The Secret To Being Fit, Strong And Healthy As You Age

By Chris Kennedy

You know that starting in our thirties, we all begin to lose muscle mass. This loss contributes to achy joints, increased risk of injury, and the middle-age spread we all dread. What’ s more, the older we get, the faster muscle mass disappears. This means that eventually, simple tasks like getting out of a chair and climbing stairs can become more difficult.

You also know that strength training builds muscle and makes you strong. While this is great, the mistake everyone makes is that this does do not give you the strength that makes everyday activities easier. Further,  as you age, a lot of these strength programs are counter productive, if you don’t understand what you are doing. They also need the rest of the jigsaw to complete the puzzle.

Core Blimey

Core muscles form the central link between your upper and lower body. A strong core underpins almost everything you do. Building up core muscles is key to improving performance in anything you do by extending your range of motion to lift, bend, turn, and reach. However, its important to understand the core is like a box. If one side of that box is weak, the contents fall apart. So its the right type of Core Training you do that is so important. I have been in this business a long time and about 90% of the new clients we see, have a weak pelvic floor/lower core. But they start with sit -ups which are at the Advanced end of the scale. I have yet to see one person who has a weak Rectus Abdominus, but everybody does  crunches. These two core exercises alone are not suitable for beginners or anyone who has had a long break. They will add to your imbalances and cause back pain. The fact is, after beginning a proper core exercise program, you will notice the difference. You will have greater strength and flexibility for doing everyday tasks. You will have added power for all activities. You’ll have less pain and stiffness. Plus that slimmer waistline and those better-defined ab muscles will be hard to ignore.

Cardio is King

Anybody who tells you not to do cardio does not have a clue what they are doing. It’s ok when you’re young, you have a natural aerobic capacity but this deteriorates rapidly unless its looked after. I personally found this out the hard way after having 15 years off and letting myself go (alcoholic). Cardio is key to developing your aerobic capacity. Your ability to transport oxygen. Cardio increases your all important energy levels, endurance and recovery so you can handle the heavy strength sessions or harder HIIT sessions. While all the sessions we do will get you immediate results fast, it’s important you do some longer slower medium paced stuff in between like walks, running, swimming or cycling once or twice a week to build your aerobic capacity and clear all the lactate. Too much Anaerobic Activity (Without oxygen i.e out of breath) when you’re not an athlete with an extremely high aerobic capacity, almost always ends up with either:

  1. Injury from overusing the same muscles or because they are too tight or tired.
  2. Leaves you open to flu’s, colds , illnesses because your body is more susceptible
  3. Or at best, you get very sick of training

So it’s extremely important to build your cardio base, especially if you had a long break, put on weight or abused yourself like I did.

Weight Training

Theres no point in constantly  ‘pumping’ those shoulders or doing bar squats if you want a slim look, nice butt and don’t want big shoulders or big thighs. But you still need strength! So you must get stronger, but tone up. You still need to increase your weights. Do this properly and you won’t look bulky. Just look how strong Leisa is and she weighs 50kgs!

The right type of Weight Training for your goal. 

There’s also no point in training like a Body Builder doing weights (Like I did…) when your outcome is to fight the best boxers in Australia. Those guys were so damm big I figured they must know what they are doing. They used to lift much heavier weights than me. But not one of these guys can lift anything like me today. I can’t believe it myself, but I am lifting heavier weights now than when I was when I was the Queensland Heavyweight Boxing Champion in 1986. It’s now 2017, and the proof of the pudding is in the eating. I’m lifting heavier weights than 99% of young guys in their 20’s. I got another PB last week-end! It’s all about technique. Not how strong you are. Hindsight’s a wonderful thing, but had I known then what I know now….

Sheep follow Sheep..

Sadly, I still see people at gyms training really hard but incorrectly. They are too afraid to ask anyone and end up copying someone who they think looks good. Then they train harder because they think everyone is watching them. I know because I used to be the same. Don’t learn the hard way…

Its Not How Hard You Train, Its How You Train Hard. 

For years, I had problems with injuries. All kinds of back, shoulder and knee issues, foot, elbow and neck problems. These injuries forced me to take a break or slow down. They stopped me training every time I got going. There is no doubt, had I continued doing the normal bench press, big arms routine I was doing, I would be out of action through injury. I started digging into researches, going to seminars and getting advice from the very best professionals to learn everything I needed to know on how to avoid injuries and how to recover from them quickly. Hence, the start of TC. I have applied all those learning and now approaching my 60’s, I have less pain and injuries than I had in my 30’s. Plus Ive never been stronger and I am having way more fun!

Now you know the secret. You have the proof from all of us at TC. By combining the right strength, cardio, core and functional training exercises you not only get stronger, you have more energy, endurance and recover faster which results in you living longer with a much better quality life. No amount of money can buy you that!

Top Coach Tips for Safe and Effective Strength Training:

  1. Warm Up. Always warm up properly. Always. Focusing on your weak areas and imbalances. Learn what mobility drills are suitable for you. These will be forever changing so keep asking your trainer. The older you are, the longer the warm up. The top sports people warm up for hours these days because they can not afford to get injured. Can you?
  2. Technique. Use proper form to avoid injuries and maximise strength gains. Don’t just copy others at the gym who most likely have a different goal to you. Get a trainer who practises what they preach. You can learn good form through a good trainer who is knowledgeable about exercise. But make sure they understand your goal and can do the exercises, not just look good in the mirror. If someone exercises improperly, especially with weights, he or she puts unnatural stress on the body.
  3. Breathe out when you are lifting or pushing; breathe in as you slowly release the load or weight.
  4. Never hold your breath while straining. This is especially bad for your pelvic floor.
  5. Keep increasing your weights gradually. Remember your personal best’s (P.B’S) and try to beat them. But if you have a break, or are just staring out, don’t be so eager to see results that you risk hurting yourself by choosing too much weight. Training too hard will inadvertently come at the cost of form. The key question is whether the loss is allowable to ensure the intensity is maintained, or will the loss in form result in an injury. Strength training exercises should not cause pain while you are doing them. If an exercise or movement causes significant pain, stop doing it!
  6. Avoid over training your ‘mirror muscles’. The ones you can see. Its much more important to focus on your posterior muscles. More back, glutes etc..
  7. Never do weights or upper body resistance (push ups) before or during boxing. You’re tightening muscles you need t loosen up which wrecks your shoulders. Do them after.
  8. Rest muscles for at least 48 hours between hard strength training sessions.
  9. Do Cardio ! On your other days so you are fit enough to handle harder strength sessions. Alternate cardio (Boxing, HIIT, cardio and Core) with strength (Weights) sessions. Don’t do them back to back.
  10. Change your routine constantly to keep your body guessing. Don’t get ‘comfortable’!
  11. Do Core training at least twice a week so you can use your strength gains for every day life. Include it as part of your warm up.
  12. Don’t start at the top. We have lot’s of beginners sessions for a reason. If you’re not in shape, try some light workouts first. But don’t get ‘comfortable’ in beginners. Once those become a breeze, slowly acclimate yourself to higher levels of intensity. Always keep tabs on how your body is feeling. If you ever feel too tired from a workout, scale it back the next time you exercise.
  13. If you’ve been sick, give yourself one or two days off after recovering. If you were sick for a while, you need to use lighter weights or less resistance when you first resume exercising. If you are coming back from a long break, start with Beginner Sessions and get checked that you are doing your exercises correctly. Go for walks to give you a base.
  14. Listen to your body and cut back if you aren’t able to finish a series of exercises or an exercise session, can’t talk while exercising, feel faint after a session, feel tired during the day, or suffer joint aches and pains after a session.

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