Train for Durability: Maybe Your Biggest Payoff
The idea of training for durability is probably not a front line notion for most power sport enthusiasts. Ill suggest that over the arc of your life durability may turn out to be the best workout investment you ever made.
My definition of durability training in this case is building a body that is resilient, injury resistant and free of chronic conditions.
IMHO anyone over the age of 50 should be devoting a significant portion of their workouts to durability training.
Enjoy living in your body, or endure?
One of the huge benefits of regular workouts is not that we can lift x or look good in our underwear, it is that we feel good (or even better) most of the time.
When we are injured or cant train the way we normally do, that makes for a lousy few daysor longer.
When we only focus on maximizing our lifts, or getting ripped we leave the door open to getting injured or developing a chronic condition that will dramatically reduce our quality of life.
One of the reasons I have been able to continue lifting heavy stuff for so long is that a few decades back I began doing conditioning work that I now refer to as durability training.
At the time, I didnt call it that.and did not undertake the programs with the idea of staying healthy and feeling good. Butover the decades I figured out that durability training was giving me a huge benefit 24/7/365 as well as staying strong.
Staying fit for YOUR daily life
Perhaps the best way to think about the value of durability training to you is to think about the things you want to do all the time. One of the big things is do hard workouts.
If you are injured or otherwise impaired you cant do the workouts you want, AND you probably feel physically lousy because your body is used to being exercised. After a few days off your workout program, you will probably become anxious, mildly depressed and grumpy.
Small time injuries that keep you from working out are a free little preview of how bad you would feel if you were seriously damaged.
Sociologist Irving Goffman once described what he called total institutions where every moment of your day is dominated by being in this all encompassing environment. Goffman used the examples of being in prison or having cancer.
Literally every thought, action and moment all day long is defined by living in this total institution. You are never free from pain, worry or being reminded of your situation.
Now think about the people you know who have their lives limited or circumscribed by common medical conditions. One of the most prevalent is the burden of enduring a bad back.
The pain may come and go, but the person is never free of the limits placed on their existence by this condition. They may experience their dread condition at the most inconvenient times. Painful flare ups can sap their enthusiasm for life.
A stunning 80% of men in the US will experience a bad back at some point in their lives. The fortunate will figure out how to correct it. The others will continue with the persistent thought of their limitations not far from the front of their mind.
For those of us who enjoy being extremely active, the idea of not being able to play the game is a dark future we would never want to experience.
Avoiding pain AND getting pleasure
We are all familiar with the drum beat of advertising designed to get the general public into fitness programs: lose fat, get your cholesterol under control, lower your blood pressure, look great at the beach, etc.
None of us need to be convinced to go to the gym. We go because we like it.
IMHO we can benefit from using our regular workouts to build durability into our bods so that we can keep playing the game and hitting the gym indefinitely.
Ill suggest some exercises that can do the following critical things:
- Build core strength.
- Build muscle endurance.
- Assist in building body control and coordination.
- Enhance cardiovascular health.
Tuck these exercises in at the end of your regular program, but do them when you still have enough in your tank to perform a few good sets.
Pick a couple that you like and will do.literally forever! Change things up every few months by doing new exercises.
Count the total number of reps you do in a week.
- Kettlebell swing (100 reps per week minimum)
- Pullups (50 per week)
- Power clean (30 per week)
- Overhead dumbbell walk (12 per week with each hand)
- Deep squat stretch (work up to minimum of 30 seconds per time 3 times/week)
- Kettlebell snatch (100 per week minimum)
- Leg and arm raise while lying on the floor (hold for 30 seconds 3 times/week)
As I said earlier, I have been doing versions of this for 20+ years and have never experienced anything more than minor injuries. Amazing considering that I pull heavy deadlifts every week and run many times each week.
Hope you found this of value.