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Many men dread turning forty but I am here to tell you that your "mature" years can be some of your best! There is no denying that the vigor and metabolism of a 25 year old is something we’d love to bottle for our later stages of life. However, with the right attitude and some smart strategies, your 40s and beyond can be prime training years.
I turned 40 in 2015 and it was a year I had circled on my calendar in 2011. In the sport of CrossFit, athletes 40 and up compete in their respective Master’s category. So from 2011-2014 I was going head to head with athletes 10-15 years younger than me. Even though I held my own, I knew when I turned 40 I would be the “young guy” again. Fortunately, I was able to achieve my dream and competed at the CrossFit Games in Carson, CA last summer.
I’d like to share a few strategies that have served me well over the last five years. Whether you are training to compete at the national level in your sport of choice or just trying to get in the best shape of your life, I hope they will be of help!
Keep your goals in sight
As I mentioned before, my goal to qualify for the CrossFit Games was set four years prior to it actually happening. Goals should be written down so you can revisit them often. When you start to lose motivation or go through a “funk”, it is helpful to remind yourself why you started in the first place
Surround Yourself with the Right People
There are plenty of people who will tell you that your age is now a limiting factor. Often it is because they lack motivation and justify that mindset by trying to deter others. It may take some work, but find a training partner or group to help you be accountable and stay motivated. And who knows – you might even inspire someone else in the process.
Invest in Recovery
The one major difference between 40 vs. 25 in my experience is the necessity for adequate recovery. It is vital in order for me to sustain my training intensity and overall health. If you train hard, here are a few areas to address in your weekly recovery practices:
- Eight or more hours of sleep as often as possible
- Proper Hydration
- Daily stretching and breathing routines
- Regular soft tissue work
- Scheduled rest days for full or active recovery
Technique, Intensity, Volume
This mantra has kept me healthy throughout my CrossFit training. I have better joint health and range of motion than in my 20s and it is still improving. If you set a goal to run the Boston Marathon, you wouldn’t run 26.2 miles your first training day. However, guys who have been sedentary for years will often walk into a gym and crank out large sets or use loads - and this can create a dangerous situation. Leave your ego at the door, think long term, and pride yourself in moving well first. Once you get technique down, then you can gradually add more weight and bigger sets. As you build your capacity, add more training days and longer sessions. Every movement has a smart progression. In addition, there are many qualified coaches and resources available to help build a proper squat, pull up, or dead lift.
Enjoy Your Fitness!
The human body was meant to move. Building a base of fitness in the gym opens up a whole world of fun and adventure. Depending on where you live there are many things you can do to show of that hard work. Here are some ideas:
- Take a challenging hike
- Do an adventure race with friends
- Learn a new skill like surfing or stand up paddle boarding
- Play adult league sports
I love it when people are surprised when I tell them I’m 41 years old. It’s not vanity but rather confirmation that my training, nutrition, and lifestyle are working. I’m always looking for a new challenge or improved way to train. But I think the biggest barrier for most guys my age is simply getting started.
All I can say is you have an athlete in you waiting to come out so take the first step and see where you can go. You won’t regret the decision to be a healthier more fit you. If you are already active then don’t let up, because turning forty, fifty, or sixty is simply a number. You can and should be fit well into your Masters years!
Jeffrey Prejean is a CrossFit athlete who was awarded the title of third fittest in the World Masters 40-44 CrossFit Games in 2015. In addition, for the upcoming CrossFit Games in 2016, he qualified #1 in the world Masters 40-44. To see more from Jeffrey, follow along on his Twitter and Instagram.