We are all getting older, but that doesn’t mean we can’t maintain or even improve our level of fitness. By doing so, we can avoid a sedentary lifestyle that will cause a functional decline.
The ones who should be strength training are not the young bucks in the gym, but rather anyone middle-aged or over!
Here, I will refer to athletes that are aged 40+ as Masters.
As we age, we tend to lose muscle mass and become less agile. However, with correct training you can have great benefits, such as staying active long into the future.
So what are the main physiological and psychological differences with a more mature athlete?
The program and stimulus remains the same but you may need to adapt to it as Masters come in a wide range of variability. Age itself may not be the best way to categorize all Masters, but a majority may have many commitments outside the gym: work, kids, home arrangements, old injuries etc. I.E; they’re busy people with limited time, and training shouldn’t be an additional stress to their everyday life.
It is, therefore, even more important for this group to recover well, spend more time on mobility, and warming up properly. Progressions for new skills should be scaled appropriately (which goes for everyone in the gym), but over-exertion and injuries can come with longer recovery period for Masters.
Sometimes the Masters athlete can also be his own worst enemy by comparing themselves to younger athletes and not realizing the rate of adaptation may be different. That does not mean that an older athlete can’t reach elite levels of fitness, but the road to get there may look different.
Masters could also have a background in high level fitness and have kept that mindset, but physically may no longer be able to tolerate high volume and stress that comes with it. It’s important to follow a well-rounded program and keep your wellbeing in focus.
Keep the long game in mind. It’s easy for people to compete themselves out of shape.
Masters should go for intensity that is sustainable over time. Balance and coordination may need more practice as we get older, so it’s good to work on the fundamentals of strict movements, especially when it comes to gymnastics.
Psychologically, Masters athletes are more prone to look for the social interaction that a box offers. For a box, it is key that everyone feels included and welcomed, especially if someone is new to functional fitness and stepping into the gym for the very first time. This is important to take into consideration when it comes to social activities at a box (competitions, partner WODS, choice of music etc).
There is no doubt that Masters athletes can improve significantly, gain strength, improve conditioning, and learn new skills. The goal is to have the highest level of fitness at any age. For more inspiration, take a look at the CrossFit Games Masters athletes. For anyone to get started, go to your local box!
Feel free to contact us for more information or questions you may have about training masters.
Written by: Maria Coley, CCFT L-3