I’ve been an athlete all my life starting with competitive swimming in middle school, high school and in college. I transitioned into CrossFit into my 20s and trained 5-6 days per week. The moment I hit 30, my body started to really feel my training. My joints didn’t hurt, but everything was beaten up and fatigued.
This is the decade where we are introduced to the combination of both training and recovery.
If you missed the emails from last week, we are talking about the fitness/health priorities in life throughout each decade (youth, 20s) and today the 30s. As we get older, the needs become a little more complicated and specific, so today’s message is going to be for men in their 30s.
Research has shown an increase in degenerative changes in the joints as recorded by MRIs and also a slow decline in muscle growth as we get into the third decade of life. This is the time where the accelerated development our our health and fitness start to decline. Combine this with the stresses of an increasingly demanding job (promotions etc) and life events, you can see how this can all add up to limit forward progress.
As a result of all these factors, the health priorities for men in their 30s include maintenance, muscle gain, and prevention of chronic diseases. Since the cellular processes in this decade is slower than in the 20s, this also brings the concept of recovery to the forefront. We are no longer able to workout, party, and NOT sleep like we used to.
The demands of life and work make it challenging to regularly go to the gym 5+ times per week. This means that the time spent at the gym should be focused on two components: strength development and lean muscle gains. Focusing on compound movements like the squat, deadlift and press will be crucial to maximize nerve conduction, muscle recruitment, and hormone production. Strength gains have a protective effect on the joints minimizing degeneration and reducing pain. This is also a very important time to focus on form and position, the body in the 20s can handle the occasional mis-lift but it can prove to be limiting as we get older. To focus on absolute strength we are looking at rep ranges between 3-5 reps at a relatively high intensity.
The compounds lift will also facilitate muscle building, however at a slower rate. This will actually delay the muscle loss that would occur in the following decade. You can still go for that muscle pump on the smaller muscles like biceps and others by addressing sets of 8-12 reps. The posture muscles (upper back) will really love to get a ton of reps, after hours sitting in the office. Throw in a couple banded face-pulls into the mix for sets of 50.
As we get older and more stressed, our fitness can take a back seat. The reality is that we are also at a higher rate to develop chronic diseases as we get older. If your body composition is 25% or greater as a male, then that risk goes up even higher. The implementation of a proper strength and conditioning program is going to be crucial to maximize lean muscle development, which can reduce the risk of diseases like diabetes, coronary artery disease, and some cancers.
At this point in age, cardio workouts like spin classes and bootcamps will have a great cardiovascular effect. However, given all the factors leading to muscle loss (stress, age, being sedentary), the first priority is to actually maximize muscle development. This can be remedied by a properly executed strength training program.
Nutrition is going to also play a huge role at this age too. Going to the gym 5+ times per week is a challenge due to schedule, so shooting for 3x/week is going to be more realistic. But with less activity comes a lower metabolic rate. This means that you should migrate towards minimally processed foods (vegetables) which will reduce inflammation and provide the proper nutrients. Ensure that you have a lean protein at every meal to facilitate muscular recovery and hormonal development.
With most jobs during the 30s, there will probably be a lot more drinking related activities. However, just like the last message, we can no longer recover from hangovers as well anymore. Not only will alcohol limit your next day productivity, but it will also have a huge impact on your muscular development and health. Next time you go out for a party, weigh out your options and identify which is more valuable to you, your health or having a good time at a party.
The newest component to health and fitness that should be absolutely introduced in this decade is the aspect of recovery. In our 20s, it seemed like we were a never ending source of energy. Going to bed at 12 am with a 5am wakeup call was normal because our bodies could handle it. However, once you hit the age of 30, sleep is going to be increasingly important. Not only will it improve overall productivity, but it will also have an impact on how we deal with stress. Aim for at least 7 hours of sleep per night. You will begin to notice that you require less coffee, be less irritable, and notice that your muscles look fuller and clothes will fit better.
Positive changes to your health don’t really happen when you are awake or working out. It happens when you sleep and recover. If you limit your body’s ability to recover from the daily stresses, it will be consistently be beaten down and that will make things so much harder.
As medical technology improves, and we start to implement healthier behaviors into our life, humans are living longer. Which means that it is important that we continue to be active and elevate the quality of life by having an intelligent way to maximize life through fitness, nutrition, stress relief and recovery.
If you need to make a change to your current fitness routine, then click here to book a free no sweat intro phone call where we can learn about you and come up with the best plan of action to help you.
Have a great day,