Expert advice for over-40 athletes about training, supplementation, nutrition, hormones, and more.
By Jay Campbell and Jim Brown
Q: I’m dropping weight, but my body fat percentage is the same. How much cardio is needed for optimal cardiovascular health without sacrificing muscle?
Jim Says: If you are in fact dropping weight but maintaining the same level of body fat, then it’s reasonable to assume you are losing muscle. The Centers for Disease Control guideline is 30 minutes of moderate-intensity cardiovascular exercise for five days of the week. I tend to agree with that. If you’re losing muscle from a 30-minute session on the treadmill at moderate intensity, then you aren’t consuming enough calories. For a normal gym guy (with his diet in check) looking to gain muscle or maintain his current body composition, 30 minutes of cardio at a moderate intensity should not cost you muscle and should improve your vascular health.
Q: How long of a break should you take if you think you’re overtraining?
Jay Says: We are of the mindset that you just need enough stimulus to force the adaptive changes we’re looking for from the body such as muscle hypertrophy. Finding this out, we ultimately try to make that cycle happen as often as possible. Let’s break that down: If you work chest and do just enough to force your body to repair and adapt for the next time and do that more times a year than say a brutal workout, which demands a much longer recover rate, we believe that will allow yourself more muscle gain over a given time. To put it simply, you need to customize volume to your current recovery rate. As your ability to recover goes up —you eat smarter, optimize your hormones, or get more sleep—you can add more stimulus and still recover fast enough to repeat that muscle group more often. If you think you’re overtraining, we recommend taking at least a full week off from resistance training. If you go back in to the gym and all your weights are up and you overall feel better, that is a good indication you were overtraining.
Q: When it comes to fat loss regarding cardio, what’s more important: timing, duration, intensity, or interval?
Jim and Jay say: We think what is most important is that you’re getting your cardio in and creating a caloric deficit. Period. We can try and make that cardio slightly more effective by going into the session with a lower circulating blood glucose level by doing it in a fasted state. Although there have been studies that determined fasted cardio resulted in no greater fat loss, we both utilize it and so do most people who have gotten into contest shape. Overall, just get your cardio in. That’s what is really important.
Q: In terms of health, vitality, and anti-aging, what are the benefits of a vegan diet? Is it possible to build or maintain muscle mass living this lifestyle?
Jay says: It is certainly possible in today’s environment with the advances in protein supplement selections to build and maintain muscle mass following a vegan diet. We would recommend if you are planning to do so that you work with someone who will assist you in supplementing everything and eating a complete vegan diet as allowed by your guidelines. Such considerations would be getting sufficient B vitamins, selecting foods that are low in soy estrogens, and ingesting enough protein for your goals.
Q: Can you discuss the importance of stretching and mobility exercises as we age and how to best incorporate them into an overall training program?
Jim Says: We use forced stretching at the end of our resistance-training programs as well as intra-workout stretching. Think about a typical person who gradually loses mobility in their knee, then one day squatting becomes painful or just unachievable. We must be proactive in keeping our mobility. The responsibility is on you to diagnose what areas you have issue with and to seek work on them. You can get professional help from a physical therapist or explore the vast amounts of free information out there. Guys like Donnie Thompson or Kelly Starrett can suggest excellent mobility exercises for every segment of your body. If you spend some time improving the areas you’re limited in, and bulletproofing the rest of your body, it will only help to keep you in the game longer and better able to enjoy life. IM