Tag Archive: Tendon

Over 40 training and joint pain – what to do?

Click here to watch video “Over 40 Ultimate guide for dealing with join pains”

This is very familiar territory for every over 40 guy. We nearly all struggle with joint and tendon pains.

Some of us accept defeat and enter potbelly territory. Well if are you like me, then we refuse to accept even the word “defeat”. It is not in our vocabulary.

But we cannot ignore the aches and pains. So how do we deal with it?

First, the fact is, it IS good, very good, for the over 40 body to be involved in resistance training. That has been proven beyond any doubt by many science studies.

We must just find a way of dealing with the “problem” and not too simply, give up! Dealing with it involves wisdom and quite a few things that we need to do to effectively relief the pain.

Before we start discussing what must be done, remember – NEVER train through pain. You will make whatever the problem is MUCH worse. As you get older you will have to regularly change your exercises and even your whole workout approach and regimen to periodically side-step pains and aches in tendons, joints and back. This is a given. BUT…never, ever, stop training because of pain…adapt and change. Always keep training with what you can do, even if it means a total different temporary training approach.

Joint pain (and tendon pain) is not just simply a result of training heavy. MANY factors play a role.

Let’s go through the list of the things you need to do to relief/avoid tendon/joint pain:



  1. You must have a cutting (lighter weights, higher reps per set) and building (lower reps with higher weights) phase in place to allow regular “rest” periods for the tendons/joints. Phase lengths should be roughly 3 months each.
  2. Consider training lighter for a 6-month to a year period if you struggle with a serious tendon/joint issue.
  3. Very important – never bend your hand upward or downward when lifting, but keep it all times in a straight line with the for-arm. Bending the hand during heavy lifting places undue strain on the elbow via strained tendons. Keeping the hand straight keep all tendons at equal strain.
  4. Bench pressing should be performed with the overhand position with bar resting on the thumb area (bottom) of the palm so that there is no pressure on the wrist. (The place where the bar lies on the hand must be in a straight line with the whole arm to ensure that no strain is on wrist.)
  5. Use special straps to relief strain on the wrist. I will show example in the video. A simple strap fastened around the wrist with a rubber palm grip which can be wrapped around heavy weights. This allows for near zero strain on the wrist joint. This is especially helpful with pull ups, shrugs and nearly all back and upper body exercises.



  1. Yip you guessed it…NO SMOKING! Smoking makes the whole body functioning less optimally. It affects nearly everything in the body from the brain to the skin to the lungs to pains and aches that get much worse because of the smoking.
  2. The same goes for drinking. Light drinking (4 glasses wine per week) is max. But even for some this proves to be too much and result in joint pain. In quite a few cases people had to completely stop drinking alcohol in an attempt to get rid of the joint pains.
  3. Too little sleeping. Your body needs time to heal and repair. Too little sleeping rob it of this time. A good (6-8hrs) night rest will go a long way to help the body function optimally.



Our eating habits have a much bigger role to play in joint pain than you might think.

  1. Ensure that you drink enough filtered water per day (3L-6L). This helps washing out the toxins from the body. More toxins = more joint pain.
  2. Enough good oils. Apart from the fact that good oils (omega 3 & 6: peanut butter, olive oil, avocado, coconut) are critical for a healthy functioning hormonal system, it is also very important to help ease joint pain. Cutting out all good oils/fat from your diet will aggravate joint pain and result in low testosterone levels.
  3. You must ensure the body is in an alkaline environment with a PH of roughly 7. The more acidic the body gets, the more joint pain will be experienced, full stop. There are enough serious science studies to back this up. There are also many other advantages when you keep the body in an alkaline state. It has been proven to lessen your risk for cancer and supports a stronger immune system amongst others. On the next page there is a list of ALKALINE and ACIDIC foods to help you adjusting your diet. (A good starting point – lemon juice every morning and evening and cutting out wine and fizzy drinks. MANY people have gotten rid of their joints pains by simply changing their diet to a more alkaline one.)

