Are You A Wuss If You Don't Squat Heavy?
Ready to hit the gym today to increase your health and longevity? But, what about that tender elbow or stiff knee? Do you have a goal to increase your bench press, but a dull ache in shoulder has you backing off the resistance level, rather that adding more weight? Have you read about the benefits of intense cardiovascular activities such as running, but fear your already aching joints and tendons can't take the pounding day after day?
Diane and Rich
Hi folks. Rich Thomas here. ISSA trainer from Erie, Pa. I am sorry to hear about your shoulder problems. And it begs a question that I have been thinking about lately. I know many older gym rats that have various orthopedic problems (including me). I have to ask the question. WHY!! Are our bodies trying to tell us something? Are we pushing too hard? All the media hype says lift heavy for mass. If you don't squat heavy your a wuss.
I am slowly rethinking my own workouts with longevity in mind. Trying to get a better handle on basic mechanics of movement and ROM that is normal and safe. What is your take? Heal well friends.
The team of Baldwin and Fields has been plagued with shoulder problems this year. And it is the nature of these types of injuries that helped me to create the company, Legendary Fitness, LLC, to meet the special exercise and nutritional needs of the baby boomer population. While our bodies are going through physiological changes due to aging, exercise and nutrition can help ward off more than 200 age related disorders.
My mission was to fill the void of information in addressing how baby boomers can avoid and/or reduce the number of injuries and also to deal with how to work around the injuries, if and when they should occur. Richard started following some of my initial work and shortly thereafter signed on to help me spread the message of health, fitness, longevity and quality of life after the age of forty here on the babyboomers section on Bodybuilding.com.
Let's get personal for a moment and talk about our injuries that put both of us under the surgeon's knife for shoulder surgery this year.
A massive complete rupture of the supraspinatus tendon from a fall. This was a 12-year-old injury that went undiagnosed despite medical attention. As a result, the tendon was retracted more than three inches, resulting in a lengthy recovery, giving the tendon time to stretch to allow my arm to go back down at my side. Significant levels of arthritis have set in.
At seven months postop, I'm back to the gym, giving 100% effort. Muscle building efforts have been very effective and I'm back to pre-surgical lifting levels on 90-95% of all exercises. Areas of difficulty remain hanging leg raises and machines where the weight is on the shoulder area. Hack squats and standing calf raises are still out of my routine.
Although the MRI showed one tear in the supraspinatus, the surgeon found two, with one medium size and one large tear. Also, a massive tear in the labrum and partial tears in other cuff tendons were repaired. Degeneration was noted in the effected areas and in the groove of the head of the biceps tendon, which was repaired several years earlier.
At one week out, he's back at work! Stitches come out at the end of the week. He's heading to the gym, as I write for a leg workout, using machines and getting his gym buddies to load the plates on the leg press machine. It will be a few months before he can begin to lift with the affected shoulder.
Ok, Rich. Now, let's discuss fellow baby boomer gym rats and even those that never engage in physical fitness. What's going on with our bodies as we age?
We've mentioned some of the obvious changes in previous articles, so here's a quick recap with the link to additional information.
Physiological changes after the age of 40
- Loss of muscle mass
- Less elasticity
- Range of motion diminishes
- Joints stiffen
- Hormonal fluctuations
- Metabolic slowdown
- Loss of bone density
- Reduction of endurance
- Injuries happen!
While these changes do occur, all of the mentioned physiological changes can be eliminated or have reduced risk rates through exercise. In addition, exercise will reduce the severity of the physiological change or injury.
Injuries happen! Let's take a closer look. The termed Boomeritis has been coined by the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, because of the alarming rate at which baby boomers were seeking medical attention for sports related injuries such as sprains, strains, arthritis, stress fractures, bursitis and tendonitis.
Should we stop to avoid injuries? Or should we become a wuss because we avoid heavy squats?
Hell NO! What we need to do is rethink our strategies so that we can be lifting in our 60s, 70s, 80s and beyond. And now, here's the Legendary Fitness, LLC key to the baby boomer exercise strategy. You need to implement the strategy!
The Babyboomers Guide To Lifetime Lifting & Fitness
- Rest! Longer recovery times are required, so work efficiently while in the gym and then get home and recover
- Get adequate amounts of sleep.
- Never sacrifice form for weight! (This is a popular strategy that many of the younger bodybuilding.com writers will employ; I can see you nodding your heads in agreement. We are older and wiser. Use that wisdom!)
- Supplement properly with anti-oxidants to aid in the reduction of free radicals. More on this in our next newsletter.
- Keep stress levels in check.
- Eat nutritious meals of real food. Lean protein, moderate amounts of complex carbohydrates and low levels of quality fats.
- Supplement with high quality protein. EAS, Met-Rx and AST whey and MRPs are stocked in our pantry at all times.
- Avoid exercises that aggravate a tender area. Those with shoulder and neck problems should avoid behind the neck pulldowns, for example.
- If you do have an injury, work with a personal trainer with a certification in Fitness Therapy or Special Populations. A trainer with a good background in injury prevention and/or injury rehabilitation will help get you back on your feet quickly, as they know how to change the angles of the exercise which allow you to work the desired muscle group even with limitations.
- Overtraining should be avoided.
- While we all acknowledge that progressive resistance training is the quickest means to muscle mass, our aging bodies need periodization techniques to avoid injury!
Rich, like you, I have a close relationship with ISSA. As a Master Trainer, Specialist in Fitness for Older Adults and Specialist in Performance Nutrition, I've had the good fortune to work with many people with special needs in the gym and the opportunity to study the science of aging. It's become my mission to help baby boomers redefining aging through exercise and nutrition.
In that quest for knowledge, I like you, question the injury rates. If exercise reduces or eliminates the risk of age and weight related disorders, then why are injuries a side effect of exercise?
In addition to weekend warrior syndrome, improper form, inadequate sleep and recovery periods, poor nutrition and supplementation and overtraining, some degenerative changes are ignored. While enough baby boomers are finding their way into emergency rooms, health care workers are in agreement, that many do not seek medical attention. We'll do more in a future article on degenerative changes that occur from lack of medical attention and excess weight in a future article.
So, Rich, are you a wuss if you don't squat heavy? No way! I'll expect to see some heavy squats as part of an overall periodization program long after the baby boomer generation redefines the aging process.