When I got older I was known by some people as "that thin old man who can do a maximum of 10 reps with your deadlift". But as I giggle at this characterization, I'm most proud (and grateful) for what it means in action: as a 60-year-old lifter, I can continue to lift fairly heavy weights without most of the pain that can be expected.
Sure, my shoulders get moody from time to time and I have a little calcium in my left elbow. But that's about it. My hips, knees and back continue to play. And part of it is what you might call "happiness", but a big part of it is making conscious decisions to save me from pain.
These seven rules are how I got here ̵
1. Never lift due to pain. Ever.
This is the number one rule for all older lifters who deal with chronic injury problems. Pain is your body telling you how to fix your injuries.
Renowned strength trainer Mike Boyle advises: "Pain that disappears during or after warming up is still pain." I am sure you already understand it on an intellectual level, but you may find it difficult to suppress your more primitive instincts to keep pushing despite the pain. Perhaps you are justifying that you are just "stupid" and can take an ibuprofen to help you sleep better that night.
If so, I would like to introduce you to a revolutionary technique developed by Dr. Stuart McGill, an expert in back pain, was developed. who has solved many cases of severe back pain with it. It is known as a "virtual operation," so McGill does it:
When a new patient comes in with lower back pain, McGill puts his palm on the patient's head for a moment and explains, "OK, you got it just had a virtual back surgery. So what are you going to do in the next 6-8 weeks? "Confused, the patient hesitantly suspects:" Rest? " "Exactly!" McGill answers. Indeed, many patients with lower back pain (not all, mind you) experience complete relief from their pain.
If something hurts regularly, rest it! If you do not see a gradual reduction in symptoms over a period of about a week, have yourself examined. But no, that doesn't mean you just have to hang out on the couch.
2. Train what is not injured
Every injury is both a warning and a veiled opportunity. Here's what I mean: I recently had elbow pain, which meant that I couldn't do any stressed elbow flexion without pain for about 10 weeks, including pull-ups or curls of any kind. So I rested my elbows.
However, I was able to work triceps without problems. So I did that. Sure, I temporarily lost some strength on my trains, but it came back soon enough after I was released. In the meantime, my press exercises got stronger. Adding a small size to my triceps even meant that my arms looked bigger.
This is the definition of a silver streak. Let go of your ego, do what you can and take the long way.
3. Practice your most problematic exercises last, not first
This is a "hack" that has worked for countless lifters. However, if you want to be one of them, your ego must score another temporary hit (do you feel a topic here?).
Here's why: Most orthopedic problems related to lifting are related to the exercises you do first in your workout. The bench press is a common example of this. The boys begin their upper body session with the bench on the grounds that they "have the most energy" at the start of the training. Then, after several intense benches, they move to lats, shoulders, arms, etc.
. The predictable result is that they have a strong bench and chest, as well as cranky shoulders and elbows. Here's what happens when you turn the workout over:
- If you do back, shoulder and / or arm work first, less irritating exercises will warm your shoulders and elbows more thoroughly before you start benching.
- At At the end of your workout, you are less likely to become a victim of ego-lifting because your energy level is lower and your muscles are tired at this point.
Will your bench press suffer when you do it last? Maybe for a while. But your strengthened delts and triceps will likely catch up with and maintain (and sometimes improve) your bank, even though you have less stressed them in your workout. And banks are a lot more fun when it doesn't hurt, even if your numbers temporarily drop.
4. Increase Your Representatives
During my career as a lifting player, I was torn between two somewhat contradictory goals: I want to be stronger, but also more muscular. Traditionally, these two goals suggest different methods: heavy weight and low reps for the former, more moderate weight, and higher reps for the latter.
However, in recent years I have found that you can actually lift heavy weights and do higher reps. It simply requires the use of a different definition of "strength" beyond 1 rpm or even 5 rpm. If you can lift a weight that is heavier than what you were able to cope with for 10 repetitions, it also means that you will get stronger!
In my article "How I got into the best shape of my life at the age of 55", I. Name the skipping of hard sentences of 10 in my youth as "my primary training loyalty". Almost five years later, I still feel the same way. And after focusing on higher repetition rates during this time, I saw that it always paid off.
I am honest: my 1RM in deadlifts has not improved since I was 50. But I am also pain free, leaner, more muscular and stronger in the higher repetition classes, even though I am almost 60 years old. This is a payout that is worthwhile for me.
5. Withdraw from PR
I recently completed a 4-pound deadlift PR at 420 pounds. To get there, I had to include a "consolidation cycle" in my programming, add weights and volumes, and focus on the elevator. But when it did happen, I admitted that the PR still looked like a battle – and sounded.
After reviewing this video, I decided to step back a few weeks to clean up my technique before chasing similar numbers again in the future. Here's a much better looking set of 405×10 that I did at 420 two weeks after this agony.
Over the following weeks, I moved the numbers further and did my best to keep things clean. But when things get ugly again, I will repeat this consolidation cycle again.
Touch a peak and then retreat. Rinse and repeat.
6. Find Your Own "Big Elevators"
Many lifters, after watching my videos on IG and elsewhere, write to me that they are inspired to bring their own dead to similar numbers. When I read this news, I'm flattered, but sometimes worried. Not everyone can push deadlifts as hard as I can, and so do other exercises.
Would you like to know why you have never seen a video where I do crazy heavy benches? Because I can not! Yes, I can safely sit on a bench, but I can't train the bench as aggressively as I can train trains without my shoulder raising the white flag.
It may take a long time until the "best exercises" are found for you. The answer will vary greatly from person to person. But you will know when you found one, if you can do it fairly regularly with good technique, with the feeling of significant strain, with no gnawing pain or injury. The deadlift may not be the elevator for you no matter how much you want it. But maybe the trap bar is deadlift. Maybe the Romanian deadlift. Heck, maybe it's the seat belt squat.
This is one reason why my BodyFit Elite Total-Body Strong program includes different versions of the most important movement patterns in every workout: So you can track options and different lifts to keep track of them as you go.
If you never seem to be able to do a certain exercise in an acceptable form, or if you can, but you get hurt again and again, listen to your body, look for alternatives, and accept them when you find them. Yes, it may take a while to find "your" big lift, but it's a search that you need to prioritize if you want to make long-term progress.
7. Be proud of more than PRs
My friend Bret Contreras, Ph.D., has an interesting observation: We most often injure ourselves in the exercises that are really important to us. As Bret often jokes, nobody cares how much weight they can use for leg curls, low-cable rows, and calf raises. And nobody gets hurt on them.
The exercises that most boys are interested in? Things like bench presses, deadlifts, and squats – the movements that are most responsible for most injuries. The problem is not the exercises, but how much we drive these movements and how much we are invested in them.
If that sounds like you, hey, it's normal. But it is also a reason to be particularly careful with the "Big 3" or other exercises that allow particularly heavy loads – such as the leg press. As you get older, I strongly recommend trying whenever possible not only to get your satisfaction from your strength, but more importantly, things like:
- building muscle or losing fat  Feeling good, not bruised, after training
- not to injure yourself or to be generally pain-free for an extended period of time
- to see your strength training transferred elsewhere in your life
We all know that this is are good things. But most of us are not limited to how much we know, but how well we apply the knowledge. Remember: there is nothing wrong with feeling good! The more years you have gone, the more it makes sense.
Are you ready to put these rules into practice in the gym? Follow Total-Body Strong, Charles Staley's eight-week full-body strength workout in BodyFit Elite. You hit each muscle group three times a week with the perfect mix of intensity and variety. How to train for lifelong gains!