Over 35 years old?
You’re pretty much screwed.
That’s it for this blog post. Have a good week!
Seriously, if you’re past the age where living in mom’s basement is socially acceptable, you’re at a major disadvantage. At least in terms of building your body.
It’s not that there’s a shortage of decent muscle building information. It’s just that it’s hidden from you, buried in a deep sea of deception and bullshit.
And even if you had a magic internet browser that could filter out all the garbage, you’d still be swamped, overwhelmed by useless trivia.
The problem is that younger guys have a seemingly insatiable appetite for “information.”
As for the quality of said information, that doesn’t remotely matter. Hell, it doesn’t even have to be truthful – it can be flat-out lies (“I gained 40 pounds in 6 weeks!”) and young guys will still read it and then share it on Facebook.
But when you get to a certain age, frankly, your tolerance for this seems to drop. Maybe it’s due to your free time being at more of a premium?
Perhaps it’s because you’ve already spent so many years being “spun” by the media, the government, and countless other institutions that you really don’t need it from some fly-by-night health “guru” or rinky-dink steroid dealer turned supplement salesman.
I sometimes can’t believe the nonsense I see online.
Recreational lifters making their warm-ups (yes, warm-ups) more complicated than an Olympian’s entire workout. Argument after argument about nutrient timing, carb cycling, and yes, “clean eating.” And supplement programs that drain your bank account faster than a Hollywood divorce.
When I do see stuff that’s tailored more towards “older lifters” it’s always so fricken lame. Yeah, I get it, no one should spend three hours a week just training arms. But show me one guy who ever put on a lick of muscle doing some lame-ass mobility-functional-core activation circuit.
Look, just because we’re over 35 doesn’t mean we don’t want to build muscle. Or that we’re so “beat up” we need hours of yoga moves before we even pick up a barbell.
Some of the greatest bodybuilders in the world didn’t hit their prime until age 40 was in their rear-view. And while I don’t know any of them personally, I do know that exactly NONE of them got there by doing these “older guy” workouts being touted.
The key to older-guy muscle is to train like an intelligent, experienced bodybuilder. Not like a skinny kid who jumps from eBook to eBook, and not some functional geek who brags about his prowess in scapular wall slides.
Intelligent bodybuilding practices. They do exist. Here’s a few.
Volume for Weak Points. Nine times out of ten, your weak points simply need more volume. This is where the “silly” isolation work that every 150-pound trainer makes fun of is extremely useful.
Yes, the bench press works the chest, shoulders, and triceps, but if your chest isn’t getting bigger despite increasing bench press numbers then the solution isn’t to just do more bench pressing. It sounds obvious, yet every day I see “specialization” hypertrophy programs that don’t even use “specialization” exercises. This shit is not rocket surgery.
Supplements should address food gaps first. Even the most hardcore anti-supplement guy will admit to using creatine monohydrate, vitamin D3, fish oil, and protein powder or meal replacements. I endorse these too, and would even include a few others, like fiber.
Notice what they have in common? They’re all nutrients that could be derived from a great diet (or in the case of vitamin D3, a sunny environment).
So commit your supplement dollars to these “needs” first. Even then, you don’t really need them, though the case is a lot stronger for a meal replacement then that 90 dollar bottle of caffeine or magic pink workout drink.
Get pro-active with your doc. Most guys avoid the doctor like, well, a sickness. But you’re a big boy now. You can’t go through life blissfully ignorant of what’s going on in your body.
Mobility matters. I know I just made fun of mobility work, but a little bit of mobility work goes a long way – and you really do lose it if you don’t use it. Just pick a couple of drills, do them well, and strive to improve.
Restore. If I had to name one thing that separates the 40-somethings from the 20-somethings it would be this. Once you get up in years, you have to make performing activities that help with recovery more of a priority.
The body is a collection of systems – skeletal, muscular, circulatory, digestive, etc. — none of which operate in isolation from the other. In short, you can’t redline it in some areas and expect the others not to be affected.
In our case that means doing stuff that supports recovery from heavy training. Get to bed earlier. Practice good sleep hygiene. Meditate. Practice gratitude. Enjoy yourself. Enjoy good food. Enjoy some bad food. Stop stressing about bullshit. Maintain good cardio function.
If you just did those things you’ll build more muscle than 90% of the health gurus on the internet. They might still have more money and fame than you, but at least you’d have bigger arms.
I’m good with that tradeoff.