As we age, our bodies start to change. Priorities start to shift. Whereas before, the focus of your training was exclusively to look good or get strong (often at whatever costs necessary), things are a bit different now.
Sure you still want to look good and feel strong. But more important, you want to be able to preserve your quality of movement, and be able to stay healthy and active as you age.
The three training essential to staying healthy as you age:
- Rows: Your shoulder is the most mobile joint in the body, providing a huge range of motion. But, all this mobility means the shoulder joint is also very unstable, and easy to injure.
Chances are, by the time you hit 40, this extremely unstable joint will have taken a beating. Shoulder pain becomes more and more common as you age.
One of the best ways to cure or prevent shoulder pain? Get the muscles of your upper back relatively strong. Specifically the muscles involved in the “rowing” movement pattern. These muscles essentially pull the shoulders back into proper position.
We also naturally tend to use our “push” muscles (chest, shoulders) much more than our “pull” muscles. This leads to imbalances. Imbalances lead to pain, in this case most commonly felt in the shoulders. Training the upper back frequently fixes this imbalance.
A few solid choices for rowing moves:
*Dumbbell rows: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KhDOlnle_kQ
*T-Bar rows: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KDEl3AmZbVE
*Suspension rows: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lBxgQ2FEiH8
- Hip dominant movements.
Do you ever experience low back pain? Thought so.
How many of your friends also suffer from chronic low back pain? Likely most of ‘em.
Why is back pain such an epidemic, especially as we age?
One of the biggest culprits is a combination of:
- Performing the “hinge” movement incorrectly in daily life. Think, rounding your back to pick something heavy up off the floor, instead of deadlift it up. This leads to stress on the lower back (where you don’t want it), instead of stress on the glutes and hamstrings (more ideal).
- Weakness/inability to recruit the glutes and hamstrings when necessary. If you are able to hinge correctly, weak or “sleepy” glutes and hamstrings still means that other muscles are going to be forced to compensate, doing the job the glutes and hamstrings are supposed to be doing.
Guess who the main compensator is? Yep. Your lower back.
The best way to avoid all this pain? Train hip dominant movements often. (A hip dominant movement is a movement that trains primarily the glutes and hamstrings). The hinge movement especially is excellent, IF you’re performing it correctly.
HOW TO HINGE: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oJDNbdNrPwk
Don’t increase weight until form is mastered. Some excellent variations:
*Romanian deadlifts: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jEy_czb3RKA
*Single leg Romanian deadlifts: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ViVhUZGk6i4
*Barbell hip thrusts: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LM8XHLYJoYs&t=29s
*Reverse lunges: https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=2&v=U7Nrwyu6Uqo
Be sure to incorporate some of the single-leg variations shown. These are extremely important to preventing imbalances between legs, and will help you maintain your balance.
- Overhead work.
The ability to do things overhead seems to be a case of “use it or lose it”. Most of us do little overhead, and a combination of muscular imbalances, lack of mobility, and muscle weakness leaves us unable to do much of all overhead.
This isn’t to say you should necessarily “press” weight overhead. Often by the time you reach your 40’s, you’ll have sustained some type of shoulder injury that makes this a bad idea. Rather, make sure you have the pre-requisite strength + mobility to perform overhead movements when necessary in your day-to-day life.
Movements to focus on:
*Scapular wall slides: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N73AnUp3m2w
*Face pulls: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=75wrQMEeRMs
*Band pull-aparts: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ra6PpeyKS6Q
Incorporate these movements. Your body will thank you.