days later, Leif posted his papers from his latest medical examination. His numbers are better than many people in their forties. His blood pressure was 105/45, his resting heart rate was 52 beats per minute, and his cholesterol and blood sugar was good. Incredible! Remember, he started to train after he turned 65 years old. Now he says that he is stronger than ever before. As I said, it's never too late to get your ass into the gym!

The Doctor Told Him Never to Stop Training
One of my other clients, over 70, told me he had been to the doctor for a medical examination, and his doctor had looked at the papers and exclaimed, "What the fuck have you done?" Anxiously, he asked the doctor if anything was wrong. The doctor said, "You haven't had these good values in thirty years. So, tell me, what have you done?" My client told his doctor that he started to train at the gym three days a week. The doctor told him never to stop training.

How to Plan Your Training
To plan your training, I recommend reading two recent articles of mine: Poor Recovery is Holding You Back and What is GPP and Who's It For?

General Physical Preparedness (GPP) will give you the ability to train harder.

One other thing, it's important to change how your "go to failure" looks like. Instead of going to a muscular failure, you should go to your technical failure. Therefore, you shouldn't push yourself to the point where your body can't hold up the weights anymore. Call the set off when you notice that you can't maintain perfect technique.

You may also need to reduce the total volume of training. We have an expression, "You should leave some kilograms (or pounds) on the podium when you're done." This expression means that you should save some energy for recovery and applies to all ages but especially those 60 and above.

Build (or retain) your base from GPP and build more absolute strength in the gym.

Try to get at least 30 minutes of low-intensity activity every day. Low-intensity activity will help you recover from training and prepare you for a new session.

Consider a Monday, Wednesday, and Friday gym workout.

Program Sample

Monday—Push
  • Bench press 5x5 reps (let the technique decide how hard you train)
  • Standing shoulder press with barbell 5x5 reps (let the technique decide how hard you train)
  • Declined dumbbell press 3x10 reps (leave one rep)
  • Lateral dumbbell raises 4x10 reps
  • Triceps pushdown 4x20 reps
Wednesday—Pull
  • Deadlift 5x5 reps (let the technique decide how hard you train)
  • Lat pulldowns 3x10 reps
  • Seated row 3x10 reps
  • Reverse flyes 3x10 reps
  • Biceps curl with dumbbells 4x10 reps
Friday—Legs
  • Squat 5x5 reps (let the technique decide how hard you train)
  • Good mornings with barbell 4x10 reps (easy on this one)
  • Leg extensions 4x10 reps
  • Seated leg curl 4x10 reps
  • Plank 3x30-45 seconds
 

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