Q: Most bodybuilding magazines talk about continuously gaining strength and muscle mass. As a person who’s been training for many years, what do you see as realistic?
A: I’ve been training for 42 years. It’s pretty unrealistic to expect that a person would keep getting stronger over many, many years, particularly when well into middle age. I’ve averaged three workouts a week for all those years’about 6,500 workouts. It would defy belief to suggest that I could keep improving noticeably, let alone dramatically, for the whole time. And once you’re into middle age, your peers are losing strength and muscle mass at an appreciable rate, so simply staying even is an accomplishment.
You can improve in a number of ways, however. Gaining some weight or, more likely, losing some bodyfat can make a big difference in your health and appearance. You can do every movement in a much stricter way, to challenge muscle groups as you’ve never challenged them before. You may actually become stronger because only the target muscle groups will be doing the actual work.
As a simple example, instead of trying to add weight to dips or chins, just go more slowly. See how many reps you can do using an eight/four cadence or even a 10/five cadence with no added resistance. You can spend years improving on movements but not necessarily piling on resistance’and it’s a lot safer.
You could also introduce some completely new movements. After a break-in period to learn the exercise, I was able to add an average of two pounds of resistance a week to MedX triceps extensions for 25 of 26 consecutive weeks. I increased the resistance I was using on the movement by about 50 percent. At every workout I used five reps with the same 10/five cadence.
Use your creativity to make your training more interesting and progressively more intensive’and, if you can, safer. IM
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