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  1. CQ10 (Co-Enzyme Q10). This has been proven by various science studies to be a potent long term pain combatant. However, as with most natural approaches, this only starts working after more than 1 month of continuous usage. [I take 300mg in morning and 300mg at night.]
  2. Even more potent than CQ10, MSM (METHYLSULPHONYLMETHANE) has helped many people changing their lives. It is not a wonder pill but with long term use can significantly ease joint pain. Effective results only achieved after about 3-4 months of continuous use. [I take 400mg morning and 400mg evening]
  3. The 3rd one, eish…this took me some time to support it’s use – CANNABIS oil. I am old school and anything drug-related, even for medical reasons is pretty much “no-go” territory for me. This one took some serious mind changing for me. Eventually I just could not ignore study after study that supported various benefits of CANNABIS OIL. The oil, which contains a higher ratio CBD to THD, is rather harmless when compared to the psychotropic effects of smoking cannabis. It is the THD that result in all this bad effects and the oil has a CBD/THD blend of about 85/15 in most cases which make it mostly harmless. Even here in South Africa the studies are nearly concluded and it looks like we are mere months away from Cannabis Oil being available over the counter for medical purposes. Apart from lowering blood pressure, combating nausea, helping with sleep and fighting cancer, it is actually a potent pain relief substance. 250-raw-cbdAfter about 3 weeks use the body reach a saturation point and then the real pain relieving properties kicks in. If you can get past the mind barrier of taking something that is closely drug related then this could have a drastic positive pain relief impact. And believe me it is not so easy getting past this “mind barrier” for us older folks…but it can be done…I took the plunge. The end result for me – less pain and drastic better sleeping at night. Also drastically lower blood pressure. [I take 1 drop morning, 1 drop afternoon and 5 drops before bed]. Cannabis oil (CBD/THD) has some very interesting medical applications. Some of the claims the cannabis groupies make is not backed up at all by science but some actually are, especially with the latest studies. I think this warrant a future article to give some more insight into this new emerging product (emerging…well at least in the medical mainstream community that is!).



This is a territory you want to avoid. Yes, you can take anti-inflammatory meds, but this is hard on kidneys/liver/stomach and definitely NOT a long term solution.

The last resort and sometimes a necessary route is arthritis medication. There are various types depending on the severity and type of arthritis. A well know anabolic steroid, Deca-Durabolin, is known for its anti-arthritis / joint pain properties. But only your health care provider can do the necessary blood test to determine the problem and plan of action.

However most of the time if you take the points above about training, lifestyle, diet and supplementation seriously enough then you can have pain free over 40+ workouts.

Interested in my customized transformation system for the over 40 guy? Have a look here:  https://gertlouw.com/my-transformation-secrets/

Happy training everybody!


Gert Louw


In all my coaching systems and many articles on my site, I regularly refer to the process of transforming into a wow physique by “climbing a ladder step by step”.

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Here I want to explain as to WHAT exactly I mean by that.

Now, many people think they are starting to climb the ladder and start transforming, and they actually start doing rather great, but then stuff starts happening…things like: getting sick regularly, tendon/joint injury or other serious injury or they lose hope because they just cannot put on muscle no matter how hard they train and some just cannot lose fat no matter how hard they diet.

This is when the train stops and they get off the ladder.

Not because it was not possible but because they LACK knowledge.

KNOWLEDGE in terms off:

  1. You CANNOT lose fat if the calories are too low…then your body enters famine mode and you WILL lose all your hard earned muscle first before it uses the fat – no matter how HARD you train! There is a sweet spot with calories where the body use fat for energy and keep muscles safe. You need to find it. (In my SYSTEMS I and II this is covered).
  2. You CANNOT build muscle if: caloric intake too low, body fat too low or you do too much cardio!
  3. You WILL get sick regularly if you continue pounding your body week after week, month after month, in the wrong fashion and you do not use certain basic health supporting supplements.
  4. You WILL run into serious tendon and joint issues if you do not alternate every 3 months between BUILDING and CUTTING phases to allow healing and strengthening.

All of these are covered in detail in my COACHING SYSTEMS (https://gertlouw.com/contact-me), but the bottom line which brings all these together are a continuous alternating between a 3 month CUTTING PHASE and a 3 monthly BUILDING phase.

Each Phase has its own specific training methodology and specific type diet.

