Since turning 40 over 7 years ago I’ve realized that my training priorities have to change. I’ve been talking more about the concept of Riding For A Lifetime to help give those new priorities a name.
I’ve decided to change the focus of my podcast to focus on these new priorities and have renamed it the Riding For A Lifetime Podcast. With it I’ll be sharing training advice and interviewing experts in the field of improving performance while also improving your “healthspan”.
I got this idea from reading Peter Atia, who is a longevity doctor that recently came out with a book called Outlive that looks at the concept of both “lifespan” and “healthspan”. Lifespan is how long you live, healthspan is how well you are able to keep doing the things you enjoy as you age.
Having to quit doing what you love at some point because of age and/ or injuries is a terrible way to spend your later years. In the book he talked about training today for what you will need as you get older.
It was an interesting thought experiment that got me thinking about some of the things I’ve changed and how they apply to this concept. Here are 3 things that the 40+ rider needs to have in their training program that may not directly relate to improving your MTB performance but will help you age in a way that will support your performance as you get older.
– Hypertrophy/ Bodybuilding Training. A frustrating fact of life is that eventually you hit a point where your body starts to decline. No matter what you do you can’t avoid it completely so you need to do something to slow the process.
One of the worst things to happen is called sarcopenia, which is a fancy term for muscle loss. At a certain point, maintaining your muscle mass becomes extremely important in helping you maintain optimal function. This is why building muscle as a reserve against this future loss and working to maintain it as long as possible is vital.
For a sport where athletes are usually trying to minimize muscle gain it sounds counterintuitive to tell a mountain biker that they need to add muscle and train like a bodybuilder, but this is exactly what I advise the 40+ year old rider does. This is one of the biggest contrasts in how a young pro would want to train and how an older hobbyist wants to train and why you may be missing out if you don’t take this into account.
I have a post about Why Mountain Bikers Should (Sometimes) Train Like Bodybuilders where I tell you how to incorporate hypertrophy training into your routine. And no, adding some muscle won’t kill your performance. In fact, for a lot of riders it will actually help them increase their strength and add some “armor” for when they crash.
– Running & Jumping/ Power Training. As I’ve aged I’ve realized how important it is to maintain your ability to run and jump. Power is another thing that goes with age and, just like muscle mass, you want to build a reserve against future loss and fight to maintain what you have. Running and jumping are also the most basic power exercises you can do and help to maintain a sense of athleticism that is important as you age.
Something as simple as doing 3-5 sets of 3-5 short sprints (10 yards), broad jumps or vertical jumps as part of your workout can help a lot with maintaining power and athleticism.
– Breathing. In the book Outlive Peter refers to how important breathing is to moving properly while maintaining stability. Stability is another thing that we lose as we age and having proper core function is the key to avoiding it. And breathing properly is the key to proper core function.
At its most basic level, proper breathing simply means to use your diaphragm to drive your breathing. If you don’t do this then you are using other muscles that are supposed to be used for bracing and moving. This dysfunction is something that you can usually get away with when you’re younger but really starts to become a problem as you age.
Overuse injuries from years of bad movement start to crop up, with low back pain being one of the most common. Making sure you are breathing optimally and applying that breathing to your workouts and riding is a key component of being able to ride for a lifetime.
While we like to say that age is just a number, the truth is that it is more than that. Your body does start to decline as you get older and it isn’t just in your head. Understanding what these changes are and how you can best minimize their effects is an important part of being able to live longer and enjoy life as you do.
Until next time…
MTB Strength Training Systems
p.s. As you can see, there are some differences between how a 40+ year old rider should train and what you see being shared on social media by pro riders in their 20’s. Sure, it isn’t as fun and sexy as jumping up onto a giant pile of boxes or doing some crazy stuff that looks like your training for the circus but if you want to see results as an older rider you can’t follow those fitness trends.
What you need is a program like my 40+ MTB Rider Training Program. In it you’ll find exactly what you need to improve your strength, cardio and mobility in a safe, sustainable way. It incorporates the best training methods I have come across for the 40+ year old rider into a program that you won’t find anywhere else.
You can click here to learn more and get your copy today. It is guaranteed to help you or I’ll refund your money. So don’t wait, click the link above and get started on your journey to enjoying riding even more.