In the past installment of this series, I covered the principles of Training for Longevity. To provide a quick refresher, they were 1. Train the Entire Body to Move 2. Train for Hypertrophy (increased muscle mass) 3. Minimize Joint Stress 4. Dont go too hard, because you wont go for long 5. Believe you will improve. While these principles were illuminating to many, many people asked how an actual workout would be structured based upon those principles. To illustrate these principles in a clear way, I described an entire “ideal” workout scenario, from before the session, to the very beginning of the session.
The Principles In Action
2 hours before training-Nutrition and Hydration – Before you ever head to the gym, you want to ensure a quality training performance, recovery, and minimizing injury risk. This starts with nutrition and hydration. Even being slightly dehydrated 1-2% can cause cognitive impairment (brain fog), along with increased joint stiffness and tighter muscles (muscles being 70-80% water). Being inadequately fueled before training can result in a low energy session, and further contributes to a lack a of focus. Combine dehydration with poor nutrition, and you are setting yourself up for a lousy workout and a potential muscle strain. I suggest to all my clients to consume at least half of their daily fluid intake BEFORE they go to train.
My general recommendation is 0.75 ounces per pound of bodyweight. So your current Bodyweight in pounds X 0.75. Example – 200 lb Man x 0.75 = 150 ounces of water daily So before training, he’d want to have consumed approximately 75 ounces of water, or about 2 and a quarter liters. -Unless you train very early in the morning upon rising, this strategy is doable for most people, and ensures that all of your joints, muscles, and soft tissues will be fully hydrated.
Nutrition – This varies person to person, but a general recommendation is a mea eaten 1-2 hours beforehand, consisting of about 20-40 grams of protein, 20-60 grams of carbohydrates, and anywhere from 10-20 grams of fat. This equals to approximately 250-580 calories. With at least an hour to begin digesting, this ensures a steady supply of blood sugar and available amino acids while training. This meal could be protein shake, banana, peanut butter combination, or a meal of whole food, such as chicken thighs and rice. I often recommend instant oatmeal, protein powder, and peanut butter to people, simply because of how easy it is to prepare. Overall, this meal should be easy to prepare, small to moderate in size, and something that you know digests quickly.
30 Minutes Before Training- Mental Focus and Actualization -As people age, the risk of injury increases. While telling someone to “be careful” when they train is the generic response, its not helpful in any particular way. For my clients, I recommend they practice visualization before they head to the gym. This can start in the drive on the car, or it can be begin when they begin to warmup, but regardless, its a simple tactic for mentally centerining oneself on the task at hand, and rehearsing what you will be doing before you ever pick up a weight. There is no “right way” to visualize, other than it must be done alone, and in a distraction free environment. Imagine yourself in your minds eye starting the wokrout from beginning to end. Imagine how every movement feels, the weights you expect to lift that day, and any joints you want to be conscientous of while lifting. Imagine the endorphin rush that comes after, and the liquidity that you feel in the muscles. If you have particular past injuries you must deal with, visualize those muscle or joints feeling good, and functioning at their best. Whether this is done for 5 minutes or 30, this type of visualization “programming” has been shown to be immensely powerful by modern science for increasining performance, and the research goes back decades supporting it. And its free to anyone to use, so long as you can mentally relax enough to do it. Before beginning Training-Intra workout nutrition The number factor in degenerative aging is loss of lean body mass (muscle mass). This simple fact is lost on 99% of the general public, who believe aging is either inevitable, futile to fight against, or mysterious as to why it affects some people more than others. The reality is that beginning in their mid 30s, most people begin to lose lean body mass. And around 50-60, this process can really accelerate. Unless you resistance train, gravity will begin to pull you and break you down. That prefaced, why do I recommend intraworkout nutrition? And what is intraworkout nutrition? Intraworkout nutrition simply refers to consuming a beverage that has some mix of carbs and protein in it WHILE training. –>You would start drinking this RIGHT BEFORE beginning your training session For someone in their “mature” years, this helps to minimize muscle breakdown, and ensures you recover as fast as humanly possible. My general recommendation is 32 ounces of water, containing approximately 30 grams of fast digesting carbs, and about 10 grams of fast digesting hydrolyzed protein. Fast digesting carbs could be honey, gatorade powder, or something like Dextrose. These are easy to digest sugars that will give the concoction a sweeter flavor. Hydrolyzed protein is the most processed form of whey protein. This digest in less than an hour, and it ensures that recovery will begin happening immediately upon ending your training session. Our recommended brand of protein is from True Nutrition. The vanilla flavored is the best liked by most, and mixes readily with most any flavor. Alternatively, if you want to avoid having to mix multiple powders together, you can get a “premade” intraworkout formula. The absolute best on the market for this is Peri-MD, from True Nutrition. This product costs only $2 a serving, and it contains fast digesting carbs, amino acids, and sodium for rehydration. You can use the code AJAC235 to receive free shipping on all TrueNutrition products.
