OVER 30? TIME TO LISTEN UP!
Without sounding too depressing, from around the age of 30 everything begins to slow down - for some at a faster rate than others. Our hormonal function and cellular pathways slow down and we become a lot less efficient with regards to training and more importantly recovery. Whilst recovery is vital aspect of any effective training program, regardless of age, in someone over the age of 30 - this importance grows even more.
Older athletes become well aware that they aren’t as young as they used to be and that they don’t ‘bounce back’ as they once did. Saying this, most are quite happy to turn a blind eye and expect their bodies to train and perform like they just turned 20!
It must be noted that someone whose body has been conditioned to training and racing for the last 10 years will respond very differently to someone who has decided to do a one-off ‘long-distance’ race to celebrate their 40th birthday. This is most prevalent in professional and top-end amateur athletes who have built a strong base over decades. But this is not to say that the first of these two won’t need to take conscious action - over a certain age you WILL start to notice niggle’s crop up that once upon a time you could get away with.
Before you go off and wallow in self pity, there is plenty you can do to slow these changes down and in turn make yourself as strong and resilient as possible, so that you can train and race for years to come.
A few changes we may experience with age:
· Decreases in muscle mass
· Increased risk of Osteopenia and Osteoporosis (bone density reduces)
· Increased likelihood of weight gain
· Reduced soft tissue elasticity increasing the likelihood of injury
· Reduced enzyme activity
· Less tolerance for heat
· Lower levels of testosterone
HOW CAN STRENGTH TRAINING HELP?
By implementing strength work into our training, we obviously aren’t going to stop the inevitable, but if we continue to demand our bodies to swim, bike, run or perform however we do - the least we can do is help to prevent injury and get the best out of our performance.
Tissue and Bone Health
By strengthening the muscles, tendons and ligaments that surround your hips, knees, ankles and shoulders etc, we can minimise any associated stress on the joint and avoid possible imbalances. Resistance training improves bone density so the combination of stronger bones, connective tissue and muscles results in a more durable body, giving you the ability to withstand the demands of endurance training.
Optimal range of motion will allow us to walk, run and move efficiently, however this movement needs to be controlled by strong, healthy ligaments and tendons alongside activated muscles. For example, making sure our ankles are strong enough to stabilise us when running on uneven terrain (the common cause of an ankle sprain).
Body awareness and balance are also other variables that we lose with age. The stronger and more powerful you are, the more it helps in regards to balance and co-ordination. Strength training gives you the ability ‘feel’ those muscles switch on more than ever.
Old injuries and bad habits can rise to the surface when going through any basic movement assessment. Compensations that have become the ‘norm’, need to be addressed and corrected to progress on as a healthy athlete. And most of the time - with the help of trained eye, this can be achieved.
Utilising a strength training program either at home or in the gym twice a week, with a focus on developing and maintaining your strength will go a long way to slowing down age-related changes. You don’t necessarily need to be doing explosive or max rep efforts but you do need to be addressing areas of mobility, strength and good movement to keep you moving efficiently and avoiding injury.
For guidance on how to get started, check out our StrengthForEnduranceKIT