Reaching the big Three Zero is a huge milestone to any man. Along with the extra responsibilities it brings in your family, business, and personal life, it's at this point where we become faced with a training dilemma.
We either continue to train like we did in our 20s, when our testosterone levels were at their highest and our bodies were more resilient to stress than they will ever be again. This is the option that most choose to take, but by doing so, they dramatically increase their risk of injury, plateau, and even regression.
The other option is to start training smarter, adapting our training programme to maximise our athletic potential whilst keeping risk of injury at it's lowest.
Let's get one thing straight - we're not saying that as soon as you wake up on your 30th birthday it's time to take your foot off the gas in the gym. Not one bit.
However, if you want to continue to crush your workouts and make progress well into your 30s and beyond, you have to start training smarter.
So how exactly should guys over 30 be training? Here are five top tips that you should be paying attention to!
1) Don't neglect the warm up: As we age, our joints and muscles naturally take longer to warm up than before. Whilst a two minute warm up may cut it for the fresh faced 18 year old in the squat rack next to you, guys over 30 have to take a little extra care and attention to properly prepare themselves for exercise.
Whether you're lifting, running, or hitting the rugby field, be sure to hit a combination of stretches and dynamic movements before you begin your exercise. For guys over 30, a warm up can take between 5 - 10 minutes (depending on the type of exercise) but is extremely important if you want to be able to train at maximum intensity without doing yourself an injury.
Pay particular attention to your joint mobility - loosen out your shoulders, elbows, knees, and ankles. Fully stretch out all the muscles you intend to be working, and do a short cardio warm up to bring your body temperature up.
2) Limit heavy barbell lifts to once or twice per week: Heavy barbell lifts such as squats and bench presses put the biggest strain on our joints, so should be limited to once or twice per week max. Instead, swap them with replacements that won't beat you up - dumbbell split squats or goblet squats, for example, are an excellent alternative to the classic barbell squat. Dumbbell chest press or flys provide a better range of motion to hit your chest hard, without putting unnecessary stress on your shoulders and elbows.
3) Lift in the 8 - 15 rep range: It's common knowledge that testosterone production begins to slow down as you enter your 30s, so it's important that we do everything we can to preserve it. And although it is widely thought that heavier lifts can increase testosterone production, lifting too heavy may have the opposite effect. Too much heavy lifting frazzles your central nervous system, which in turn, actually inhibits testosterone production. So whilst you may get an initial testosterone boost from a heavy squat or deadlift, going back in the gym the next day to do the same thing is only going to do you more harm than good.
To avoid burning out from going too heavy, lift in the 8 - 15 rep range, focusing on form and technique over how much weight you can get on the bar. Lift at 60 - 80% of your 1RM - enough to stimulate your muscles without annihilating your CNS.
4) Master Technique: Train your muscles, not your ego, and lift weights that you manoeuvre with perfect form and constant tension. Lower the weight with a controlled count, and squeeze back up with maximum tension to fully engage the muscle. Not only will you get a greater pump this way, but you'll dramatically reduce the risk of injury from going too heavy.
5) Recover properly: You'll want to do a proper warm down after each and every training session, incorporating some mobility work and a little foam rolling to fully stretch out the muscle and reduce soreness the next day. Pay close attention to your sleep and nutrition to maximise your recovery outside of the gym and ensure you are getting the most from your training.
Just because you're getting a little older, your training shouldn't have to suffer. These days, most guys are only just entering their prime at the age of 30. Train correctly, and you'll continue to make progress - through age 30 and far beyond.
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