How to Get Old Man Strength
Now that I’m getting older (I’m 37), and just to clarify, you are getting old once you are over thirty-five. Being closer to 50 than you are to 20, you are getting old.
The stuff that I like to do is to warm up properly. Do some mobility work and do some PVC pipework, like walking on a PVC pipe to help become more balanced. I also like to do walking lunges backward, followed by walking forward right afterward. Backward walking and backward sled pulls are great as well. Anything along those lines helps with proprioception, balance, and stability. Even on an upper-body day, I will do this. In addition, I always do band work using PowerLastic bands. I like doing some reverse flies and external rotations as well.
Speaking for all meatheads, as we age, we are like, “No! I don’t need a mobility band; I don’t need to do that stuff!” This is crap thinking. It is a problem. If we don’t do the proper warm-up, we won’t last as long and we won’t be strong when we are fifty. Doing a warm-up helps us get nice and yoked up to hit some decent weight as we age.
1. Slow Eccentric Bench Press
A lot of strength charlatans might say that we should not be benching. They’ll say it will terrorize our shoulders and elbows. Yeah, that happens if we aren’t training properly or warming up properly.
One thing we know is that eccentric tendinopathies work. One of the best things we can do as we age is warm up at decent weight, like 50-60%, and try to do reps with eight to ten seconds of slow eccentrics to really try to strengthen the tendons and joints. Then as we work through the sets we feel a little better.
I also recommend throwing a little bit of a pause on the chest while using a flat bar. The flat bar helps with recruitment from the prime movers in the bottom.
2. Bench Press (More Load)
We have to have a goal in mind as we work up in weight. As we get older, we will not be as strong as we were when we were younger. So in my case, I’ll say lets hit a nice, easy set of five reps at 315 lbs and then do one more set at 365 or 385 lbs, something like that. That is where I will hit that big number and then back down. I don’t have to hit ten sets at that big time weight. I can just hit two or three sets there. Then the rest of the workout is set-up to foster and grow off of the main heavy strength set.
3. Bench Press (Drop Set At a Heavy Load)
After hitting that big weight, we want to go ahead and hit a drop set. In my case I went and crushed 365 lbs for a set of five as a strength set. I took the 25 lbs plates off and went right into a drop set at 315 lbs.
One of the biggest things I think people get away from as they age is that they stop doing bodybuilding work. I think that is a bad idea. I think that as we age we need to do more bodybuilding because it creates that better blood flow. Becasue of that, for my littel drop set at 315 lbs, I’ll go and rep it out for a solid seven reps. It allows me to feel good and strong for the day before hitting the rest of the workout to continue getting stronger despite chasing that AARP membership.
4. Banded Incline Dumbbell Neutral Grip Press
Having a band I can use, I like doing dumbbell incline presses with a neutral grip. The band forces the rear delts and rhomboids to be more active. I like to come down, do a little pause, press.
You’ll feel the medial delt get a nice pump. The triceps will blow up. Old man advice: use a band that doesn’t rip out your arm hair. Work the weight up a little bit with a focus on hitting ten to fifteen reps over the sets. We want to work the positions to be strong and stable in the joints. Just make sure we are working into the rep ranges that will bring about the sarcoplasmic hypertrophic gains.
After three sets of solid weights being pressed, go ahead a little heavier and hammer out a set. Older people need to use littel tricks, like stealing from the functional guys. That stuff helps us but our meathead tendencies allow us to also be stronger than the functional bros.
Then I go ahead and do pull-ups. Pull-ups are a great movement. When I’m 50 I still want to be able to do ten pull ups. Hitting pull ups all the time is key.
5. Ghostface Kickbacks
Old dude meatheads claim kickbacks are for babies.
But if they used the ghostface kickback with a powerlastic band, they understand the dummy pump and all the joy it brings. It makes the elbows feel good. I’ll hammer out three sets of thirty reps.
I then headover and do the next exercise for my lower back.
6. Duffin Row
Post up on a bench with a knee on the bench. Make the back leg straight. Row with the arm closest to the leg with the knee on the bench. We don’t want to twist when performing this row. We want to stay nice and stable and squeeze through the gut.
I tend to flair up on my lower left side. I tend to rotate more when I row with my right arm. Besides me, this coupling of a little bit of bodybuilding through the ghostface kickbacks with the duffin row that helps with the trunk and rotation to prevent some lower back issues that might flair up through aging.
To be old man strong we need to do solid warm-up work for mobility, hammer some good strength work, a bit of unilateral work with dumbbells that helps with strength and sarcoplamic hypertrophy, and finish it all off with bodybuilding work. Get on the gains train and don’t let age be a limitation.
Dane Miller is the owner and founder of Garage Strength Sports Performance. He works with a select handful of clients on building comprehensive programs for fitness and nutrition. Several times a year he leads a workshop for coaches, trainers, and fitness enthusiasts.