This blog is inspired by many of my clients, past and present. If the shoe fits, feel free to wear it.
All too often I hear "I'm too old to do that" or "Not too heavy, I don't want to get hurt" during training sessions. The first thoughts that go through my head are always "Well, how do you know until you try?" and "No, if you do it correctly you won't get hurt". There are two ages when it comes to training, only one of which matters. The first one is literally how long have you been on this planet (does not matter)... the other is how long have you been training, and by training I mean with a specific plan of action and under the guidance of a qualified individual (does matter). If your answer to the latter is "not very long", the you are young and have much to learn and to gain. Regardless of your age, the desire to be better each and every day, to progress, to accept new challenges should always remain.
Some of my proudest moments as a Coach and Gym Owner are not watching clients/members hit their first 300 pound squat or deadlift, but seeing them make the decision to grab a 15 lb dumbbell instead of a 10 lb dumbbell without me telling them to. Better yet, hitting their first bodyweight squat, pain free, below parallel, with a braced core, neutral spine, all without me giving them any cues. The changes I see in people just from tasting the smallest amount of success or accomplishment are unbelievable. Often times it is not the coaching, the encouragement from others, or the proper programming, but simply putting for the effort for the first time without the fear of failure or injury. You're never too old to try your best. Effort is always a choice.
If you're thinking to yourself "Well isn't showing up a couple times a week and exercising good enough at my age?" The answer is no. Is going to work, on time, a couple times a week good enough? Is feeding your kids/spouse/animals a couple times a week good enough? How about showering and changing into some clean clothes just a couple times a week? My point here is why do we accept training on occasion (if at all) at a less that optimal intensity as acceptable when our health, our appearance, our mental well-being, and ultimately our lives depend on it more than ever as we get older?! None of the other common sense tasks I mentioned (sarcastically yes) would be passed up because we "don't have time today" or "because I'm too old for that".
Studies have shown that 1 in 3 women and 1 in 12 men will sustain a hip fracture in their lifetime. It has also been reported that 86% of hip fractures occur in individuals aged 65 years and older. Sustaining such an injury can increase your mortality rate dramatically. It just so happens that the best exercises for bone strength are the weight bearing ones... aka weight training. Of course, this is just one extreme example of what training can do for you, but I think it is important to be aware of preventative measures when it comes to our health.
Now... I want you to think for a minute. Try and think of as many friends, coworkers, family members, acquaintances, etc. whom you know that have been injured in the past year or so. Maybe strained their back lifting an odd object, turned an ankle, had chronic shoulder pain that prevented them from doing something, maybe even neck pain or general spinal issues and needed to visit a chiropractor, or maybe even fractured a hip? Next, try to think about how many of these people were injured in the gym? How about in the gym, with a Trainer/Coach, helping them execute their workouts? Ok, now lastly, how many of them were injured, in the gym, weight training, with ME as their Trainer/Coach, (just for fun) ...? Let's just wrap that up by concluding that the odds are in your favor.
While there is no argument here that some training is better than no training, and you don't necessarily need to have a goal of deadlifting 300 pounds, you do need to train optimally, with maximum effort, at any given time when you are in the gym. Be confident more often than you are conservative. Positive attitudes bring positive results. Your body is programmed instinctively to let you know when you are doing something out of the norm. So if you're a little, stiff, sore, or out of breath... it will be okay. Get comfortable being uncomfortable and you will be blown away with the feats of strength you are capable of achieving, regardless of your age.