Age comes for us all it is as inevitable as the night swallowing the day.
We get slower and weaker and we hurt more.
We seemingly have to work twice as hard to just maintain our base level of fitness.
If you’re anything like me, you never thought it could happen to you.
This article isn’t written to remind you that all of your physical achievements are going to fade as your body begins to fail you. Instead it’s to educate you on the fact that, yes, you are going to age. However, if you are willing to alter your mindset and training focus, you can tell old age to kick rocks and still be a bad motherfucker for a long time.
Step 1 – Step out of the past
You’ll never be as good as you once were. Stop talking about how good you were, how strong you were, how fast you were, and how all the honeys would do shots off of your six-pack chiseled out of wood. All of your friends will be happier you’ve finally shut the fuck up. The sooner you can stop comparing yourself to a ghost from the past, the better off you will be.
As we age we lose our physicality, but we gain insight through experience and struggle. If you only look at those past experiences as something that you want to replicate – then really you’re just running in circles and trying, usually vainly, to live in the past. Trust me when I tell you that no one cares about what you were once able to do. The only thing that matters is what you can do now, after all that’s what insight is for…
So what can you do now?
Step 2 – Lose less
“It’s not about winning more, it’s about losing less.”
This is a quote I got from some financial book, and while it definitely applies to money – as you age you will find its pretty appropriate for your health and fitness as well. When those gains stop coming and you start to feel the wear and tear on your body you have to make the choice of trying to win more or to lose less.
If you start early enough this can be your choice, but if you ignore your body, then it’s going to make the choice for you.
Either way it’s gonna happen.
How do you lose less?
Take the wins where you can get them. Don’t try and force gains or reps or loading. You’ll lose.
The hardest lesson to learn, and the one that involves really checking the ego, is that you need to stop doing the stuff that fucks you up.
If your back hurts so bad you can’t walk after you get under a heavy Back Squat – then you need to stop back squatting heavy.
If sparring hard at jiu jitsu leaves you broken and limping then you need to focus more on drilling and positional work.
If you’ve had to get multiple surgeries from weekend soccer, then does a friend or a loved one really tell you that you aren’t going to be the next Pele and you need to change up your game?
It’s important to understand you don’t have to cut these activites out entirely, you just need to check your ego and go at the appropriate volume and intensity.
What’s appropriate? Modifying your action so you aren’t fucked up for hours, days or weeks after your activity.
Step 3 – Make Recovery a Priority
How much recovery work are you doing each week?
This can be anything and everything from Yoga, cryotherapy, massage, Trigger Point, sauna, cold baths, soft tissue work, or simply stretching. Any activity which promotes recovery and helps you feel and move better.
As you age recovery needs to become more and more of a priority. A good place to start would be devoting 25% of your training each week to recovery. So, if you are training 4 hours a week, at least one hour needs to be devoted to feeling better and helping your body move.
There is no silver bullet, make sure you are doing something and you are being consistent with it. You can start by adding mobility or resilience work to the end of your workout. Even if it’s just 10 minutes a day, you will notice a difference in weeks.
Start doing it, refine and iterate your process later as you learn. But start doing something now.
You can maintain your fitness for a remarkably long time. The sooner you are able to prioritize health and fitness over performance and understand how to take care of you body for the long run, the longer you’ll be able to maintain your current performance and keep fighting off the grind of old age.