Athletes in Their 40’s

I will never forget the feeling of weight lifting and playing sports when I was in my twenties. Nothing hurt; I could go all out without any concern of hurting myself. When I see these young kids in the gym training or when watching sports on TV, it’s disconcerting to me how age can take that athleticism away from you. I’m in my late 40’s now and devoted my life to the pursuit of fitness and a healthy life style. Even though I did most things right when it came to training and conditioning, I can’t escape from the fact that I’m getting older. I love seeing an older athlete, like Brett Favre, still playing at such a high level but to be honest I have no idea how he is doing it. I’ve been studying exercise physiology and biomechanics for over 25 years and it seems that he is one in a million. There are some sports where world class athletes are in there 40’s but they seem to be more endurance oriented like biking and triathlon type events not speed and strength.

Why can some athletes play longer then others? Part of it is mental determination and the other is unknown to some degree. There are so many things we don’t understand about the body. Why do some people recover from the same injuries that others don’t.

These are questions I’ve been trying to figure out for the last few years. What I have concluded is that its part hormonal, part genetics, part related to optimal training and the rest is still unknown.

Here are some guidelines for the older athlete:

  • Adequate Rest and Recovery– that means enough sleep and rest between workouts or events;
  • Periodization— which is an organized variation of training intensity over a whole athletic season or year;
  • Slow Progression– letting the body fully adapt to the training protocol; and
  • Optimal Nutrition– nutritional timing to help fully recover from intense training.

If you’re 40 or older let me know how you feel about this subject.

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Best – Mike Cola
Fitness Contrarian

About Mike Cola

Mike Cola has well over 50,000 hours of hands-on personal training experience. He started his own personal training studio in1989, Mike Cola Fitness, which is located in New York.Connect with Mike @ Google+

8 Responses to “Athletes in Their 40’s”

  1. Certainly, I agree with the author’s view point. I love the idea since it is well explained. Thanks for the posts.

  2. Super post, Need to mark it on Digg

  3. Thanks for the comment. I marked it on Digg.

  4. Great post, it’s good to see you are catering for all age ranges.

  5. what about Evander Holyfield, Bernard Hopkins, George Foreman, Randy Couture, Ric Flair, Bret Hart, Ray Whitney, and Marc Recchi?

  6. All great athletes. I love seeing older athletes perform at such a high level. I just don’t know how they do it.

    Thanks for the comment.

    Best – Mike

  7. I wasn’t that great an athlete even in my 20s, so I can’t provide much insight on this subject. Perhaps that’s an advantage at my age (62, which I find hard to adjust to or accept). I don’t have to get depressed over the loss of agility in hoops that I never had.

    One thing that I have noticed, though, is that the biggest problem is not the muscles themselves. They respond surprisingly well to exercise almost no matter how hard I work them (so long as I don’t go completely crazy, and work out at least every third day).

    Rather, it’s my tendons that won’t take the abuse now the way they would 40 years ago. For example, as the result of lifting free weights to excess a couple of years ago, the tendon that controls thumb curling became inflamed where it passes through the left wrist. Had to have a cortisone shot to bring the situation under control.

    That said, having practiced the principles you mention here, and some others, I feel pleased at having lost some 30 pounds of flab over the past two years, coupled with gaining maybe 5 pounds or more of muscle. Having a Helix – Pro weight machine conveniently located in my house has been a big help. Same with dietary changes (fewer starchy foods, hardly any refined sugar, replaced mainly by more salads, salmon, squash, bell peppers, other veggies, avocados, eggs, olive oil and nuts). Not that I’m pristine; I still indulge in some dark chocolate and sugar-free (Splenda) ice cream now and then.

    I’m aware of the conventional wisdom that, as one ages, one is supposedly doomed to lose 10% of one’s muscle mass per decade. Be that as it may in terms of averages, I figured I had nothing to lose by at least trying to buck the averages. I took encouragement from the way Ronald Reagan regained muscle when, as a new President, he followed a fitness regimen.

    One nice thing about dropping a substantial amount of weight is that I have received a lot of positive feedback, which supplies incentive for further progress.

    The only negatives have been from my wife. She feels that I am somehow criticizing her for not keeping up, even though I have yet to say Word One to that effect. “I know, but you’re THINKING it!”

  8. Hey Joe,

    That is a great accomplishment losing all that weight and improving your overall health. I really enjoyed reading your success story.

    If you have time read my article about healing tendinosis
    ( ).
    Slow eccentric training may help you.

    Keep up the good work.

    Best – Mike