Ask The Trainer #40 – Too Old To Grow (Part 1 of 2)

Ask The Trainer #40 - Too Old To Grow (Part 1 of 2)

QUESTION:

Hello Chad,

I am 58 years old and have been lifting weights for about 35 years. I know my building days are over but still work out 6 days a week including squats. What kind of workout do you recommend? I am starting to lay off the heavy weights and going more for the higher reps to get the blood flow. I do anywhere from 30 reps a set to 15 reps. The lighter weights are much easier on my joints and I get sore like I have not gotten in a long time. I work one body part a day and each body part once a week. Is there anything I should be doing different? I still drink a protein shake once a day and try to watch my diet.

Help,
Jim


ANSWER:

Hi, Jim. I’ve witnessed countless people at the various gyms I’ve belonged to over my life who’ve only lasted from only January through March on their exercise regimens before it’s game over for them! Therefore, I want to congratulate you on 35 years of weight training consistency!

Now hang on a second, Jim! You said your building days are over??? I’m not sold on that notion at all. I know several guys in their 60s who’ve managed to bring their physiques to an entirely new level by making a few adjustments in their approach to bodybuilding. They did so to compensate for certain biological deficiencies that accompany the ‘Golden Years’ of the aging process.

Point is, even beyond the age of 60 our bodies are still very capable of improving. It’s just that we need to abide by a different set of rules than those we followed in our 20s or 30s. I personally didn’t become privy to this reality until I turned 30. Before then, I trained hard for over 2 years until I came to the sobering realization I hadn’t made ANY progress whatsoever, despite my very best efforts.

Chad ShawLike you, I was training 6 days per week and hitting each muscle group once per week. My workouts typically lasted about 90 minutes. After much thought (and frustration), I logically concluded that if I kept on doing what I had been, I wasn’t ever going to make any progress.

Avoid Overtraining

After all, if a particular workout hadn’t produced any results after 2 years, what would make it magically start working for me? This is precisely when I began looking for answers and eventually ran across the prospect of overtraining.

The more I researched this subject, the more clearly my reality came into focus. This led me to have faith in an entirely new set of concepts that allowed me to bust through my long-standing plateau.

Instead of training 6 days per week and hitting each muscle group once per week for 90 minutes, I was now in the gym only 3 times per week. And I was hitting each muscle group specifically once every 2 weeks. Moreover, with my workouts now only lasted 20-30 minutes!

The result? Not only did I start making better progress following this new regimen, but I also had more free time to pursue other endeavors I enjoyed.

Without getting into a long, drawn-out story here, I’m going to share some of the tips that helped me out in a BIG way! I guess you could say this new approach to bodybuilding was a MAJOR game changer for me.

3 Very Important Concepts You Should Consider (At ANY Age):

1. Less Equals More: Many bodybuilders generally assume that by training each muscle group once per week, they are affording a maximal amount of recovery time to support growth. They also believe any amount of training less this will result in muscle decomposition.

What these same bodybuilders very rarely consider is the aspect of overlapping muscle groups. For example, when you say you train your triceps only once per week, I guarantee you’re actually training them 2-3 times per week. How?

The triceps aren’t only stimulated on arm training days. Rather, triceps are taxed extensively on Chest Training Days when you’re performing various types of pressing exercises, like bench press, dumbbell presses, etc.


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Additionally, your triceps will be further stressed on Shoulder Training Day if you perform any type of shoulder press, which I’m guessing you probably do.

The same thing happens with your biceps. You don’t just stress them on Arm Training Day. You exert them significantly on Back Training Day when you’re performing various types of rows, such as lat pull-downs and seated rows. Some bodybuilders also notice how their biceps are sometimes sore after doing cable crossovers or other types of fly movements for chest.

Most natural bodybuilders typically wouldn’t train chest or legs 2-3 times per week. Yet, they unwittingly train their biceps, triceps, and deltoids 2-3 times per week due to this overlapping aspect.

By placing my arm and shoulder training days on the opposite weeks in which I trained my back and chest, I was able to bring my arm development to a whole new level.

I also made better progress in my back, chest and shoulder workouts because those secondary muscles assisting the primary muscle groups weren’t being overtrained anymore.

(More in Part 2)

Prove ‘Em Wrong,
Chad Shaw

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