The two phases are vastly different and by continuously alternating between them, you allow your body every 3 months to go through a process off:

  1. Loosing max fat while protecting muscles in Cutting Phase.
  2. Building max muscle at slightly higher body fat levels in the Building Phase.
  3. Allowing your body to be fed correctly for your exact goal and training methodology for each phase.
  4. Allowing tendons and joints to strengthen and recover regularly in Cutting Phase.
  5. Allowing the body a balanced and healthy approach preventing sickness and injury by not overtraining and stressing the body and immune system.

These 2 phases hold the KEY to climbing the ladder. One step on the ladder = 1 BP (Building phase) + 1 CP (Cutting Phase). After each step you will be able to see a significant difference in shape and size. THIS is how you climb up the ladder.

Look at the following graph showing the BODY FAT variation during the phases

This is what your body fat will do when sticking to my SYSTEM I or II training that incorporates these principles (BP = Building Phase, CP = Cutting Phase):

Climing the ladder BODYFAT

Every BP1 + CP1 covers a 6 month period. At the end of each of the cutting phases your body fat is lower and lower till typically after a 3 year period you reach crazy levels like 5% body fat.


Let’s look what your muscle size will do when alternating between the phases:

Climing the ladder MUSCLE MASS

At the end of each of the cutting phases your body weight is higher than after the previous cutting phase. That COUPLED with the fact that the body fat is lower after each Cutting Phase compared to the previous cutting phase makes a HUGE difference on how the body looks and the amount of lean mass you are carrying.

THIS (!) is how you climb the ladder…not after one cutting phase or one building phase but after various of these phases. Stopping with the process simply mean you stop climbing the ladder.

Simply put – After each Building Phase your muscle weight is higher at lower body fat levels, and during the Cutting Phase you show your results, keeping that muscles safe and dropping the body fat on each Cutting Phase lower and lower than in the previous Cutting Phases until after a few years you look back and say…”WOW!”

Wish you all happy training!

Cheers – Gert Louw

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Although even some young bodybuilders struggle with weak wrists it is most frequently the domain of the over 40 lifter.

The wrist simply do not have the power and ability to support the weight being lifted anymore. This could become a huge problem for a person in quest for size, because the key ingredient for growth is through intense, heavy weight lifting regularly to the point of failure.

I am one such person that struggles with weak wrists. I simply cannot hold the size weight required to stimulate enough growth. But I am definitely not going to call it game over…I made plans. And it is MUCH easier than most people think.

The following video is rather crucial to watch to fully understand exactly what and how I am doing it.

Click here to view video “Training for size with weak wrists”


Let me try to explain:

  1. You must get a wrist supporting rubber grabbing “glove”, like the one showed in the video.
  2. To make sure that the part that folds over the wrist is secure and do not come loose while engaged in heavy lifting, duck tape must be used as per instruction in the video. (Tape it on both wrists securing the part that folds over.)
  3. With every (!) weight you lift (dumbbells & barbels, pullups, seated rows for back and especially shrugs) the rubber part of the glove must be wrapped around the weight where your hand would go and then your hand must go over the rubber part in the reverse position (see video for exact method).
  4. This would alleviate the pressure on the wrist easily by up to 80%.
  5. When performing bench presses use the overhand position with the thumb in the same direction as all the other fingers. Let the weight of the bar rests on the lower part of just the palm of your hand so that no pressure is applied on the wrist. Do not clasp the thumb the other way around the bar. This put undue pressure on the wrist.

The above sounds simple, but I guarantee you that it will enhance your ability GREATLY to lift serious weights again without hurting the wrists and put you straight back into growth territory.

This is the way I’ve been lifting for the last 5 years and now at close to 52 I am in the best shape of my life.

Hope this help guys…be wise and GROW!


Those interested in the online transformation coaching I provide – check here: https://gertlouw.com/contact-me/


Gert Louw



Click here to view video “The 5 BIGGEST bodybuilding mistakes

My road to bodybuilding started after the age of 40. It took me nearly 6 years being older and wiser to learn from my mistakes. Now at over 50 I am in the best shape of my life. But very often I wish I had the knowledge I had now when I was in my 20’s.

For those who are prepared to listen to the people who have walked the path and put a lid on their ego’s, this info can be extremely valuable and can mean a serious reduction in time to reach a great body.

