Getting fit, or fitter, after 40 is no easy feat. And let's be clear: it's only going to get worse!
But! You can still make your PR and also create a body that will last another 60 years. There are several changes that you need to make to transition your training from what you were doing in your 20s and early 30s to what you want to be doing in your 40s onwards. Let’s first look at what actually changes with your body:
- Recovery ability – it takes much longer to come back from hard workout or a race
- Metabolism – you tend to gain weight much more easily than before
- Muscle mass and flexibility – as you age, you naturally lose muscle mass, a process which accelerates significantly after 60
- Bone density and tendon strength – goes hand in hand with muscle mass issue
There are some things that might get a bit better, mainly your mental toughness, which could translate to better performance over very long distances, but overall, even by looking at Ironman age group results, you will start getting slower after 40. Can you make the most of it, and try to slow this process? Absolutely, but it will require you to rethink your approach and do some specific training and nutritional adjustments. Let’s have a look at a few tips.
Focus much more on your recovery, quality of your nutrition and use some very specific supplements to achieve remarkable results!.
One of the key changes is longer recovery, because it affects everything else. You just have to make peace with the fact, that you will not have three very hard days back-to-back, while still feeling good enough to train the fourth day. At a later age, it is advisable to have easy day after every hard day, and even take a day or two as an active rest day every week. Your body really needs the time to come back. Overall, you should be better by adhering to this method, than pushing maximum out of you every time. Make sure to add some extra salt to your workout! It will help the body going and all the neurotransmitters firing the right way!
With less training hours, and slower metabolism, you might have to eat a little cleaner and more conscious. Focus on high quality foods, lots of vegetables, lean meat, and fruit. Add some regular multivitamin and omega 3 supplements, to help manage your energy levels.
Apart from lower energy levels and longer recovery times, I personally feel the largest aging effect of muscle mass loss. It just takes much more strength training to get the same result I would get before from simply swimming and biking. I was quite bothered at first, but then I roamed through the endless academic papers tackling this issue and came up with a solution that seems to be working so far. It is based on three premises:
- Do more strength training. Go to gym three times a week and hit heavy weights. Deadlifts, squats, bench press. It has numerous benefits for older people, and not just athletes. Heavy lifting helps to avoid osteoporosis, builds muscle, ergo in a way reverses muscle mass loss, and could improve your libido as well! So as one Instagram personality says: go to the f*cking gym.
- Eat more protein. It goes hand in hand with number 1. Do something like 1,5-2g per kg of bodyweight of protein every day, complement it with your training and strength workouts, and you will see the difference. I usually do eggs in the morning, meat for lunch and sometimes also for dinner, and I have 2 protein snacks during the day.
- Creatine and BCAA. Creatine helps build muscle. Period. You might be afraid you will become the Rock and be so bulky it will affect your performance, but it will not. You do not need to take bodybuilders levels of creatine, but 226ers have a very nice dosing in their pre-workout formula, which I recommend to everyone. Take it before every workout, be it strength, cycling or swimming, and it will provide the necessary creatine dose, and also help you execute the workout at your max. BCAA are also a must at this age level, however, be careful what you take, a lot of Aminos have fillers and do very little to help your cause. Thorne Aminos is a good bet, trusted by the Tour de France pros.
Last issue with aging is bone density and tendon quality. It is largely fixed by the above regiment. Flexibility will start to be an issue, which could over time lead to muscle and tendon injuries. Yoga on your rest days is a great way to keep the doctor away. There are thousands of apps in your app store. I like Asana Rebel the most (no affiliation with us!). And if you start feeling your knees here and there, make sure to add collagen to your routine. Quality is everything with collagen, but it is something that can really make a difference long term. The studies here are not conclusive, so I can’t say it is this or that way, I can only contribute with my own experience.
Key takeaways are very simple: take care of your body a little bit more than you are used to, help it fuel with good food, high quality supplements and self-care routines, and it will reward you by allowing you to train and race for a couple more decades to come! Let us know, if you have any questions at: firstname.lastname@example.org