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Aging With Muscle: Priorities and Methods

I once read a story that had a bodybuilding subplot. The main character was just getting started in a gym, so he asked one of the big guys how he should train.

“Do you want to get strong, or do you want to get big?” the veteran asked.

“I want to get laid,” the beginner replied.

And that’s how it starts for most guys—they want muscles to impress the girls. As we get older, though, our priorities change. We train to look good, be healthy and feel good. We certainly don’t want to acquire any new injuries or aggravate ones we already have.

For most of us, who aren’t genetic supermen, that means moderate-to-light training—but with an edge that still builds muscle. Many have heard of 4X, a moderate-poundage, growth-threshold method. You start with your 15RM and do four sets of 10 with only 35 seconds between them. You go to failure on the last set, and if you get 10, you add weight to the exercise at your next workout.

4X trains both the myofibrils and the sarcoplasm within the muscle, so you continue to grow—without joint stress. Another bonus is that the short rests between sets produce lactic acid in the muscle. The muscle burn, which has been shown to produce surges in growth hormone, intensifies quickly over the four sets.

GH is the anti-aging hormone that does good things for muscle growth and fat burning. It also fortifies hair, skin, joints and the immune system. What more could an aging bodybuilder ask for?

So as you get older, don’t be afraid to lighten up—and always go for the burn.

—Steve Holman

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