High-intensity training (HIT) usually piques lifters’ interest when we’re young and intent on making fast muscle gains. The thought of training longevity may not occur to us when we’re in our prime, but weight training can foster lifelong fitness if you respect it and go about it with care.
What’s more, you CAN adapt most training programs to fit your current condition, no matter what stage of life you find yourself in.
Here are four ways that HIT can be used by people of different ages to meet changing goals.
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Many guys get their first taste of the iron when they’re in their teens, either through a sports team or just messing around in a buddy’s basement.
While the hormones cascading through your body during this time of life can lead to rapid muscle gain, great caution should be exercised when teens lift. High-intensity training makes a great starting routine provided that you pull back on the actual intensity to avoid injury to young muscles and connective tissue.
Performing three full-body workouts per week allows lifters to build the nerve patterns that will eventually lead to bigger weights and muscles. Teens should stop well short of failure, though, and using impeccable form with slow, controlled reps is an absolute must.
Once you are out of your teen years, it’s time to REALLY get serious about your training — if you ever plan to, that is. Men may peak sexually at 18, but we don’t mature physically until our mid-to-late 20s, and many athletes hit their absolute peak in their 30s.
During these years, full-bore HIT can help you reach your highest possible training loads. If you keep your reps slow and controlled and in the hypertrophy range (a time under tension of 30-90 seconds), then you’ll also grow some impressive muscles along the way.
Train safely during these years, but don’t be afraid to go all out, because you’ll never be so primed for gains again.
As you pass into your 40s and head toward your 50s and beyond, your muscle gains will inevitably slow down. If you’ve done your mass-building homework in the years prior, though, you should be nearing your genetic limit for size, anyway.
At this point, you can continue to get stronger for quite a while, although those gains will slow, too. The challenge for “masters” lifters becomes keeping their loads climbing, albeit slowly, while refining the mass they’ve built over the decades.
The slow, controlled focus on progression that HIT entails can help you stay safe while you carve out your best physique possible.
If you haven’t lifted much before, then these golden years will probably even allow you to gain a decent bit of lean mass.
If you’ve been lifting safely and intelligently over your lifetime, you will have a significant advantage on other men your age by the time you reach retirement. Loss of muscle mass and strength is one of the main reasons that older folks get injured, lose mobility, and eventually deteriorate.
You should have plenty of mass and strength in reserve by the time you reach your 60s or 70s, and that will give you more independence and confidence as you continue to age. You can’t let up on your training, though, because your body doesn’t want to hold onto any more size than is necessary.
Fight like heck to maintain your training poundages, again using slow and controlled reps, and regulate your volume and frequency to match your recovery abilities. When your loads DO start to slip, find other ways to challenge yourself in the gym to make sure you keep coming back for more.
Even if you’ve never lifted weights before, starting the habit late in life can be a viable way to stave off the ravages of time, provided you’re healthy enough to begin a program.
A Lifetime of Lifting
Whether you use HIT or other methods, resistance training can serve you well over nearly the entire course of your life. Before you START any program, of course, you need to consult with your doctor to make sure you can handle the demands of training.
If everything checks out, then pick your program and give it all you’ve got.