So here follows my list of the 5 biggest mistakes people (and me) made when you start out with bodybuilding:

Insufficient training intensity

The pro’s in any sport reach such a high limit because they do not just push their body to failure but they use their mind to force their body literally past it’s abilities.

If you think you are training to failure it is time to review. Use your focus and mind to force you further into the unknown to the very brink of your bodies and minds abilities. This is where serious growth occurs.

 Working through pain

If you think it is the “manly” thing to work through pain – WRONG! Especially in bodybuilding when pain is experienced it spells danger and you MUST listen to it and attend to solving or alleviating the problem. Tendon and joints issues do NOT disappear – it gets worse and can derail your efforts for months! The quicker you give attention to it the quicker it is solved and the quicker you grow.

 Bad technique or form

Many guys starting out think form is not that important and that you must just be able to lift or push the weight and all is good. This asks for injury but even worse than that you will find that you will struggle to isolate muscles and as such never achieve an aesthetic look. When you do an exercise focus to ONLY use the muscle exercised – keep your elbows / shoulders, etc, stable and prevent them from swinging to help lift weights. You MUST get a mind muscle connection and visualize just that muscle working with every rep.

 Not weighing food / counting calories

Your diet not in place you WILL fail. If you ever want to reach incredible shredded muscle heights you MUST weigh your food and count calories.

 Average standards

Do you for one moment think that any of the professional bodybuilders had mediocre standards driving them. You MUST reach for the stars and apply the highest standards possible. Arnold, Lou Ferrigno and Ryan Terry amongst others do not have magic genes. They did not accept average standards and simply MAKE IT HAPPEN.

I am over 50 now and my shape is better than most 20 y/o top bodybuilders. Simply because I refuse to employ average standards.



Wish you Happy Training

Gert Louw


Click here to play video “How to eradicate joint pain”


Joint pain is probably the most common injury a bodybuilder struggle with. And the bad part is, as you pass the 40 y/o mark the challenges increases drastically to walk the narrow pain-free road with your joints.

In this article I will explain how to train to avoid /minimizing joint pain and then also give some options as a last resort for effective treatment considerations.


When we speak about joint pain then we generally refer to any of the following:


The good news is that all three can be nearly fully avoided, even for us older folks. (I am not taking into account genetic predisposition to arthritis or similar conditions)


A very effective avoidance principle

Few of us employ the basic training principles required for avoidance. It is so simple but our aim and eagerness to grow is the main culprit here.

The human body CANNOT take increasing punishment month after month for an extended period.

IT WILL BREAK! And the first to go is your tendons, joints and immune system.

Younger guys can get away with it to a certain degree but as you age your body has less testosterone and growth hormone available and the healing and repair slows down = breaking easier.

The avoidance principle is as follows: A Three month Building Phase must be applied and followed by a three-month Cutting Phase in a very specific way and repeated.

Click here to play video “Cutting & Building phases explained”


During the Building phase you will punish your body severely and consume higher calories. This is where growth occurs. You will increase the weight sizes (sets of 8 reps) with a maximum of 10% every 14 days. NOT MORE THAN 10%! Even if you feel you have to power, DON’T! Your tendons and joints need time to strengthen in a structured gradual approach. Bypassing this step-up gradual approach and you WILL run into joint and tendons problems. This I guarantee you.

The Building phase will be continued for a 3 month period.

Click here to play video “Building Phase diet”


At the end of the 3 months you will enter the Cutting Phase. This Cutting phase’s purpose is to allow for tendon and joint healing and to cut the body fat down for a shredded look with fewer calories consumed daily compared to the Building phase.  You will cut the weight sizes lifted on ALL exercises by 30% and increase the reps per set to be 15-20 for all exercises (from the 8 reps per set on the Building phase). You do NOT train to failure in the Cutting phase. Your body needs time to repair and strengthen the tendons and joints after the hammering of the Building phase. This is a CRITICAL approach for joint health and the moment you bypass this alternating Building/Cutting phase approach you WILL run into problems.

The Cutting phase is NOT a phase for growing muscles but simply to maintain them while allowing the body time (3-months) to heal and strengthen tendons and joints.

Click here to play video “Cutting phase DIET”


Three months is considered the safest and best approach for the length of the phases. If you lengthen the time of the Building phase, the risk for joint/tendon injury will skyrocket.

