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Can you get stronger, fitter, and healthier no matter your age? I believe that you can!

Obviously, father time has an impact on all of us. But the question is: How do you arm yourself with the right tools to flip the script and actually improve your physical fitness with age?

From a very young age, I have been training for some sort of physically demanding sport – be it BMX racing, track and field, mountain bike racing, motocross, CrossFit, and now climbing. One thing I have learned is that incorporating variety into your training brings enjoyment. And if you enjoy pushing yourself, you’ve won half the battle. If training is fun, you will do it consistently – and consistency trumps all else.

Training is a process, and when that process happens after the age of 40 – focusing on key areas will help improve your results. (Read: It takes some TLC to keep the machine tuned.)

Below are my proposed building blocks for getting stronger, fitter, and healthier – no matter your age. I will provide a brief overview of these throughout this post while covering each of them in more detail in future posts.

On the journey to becoming more fit, most people do a good job of focusing on training. They spend time inside of the gym and out hammering away at their bodies. However, they quickly become frustrated by burnout, injury, or slow progress. This burnout happens, because they are missing 90% of the structure. Our bodies improve by being able to process effective fuel sources and having the right state of down regulation in order to build back what we tear down while training. Therefore, let’s begin at the at the foundation: Time Management.

Time Management

The foundation: Make yourself a priority. “I didn’t eat very well today, because I just grabbed something on the road between meetings.” “I didn’t train today, because I never found the time.” “I only slept 4 hours last night, because I’ve got so much going on.” Do these sentiments sound familiar?

Time management is about making the time, not finding the time. It’s about having a plan. If you can plan 10 minutes in the morning to meditate and 20 minutes to make a healthy breakfast, you can start your day off on the right foot. If you can plan 20 minutes a day for yoga, your body will benefit from it. If you can plan 30 minutes to an hour for some form of activity, you’ve built a great structure for success. If you’re doing the math, that’s less than 2 hours. You’re worth it.

Down Regulation

I will cover this topic in more detail in a future blog post and provide tools that will help you build this part of the structure. For now the things you want to focus on include:

  • Stress Levels
  • Quality of Sleep (Not Just Quantity of Sleep)
  • Mobility and Joint Health

Think of Down Regulation as the other side of the equation that balances out all the effort you put in. Without this balance, you’re missing half of the math.

Diet

First, let’s clear up a misconception. The word diet is often used wrong. Diet should not mean depriving yourself of food. It should mean finding a way to eat that works best for you and using that method to provide an efficient fuel source.

My personal approach is a Paleo diet, but I have super fit friends who eat Zone, who do Macro Counting, and even some who are Vegan (sorry, my beloved bacon). The point is this area needs focus, and I am a strong believer in the 70/30 rule. This rule states that 70% of your benefit comes from the kitchen and 30% from the gym. This is the area where you will see the biggest difference between a super fit younger person and a super fit older person. The old dog can’t get away with the same fuel. However, if they do fuel correctly, they can achieve the same results.

Fitness

Finally, this is the part we all get excited about – crushing ourselves. I mentioned above that consistency trumps all else. This approach works no matter your sport. If you enjoy what you’re doing, you will want to do more of it.

My personal opinion is that training longevity is directly related to how much balance a person has in their body. If you stay too focused on one area, you can develop weakness in areas that oppose stronger areas in the body. This leads to injury and pain. If you’re hurting, you’re not going to be very consistent.

Here is an example. I see a ton of climbers who only work the pulling muscles in their bodies. Though this is great for moves on the wall, you might find yourself with shoulder injuries that keep you from even wanting to go climb. So, if you think about the body as a balance of push vs pull and press vs lift, you can start to assess where your weaknesses may be.

How do I keep going?

In the end, it’s all about seeing the big picture – the willingness to invest time and energy into our overall health and fitness. The above building blocks are a good way to think about it. The time you put into your training is only the tip of the pyramid. Without the other areas, you’re definitely not going to reach your full potential.

For me, I spent many years trying to get better at time management and training. But in my 30’s, I realized I needed something special to keep up with the 20-year-olds. I learned about fuel and how to improve my diet. That worked… until I was 40. At this point, I learned that I needed to unlock another area for more improvement. That’s when I learned about the power of down regulation. I’m not sure what the next frontier is, but you can bet there is more to learn. That’s the fun part. Never quit trying to get better – no matter your age.

Climb So iLL offers a number of opportunities to add variety to your training routine including yoga, running, strength and conditioning, and the Power Hour – a weekly fitness class for women. Learn more and sign up online.

Greg Schmidt

Author Greg Schmidt

Greg Schmidt is a self-described software dork who can't sit still. When he's not traveling for work, he spends his time hiking, mountain biking, CrossFitting, and striving to be a better climber. He's also a very proud husband and dad to a 16-year-old son and twin 13-year-old daughters (who really dig climbing).

More posts by Greg Schmidt