Advice for the young at heart

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Soon we will be older…

After listening to a great call between Dan John and Geoff Neupert, 2 bad mo-fos in strength, grip, bending stuff, kettlebells and more, I decided to repost some of the things Dan discussed, paraphrasing from the notes I took, as a reminder for everyone entering Autumn or Winter…

Hypertrophy and mobility are the key for anyone on the North side of 50 (hypertrophy, by the way, is the fancy term for building muscles, in this context).

Hypertrophy because as one gets older, joints are going. Ever heard the concept of when an elderly person slips and falls, ending up with a broken hip, it’s not the impact/fall that breaks the hip, but the slip (i.e. as the person slips, the hip breaks because of lack of joint stability and muscular atrophy BEFORE landing)?

Think of the body as a Lego set, you know, the modular brick toy that promotes creativity and building with kids. The bricks stack up and stay strong by pressing each one into the other, you don’t just set them loosely on top of one another like a house of cards. The same goes for your joints. You need to “compress” your kinetic chain so that you remain stable from top to bottom. Any looseness in your kinetic chain, a.k.a weakest link, and down you go (this is valid for anyone doing resistance training). While yoga, for instance, is great at keeping you loose, you still need to be able to operate your body through gradual progressive overload (GPO). Your body will respond accordingly, following the SAID principle (Specific Adaptations to Imposed Demands). Don’t expect to get strong and build muscles if you don’t apply resistance on your body.

So, if you used to be able to leap, but now merely trod, you need to get your spring back!

Bring your reps up in order to build fresh muscle (you’re only as old as your connective tissue). Yes, we lose muscle as we get older, but that certainly doesn’t mean you cannot build muscle anymore. Quite the contrary, it is essential for the elderly to keep exercising and building muscle. Not only does it keep you strong, stable and connected, but it also helps strengthen your bones; resistance training has been proven to help with ostheoporosis, because as you build muscle, your body also starts to pull more calcium from your food in order to keep the structure of your body (the bones) strong.

One comment on “Advice for the young at heart”

  1. Forest

    Good stuff, Philippe. It's so true that a lot of older people think they can't gain muscle – when in fact, as you say in this post, it's exactly one of the things they should be focusing on.

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