One of the biggest problem areas for the over-40 guy is to determine his training intensity.
Too much and the over 40 body will simply “pack up” (tendons/joint problems and injuries). Too little and there will be little to no response from the muscles.
For the over-40, training frequency must be between 4-5 days a week. NOT more and NOT less.
More = overtraining = no growth = injuries.
Less = under training = little or no growth = injuries due to lacking muscle flexibility
One of my followers made the following comment: “Gert in one video you said one must train to failure on each set and in another you said one must tone down training if muscle soreness is extreme. So, which is it now?”
And that sums up the problem the over-40 guy face!
So, let me explain how we deal with this.
Yes, it is true that to stimulate a muscle for growth, means training to absolute muscle failure. It always has been the no.1 way of stimulating growth. In the Building phase, I suggest literally training to failure on each set with resting enough between set to at least do the next set to 80% of your target rep range. If not failure on every set, at least every 2ndset. Not reaching this absolute muscle failure point will (!) limit your muscle growth.
Now, of course this intense training will result in muscle soreness. You need to be able to determine the level.
Level 1 – light muscle soreness, just sore enough that you know you had a workout yesterday = perfect. Don’t alter training intensity.
Level 2 – medium soreness. Making movement difficult during the day = be careful to push your body to hard the next 2 days. Tone training slightly down just for 2 days.
Level 3 – intense soreness. Struggle to get out of bed next day. Struggle to walk and move. You must (!) tone down training quite a bit for next 7 days. Your muscles are literally inflamed by all the muscle fiber damage and the use of anti-inflammatories advised (under doctor supervision).
Wisdom is required in our training approach when over 40.
Remember the training regime that should be used when we are over 40 is where one typically trains only one muscle group intensely once in period of 7 days (this excludes calves and abs – they are of a different muscle fiber type, which usually respond to more frequent training).
So, this means that only once a week will you hit a certain muscle group very hard. Then that muscle will theoretically have 7 days to recover and grow. Some muscle pain from training is good and will not be a problem (Level 1). However, when that muscle pain is going into the extreme (Level 2 and 3), like struggling to get out of bed or making it difficult to train, then red lights are flickering.
When one is at Level 2 and 3 and you do not alter your training, you WILL run into serious injury somewhere down the line. Plus, muscle growth in such an environment will be very poor, if at all. Too much fiber damage is done to the muscles, thus the soreness. The muscles do not have sufficient time to recover and repair, let alone to grow. Hitting muscles constantly this way can even result in a decrease in size.
Only moderate pain is acceptable is ever acceptable.
So, although I am preaching training to failure on every set in the Building Phase (not the Cutting Phase), when one is experiencing this extreme muscle pain, then you HAVE to tone down the training intensity.
How to tone down? By temporarily decreasing weights to lighter weights, stopping short of absolute muscle failure with every set. Give the muscles at least a 7-day period training this way before increasing the weight again. And increase must always be small, very small! The 20 y/o’s can afford big weight increases, us over 40 guys cannot!
Remember guys, our muscles, tendons and joints take significantly longer to heal and repair from training than when we were young.
Not applying this wisdom WILL result injury and very little gains if any.
BUT (!) if you train to failure on every set and you do NOT experience extreme muscle soreness the next day…then GO FOR IT. Training to failure is and always will be the no. 1 key on how we stimulate a muscle for growth.
Just a reminder – such intense training environments must not be done for longer than 3 months at a time. Your body need a break from the intense training and that break is the Cutting Phase where you train with lighter weights at higher reps and avoid absolute muscle failure. During the Cutting Phase the body repairs and heals and actually strengthens the tendons and joints.
After 3 months you switch back to the Building Phase and most of the time you will feel stronger than you were when you stopped with the previous Building Phase.
HOW TO ALLEVIATE MUSCLE SORENESS
- Muscle soreness can be slightly alleviated by stretching for 2 min in-between sets and also by doing 10 min light cooldown exercises like light bike riding or treadmill walking/slow jogging.
- Off course taking 5g L-glutamine before and after training will also help the over-40 to recover slightly quicker.
- Daily dosage of Vit C at around 1g slow release has also been shown to help with muscle soreness.
- An anti-inflammatory can help, but regular use of an anti-inflammatory is NEVER good news. Regular use places strain on kidneys and will eventually damage the stomach lining. But once a week use after you heaviest session should be fine – just talk to your health care Some preferred solutions are acetaminophen(Tylenol) or a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) like aspirin, ibuprofen(Advil, Motrin), or naproxen (Aleve). Just be cautious about using NSAIDs regularly. Long-term use can interfere with your muscle’s ability to repair itself.
- Two peptides are available out there specific for muscle and tendon repair. It is fairly safe as the science studies have shown but always work with your healthcare provider before you take any medication. They are BPC-157 (muscle & tendon repair) and Pal-GHK (exercise induced muscle and tendon damage repair).
But in the end, we cannot completely escape training muscle pain.
However, you will reach a point when you become an advanced athlete where there will be little muscle pain no matter how hard you train. This is good and this is bad. When such a point is reached you need to shake things up by applying different training techniques (Stuff like supersets of drop-sets). The muscles need to be shocked in different ways. THAT is what keeps stimulate growth.
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All this off course forms part of my coaching system I’ve developed for the older person, the ADVANCED SYSTEM II. It is my blueprint system which I customize for your body and goals which incorporates EVERYTHING! Those interested, you can signup here: https://gertlouw.com/my-transformation-secrets/
Unfortunately, this is not free since a significant amount of my time goes into customizing the system for your body and goals.
So all guys and girls – train hard and GROW!