Training recommendations for men over 50

Hi! I am the author and founder of Old School Calisthenics

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First and foremost, I am not insinuating that men over 50 are physically weak. By all means, I believe that many of them are incredibly strong, trained, have tremendous energy and run circles around young generations. But not every person who reaches 50 is well trained and adapted. Sedentarism and mental stress leave their marks, and hence, certain particularities of age can be more pronounced.

Although I am not yet in my 50s, I study sports physiology, kinesiology and many other domains of physical culture, so I am sure that I can correctly advise older persons to get fit, strong and healthy.

Muscle flexibility decreases with age

Elders typically have more reduced muscle flexibility than young individuals, causing a predisposition to muscle strain. I particularly recommend avoiding exercises that overload the muscle fibers, especially when elongated to the maximum, such as full-speed sprints, maximal and submaximal strength exercises etc.

Trained individuals and those with good body mobility will obviously experience no problem. My second advice would be to do mobility exercises that foundational gymnastics provides and stretch after intense training.

Avoid extreme fatigue caused by training

If you are doing constant resistance and endurance training, avoid acute fatigue and pay more attention to recovery. Extreme fatigue can induce a state of muscle contraction, causing tension and inflammation and, consequently, a reduction in fiber elasticity, favoring muscle lesions. The lightest form of muscle lesion is the muscle strain, which can put you off for a week.

If you experience muscle strain, apply cold water compresses immediately after the incident. Repeat this at home for the following 2-3 days. Some people do not recommend cold applications. But instead, they suggest applying warm compresses. However, you should consult a physician. Massages don’t work for muscle strains.

Methods to restore training capacity

Recovery is an essential component of physical training. In fact, it’s a phase in adapting the organism to constant physical effort. Trust me that regardless of how good the training is, recovery is fundamentally the only way through which your organism can adapt to physical effort. Therefore, one of the most predominant practices in restoring the training capacity is the physiotherapeutic method:

  • Warm showers immediately after physical effort: 15-30 minutes;
  • Relax in your bathtub filled with hot water (28-37 degrees Celsius) for 15-20 minutes.
  • Alternate hot and cold showers: 2 minutes warm and 30 seconds cold water with pauses of 1 minute where the temperature is normal. Do it 4 times.
  • Go to the sauna and do steam baths for 20-30 minutes, but not immediately after physical effort. Do it in sessions of one or two per week.
  • Oxygenation provides very positive effects, but do it soon after intense physical effort. But this method requires specialized equipment and personnel, so you may not access this therapy. Alternatively, do meditation and breathing techniques.
  • Take a few days off when you feel totally exhausted. Sometimes, the body needs more days to recover than normal. Remember that after repeated and intense physical effort, the nervous system also tires up, so don’t take everything from the perspective of muscle recovery only.
  • Medication can also help, but it depends on how chronic the fatigue is. Pro athletes need supplementation to perform highly.
  • Restore the electrolytic levels (calcium, potassium, sodium etc.) and chargeback with vitamins. You may also need more carbohydrates, especially if your central nervous system is fried out. If you are on a ketogenic diet, that could be counterproductive. Consume some simple carbohydrates 30 minutes after an intense physical effort (bananas).
  • Attend deep-tissue massages if you have the opportunity.
  • The last one, sleep!

You are not going to do all of them, obviously, but emphasizing recovery is essential because you will be able to train better and more frequently. So do what you can. Practically, the harder you train, the more you gain. However, if your training is light but constant, you may not need more than a sauna and the occasional hot shower. Sleep and proper nutrition can do the rest.

I practically invite you to approach your training smartly, to think, not just to train like a madman. For instance, one of my training programs is pretty severe and overloads the muscular and nervous systems. Now, the training regimen is effective, but your body will take a toll unless you respect my suggestions above.

Nutrition was never more important than it is now for you. When very young, the organism can handle all the exaggerations pretty well. This changes with time, unfortunately. I don’t want to cover nutrition essentials in this article, so I invite you to see my video discussing breakfast, lunch, dinner, and my nutrition principles for a sustainable lifestyle:

Use moderate exercises for the most part

It is important to dose the effort and intensity in aerobic and anaerobic conditions. You have to do adaptive training or keep in mind your capacity to adapt. Take your time and work progressively.

There are some physiological problems during aerobic and anaerobic efforts, and I published a detailed article that refers to the topic. I recommend everything inside there: Physiological problems during physical effort.

Training at over 50

You lose reflexes with age

The speed and reflexes may become slow with time, and one way to prevent this is to do coordination exercises that also require balance. Then you need some athletic exercises like short bursts of sprints where you emphasize the speed of acceleration. Even throwing a tennis ball by the wall and trying to catch it can help with reflexes and handiness. These are all motor qualities that need continuous practice, even for a young man. Otherwise, they gradually diminish, exactly like strength.

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