Fitness for Fitness Professionals
Masters Trainees – Fitness for the Seasoned Individual
Masters trainees, typically defined as individuals 35 to 40 years of age and over, are on the rise. Depending on the sport, it is not unusual to see younger masters-age group individuals excel in national and international events competing against much younger athletes. Powerlifting has a habit of Masters Competitors winning in open competition. Without question, nothing inhibits a middle-aged trainee from becoming stronger, larger, and more powerful but his or her own approach with respect to training and age. As humans progress beyond middle-age, some noteworthy changes commonly occur. Sarcopaenia (loss of muscle), performance loss, amplified body fat, and diminished flexibility are common properties of aging. This is fundamentally due to the fact that the average adult has a seriously reduced activity level and comes to be more and more sedentary, which leads to muscle atrophy; in the completely inactive older adult, this damage is compounded by sarcopaenia. The loss of muscle also signifies the loss of metabolic mechanisms; muscles constitute most of the calories a healthy persons uses daily, and smaller muscles burn less calories. Most people don’t moderate the quantity of food they consume as activity lessens, and the result is an average increase in body fat of 2.5 to 3.0% every ten years. The loss of muscle mass has another sinister effect that becomes more noticeable at an advanced age, that is, a loss of proprioception and balance. Barbell training, in fact, is the best treatment for the deterrence of all of these age-related complications. Even in the 60 to 90-year-old range, training decreases the loss of muscle mass to under 5% every ten years. Less evident to those unacquainted with weight training is the fact that lifting weights alone will improve flexibility. This is most valuable for older trainees with clear loss of range of motion. Individuals suffering from arthritis characteristically reduce their activity level to reduce discomfort, which, ironically, exacerbates the problem. Several studies have shown that increasing the strength of the musculature around an affected joint cuts pain and improves function considerably. A number of these studies used squats to ease knee pain. The end result is that lest a person has a substantial pathology (is terribly sick) or is post-geriatric, that person can profit from a weight training programme comparable to those used with younger people at the same level of training progression, with the possible alteration of increased rest periods (due to the reduction in recovery capacity as one ages). A remarkable feat of strength was achieved by a 72-year old, Darrell Gallenberger, who was able to pull off a 182kg deadlift. Clearly, this is due to diligence and good training ways.
- Kilgore, Lon, and Michael Hartman. Fit. Iowa Park, Tex.: Killustrated Books, 2011.
- Rippetoe, Mark, Lon Kilgore, and Glenn Pendlay. Practical programming for strength training. Wichita Falls, Tex.: Aasgaard Co., 2006.