My last post here was directed toward older women, so today I’ll speaking to the olderguys. Since I’m one of those aged dudes myself, I consider myself to have a bit of credibility on this subject!
1) You might be better off at a lower bodyweight. Guys, don’t be overly influenced by marketing-driven ideals regarding how big you should be. Be your own man and make your own decisions. Sure, it’s impressive to see guys who are lean at 250+ pounds, but there are at least three reasonably compelling reasons why you might consider weighing a lot less:
• The vast majority of health research indicates that you’ll be healthier and live longer at a BMI under 25, even if you’re lean at a heavier bodyweight. Lighter bodyweights tend to be associated with better cholesterol levels and more favorable blood pressure readings, just for starters.
• Not as many women dig huge muscular guys as you think. Most women want their guy to be lean and healthy, and yes, muscular, but beyond a certain point, muscle mass tends to convey narcissism to a lot of women.
• There are very definite costs involved in developing and maintaining a lot of muscle, not the least of which is orthopedic stress. Consider the costs VS the benefits, not just the benefits.
It’s not my intention to sway you one way or the other on this topic, but I am encouraging you to be an independent thinker when it comes to how big you want to be.
2) Have your hormones checked. I’ve talked about this in more detail, but I’ll keep hammering away at this point: LOTS of older guys have necessarily low testosterone levels. Have a blood test done, even if only to ID your current levels as a baseline against future lab tests. If your T levels ARE low, I’d assess your current lifestyle to see if you could make some changes (better nutrition and sleep, less stress, etc). If those changes fail to elevate your T levels, consider TRT (testosterone replacement therapy). After all, if you can legally and safely have the testosterone levels of an 18-year old, why wouldn’t you do it?
3) Check your ego. Look — I’m all about lifting heavy weights, so I get it. And, no, you don’t have to throw in the towel just because you’ve hit a certain age. That being said, there is such a thing as “strong enough” at any given age. If you’re 60 for example, a 400 deadlift is CERTAINLY strong enough, and probably more than. Sure, it’s great to build up a high level of strength, so that when physical decline inevitably sets in, you’ll have a significant “reserve” to draw upon. However, there is a definite cost to developing that level of strength (time away from other pursuits, effort, risk of injury, orthopedic wear & tear, and so on).
There are no absolute “rules” regarding this, so I encourage you to set your own. If you’re 55 and can bench 350 but your shoulders are killing you and you get winded going up 2 flights of stairs, should you be putting more time into improving your bench, or might that time be better spent on other areas? Think of your physicality as an assembly line — which worker is actually slowing down the entire production? Find that weak link and beef it up until it’s no longer your Achilles heel. Then ID the next weakest link and get to work on bring that up, etc. In my coaching practice, we focus on 4 primary attributes: body composition, strength, mobility, and work capacity. As a starting point for introspection, I urge you to rank all 4 according to your current development and then put a plan together for weak link fortification.
4) Here’s a shortcut to a better visual appearance: Develop great delts and arms, and get really lean. Here’s Dave Weck (below) at 5’11” and only 155. Sure, he’s very light, but in my book at least, he looks super-impressive. My point is simply that there are a number of different ways to look great, even if you’re not very big.
5) Consider just maintaining. I know, I know, maintenance is boring and non-aspirational. But: if you’ve been training for many years, you face two interconnected realities:
• No matter how hard you train, you’re going to have a very hard time making additional progress. And…
• Even if you back off on your training rather substantially, it’ll be fairly easy to maintain your present status.
Put these two facts together and you’re faced with a perhaps surprising conclusion: maybe you just just ease up a bit, and just maintain your present condition? After all, your joints will be happy with that decision, and, don’t forget —as the years tick by, most of your peers are declining as they age, so if you can simply maintain, you look better by comparison with every passing year. Again, I’m not trying to sway you necessarily, it’s just food for thought.
6) If you’re an older beginner to fitness, sure your age will work against you to some degree, BUT the fact that you’re a beginner very definitely works in your favor. My over-40 clients usually double their strength and add significant amounts of new muscle inside of 6 months. So please don’t assume it’s too late to get fit just because you’re 40, 50, 60, or even older, because it’s definitely not (and I’d be honored to help!)
7) My last point is also directed to beginners, and/or older guys who might just be sick of lifting weights after decades of doing it: there’s no law or 11th commandment that says you must lift weights. Look — I’m the biggest promoter of lifting that you’ll ever find, but if I’m being honest, you can very definitely live a long, healthy, and happy life without ever lifting a single weight. Sure — being physically active IS very important, but while lifting has numerous compelling benefits, if it just doesn’t float your boat for whatever reason, participate in physical activities that youdoenjoy — consider taking up a martial art. Or rock climbing. Or master’s track and field. The optionals are nearly limitless — don’t do unnecessary things that you don’t enjoy!