The following is an excerpt of the Ageless Body Workshop Manual.
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Enter Andrea Du Cane, Master RKC, CK-FMS, Z-Health, CICS:
We have the choice to let aging happen to us, or actively put up a fight.
We can’t stop it, but we can decide to continue to live our lives to the fullest.
Aches, pains, a little stiffness, decline in strength or speed and the need for medications that have side effects are all part of the process. But, we don’t have to use those conditions as an excuse to give up and sit on the couch watching “The Biggest Loser”.
We must keep moving, keep active both physically and mentally to continue to enjoy life as we know it. There are many simple things we can do to slow the hands of time. The obvious are diet and exercise.
I work with a lot of people who have been athletes or been very active for most of their lives. These people often come to see me after their first, second (or third) minor injury or setback. They have been going along following a certain program for years and for a long time it worked. Then all of a sudden, the workouts they had been doing stopped producing the results they wanted, or they started to gain weight and got injured. Welcome to the first of many little reminders of our mortality and the aging process.
I have a strategy for moving beyond these roadblocks to keep you healthy and vital.
It’s not a magic pill, but with dedication and consistency you can achieve a feeling of renewed vigor, prevent injuries, and maintain your goals for weight and strength.
First, it’s time for an attitude adjustment. If you are the type to push yourself to the limit every time you workout, you no doubt have already experienced some kind of injury or set back. Now is not the time to blindly push yourself to set PR’s every workout. Having a goal is important, but so is listening to your body and knowing when to give it a break. Remember the next step after a peak is a big fall downwards!
This careful attention to what the body actually needs is especially important for trainers to learn when working with certain populations. Sometimes the trainer’s job is to slow down and adjust a workout program so their client doesn’t over train. Learning to watch for those signs both within yourself and your client is crucial for successfully reaching your goals.
Years ago I remember a trainer at a Big Box gym asked me why I always looked so good. She said she’d been training and dieting and no matter what she did she was actually gaining weight and losing strength. I realized on some level that she was overtraining, but didn’t’ know how to articulate that to her. Because of my work schedule at that time, I was forced to have days with no chance to workout. And because the film business had a “craft-service” table I ate like a pig on “shoot” days. The combination of rest and eating more, allowed me to rest my body and feed it as well. When I did hit the gym, I hit it hard and also naturally cut my calories. The result was a healthy and fit body.
Now my schedule is a bit different. I follow my own version of “Easy Strength”. I love the way Senior RKC, Dan John put it in such a simple format. I naturally have been doing that for years. For me, this type of training keeps me fit, healthy and I can maintain my crazy lifestyle.
There are many ways to train, hit it hard a 2-3 times a week or do a relatively light workout 4-6 times a week. I will go into more detail regarding programming later in this manual. But, in my opinion the most important thing to remember it’s now how often you train but HOW you train!
I’d like to introduce something I call the Three Pillars. Or you can think of it as three points of a triangle, each of equal importance. Balance of all three is what is important here.
It is now common knowledge that strength training as you age is key to staying healthy. Strength training has a positive impact on everything from your blood pressure, resting heart rate, body weight, muscle mass, triglycerides, cholesterol as well as helping to control diseases like diabetes, heart disease and even cancer. I’m not saying that it’s a cure for any of these, but following a healthy lifestyle can help prevent some of the typical signs of aging.
Maintaining strength also helps with balance and prevents injuries. Falling is one of the leading causes of people being put in nursing homes, and is also shown to be a leading factor in deaths in the elderly.
Flexibility and mobility often are confused. The former being “the quality of bending easily without breaking”. Flexibility is the ability to move a muscle to it’s natural length allowing full range of motion of a joint or series of joints. However, having too much flexibility and too little strength can lead to injury. Over stretching can lead to sacrum and lower back problems.
The latest studies show that stretching before strength training actually decreases your overall strength and does not help in reducing injuries. Stretching correctly after exercise can help the body recover. However, stretching correctly is not as easy as it sounds. You must be careful to use proper form when stretching to hit the muscle you intending and not over stretch the ligaments and joints.
Mobility is the ability to move or be moved freely and easily. For the body this means the ability to freely move a joint or series of joints in their full range of motion.
If you stop moving your joints they can calcify and you will then end up with an immovable joint. That’s why after knee surgery or shoulder surgery they get you moving that joint as soon as possible.