I have been doing a lot of lifting recently to improve strength and retain muscle mass as I get older. As a qualified personal trainer and with all the strength and conditioning courses I’ve done I thought I was in a pretty good place to do this. But was I really looking at it from the correct perspective? Should my focus have been making a more bulletproof me?
Bulletproof Me (or training focus for the over 40 athlete)
My strength training is meant to supplement my BJJ training and help my overall health. I am not looking to get bigger, as this would affect my weight category for BJJ. But I was doing a lot of maximum weight lifting. Seeing my strength increase was great, however the session did take a few days to recover from. A short conversation I had with the Strength Coach Leroy at Factory Fitness made me realise that I may not be looking at my training programme properly. He pointed out one of the fundamental things I had been ignoring. He is very specific about what he does, calculating weights amounts and using his years of experience when looking at an individual programme. As he said if he makes someone too sore with what he does, they can’t hit the mats. Or even worse do their day job.
WOW mind blown moment! With this small conversation I remembered all the tutors on virtually every course I had done pointing this fact out to me. Leroy went on to point out for his own training he is looking to make himself as bulletproof as possible, for his age! This all really hit home, I should be looking to bulletproof me. I had just started back in the weights room after a few weeks lay off and I was really sore. The soreness in my legs only emphasised Leroy’s point even more. Remembering the importance of training focus as you get older is a big deal. What is all the side stuff meant to support? With recovery capacity at a premium, I would have to be careful not to spread it too thin.
Back to the drawing board
With this shift in my perspective I went back to the drawing board. I did a lot of online research, as I may have the qualifications but I lacked the experience. Also being the clever munki I am, I had managed to lose my collection of articles on the subject.
Unfortunately “strength training for 40 plus bjj athletes that have full time jobs” is a pretty niche area. I had a good idea of what I should be looking at but needed some focus. The best I could find was this article on Strong First It was simple and sensible but pretty much what I had been doing anyway.
Then I managed to stumble across a Robb Wolf article about his training at 42. It’s an old article but with his experience and his focus on BJJ training, it was just what I needed. In the article he refers to the Prilepin Chart. This charts helps you figure out the intensity of each work out. I had not heard of this before and it gave me the focus I needed. A copy of the chart and how Robb used it are in the article.
With my new found focus and a shiny new spreadsheet training plan, I proceeded to injure my back. Fortunately it was more muscular and pelvis related than spine. Having spent the last two months working with a chiropractor and physio to fix it, I have not been able to do too much training. I have been building myself back up over the last few weeks. So far it has felt good, no soreness going back and I have still felt strong when training BJJ.
The pay off
The big thing I have taken from all of this is remembering the goal. The strength training is meant to be supportive and not the end. Being the best bulletproof me as possible for 46 years old, comes first. Being able to train and compete in BJJ is the second. This means listening to my body and being flexible around the intensity of my strength training.
I’m going to do a review of how this is going in a couple of months and I will keep you updated on the process at review time.