Thoughts on Longevity in Lifting and in Life
In about six months, Ill celebrate birthday number 84. Hard to believe given that I feel as if Im at least 20 years younger than thatif not more.
While life offers no guarantees, I believe there are some things that anyone can do that will dramatically improve their chances of having a long, high-quality life.
Unfortunately, a large portion of our population seem to believe that they can abuse their bodies any way they want, then go to the doctor’s office and get fixed.
I call this the car repair theory of personal care.
IMHO this approach may keep you (sort of) alive but does not provide more than a minimal or crappie quality of life.
In this brief article I offer my advice to people who work out regularly and know how to manage their diet. Most of you feel great now and want to keep that feeling indefinitely.
Never allow yourself to get out of shape.
Decades ago, I came across an article by a masters runner who emphasized the necessity of always being in good (not great) condition.
His argument then was that as we age it gets harder and harder to get back to where we were if we allow ourselves to go to seed.
My experience has been that staying in shape is not easy and requires a lot of focused energy and careful attention to detail.
I have never allowed myself to get ridiculously out of shape except for one brief period in my early 60s. I should add that all photographs and records of that time have been shredded and burned.
The road back from that experience took almost a year. That was when I was a kid of 62!
I cannot imagine how difficult it would be at my current age.
The key is not to try and stay at the top of your peak performance but rather to keep your baseline conditioning as high as possible.
Your baseline of strength and endurance will decline a bit over decades, but if you keep working out diligently your decline will be slow.
Keep your bodyweight down.
This will not be popular amongst my pals who claim that their strength diminishes when they lose weight.
The key to longevity is get as lean as you can routinely manage and focus on keeping a high power to bodyweight ratio.
That is the relative amount of weight you lift for your bodyweight.
A lifter who can pull what would be a huge deadlift at 165 will find that when they pull the same weight at 181 it is still good, but not super impressive. If they munch their way into the 198 pound class they just become a fat guy lifting weights.
Think power to weight ratio.
Other reasons to keep the table muscle off include reducing your chances of getting chronic medical problems such as hypertension and diabetes.
In short, getting lean and staying that way has benefits that you get to enjoy 24/7/365. Feeling good, limiting your chances for sick aging syndrome and..your best appearance.
Focus on four types of conditioning.
When we were kids we could focus exclusively on our absolute strength as the key indictor of our training.
In my view, as we age it is essential to think in terms of four different types of indicators:
- Absolute strength
- Strength endurance
- Endurance strength
- Absolute endurance
Strength endurance is the muscle capacity to do high reps with a given weight. High reps are typically associated with bodybuilding training. IMHO they must be part of a long term conditioning regime in order to prevent injury and maintain body integrity.
In my view endurance strength is the ability to consistently train hard and recover. As we age it is critical that we be able to regularly do the work needed to stay in the best condition we can manage.
I call this resilience training and it is key to staying in the best condition possible for a long time.
Finally, endurance training is essential to keep all the cardiovascular system in top shape, along with the brain and other body organs. Fresh oxygen circulation is a key to every aspect of training and health. Ergo, I strongly suggest that it is a key element of longevity training.