Sunday, July 16, 2017

Building Impressive Strength in the Older Athlete, Part One

Dr. Kevin Fast is a 54-year old priest who once pulled a plane weighing 188 tons—a then world-record.

There are several different methods, workout programs, and tricks of the trade you can use to build an impressive amount of strength.  Most of them I've written about here on my blog, so it's not that hard to find a good method or program to use.  When you factor in not just this blog, but the rest of the good blogs and sites that are available these days, well, you have a plethora of methods at your disposal.

Maybe too many.

The problem is not in finding the right program, but in finding the right program for you.

The gist of this article is going to be about methods of strength training for the older athlete—along with an example program—but the methods employed could also be used for the younger athlete, as well, especially one who develops strength well on lower-volume programs (this would typically be larger athletes) or one who has a 9-to-5 job that is especially strenuous and physical (such as construction worker).  But I think the majority of younger guys and gals would do better on a more voluminous routine composed of much more frequent workouts.  If you are in your 20s, in good health, and basically sit on your ass most of the day, then you would be better off with Sheiko-style workouts, Bulgarian-style methods, or one of the "workout-every-damn-day" methods that I have written about extensively at Integral Strength.  It's not that that this program wouldn't work for the younger athlete—it most certainly would—but the fact would remain that it wouldn't produce results as quickly as volume-oriented, daily training programs.  Some of those programs produce such quick results that it shocks the lifter who uses them for the first time, and the lifter, in many cases, is incredibly surprised at the strength produced, especially if all that lifter has done—up until that point—are Western-style programs, and if the lifter has drank the Kool-Aid of American bodybuilding that still often claims—for no good reason other than ignorance—that the best results are obtained with low-volume, infrequent training.

Having said the above, let me emphasize this: the methods I recommend in this article are not the only methods that can be used for the older strength athlete.  This is just one of a few.  Now, keep in mind that, if you're an older athlete, you don't have the option of a multitudinous amount of programs at your disposal, but you do have the option of a few very good ones.  This one just being one of those.  In future posts, I'll give you what I think are the other two great ways for building strength in the older lifter.  Keep in mind, too, that this is for the older lifter who still wants to strength train.  If you are interested in bodybuilding or just looking good, then there are still several more good programs at your disposal.

The Art of Building Strength

Any good program available will always properly manipulate the three key variables of any program: volume, frequency, and intensity. When it comes to building impressive amounts of muscle, or a combination of impressive amounts of muscle with a boatload of strength to boot, then, typically, the program does well by always keeping the frequency high, and then properly manipulating the other two variables to suit its goals.

If strength, and only strength, is your goal, then the most important variable is intensity, with the other two manipulated properly depending on the style of program that is being used.  To put it another way, the workout itself is what matters when your only goal is strength, not the volume or frequency of the workouts.  It's not that muscle won't grow with these style of workouts, but when hypertrophy occurs, its simply a side effect, not a bi-product of the methods employed.

As a matter of fact, in the past, if I ever trained a lifter who had trouble staying in a weight class because he gained muscle too easily (yes, this is a problem for some lifters, believe it or not, all of you self-proclaimed "hardgainers"), then I would have him do a very high-intensity workout, with low to mid-volume and low-frequency.  (For those of you who haven't figured it out at this point or who haven't read my past articles/posts, "intensity" here refers to the amount of weight lifted not how "hard" the workout is, so in no way does "high intensity" refer to "momentary muscular failure" or some other absurd Mentzerian nonsense that I pretty much abhor, mine and Jared Smith's recent "Cemetery Circuit Training" aside.)

For the sake of this particular program, we are going to employ high-intensity workouts combined with low-frequency and a volume methodology that will oscillate.  (And for those of you familiar with both my early writing in the mid '90s—when I wrote tons for Iron Man magazine and MuscleMag International—and with my more recent ideas over the last couple of years, you may—or may not—find it a breath of fresh air that I still recommend, when the situation dictates it, low-frequency programs.)

The Methods of Low-Frequency Strength-Building

First things first: these are the methods of building strength that this program employs.  These are not the only methods for building impressive amounts of strength.  Do not see what I am writing here as contradicting other methods I have recommended.  The situation, and the lifter himself, dictates the methods employed.

in Part Two of this series, we'll pick up right where Part One leaves off, with some specific methods, followed by an example program to begin putting the methods into practice...

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Death and Iron

It's been almost six months since my last post.  Three months ago, if I am honest, I didn't think I would be sitting here now, typing these words.

I thought I would be dead.

I am not going to get into all of the details - not yet, anyway.  I will save all of that for another post, when I am feeling more of a combination of elegiac and poetic, and when I think I'm ready to write about my declining health, and how it has affected my life in ways - often, amazingly - better, but bitter, as well, than I imagined such declining health could.  

But my health has caused some real problems.  Until only a few weeks ago, I haven't been able to write, and I haven't been able to do the one thing I almost love more than anything else I do on this green Earth of God's: lift weights.

But I am writing again.

And I am lifting again.

Hopefully my health will continue to improve even more, which means even more writing and more lifting.  Often, the more I lift, the more I write.  Or maybe it's the other way around.  I don't really know.  But I know that somehow the two are intrinsically intertwined with one another.  It doesn't even matter if I'm not writing about "lifting matters" at the time - the two are still interconnected.
My son Garrett, taken a few month's back.

Last night - while my eldest son Matthew was at the local gym "priming" and "pumping" his chest and arm muscles with a cascade of cacophonously glittering machines - Garrett, my youngest son, and I decided to do nothing but an old-fashioned "grease-the-groove" deadlift routine in our dungeonous garage gym.  It was hot as hell - to use a much cliched term - outside, and one of the overhead lights went out in the garage when we stepped outside, casting an eerie glow over the whole bar-bending event, as we quickly broke into high-humidity-induced sweats.

Iron Maiden serenaded us in the background as the deadlift bar clanged more times than I could count.  Occasionally, the dog next door howled over the proceeds, whether it was from the iron, or the "new wave of British heavy metal" screaming through the speakers, or simply mine and my son's presence, I don't know.

The bottom line: it was good to be alive.  And it was good to be lifting weights.

And it is good to write once more.