Saturday, July 12, 2008

Age


"Age doesn't mean shit."
- Johnny Gray, after winning the Pan Am games 800m nearing his forth decade

After interviewing Tony for his 50th you'd probably think that he and I both share this same sentiment. And, well, yes, we do--in some sense. It’s also silly to say that we don't acknowledge it. Unfortunately, age does mean shit. Aging and slowing down are inevitable. Fortunately for us, exercise--especially hard exercise--is the most effective way to combat it.

In the interview, Tony nails it pretty well when he says he's in the best shape of his life but concedes that "I'm a little slower." There is nothing you can do about your peak athletic fitness declining as you age. But by learning about your body and training it more efficiently you can continue to improve on your overall physical condition.

As we age our bodies produce fewer hormones. In the simplest sense, this is how we die. Nothing forces hormone produce more than exercise. Even doping (as in anti-aging medicine) can't compete. Nutrition also helps, but exercise tops all. This is because it forces our body into a stressful "survival" tendency where we produce more hormones to offset the shock of the exercise. And this keeps us from aging as rapidly.

This is why many "experts" are 100% wrong when they tell us to slow down as we age. Most elderly workouts stress gentile aerobic work and eschew "dangerous" resistance work. This is generally because they are afraid of advising people to do things were they may hurt themselves. But no sports injury is as bad for you as aging quickly, making this philosophy seem counterintuitive. Resistance work is exactly what we need. The more intensity you can handle the better off you will be. High intensity training forces hormones to release the keep you young--things like testosterone and HGH, the exact stuff that anti-aging doctors will shoot you full of if you pay them are available to you, for free, if you'll do a little work.

Of course age needs to be considered. As we age we don't recover as fast, even with the extra hormone boosts, because we'll never match the amount we produced when we were younger. Our ratio of muscle mass declines each year along with our ability to recover. So overtraining becomes more and more a possibility as we age, making intelligent training cycles more important, as well as become more tuned into "listening" to your body. But if we truly get wiser as we age we can use this knowledge to train more efficiently so that, like Tony says, head into our AARP years feeling like it's the beginning of the beginning, instead of the beginning of the end.

pic: "I can't die. It would ruin my image." – Jack

7 comments:

Reed said...

Reading this stuff made me think I needed to get back at it. Did a short ride on the Hippie bike today with Amber and then did some PHH Arms and PHH Abs. I had forgotten how quickly the sets go in the PHH Arms. In P90X you have more time because you are going to failure, but in the PHH you do one set and then jump into another right away. I found myself breathing fairly hard, but it felt good.

Now if I can just get my elbow pain to go away it'll all be good.

~R

Steve Edwards said...

Doing PHH back to back is a hard workout. Rad. What's wrong with your elbow? Too much time on your campus board? Don't forget to do your reverse wrist curls and lots of arm stretches, including the Kevin Brown arm against the wall behind you one.

I've been feeling my knee on my two and three hour climbing days, so the rest of this season I may go back to normal distance racing. Masters state road championships are in two weeks. I'm sure that won't be too fast. I may see if I can have in the grupetto.

Reed said...

I figured that the elbow was tendonitis caused by all the pull-ups in 90X, but there's also a weird bump on the elbow that makes me wonder if there's something more. I didn't start my rehab nearly as soon as I should have. But I'm now doing my reverse wrist curls, stretches and icing the elbow.

In an old email you suggested doubling up some of the PHH workouts before doing 90X and I didn't feel like doing a whole 90X workout, so I combined two of the PHH. It wasn't too bad because it's two very different half hour things, but it was a good workout.

I'm sure those Master's are slow, you'll be fine. Every year I get older, but it seems like the guys who are older than me don't get any slower. That's fucked up. Good luck.

~R

AlfaSunshine said...

Hey Steve: Great article...I don't know if i'm missing our emails or if you aren't emailing stuff anymore, but I really appreciate your knowledge and the way you convey it...you should really still have a chat where you could soap box it on hot topics like this.

~Hugs, Lauren, aka AlfaSunsine

Steve Edwards said...

Lauren,

Thanks! We're working on having more chats. It depends on their attendance. Tony and I had one together last week. Not many people were there (we only announced it two days prior) but I think it was pretty cool for those who were.

Send your email address to:

join-edwards@mh.databack.com

The mailbag has been less frequent but is still coming every other week or so. It's based on getting good questions and with all the product launches we haven't had as much nuts and bolts fitness information this year, so far.

Steve Edwards said...

Yeah, the masters are super slow. The last race I was at they announced both the national time trial and crit champion in our field. Middle-aged hammerheads are dime a dozen around these parts. I think I'll be paying my dues as a domestique for a while.

So that bump isn't from a crash but from overuse? That is somewhat extreme. I would ice like crazy and not do any pull-ups at all for a bit. Actaully, if you haven't been and it hasn't gone down you might want to have someone look at it. Maybe take a trip to SB and see Kevin.

Reed said...

Yea, I haven't done any pull-ups in over a month. I will probably go see someone local but I might wait until after my trip to do so.

I don't really know what the bump is from, so it could be from a crash. I just know that I only noticed it recently and it wasn't right after a crash.

~R