I again emphasize: Do NOT underestimate the importance this approach is playing for joint health. It is also a method employed by most successful bodybuilders.


Just a short note on TENDONITIS

Tendonitis is inflammation/damage of tendons and can sometimes be dealt with an over the counter medication like aspirin or ibuprofen (ask your health care worker).

Tendonitis can be fairly easily avoided/managed by applying the following basic principles:

  • Warm up thoroughly, gradually building the intensity level of your workout. Cool down after the session.
  • Train for a new sport before you start it. Start building strength and flexibility in the muscles you will use a few weeks or months in advance.
  • Learn the proper method/technique and use the proper equipment for any exercise or activity.
  • Work out regularly, not just once a week (4 to 5 days a week)
  • SLOWLY increase weight sizes (not more than 10% every 14 days)


Short note on Bursitis (Tennis/Golfers Elbow)

One of the primary reasons for tennis/golfers elbow is bad form/technique. The critical aspect that must be avoided is bending the wrist up or down when handling any weight. The wrist and hand must be 100% in a straight line with the forearm. The bending of the wrist inwards and outwards places severe stress on the elbow and it’s workings and is usually a primary cause for Bursitis.


Tips on how to deal with joint paint after exercise

  • Ice: The most straightforward solution is to apply ice to the affected joint. Immediately after an intense workout, put ice on your muscles and joints to prevent inflammation and speed up the healing process. However, ice will not solve everybody’s joint troubles.
  • Eat more raw vegetables: The vitamins and minerals in raw vegetables contain a number of helpful things that ease your joint pain. Designed specifically to fight the effects of muscle oxidation, natural vegetables are often your best option.
  • Avoiding painful exercises: Some workouts are more painful than others. Depending on your body’s shape, size, and flexibility, certain workouts could negatively affect your joints. If you haven’t been noticing significant gains from a specific workout, but have experienced joint pain, then you might want to cut that workout from your routine.


Supplements which treat joint pain
If bodybuilding is one of the most important things in your life, then you may want to consider taking a supplement to help ease your joint pain.

  • Omega 3 & 6 is a rather important supplement when dealing with joint pain. 3 tablets morning and 3 tablets evening usually sufficient. Also make sure you get enough good fat in – Peanut Butter, Avocado, extra virgin olive oil, etc…
  • Super Cissus has been show to help control joint pain. It is no wonder supplement but might help some to relief pain.
  • There is a natural substance found in high concentrations in our joint structures known as Glucosamine. Numerous double-blind studies have shown that Glucosamine produces better results in the treatment of joint pain than traditional drug therapy. The main function of glucosamine is to stimulate the manufacture of substances necessary for joint repair. Glucosamine is a well-tolerated, natural treatment. There have been no reported adverse reactions. In rare instances, some gastric discomfort was reported but was easily relieved by taking the supplement with food.
  • Other supplements worth trying: MSM and Chondroitin.
  • Deca Durabulin (an anabolic steroid) is available as a prescription from doctors for treating severe joint pain. It has great success (as many bodybuilders in the past can testify too) and is also a great lean muscle builder. So if you think you fall in this category – speak to your doctor and get the added benefit of muscle growth minus the pain.


Word of Warning

Any supplement (creatine for example) or anabolic steroid that enhances your power levels drastically with immediate effect will put you at severe high risk for joint problems. You might have the power now but your joints and tendons are not strengthened to deal with the power. Many, many anabolic steroid users run into this injury territory.


Wish you happy training and GROW. Cheers…

Gert Louw



Injuries will be one of the main obstacles for anyone in serious training, especially for the over 40 crowd. Even the youth don’t escape it, but us more mature subjects has less flexibility in our muscles and tendons. This result in injuries.

For a 20-year-old one month from training does little harm. For a 45-year-old it is a severe setback (due to the lower testosterone and growth hormone levels).

So the older you are the wiser you need to train!


I am going to focus here on just the most common injuries:

  • Tennis and Golfers elbow.
  • Muscle tear prevention.
  • What to do when a muscle is torn?

Tennis and Golfers elbow


Tennis elbow is the tearing or damage of the tendon on the outside of the elbow and golfers elbow the damage on the inside of the elbow. Both hurts like hell and can derail your training completely.

