Gaining Strength in Your Twenties, Thirties, and Forties

TAGS: getting older, age, older lifters, chad aichs, coaching, muscle, strength training, training

column-gray-032715

Yep, it is true, I have been on this planet for 47 years now. It seems to me there are some people who think at my age I am supposed to be getting comfortable with the idea of hanging out on the porch in my rocking chair, sipping sweet tea (I guess in the South somewhere), and I am supposed to be worried or afraid of falling down and breaking a hip or something. When in the hell did the 40s become old? I grew up watching the old Westerns, and back then, the tough guy actors, like Burt Lancaster, who were actually in their late 40s and 50s, did their own stunts.

Why on earth do I keep hearing guys ask if they can still get stronger in their 40s or how they should be training in their 40s? When I hear these questions, it makes me really want to answer them with a question (be warned, it is kind of rude), “Are you some kind of p*##% or something?” You can get stronger at any age, and you do it by doing exactly the same stuff you always did!


RECENT: Strength Programs Don't Work


Of my 47 years on this earth, I’ve spent some 34 of them I lifting weights at some level in some capacity. I have been weak and struggled with minimal weights. I have spent years working my ass off to be slightly above average strength. I have also been at the highest peaks in strength sports performing lifts no one in history had done before. I have seen the whole gamete of strength and been through it multiple times.

As most people know, over the last few years, I have made some major changes in my life in order to finally get control of some major depression and sleep issues, which led me down a very deep rabbit hole. During this time, my lifting had to be kept to a minimum and very light. I actually lost so much strength I could not even hit the numbers I did in my very first powerlifting meet. We are talking about not being able to bench 300 pounds or box squat 500 pounds. Not to say those are bad numbers or anything, but for me, you’re talking about years and years of dedication and training thrown out the window. I have no regrets because it had to be done, and I am personally in a much, much better place now.


View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Chad Aichs (@chadaichs) on

Still, that made me a guy in his mid-40s who was now weaker than he was in his early 20s. Was I supposed to succumb to the bullshit society shovels about weight training and age? Was I supposed to lie down and prepare for death? Well, anyone who knows me knows I hate being told what to do, so telling me I am in my 40s and need to be more careful just pisses me off. John effing Wayne would not have done that and neither will I!

Society is full of morons that don’t know shit; if they did, society would be much better than it is. I am also not going to listen to a medical community full of unhealthy out-of-shape people. I am building back up, and I am doing it smarter than I ever have. I admit I am not trying to outdo what I did in the past or relive any glory. I lived it, and no one can ever take that away from me. I just know I have more and want to prove that people can gain great strength while being healthy, even with some other issues.

Let me be very, very clear here: your age has nothing to do with if you can get stronger. The only role your age plays is how you’re going to go about getting stronger. The rules that get you stronger at 20 years of age are the same at 40, 60, and even 80. At the most basic level, you break muscle down in the gym. You go eat, sleep, and do all the other stuff so that your muscles recover from the training and BAM! You just got stronger. Pretty damn simple, right? How did those rules change with age? Trick question! They simply do not change. Yes, this is a very simplistic view of it, but sometimes that is the best way to look at it.

Physical therapists have been making older patients get stronger for as long as physical therapy has been around. What is one of the main goals a physical therapist has for older patients who have surgeries for total hips, total knees, and/or shoulder reconstructions? You guessed it: to get them stronger so they can have a better quality of life. That seems to make sense to people, so why couldn’t an older individual start going to a gym and lift weights to get stronger? Strength is strength, and here is a little secret: a physical therapist basically uses the same theories as a strength trainer!


LISTEN: Table Talk Podcast Clip — How Do I Get Stronger at 41 Years Old?


Hopefully, my sarcasm is flowing out very thick by this point. Age is not an excuse to stop training or get stronger. The truth is we are born growing, and we hit multiple peaks throughout our lives, but after that, we are on the decline. Hormone levels peak somewhere in our mid-20s. Our muscle maturity level for strength peaks in our mid- to late 30s. After these prime times in our lives, we will never be the same. We will all eventually get to the point where we are more concerned with just hanging onto the strength we have. As with all things, this is completely relative.

 

 

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Chad Aichs (@chadaichs) on

As a top-level lifter in my prime somewhere around 40, I would have peaked out and basically gotten to the point where it was more about maintaining. As I said I had to work some shit out, which meant I had to back off lifting, and my strength dropped to a more normal level. Now at 47, I have increased my raw bench from 300 pounds to the mid-400s on my way to a goal of a raw 500-pound bench. I am increasing all my lifts working to reach my new goals.

I am also currently working with a great guy in his mid- to late 50s who competes as a master in strongman. Over the last year, we have increased all his lifts significantly. We have increased his flexibility, mobility, technique, and raw strength. Sure, the one-percenters who lift at the highest levels can be the exception to the rule. If they are lucky and smart enough to stay on top to their 40s, they will reach the point of just maintaining what they have. I am saying 99 percent of the population can gain some strength at just about any age. The 85-year-old man who has not done much for 20 years can start lifting and gain a good amount of strength and quality of life.

I am currently seeing a benefit to strength training in the later years. It may not be the case with everyone, but we have had much more experience and should hopefully have much more knowledge than when we were younger. Even if you have little strength training knowledge, you still should have learned better. Even more so we have hopefully given our ego time to chill the hell out and mature at least a little.

Odd Haugen is a legend in strongman. He was probably most well known for his competing in the late ‘90s and early 2000s. During this time, he was competing at the world level but was at least 20 years older than his competitors. I remember in an interview, he mentioned how his competitors are relying on their youth, and he is now relying on his experience and knowledge. To this day, he is still putting up some amazing lifts in his mid-60s. I know I do so many things better in my training than I did in my 20s and 30s. I now rely on and trust my brain more than my ego or feelings. This is a major factor in training, and you can see the results.

Age is nothing more than a number, although society wants to limit us with it. I say give society a big, old, fat, and strong middle finger. The biggest thing age means when it comes to strength training is that your recovery will not be what it was in your 20s. It also means our window for error and getting away with it is a bit smaller.


RELATED: Discipline in Training and Life 


The rules just do not change. We still have to train equal to our bodies’ ability to recover just like we did when we were younger. It means we have to be a bit more aware of our bodies and how we feel, but we are smarter now, so no problem.

Again, the rules just do not change. Don’t believe the bullshit out there, and don’t let it be your excuse. Get your ass in the gym and make some gains, no matter your age!

texas-bars-home

Loading Comments... Loading Comments...