I’m lazy at the gym. There, I said it.
I went most of 2016 and 2017 not really bothering to stick to a sustained progression on my three main compound lifts—deadlift, squat, and bench press. I was happy to just coast, basically.
And of course, that’s a cardinal sin when you’re in your late 30s, like I am. Age-related muscle loss—or sarcopenia—is a legitimate thing. Your body becomes a lot less effective than it used to be in converting protein into fuel, and you’ve got less neuron cells for your brain to relay commands to your muscles. #BROSCIENCE
That’s why 2018—the year when I become a lot closer to 40 than I am to 35—is a huge deal to me. I made some nice strength gains towards the end of 2017 thanks to the good folks at Anytime Fitness, and I plan to keep gaining and gaining as the year goes by. Some goals I never ever considered as legitimate are now in my sights, i.e. nailing a 500-pound squat and deadlift, and a 300-pound bench press.
Here’s a quick checkpoint of how I’ve done in the first quarter of this year.
At my age, I’m pretty proud of my progress.
- Deadlift: 190kg/408lbs (+15kg/33lbs since December 2017)
- Squat: 195kg/429lbs (+10kg/22lbs)
- Bench Press: 130kg/286lbs (+10kg/22lbs)
At this rate, I do think I can hit my strength goals by the end of this year. Maybe even join an amateur powerlifting competition in 2019.
It hasn’t been easy, especially since I’ve got a lot going on in both my personal and professional life right now. But here are some small tips I’ve found incredibly helpful in keeping my gains going.
- Set a goal. You can’t improve if you don’t know what you’re improving for. SMART goals are always the best—specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-bound. So when I do my programming, it’s because I know I have a 500-pound squat to grind for.
- Be better every time. I have friends who have put on just 2kg on their bench press in nine months. Don’t be like them. Always find a way to push yourself that one little bit each time out, whether it’s adding 1.25kg to your lift, fixing that little flaw in your form, or nailing that one added rep. A PR doesn’t always have to be weight-based—rep PRs are fun and realistic too.
- Take your foot off the pedal once in a while. I like programs like Jim Wendler’s 5-3-1 because it gives you a nice deload week every month when you’re allowed to dial back to just 40% of your 1RM to give your body and central nervous system the space to recover.
- Don’t find time, make time. There’s always an excuse not to hit the gym. If you don’t find the willpower to lock it into your schedule, it’s not going to happen.
- Find a friend. I used to love working out alone, since I generally don’t like people hovering around during my alone time at the gym. But having a social group is also a great way to push yourself at the gym, whether it’s to spot you, trade tips, compare PRs, or even just get some great footage of your set for the ‘gram. It’s motivating, trust me. Shout-out to my wife, who always inspires me to a new PR each time she’s around, and my Smark Healthy crew George, Buezzy, Romeo, and Stan!
Any other titos out there who can share great tips on how to keep improving, even if we aren’t spring chickens anymore? Drop me a comment, and if you work out at Anytime Fitness, let’s do a session together some time.
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