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How To Optimize Your Strength With Age

How To Optimize Your Strength With Age

Throughout my life there have been many times where I’ve heard some people say things that result in the outcomes that they undoubtedly create…and it’s usually not for the best. For instance, there have been times when some guy that was of the same age, or older would look at me train and make a comment that they wouldn’t be doing what I was doing because they were too old. Of course, this is simply not true.

The Mental Block

The fact is that strength is something that can be built upon at any age and with tremendous outcomes. One of the biggest problems with people when looking at training is a mental block that I refer to as the I Can’t Because¬†Syndrome.¬†You know how this one goes.

People will say I can’t do that because it’s too hard. Or I can’t do that because I don’t have the time. Or I can’t do that because I hurt my back. Or I can’t do that because I’m too old! It goes on and on and on.

Now this is a common theme because people have accepted this thought process and embraced it in their lives as being the norm. The fact is that it’s only that way because they say that it is. As soon as they can see beyond this limited thinking and recognize that it’s only a limitation they are putting on themselves then they can focus more on being results driven.

This is true of any endeavor whether it’s with the pursuit of strength, with the pursuit of a business, or with the pursuit of a new direction in life. It really doesn’t matter. The principle will apply in any scenario, but for the sake of today’s post I want to talk about how it relates to the pursuit of strength.

Optimizing Strength At Any Age

Now the key to developing strength boils down to one simple principle. The progressive overload principle is the way to get stronger…period. This means that as we start to build strength, or strength endurance we can steadily and progressively increase the volume, intensity, and time of whatever stress we are choosing to place on our bodies for acquiring a desired outcome.

For example, if we are looking to increase the number of push ups we can do then we want to increase the number, frequency, and time that we spend doing them in order to increase our push up numbers. If we can perform a maximum of 10 push ups at one time then we can apply the progressive overload principle to increase this number.

We can do this several different ways, but one way we can apply this is by performing multiple sets of push ups with reps that are just under the max range. This is imperative so that we can ensure that we can perform a quality set of push ups without compromising our technique due to muscular fatigue.

So in this example if we can do 10 push ups as the maximum then we can perform 3 sets of 5 to 7 reps. This way we are performing a total volume of push ups that range from 15 to 21 reps which is 5 to 11 reps over our max effort set of 10. This way we are getting in a quality number of push ups for the time we spend doing them.

The Correct Mindset And Emphasizing A Quality ROM

There is a phrase that I commonly use with my students when talking about consistency. I always tell them to keep chopping wood. This comes from the fact that chopping wood is a task that requires nothing more than consistency.

In a world where everyone wants immediate results I think people tend to fall into the mindset that they need to try and do everything all at once. This mindset is unrealistic and will cause one to burnout and eventually quit.

When it comes to chopping wood the process is about emphasizing quality and consistency. This mindset is one that is steadfast, continuous, and unrelenting. This is the key mindset to have when it comes to pursuing strength and this applies to everyone at any phase of life.

In addition to having this correct mindset the other important detail in enhancing strength (particularly with age) is being able to emphasize a quality and full ROM. By doing this we can remove the ego from the equation in regards to trying to lift a shitload of weight and focus more on how well we can lift the given resistance.

Being able to control a free weight throughout a full ROM teaches us to be more mindful of how the movement should be performed and we can better emphasize the tension of the muscle at each end range of the movement. This will create greater stabilization and prepare us for handling a heavier load with greater efficiency the next time we tackle that particular movement.

What are you emphasizing today in your strength program? Don’t be shy about posting up in the comments here below. Stay strong and keep training smart.

Related Articles:

The Mental Edge: Beating The Doubt Monster & Blazing Your Own Trail

Dynamic Motion: The Keys To Moving Before Moving

Skillful Conditioning: Quality Work To Rest Intervals & Intuitive Recovery

Common Sense Strength: Harness Your Natural Human Ability

The Gravity Method: Dynamic Bodyweight Strength Performance

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I'm a Certified Strength And Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) and author. I have had over 17 years experience in MMA fitness, strength and conditoning, and athletic performance for most every sport. As an author and specialist I've written close to a million words on fitness and strength. I'm also a Muay Thai practictioner and enjoy helping others to reach their peak potential through fitness and performance.

This Post Has 2 Comments
  1. Of all the many excuses people use for not putting in the time and effort to get and stay fit/strong, age might actually be the weakest! I’m gonna be 50 in two months and I might actually be in the best shape of my life. I cycle (mostly as a commuter), I rock climb, I do yoga, I run occasionally (not a fan, but it is a useful, functional movement) and of course I do a butt load of GYROTONIC. People gotta just get out there and do SOMETHING.
    And I’m totally with you on the quality over quantity concept. I do deadlifts once a week because there is no substitute for pickup and putting down heavy things. Right now I’m not doing huge numbers as far as load, only 215 lbs, but I’m doing 16 reps per set and clean form. Little by little my weight will go up, but never at the expense of form.

    1. Hey Mike this is awesome. Yes,it does boil down to quality. The biggest problem is that in my experience people want to do just “workout” on occasion, rather than to “train” themselves in a purposeful manner. The latter is more about pursuing strength and the pursuit is about learning in both a mental and physical way. I guess it’s the pursuit that scares most people off. Glad to hear about your progress. Keep it up and don’t be a stranger!

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