The Challenges of Training for Masters
Older adults and masters athletes face a raft of challenges when it comes to exercise. Here, we discuss our tips for overcoming some of these obstacles:
Injuries: Injuries are a part of the game, and while we try to minimise them, they happen. Of course, there’s a MASSIVE net gain that we get from exercise, so even if we do get injured, the benefits far outweigh any short term negative effects. Injury doesn’t mean you have to stop exercising – in fact, it can be an opportunity. In the Exercising with an Injury series of ebooks, we talk about how to modify exercise around injury. The most important thing to do is to modify the exercises, so they’re as close to the programming movement as possible without causing aggravation.
Movement Dysfunction: The exercises you can complete are not only good for you directly, but they can also provide a great diagnostic tool. By analysing your movement patterns, we can draw conclusions about the imbalances in your body – using this information to prescribe corrective exercises. So we can reframe issues like a tight rack position, or tightness when the bar is overhead, to be opportunities for improvement. Never waste an opportunity to move better and become healthier.
Increased Recovery Time: The older we get, the longer it takes to recover from the stresses we place on our body. The first step is in recognising this, and making the adjustments. Strategies like having an easier day in the middle of the week, having one full rest day each week, and using deload weeks (every 6-8 weeks) can be highly effective. Remember, although the exercise you’re doing provides the stimulus to improve, it’s the recovery that actually makes you better.
Time Limitations: You may not have the discretionary time that your younger counterparts do. Kids and family, and long work requirements reduce the time you have available to train. This can be a blessing in disguise. By having less tie to train, you’re more likely to prioritise quality – both in terms of your movement patterns, and the intensity of training. You should also consider the types of sessions you’re doing in your programming. The less time you have to train, the less you’re able to ‘segregate’ individual elements of fitness. Instead of just focussing on one element of fitness in your training (for example, doing a session that only trains strength), do a session that improves both your strength and your cardiorespiratory endurance. You’ll get more bang for your buck and a greater return from the time you invest.
There’s no denying the importance of exercise for the older adult, and with some careful planning, we can turn limitations and obstacles, in to opportunities.
Dan Williams is the Director of Range of Motion. He has a Bachelor of Science (Exercise and Health Science) and a Postgraduate Bachelor of Exercise Rehabilitation Science from The University of Western Australia, with minors in Biomechanics and Sport Psychology. He has worked with many thousands of individuals along the full spectrum of health, and has coached at The CrossFit Games. He regularly presents to corporate and fitness industry groups and mentors Fitness Professionals.