Men are highly competitive by nature. We don’t like to lose face if we can help it. That’s why so many older men, who should know better, try and “keep up” with guys at the gym who are half their age.
The truth is, older men can stay in fantastic shape. Do a Google search for older bodybuilders and you’ll see a ton of images for guys in their 40s, 50s, 60 and even older who are shredded.
So it’s not that older men can’t keep their hard bodies. It’s that HOW they train needs to change as they age. That is, if they want to avoid injuries.
Here are some key things to keep in mind:
Know Your Real Fitness Level
Are you someone who has been consistently going to the gym for years and now you’re just looking for ways to train to kick things up a notch? Or are you someone who has spent the better portion of the last decade on your sofa?
You’ve got to take a realistic approach to fitness or you’re setting yourself up for failure and, worse, possible injury.
Focus on Gains
While some cardio is important to keep your heart and circulatory system healthy, you want to really focus on building muscles as you age. Because, as we age, we lose muscle mass at a somewhat alarming rate.
The scientific term for this muscle wasting is called sarcopenia. But this doesn’t HAVE to happen to you. If you focus on building muscle when you work out, you will be able to keep your muscle tone as you age.
As a side note: it’s also important to up your protein intake and make sure you are eating enough calories each day. Older men who are hoping to keep or build muscle should be eating upward of 100+ grams of quality protein a day. Also, be sure you eat enough calories. You can’t build something out of nothing, so if making massive gains is your goal – eat to achieve this goal.
Pay Attention to Pain
Back in the day your motto may have been “No Pain – No gain” but, once you hit the big 5-0, those days must stay behind you. It’s important that you listen to your body. If you haven’t lifted weights in a while, don’t start at a weight you lifted 10 years ago. Again, you’re just asking for an injury. And never ignore dizziness or chest pain.
If you’ve never lifted before, it may be that you don’t have quite the right form down. If you belong to a gym, speak with one of the trainers there and see if they can advise you. In fact, it may be a good idea to pay for a handful of training sessions so you can be sure you do each lift accurately and safely.
Train Smarter Not Harder
If you’re hitting the gym again after a bit of a hiatus, one of the first things you’ll notice is your body won’t recover quite as fast as it used to in your teens, 20s or 30s. And if you never fully recover from a workout, you won’t be able to do the one after that and you’ll either injure yourself trying or quit.
It’s far better to train smarter and not harder once you hit your 40s and 50s. This means training to fatigue, but not trying to go way past fatigue or doing 3 or 4 sets when 2 will still get you the gains you want.
Focus on Real-World Movements
Our priorities change when we age. We go from wanting to look awesome with our clothes off to just wanting to be able to stay active. You may find you don’t need a six-pack ab, but you’d like to be able to age in your home and use the stairs and lift heavy bags out of the car.
This is why many professional trainers get their older clients to focus on workouts that are built around compound, multi-joint exercises like squats, lunges, deadlifts, presses, and rows, because they mimic real-life activities. It doesn’t mean you can’t do any curls or flies, just don’t focus on isolation exercises like you used to.
Respect Your Joints
You may notice your joints feel a lot achier than they did 15 years ago. Don’t ignore this. Look for aerobic exercises that are gentler on the joints like swimming, rowing and biking.
You can stay in fantastic shape and look great as you age. But it’s important that you be smart about getting there. Remember, work smarter and not harder, and pay attention to how your body feels.
Besides losing muscle as we age, men also tend to lose their erections. Sometimes this is a result of health challenges like heart disease and type 2 diabetes. But sometimes it is a result of stress and poor circulation.
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