Bodies change as they age and deal with adversity. Nobody knows that better than Lou Schuler and Alwyn Cosgrove. Schuler is 55. Cosgrove is a two-time cancer survivor. Cosgrove is a prominent trainer who has contributed to this site. Schuler is a prolific fitness journalist who served as editor for Mark Verstegen’s original Core Performance book.
Together, Cosgrove and Schuler are the authors of the popular New Rules of Lifting series. Their fourth book, The New Rules of Lifting for Life, targets men and women whose bodies have started to break down or who have developed one type of fitness at the expense of everything else.
The book lists 24 “new rules” especially applicable for this demographic. Let’s take a look at five of the more prominent ones:
1. The older you are, the more important it is to train.
An untrained body tends to reach its physical peak in its early twenties. At 40, muscles shrink and fat accumulates. Strength and power decline rapidly. Starting at 50, the untrained body will lose 10 percent or more of its muscle mass per decade.
“Time is no longer on your side,” the authors write. “If you already feel the encroachment of age, weight, or misfortune, you need to do something. You can’t do anything about yesterday, but with each passing year ‘tomorrow’ becomes a less attractive option.”
2. Hard work doesn’t mean beating the crap out of yourself every time you train.
You want to stimulate your body during training, of course, but let’s not overdo it—and always consider the role of recovery, which becomes more important in middle age.
“Too much work with too little recovery will bring down anyone, at any level,” the authors write. “It’ll put a pro athlete on the disabled list, and it’ll leave you or me with worse aches and pains than we had when we started.”
3. Decline is inevitable.
Strength and power decline with age, though some people do not reach their physiological peak until middle age.
“There’s only one way to go once you reach your peak,” Cosgrove and Schuler write, “but that’s no reason not to go for it in the first place.”
4. How fast you decline is up to you.
People tend to blame genes in the aging process. And genes have a great deal to do, for instance, with balding and getting gray hair at an early age. Such factors impact the appearance of age, but not how well your body actually is aging.
“Your workout routine and lifestyle choices can make you as much as two decades younger at the cellular level,” the authors write.
5. If an activity hurts, stop doing it.
Sounds simple, but how many times do you keep up an activity or workout even though there’s pain? Sports or workout-related pain seldom is quick, sharp, and obvious.
“The really insidious injuries are the ones that you know you have but convince yourself you can work through anyway,” Schuler and Cosgrove write. “There’s no alarm-bell sensation that tells you to stop. You notice that an exercise aggravates your shoulder or knee or hip or elbow or back. But because it’s a tolerable, familiar pain, you think it’s okay to keep going. It isn’t. You’re only making it worse.”
About The Author
– Pete Williams is a contributing writer for CorePerformance.com and the co-author of the Core Performance book series.
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