Originally Posted April, 2016
By Dan Benson
I'm going to be 40 this year. My mind is trying to convince me I'm still 25!
Update I’m now going on 43 and still think I’m 25!
My body is telling me otherwise. As my body wins the argument increasingly, I need to listen to it and act accordingly. Think about how Michael Jordan attacked the game of basketball when he came back (the second time). He couldn't jump out of the building anymore, so he transformed his game often taking the fade away jumper rather than forcing his way to the basket for a dunk. I can't tell you how many times Tiger Woods "rebuilt" his swing in his prime - I didn't know there was anything wrong with it in the first place.
The point is that running around like chicken's with our heads cut off is not an option anymore. We can't chase the younger people in the hopes that we can will our way past them. What we can do is move smarter - more efficiently and safely - than them.
Moving through a workout with reckless abandon is a sure way to get yourself injured. And guess what? We don't recover like them...
I sustained a lower back injury last year. The doctor's told me it would take at least a year to recover and they were right. I'm still working my way back to 100% almost 16 months later. That same injury would take a 20-something 4-6 weeks. In the classic battle of risk vs. reward, I find myself laser-focused every time I pick something up now - no matter how heavy it is. I know once the clock starts, reason goes out the window, and the temptation to go fast trumps rational thought. I've changed that and so should you!
Do I still want to improve my WOD times and get better at my craft? Absolutely, but there is a better way to do it - just as Michael Jordan could still put up 40 points a game past his prime even though the younger generation was now more athletic.
The absolute best way to move faster and safer during a workout is with solid mechanics. Muscling your way through a set of power cleans will only get you so far - this goes for all ages. Strip some of the weight off and work on your form. Focus on each rep as if it were a 1 rep max. Are you setup correctly (feet and hands)? Is your chest up and your back flat (neutral). As you pull the bar from the floor, are you moving slowly pushing your knees back? As you pass your knees, are you gaining speed and pulling that bar into the pocket? At this point, the "weight" should become weightless and you move your body around the bar to catch it with grace.
If you yanked the bar off the ground, flew around your knees and felt a heavy object 8 inches in front of you, you have missed the point and are not gaining any type of mechanical advantage.
Good luck with the remaining reps as you wear yourself out far too early. Work smarter, not harder!
This is a tough pill to swallow! I still believe I have a 25 year old body. It's just not true. I recently worked out 6 days in a row. That was a mistake. Instead of a single day for recovery, I needed about four days. 5 days a week is more than enough. I need at least 2 recovery days per week. I also move with a purpose during the workout. Instead of moving as fast as I can, I try to stay around 80-90%. This gives me the opportunity to think my way through the workout. I can also recover faster if I haven't left it all out there. I do give 100% once a week or so. But it is always a workout where I own the movements and my mechanics are dialed in.
Finally, get out there and enjoy some of your new found fitness. Don't put so much pressure on yourself to perform in the gym. It's just a workout. Live to fight another day. In the words of Kelly Starrett "MAKE A BETTER DECISION!"