In a word, yes. Age does affect your training. That’s the short answer. But how it affects your training is really up to the individual. If you are 20-something, you can train until you drop, and other than being tired and maybe a little sore, the effects wear off quickly and soon you are ready to hit it again.
It’s not that easy if you are in your late middle age or early old age. I am 67 years old. I worked out in the gym at least five days-a-week for about 15 years. My training, while vigorous, was never strenuous. My goal was always to stay fit. Then, about five years ago I got the outrageous idea that I could train to prepare myself to enter a bodybuilding contest. Now that’s an idea whose time had come. Imagine my wife’s reaction when I told her the news. But, she was supportive and so I proceeded.
Training for a bodybuilding competition required many hard hours in the gym, a strict diet and a totally different life-style. Here, age makes a difference and does have an affect.
Lifting heavy weights with “old” muscles can be dangerous if you don’t stay focused. It’s easy to pull, rip, tear or stretch a muscle during an exercise that can stop you in your tracks and end your contest preparation on the spot.
I took great care in the gym to make sure I stretched my muscles before and after each set. I drank plenty of water during my workouts and I never continued a lift or pull if I felt the least twinge. I stopped the set at that point and didn’t continue the exercise. I also never lifted more than I should, just to lift. My weight training was purposeful and therefore carefully planned.
To prepare for my first contest, I worked out 45 minutes a day, five days a week for 10 months prior to the contest date. During that time, I worked progressively harder each week as I grew stronger and never suffered a single injury nor did I miss a day of training, and my energy level remained very high. My fellow gym rats frequently gibed, “Old Navy is pumped today.”
I entered my first contest ready to compete. I continued to train vigorously for the next five years and entered a total of 30 bodybuilding competitions, winning 50 trophies and Pro Cards in four natural (drug-tested) bodybuilding federations. I have competed and won trophies and cash in five Pro bodybuilding contests and am now training for my sixth Pro show in October, 2010. Again, all of this without sustaining a single training injury.
Simply put, if you are 20, it’s OK to act like you are 20. If you are 67, it’s not OK to act like you are 20.