I learned early on in life to never believe that I knew everything. Just about every single person you come in contact with can teach you something. Never stop learning. When it comes to achieving fitness goals, find people who have achieved similar goals to yours, and then learn from them. You will also need to learn by studying your body and finding what does and does not work for you.
As I’ve gotten older it has become harder to make fitness gains. While the strength is still there, speed and recovery are not what they used to be. I never used to warm up or stretch when it came time to work out. I could just jump right into it. Now, those days are long gone.
What works for me is a warm-up protocol that I adapted from a kettlebell pre-workout routine and an Olympic weightlifting program. As part of my warm-up I do some flexibility movements, lightweight movements aimed at restoring balance to muscles, and some injury prevention exercises.
I have found that by taking the time every day to do these movements, I have cut down my injuries and boosted my performance.
When I was training well over a decade ago, we used to have these crazy fight camps. It was all about getting in the work, tons of cardio, weights and lots of physical activity. We learned that it actually hampered our performance, because we were overtrained. Since then, I have learned to train smarter, which has added benefits for me because of my age.
We’re all unique, and that also applies to our bodies. We all need to find what works for us, keeping in mind there are few givens when it comes to working out and strengthening your body.
You must challenge yourself. There is no easy way, the time has to be spent and the work has to be done. If we believe that we can go through a few comfortable, easy motions and reap the same benefits, we are deluding ourselves. There is no one exercise or fad that will make us fit. While there are many types of exercise that can achieve strength and growth, they all need to have this in common: they must be ever-changing, both progressive and regressive.
Other important but often neglected aspects of being able to continue to realize gains are nutrition, recovery and sleep.
We can no longer put whatever we want into our bodies. Even if that worked for you in your youth, by the time you reach your forties your body will no longer respond the same way. A balanced diet of whole foods will not fail us in any way. Eat your vegetables, and lots of them. Over the years I have added a few supplements – minerals and vitamins – to my whole foods diet, and you may find some that work for you.
As we age, we also need to increase our recovery time. Good rest is a must.
Aside from those basics, you will need to pay attention to your body and take care of it. Learn from your failures, put in the work and reach new goals – at any age.