Were you once a beast in the weight room? Do you miss those personal bests from years ago, and you want to know how to get them back? For the aging powerlifter, there are several important considerations to keep in mind if you want to see great results without injuring yourself. Here are seven powerlifting tips for older powerlifters.
1. FACE THE FACTS
Before you pick up that barbell to deadlift or squat, take a minute to face some facts:
You aren’t twenty years old anymore. This isn’t a bad thing. You’re much wiser now and probably far less annoying, but it does mean that the days of lifting with your ego are long gone. Sure, you can try it, but if you want to stay free from injury, we wouldn’t recommend it.
You aren’t going to heal as quickly so you might need more time to recovery. What’s more, you’ll be more prone to injury so trying to beat the deadlift record of The Mountain isn’t going to be on your agenda.
Speaking of deadlifting, you better make sure your form is perfect with our deadlifting checklist.
With that said, it’s okay to challenge yourself and strive for intense workouts, but be mindful of what your body can and cannot handle.
2. DON’T FOCUS ON ONE AREA OF FITNESS
You don’t want to enter old age with a lagging area of fitness. For example, maybe you have a lot of raw power from your days as a powerlifter, but you’re severely lacking in mobility.
There should be balance to all forms of fitness; otherwise, as you age, those weak points will get a lot weaker and hold the body back. Here are the four areas of fitness that you should give equal attention to:
Lean Muscle Mass and Body Fat: One of the biggest indicators of cardiovascular disease is the amount of body fat you have. The more lean muscle, the better for your heart, cardiovascular, and overall health. Powerlifting combined with cardiovascular exercise and a lean diet can help to keep you muscular.
Strength and Power: Having healthy levels of strength will allow you to maintain an active lifestyle and sense of independence well into your golden years.
Mobility: We’re all guilty of skipping stretching, but your body won’t take as kindly to not stretching as you age. Performing daily sessions of stretches, especially if you’re doing yoga, will help you avoid injury and support an independent lifestyle for years to come.
Endurance: Building up your endurance now will help you stay active and avoid getting winded while doing basic household activities such as walking up the steps.
3. MAINTAIN > GAIN
Continuing with the first two points, your ultimate focus should be more on maintaining a strong and healthy body than setting new goals for maximum gains. It’s far better to build up a well-balanced physique and physical ability and to maintain it for the next forty or fifty years than to shoot for the sky, injure yourself, and be bed ridden.
4. LIFT THREE TIMES PER WEEK
With those cold, hard facts aside, let’s get into it. How many days per week should you powerlift?
We recommend dedicating one day per week to each exercise. For example, you dedicate Monday to your deadlifts, Wednesday to your bench press, and Friday to your squats.
On top of this, we recommend having a day for cardiovascular exercise and mobility work. For example, you can dedicate Tuesday to bike riding, and Saturday or Sunday to a basic yoga or stretching class.
5. SUIT UP FOR YOUR WORKOUTS
Unlike those days when you could throw around an insane amount of weight without much assistance; now is this time to considering suiting up for your workouts. Long time lifters know only too well how their bodies have been beat up, especially around the joints and connective tissue. You may have prior injuries or surgeries. No matter your state of health, here are a few pieces of gear we recommend:
Weightlifting Lever Belt: Will help your abdominal wall have something to push off of during deadlifts and squats.
Not sure which one you need? Check out our article on knee sleeves vs. knee wraps.
Squat Pad: Don’t risk bruising or straining your neck muscles. Use a squat pad for performance and comfort.
Wrist Wraps: We can guarantee that the majority of older lifters reading this have experienced wrist strain or injury at some point in their lives. Protect and support yourself with wrist wraps.
6. RECOVERY IS ESSENTIAL (BUT MORE DIFFICULT)
When you were younger, you could get away with taking a day to rest without great nutrition or supplements, then hitting the gym hard the following day. The same can’t be said when you get older. You must be as dedicated to recovery as you are to your training program. You can achieve maximum recovery by focusing on the following:
Sleep: Get no less than eight hours per night. We recommend going to bed no later than 10 p.m. as this is when growth hormone starts to peak.
Nutrition: Eat a well-balanced diet of whole food-based lean proteins, complex carbohydrates, and healthy fats.
Supplements: Consider taking a few supplements to support your recovery quality and speed. Whey protein is ideal for muscle repair; vitamin D can support healthy testosterone levels, and resveratrol is a well-established longevity supplement.
7. GET YOUR MIND IN THE RIGHT PLACE
Finally, it’s essential to make sure you are in the proper mindset. Yes, you’re getting older, but everyone does. Don’t let that stop you from achieving a strong and muscular physique. You may have to pay more attention to recovery and preventative measures, but you can still achieve a body better than most of the 20-year-olds in the gym today. Remember to be patient with yourself and be consistent.
ARE YOU AN OLDER POWERLIFTER LOOKING TO GET BACK INTO THE SPORT?
What questions do you have? Better yet, what were your personal bests back in the day? Let us know on our Facebook!