If you’re over the age of 30, chances are you realize you can’t train like you used to.
Back in the day, you could go four, five, or six days week for 90 minutes to two hours in the gym with no problem.
But now, things are a bit different.
You’ve got real, live sh*t to do and think about.
A girlfriend/boyfriend/significant other/spouse.
Maybe even a kiddo or two running around.
So how in the heck do you balance all the spinning plates?
How do you keep yourself in great shape and dominate the other areas of your life?
Easy – you have to periodize your training just like an athlete would.
Albeit with a concession or two along the way!
Here are four simple things you can start doing right now, today, to get more out of your training.
#1 – Rotate Your Training Goals
As we age, one thing that becomes readily apparent is you can’t go to the same well forever.
Yes, you can train for maximal strength.
Yes, you can train to be super fast.
And of course you can train to be explosive, powerful and athletic.
But if you continue to train and exploit the same physical quality for too long, you’re more likely to break down.
It’s common sense, but think about it for a second: You can push some pretty heavy weights for a couple months, get stronger, and come out unscathed.
But when you keep pushing and grinding?
That’s when the little aches and pains come out.
Instead of continuing to beat that drum, pivot with your approach.
Focus on maintaining your strength, but put a bigger emphasis on speed or power development.
Or if you’ve picked up a few extra pounds along the way, consider taking 2-3 months to lean out a ibt.
I know that both Dan John and the Strength Faction boys use an approach like this, and it’s one that flat-out works.
Especially as we age.
#2 – Plan Training Around LIFE
Training pro athletes, in many ways, is easy.
The have a predictable schedule.
You know how they’re going to feel on a day-to-day basis.
And perhaps most importantly, their life revolves around their training and competition schedule.
You are not a pro athlete.
You are not a cyborg (unless you’re Eric Cressey or Bill Hartman)
So instead of developing this “perfect program” where everything has to go right for you to succeed, why not build a program that is realistic and revolves around YOUR LIFE?
A super secret ninja trick here is to front load your training week – make Monday your hardest workout of the week.
And from there, allow things to trail off a bit.
Friday is a great day to focus more on body weight exercises, working on imbalances/asymmetries, or just getting some extra arm work in.
Consider the flip side:
You set up your training program with the goal of hitting a max effort deadlift on Friday night after work.
But you have the week from hell.
Your boss is on you all day everyday at work.
Your wife is pissed off at you.
And little Johnny isn’t sleeping at night.
By the time 5 pm on Friday rolls around, what are the chances of you actually hitting that PR deadlift?
No way Jose.
Dialing in your training week is huge, but you can go even deeper.
Instead of just front-loading the training week, set up your training schedule to account for the high-stress times in your life.
Personally, I know that there are certain periods of time where work it going to take over.
For instance with my Physical Prep Summit coming up in October, I know those last two weeks aren’t going to be my most productive training wise.
So why on Earth wouldn’t I take that into consideration when outlining my program?
Instead of writing a perfect program, I’m going to write one that I know I can be successful with.
I’ll probably go hard from mid-September to mid-October, and then focus more on maintenance those last two weeks of October.
Some may think of it as giving in, but I look at it as being realistic.
#3 – Focus on Recovery
One thing that frustrates the hell out of me is when people constantly bitch and moan about their age.
News flash: You ain’t getting younger friend!
So why bother complaining about it?
The bigger issue here is how most of these people take care of their bodies outside of the gym.
As we age, it’s not that we can’t train hard – we absolutely can.
I feel better now at 38 than at any point in my life.
BUT, we’re not 22 or 23 anymore, and there are other things taking up our precious recovery resources.
So you can train hard, but you have to realize that the training takes a bigger toll now than before.
And you inevitably have more stressors on you now, which also eat up those precious recovery resources.
If you’re going to empty the tank with your training, make sure you’re filling it up with better recovery.
- High quality sleep (including a pre-bed routine),
- Proper nutrition and supplementation,
- A focus on proper breathing, etc.
Don’t think for a second that just because you’re older that you can’t train hard.
But, you’re going to have to earn those hard training sessions with better recovery.
#4 – Follow the Flow Chart!
The final piece of this puzzle is doing things in the right order.
The flow chart below is something I introduced two years ago at the Elite Athletic Development 2.0 seminar.
As you can see, there’s a process to building a lean, strong and athletic client or athlete.
And this chart applies regardless of age.
It starts with your foundation and your ability to recover (which we addressed above).
Next, movement quality is huge – getting the Ferrari tuned up and aligned before you take it out on the road.
The next step is building work capacity.
And from there, the sky is the limit.
Whether it’s changing body composition, getting stronger, or building explosive power, you can do this regardless of age.
Keep in mind as well that you can train the right-hand side of the chart at all times. You don’t have to wait until you lean, strong and explosive to train speed.
But keep in mind you’ll never be as fast or explosive as you can be if you’ve got 50 pounds of extra body fat holding you back.
The pieces on the left facilitate and drive the pieces on the right.
When you’re outlining that next big program, think about what your limiting factors are and address them first.
Doing so is guaranteed to get you to your end-goal faster and more efficiently.
So there you have it – four simple strategies to better periodize your programming as you age.
But this isn’t meant to be a comprehensive list – what strategies would YOU include to improve your performance?
I look forward to continuing the discussion in the Comments section below!
All the best