Aging is something that we're all faced with eventually. Time moves on and so does our age and it affects our training and attitude greatly. The days of heavy lifting move over to lighter sets and more machines than free weights. Injuries and arthritis set in from years of heavy lifting. What do we do and how do we handle this mentally as well as physically. Well we have to throw all egos aside and be realistic of what's taking place in the body. There's no reason to think old. That's just a state of mind and it can destroy you. I hear so many people say that they're too old to do something. If they think that way, then they will be. There are so many ways around that and to think positive.
I had a great bench press of 455 lbs. and now I'm lucky to do 175 and I haven't even done benches in over two years. It hurts my shoulder, and I have a torn triceps which really hinders me but I haven't really lost any size. Benches were great for strength and ego but they really didn't do that much for size on me or at least I don't feel that they did looking back. At the time I thought they did but then moved to dumbbells which I really got more development from them cause I could go deeper with my reps.
You look in the mirror in your 30s and think this will last forever. Injury free and the body looks hard and muscular. Then over the years everything begins to change and so does your ego.
From that time I changed up my workout and do a lot of machines which work well. The main thing is muscle resistance whether it be a free weight or machine and today's machines are designed to replicate free weights. Heavy is no longer the answer l but rather do strict reps with a lighter weight and shape the muscle. I've had people tell me that I was huge back in the day and I was, but I'm actually heavier now and my shirts fit tighter. What they were seeing was more cuts under the lights and posed photos so I really did look bigger. Yes, I was probably bulkier but I feel with age that leaner looks better and is much healthier.
I do have a lot of pain in my left shoulder, wrists and knees and sometimes it's unbearable to train at all but I pop a couple of ibuprofen and go through it. Once I warm up and warm up good, I'm good to go. I've always felt that it's important to work through the pain.
Standing dumbbell presses are out as my shoulders hurt too much and my right triceps can't support it. I used to love that exercise but had to let it go. Any behind the neck triceps movements are out for the same reasons. So, I supplement machine cables instead and they work pretty well. Dumbbell flat and incline presses are ok and they're good for chest. Squats are out as my right knee can't take it but leg press seems to work fine as well as leg extensions and leg curls.
So there are options and I didn't list all of them but you can experiment what works for you as there are many to chose from in the gym now days. If you continue to go heavy as you age, it's only going to get worse as it damages the joints and becomes irreparable. Then it's difficult to walk and even get up from a chair.
I cut my sets back to 3 per exercise and 4 exercises per body part. Less is more and it seems to work much better than endless sets as we age. The recovery time is much more important as is the diet. I feel as you age and you've accomplished various strength feats, that there's nothing left to prove as you've already done it, so leave it at the door and move on.
I try to get into the gym for 45 min to do a weight workout and 15 min of cardio. Sometimes I group two body parts and other times just one body part depending on my mood that day. At times, one is plenty but if I have more time, I'll throw in two body parts. I used to think I had to do endless sets per muscle group and now I've found that not to be true and what I'm doing is working even better.
Even Arnold has modified his work out like this and he seems to be in good shape again. Lets be honest we all want to look good as we age. Exercise is the answer but also keep in mind that resistance workouts such as weights, keep the body shape. Toned muscle is shapely muscle covered by the skin. Keep the body fat down and lean and you'll have a magnificent body.
I would suggest trying it as you get older and lighten up on everything. You'll enjoy your workouts much more and still get results but remember diet is "key" if you want to really sculpt the body. It makes a huge difference and you'll see it very quickly. The other thing is diet and nutrition but that's a follow up story. Stay tuned!