Ask The Trainer #167 – Making Gains As An Older Athlete

Ask The Trainer #167 - Making Gains As An Older Athlete


Do you think that it’s possible for me to build muscle and lose fat if I’ve never been athletic or ever lifted weights my entire life and I’m just beginning to work out on weights at the age of 57? I’ve been told by a lot people that I shouldn’t expect much progress because I’m way out of my prime muscle building years. What do you think?



Hi Joe. Forgive me for being blunt, but whoever told you not expect much progress because you’re beginning to lift weights at age 57 is absolutely 100% full of crap!

Usually, the type of people who make ignorant assertions like that is those who’ve settled and have become complacent with being unfit. These people have never educated themselves on any of the aspects involved in becoming fit. Therefore, they’ve never applied any of these aspects, which means they are literally speaking from zero real-life experience when it comes to physical fitness.

I can drive my car well, but I don’t know diddly squat about fixing cars. It would be like me telling someone that it’s impossible to replace a transmission on a car when I’ve never even changed the oil.

Real Life Experience Matters

Being involved with the fitness industry as long as I have, I’ve been privileged enough to meet countless individuals who were much older than me. Some were well into their 60’s and had physiques that would make a 20-year old insanely jealous.

In some instances, a few of these individuals only had 2-3 years of training under their belts. When given the proper stimulation, recovery, and nutrition, our bodies can build muscle and lose fat at virtually any age just as long as we’re still mobile.

That said, don’t ever fall into the trap of believing you won’t be able to build an outstanding physique just because you’re starting at a later stage of life. In fact, I could argue from a different perspective that you actually have an advantage over experienced people like me.

You see, since you’ve never been athletic or lifted weights before, you won’t experience the disappointment of wishing you could do what you could before in the gym. In other words, you have nowhere to go but up!

Long-Term Damage

In contrast, it’s a different story for someone like me. I’m only 44, which chronologically isn’t that old. But, my body sure is!

I abused my body a great deal when I was young, ignorant, and believed I was bulletproof. My body sustained a lot of damage from professional arm wrestling, powerlifting, and gross overtraining.

Fact is, I did this for at least a decade until I had a much better grasp on physiology and the importance of proper exercise recovery. This is one of the major reasons I’m always harping about overtraining. I’m living proof of the damage it can do.

In terms of strength and functionality, I’ve already lived through my prime. My body will never be as strong or as capable as it once was. Understand, I’m not trying to be a “Debbie- Downer” here. I’m still very enthusiastic about my training and fitness goals. But, at the same time, I also need to be realistic.

For example, neither of my arms can straighten out all the way. My right arm can only bend up about half way thanks to my arm wrestling career. My proximal biceps tendon is gone in that same arm due to a complete rupture.

Also, my spine is full of arthritis. My ACL deficient knee is void of cartilage and riddled with arthritis. There are mornings where I’m in so much pain I can barely move.

I’m not telling you this because I’m fishing for sympathy. I love my life experiences. And I’m grateful for all of the physical accomplishments I’ve been so blessed to achieve.

Professionals Ignore This

There is another facet to long-term training that’s rarely talked about by those within the fitness industry. I believe it’s mostly because many of these individuals feel that exposing this could make them appear less marketable in the eyes of their clients and/or constituents.

I don’t care what any longtime bodybuilder/lifter tells you. It’s discouraging to progressively see your weights going down on some of your favorite exercises. For example, there was a time when I used to slap 405 on the bench press and rep it without a spotter. But now that amount of weight would break me in half in about 2 seconds!

It‘s very sobering to go to the gym and occasionally see some of these younger, healthier guys hoisting the kind of weights I used to do. I can’t help but long to have those days back again.

My point in explaining this is so you understand how rewarding and productive it is for someone your age to engage in a resistance based exercise regimen, even though you’ve never really trained before.

Get Proper Guidance

Your primary concern right now should be finding a qualified professional to teach you proper techniques, as well as the type of nutrition necessary to maximize your progress.

Again, don’t worry about your lack of experience. You actually have a great advantage. Your untrained muscles will respond much quicker and dramatically than those trained for several decades. You get to experience the thrill of seeing your muscles and the amount of weight you lift EXPLODE.

Meanwhile, those of us who’ve been at it for decades are vigorously fighting to regain just a semblance of what we once had.

In short, with an adequate dose of motivation and proper guidance, you’ve got everything to gain and nothing to lose!

I wish you the best of future success with your health and fitness goals!

Prove ‘Em Wrong,

Chad Shaw

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