First 15 minutes of training
Dynamic warmup, core temperature elevation, joint check assessment (Credit to John Ruisin for his contribution to this) –>Depending the workout, there are many types of warmups that one could do, but overall, there are 3 things you want to achieve -Elevation of core body temperature -Lubrication of joints and blood flow to muscles -Activation of target musculature A fully in depth explanation of the “ultimate” warmup would be found in THIS article. It breaks down as follow -Foam roll tight muscles-Quads, glutes, upper back, neck -Use static and dynamic stretches for the muscles you are working-For upper body workouts, stretch the pecs, lats, and triceps. For lower body, the hamstrings, glutes, quads, and calves -Stabilizer muscle activation-These would be corrective type exercises, such as rotator cuff work, internal and external rotators of the hip, and breathing drills to get the core firing -Large muscle activation-These would be easy movements done for 1-2 sets to pump up the muscle you are working and get it turned “on”. For chest, think 1-2 sets of chest flys, or band pull aparts.
For quads, a simple wall squat held for 30 seconds would suffice. This movement should be fatiguing, just felt enough that you KNOW the muscle is now working -Big Movement Practice-At this stage, you could now do a set of bodyweight squats, some pushups, inverted bodyweight rows, lunges, glute bridges, loaded carries, or light shoulder presses. This movement should be the same as the one that will make up your working sets -Explosive movement-At this stage, you could start your workout, or you could perform an explosive exercise. This would be an easy “plyometric” drills, such a broad jump, box jump, vertical jump, sprint, slam, or throw.
Sample warmup for Upper Body Chest and Shoulders Workout -Foam Roll Upper Back, Lats -Stretch pecs, shoulders, and triceps -2-3 sets of rotator cuff warmups -1-2 high rep, light sets of chest flys, tricep pushdowns, band pull aparts -1-2 easy sets of pushups, db shoulder press -2-3 sets of elevated plyo pushups, medicine ball slams for 3-5 reps The above sequence shouldnt take more than 15 minutes, and it fully prepares your body for heavier work and weights
The Workout-45-60 minutes
Now that you are fully warmed up, lets proceed on to the workout
- Bilateral movement that pushes blood into working muscle-This movement should be a closed chain exercise, and for my more mature clients, I prefer to use a machine or smith machine. Following our Chest/Shoulders workouts, this first exercise would be a chest or machine shoulder press. We would perform 1-2 warmup sets of 8-15 reps, followed by 2-3 working sets, also for 15 repsJoint stabilization work
- Main movement-This movement will be done “heavy”. This doesnt mean a 1 rep max, but rather this an exercise we can safely add load to and try to possibly hit weight or rep PR on. An example would be a low incline DB chest press. This movement is more shoulder friendly than a flat bench press, and is an excellent pec and front delt builder. Since we are already warmed up, we would proceed right into our 2-4 working sets of 6-12 reps
- ROM movement-The next exercise would use a full ROM through the target muscle, and in particular it would load the eccentric (negative) portion of the rep to emphasize the a stretch of the muscle belly. A standing cable of banded fly would be a good option for the secondary movement, this would be 2-3 sets of 8-12 reps
- Second Primary movement-since this is a chest and shoulers workout, we would follow this with a pressing variant for the shoulders. Because the shoulder is a sensitive joint, we may avoid barbell work. An alternating overhead cable press would be an effective shoulder exercise. This would be done for 2-3 sets, of 8-12 reps
- Last movement, antagonist movement, opposite ROM-The rear delt and upper back are the most neglected part of the shoulder girdle. To conclude this workout, we would finish with 2-4 sets, 10-30 reps of either facepulls, wide grip seated rows, or reverse rear delt flies with DBs or cables.In total, this workout could be done low volume for only 2 working sets each movement, or higher volume for up to 20 working sets.
The Cool Down
Post Training, I woud suggest you static stretch ANY muscle groups that you feel are right or are prone to tightness. If your heart rate or core body temp feels particularly elevated, then taking a slow walk for 5 minutes could be very beneficial
Post Workout Nutrition, 1 Hour after training
At one time it was believed that there was “anabolic window” in which someone HAD to eat, otherwise their workout would be rendered ineffective. Fortunately, this has been proven to be untrue, and that eating after training is more a “patio” than a small window. I dont advise my clients to go too long after training without eating, as energy level tend to drop off markedly. I usually suggest 1 hour after, and the post workout meal is very similar to the preworkout meal, 30-60 grams of protein, 30-100 grams of carbs, and 10-30 grams of fat. The post workout should be easy to digest, easy to prepare, and consist of foods that you know will sustain your energy levels and not make you crash upon eating.
Aging is a process that requires active management, and the workouts that allow one to age well, are no different. Training for longevity is planned, purposeful, and done intelligently. The above scenario is nothing revolutionary by design, but in practice, it ensures quality training sessions each and every time. Injury potential is also kept to an absolute minimum while recovery is maximized. Training is a continuum, and the longer you can do it, the more momentum builds towards your progress and overall health. Train so you can KEEP TRAINING, today, tomorrow, and into the future.