I was going to start this article off with the sentence, “I have been training for over thirty years …”, and realized that I make that statement a LOT. Instead, I will just say that over time, things change.  I deal with quite different things in my late 40s than I dealt with in my early 20s.  Some of these things may seem obvious, while others not so much. If you had asked me when I was 20 if I was going to still be training at almost 50, I would have said absolutely. I just didn’t know it would be a completely different scenario with completely different issues.

Times change and we can fight it or accept it. If you are young, consider this a heads up of what to expect when you have decades of reps under your belt. If you are my age, you will appreciate that I understand your plight.

Here are five things that you can expect to change with time:

1.  Metabolism

Yes, this one may seem obvious, so I am starting with it.  Obviously, metabolism will slow as we age and our hormones decline. Even if you manage to fight the good fight and attempt to keep your hormones from declining to that of a typical old man, you are still not going to maintain the metabolism you once had or the muscle mass you once had. As you age, it’s almost as if the fight becomes simply to hang onto the muscle and condition you've already accumulated.

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Understand, too, that even if you are able to maintain great condition as you age, it is going to take a LOT more work. That usually means a combination of regular cardio—where you may not have done much in your earlier years—to a much lower calorie and carbohydrate intake. I am not at all saying you can’t stay in great condition and hold a lot of muscle as you age; I am simply saying that if you think because you have trained for years that you will continue to hold your same condition and muscle without having to adjust your plan, you are dead wrong.

skip db training

2. Skin

This one is probably the one I despise the most because I had no clue it would be an issue until I was much older. However, it makes sense if you think about. If your muscles have been large for years and/or you have gone up and down in weight with bulking and cutting protocols, the skin is only so elastic and it will start to get loose and not tighten up as well. I can still get into ridiculous condition these days but I will also have to make sure that my muscles are very full because if they aren’t, my skin will take on that “old man” look. There is nothing worse than working your ass off to get lean and then having loose skin.

The other issue that needs to be pointed out is that as we age, we carry body fat differently. No, this isn’t strictly a skin issue, but it does tie into “skin” and “metabolism.” I carry much more body fat in my lower back and chest area than I ever have in my three decades of training and dieting (and competing). The skin on my back is thicker, whether it be on my lats or my traps and rear delts. That was never the case in my 20s, as I had very thin skin on my back and glutes/hips.

3. Joints

Tendons, ligaments, discs and cartilage all start to become an issue as we age, but just as importantly as aging—if not more so—is how many years you have spent in the gym.  I know guys that didn’t start training until their late 30s that don’t have anything of the joint issues that I do. It isn’t always our chronological age as much as it is our age combined with the amount of years we have been in the gym. I was fortunate enough to learn very early that form was crucial for progress and thank God I did, because had I gone this many years not training correctly, I would likely have much worse issues with my lower back than I do.

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“Old Man-itis” is a very real issue in that inflammation is something I deal with much more these days than I ever did when I was younger. The body is incredibly resilient in our younger days and not as forgiving as we age. Tendonitis and just plain achy joints is something that is going to be quite common after spending years in the gym. You might think, “take a week or two off and let the inflammation subside”, and that is a great idea…except that if I skipped training days every time something didn’t feel right or ached, I would train four or five days a year.  And when you are older, taking days off can have you “stove up” (this is Slingblade reference for those of you who don't know). I would rather have some inflammation than to be stiff from not being in the gym.

4. Time

I am not referring to the obvious reference that as we age we have more time behind us than in front of us. I am saying that our time every day is far more limited than when we were young. Now, this is where you young guys reading this will want to pipe up and tell me how incredibly busy your college schedule is and how you work part time and have a girlfriend but are so dedicated you still find time to train six days a week. Shit, please. I have been young and have done what you are doing. You have not been “old” and have not done what I do. I am not the only one that is short on time, but I can tell you that there is far less time in a day when you are in your 40s with kids that have to be to sports, school functions, dentists/ doctors, friends, a career or business vs. a part time job, a marriage of over 20 years that needs to remain a priority, mortgage vs. apartment rent, sending your kids to college, etc. The stresses are day and night different. Hell, I live an hour from the nearest gym.  Sure, I don’t need to live up here in the mountains, but when you are all growed up (oh, yes I did) you live where you want to live without it being influenced by where the most hardcore gym is located.

bike rider

5. Passion

I leave this one for last because it is not only the one that I thought would ever change, but it is also the one that most of you reading this article will either say will never change, or (if you are my age) you will lie and deny and say it hasn’t changed. Your passion has changed or it will. Now, I am still absolutely in love with training. I would say that I love it as much as I did when I was in my teens. However, and this is important: When I was in my teens my training was the thing I enjoyed the most and there wasn’t much of a close second. I wanted to be in the gym more than anything else I could think of. My diet was 100% all of the time because that was going to feed my progress and that feeling was better than eating something tasty.

Fast-forward to now and let me just say that when you are a teen and have no money, your idea of a tasty cheat meal is Burger King or a sundae at Dairy Queen. These days, I have money and I am a foodie. I know what good food is, and let me tell you that a burger with foi gras on it is way better than staying on my diet for the 10-thousandth day of my life. Riding my motorcycle through the Rocky Mountains is equally as enjoyable as my thousandth chest workout of my life, if not more so.

As I sit here typing this, I am one day from a vacation of motorcycle riding with a group of people coming into town from all over the country. I am cramming to get my work done so that I do not have to think for even one second about training or a clean diet for a week. Where you might think I am not hardcore, I was likely hardcore for more years than you have trained to this point. The game now is to stay injury-free while training as hard as I can and be in the absolute best shape that I can — so, basically the same goals as anyone else out there. I cannot take squats damn near to failure anymore because the thought of shitting in the shower while standing up has lost its appeal. At this point, it is about #TRTbodybulding and #Longevity2.

You see what I did there.

Just sayin’.