If you already have the condition, step number one is to go to the doctor and get and injection to get the inflammation under control. That should be followed up by about 10 days of anti-inflamatories to keep the inflammation down and allow for healing.

You should be able to keep training but the following training guidance is critical.

Train correct to allow healing or prevention of Tennis/Golfers elbow.

How to prevent Tennis/Golfers elbow?

For guys (and girls) who lift…there is a simple rule to prevent both those conditions: Keep your wrist straight. Your hand must ALWAYS be completely straight and aligned with your forearm. This should be during the WHOLE movement. NEVER bent your wrist up or down while lifting or carrying weights. That focus the tension on the inside or outside tendon (depending on which way the wrist is bent, bent upwards = outside tendon, bent downwards = inside tendon) and result in the tear or damage.

Concentrate on this during your whole workout. Never ever bend your wrist while lifting weights or train on machines or even while holding weights. Keep the hand and forearm always a perfect straight line. That place equal pressure and stress on both the front and back tendons and lower the change for damage.


Muscle tears

Just about 99.99% of muscle tears (shoulder, bicep, leg) is a result of failure to warm up the muscle sufficiently.

What to do to prevent a muscle tear?

  • Make sure you do proper warming up. Basically that means get the blood flowing and just start to break a sweat. (It takes me 7 – 10 minutes). That could be treadmill or similar cardio exercise.
  • Before you jump into lifting heavy you need to do at least 40 reps with a light weight to make sure the target muscle is well warmed up.
  • Now you should be ready to start lifting heavy, but I always make sure my first set is just 50% of my max weight. My 2nd set is at full force.

Another point of note here: I believe stretching the target muscle after each set keeps your muscle and to a lesser extend the tendons flexible. Many fitness people don’t support the stretching benefits (some research has been done which actually support some aspects of their thinking.) However, I believe in the stretching even if it just to help the muscle relax after the intense contractions. Choose for yourself but stretching has only helped me in my training.

I am speculating and say that that stretching might even influence the muscles eventual shape. Intense lifting make the muscle tense up. Stretching help it relaxes and does the opposite than the intense contraction. I believe it does play a part in the aesthetics of the muscle even if a small part.

What to do when a muscle is torn?


Do not run off to your physio!

Go straight to a sports medical doctor.

He will most probably send you for a scan to confirm the suspicion. If that suspicion is confirmed a small operation need to be done to attach the muscle again.

It is CRITICAL that the muscle is attached as soon as possible. If you want to fix this 2 months or so down the line…sorry but that muscle cannot be attached anymore.

IMMEDIATELY get to your doctor and make sure no muscle was torn.

If a muscle is only partly torn then no operation is needed and with some treatment (injections + anti inflamatories + physio) the situation can be remedied. But if the muscle is completely torn, YOU HAVE TO GET OPERATED and quick!


Steroids and muscle tears

To the steroid crowd, you need to be very carefull of tearing muscles and tendons. Some anabolic steroids will make the muscle stronger and more powerfull instantly but the tendons stay weak. It means you can more easily get injured. Even if you have the power, be carefull to lift too fast too quickly because the tendons needs time to grow and get strong before you can jump too much in weight size lifted.


Diet effects on tendons and muscle tears – Make sure you get a good amount of omega 3, 6 & 9 in. This has been shown to help keep joint and tendons healthy.


LEARN FROM MY INJURY: The bicep has two muscles – upper and lower. Four months ago I’ve torn my left arms lower bicep muscle. I thought it was just a small tear and went to the physio instead of the doctor. Not a good move. Today my doctor told me that he thinks my bottom muscle has been completely torn off and that he cannot attach it because it must be attached very soon after the tear occurred. So my left bicep will only function with one muscle and theoretically be 50% weaker.  NEW UPDATE 7 Feb 2013 – Just went for proper scans of the bicep and it showed that the lower bicep muscle is intact, slightly deformed due to the tear but intact. The problem is rather the tendon of the bicep which is partly torn as a result of lifting too heavy while the bicep tear was not healed properly…so nothing that some injections + anti-inflamatories + wise training won’t remedy…praise God!


Be wise…train wise…and grow!


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