Training for the Aged

By Mark Rippetoe

In Special Populations

June 01, 2007

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These days, Mark Rippetoe of Wichita Falls Athletic Club/CrossFit Wichita is a 50+ masters lifter who calls himself “boneheaded and tenacious.” In an article about training for the aged, Rip says masters lifters are obviously different from their younger hard-training counterparts. He offers common sense rules, along with a few caveats.

We have accumulated injuries that have to be considered when training is programmed. And more importantly, our response to training is blunted by our age: the stress/adaptation relationship is a function of the hormonal milieu. So I suppose I’ll continue to train until some horrible accident prevents me from doing so.

Lots of masters lifters—maybe most of us—decide either to train hurt or not at all, so we train hurt. Injuries are the price we pay for the thrill of not having sat around on our asses. Injuries must be managed carefully. Training hard enough to force progress and light enough to keep injuries at bay is a tough juggle.

But progress is possible, and the amount of progress that can be made is a function of where you are in your training progression. There are many, many examples of fine competitive athletes who started their careers later in life.

Older athletes are some of our better people. They are responsible, structured, brave individuals with a strong work ethic and great intelligence, determination, and character, and we need more of them.



6 Comments on “Training for the Aged”


wrote …

Great article by someone who is definitely in tune with the 50 year old "athlete". I finally took a week off after progressing very well for 3+ months doing the WOD's scaled and as Rx'd. After "Barbara" kicked my ass a week ago I knew it was time to listen to my body. It's very challenging to adjust to the aging body. You want to go hard but you also want to recover. Again, great article Mark, it kept me chuckling the whole time........Jeff


wrote …

My sincere apologies for the previous post. It was purely an emotional reaction to a unexpectedly bad diagnosis of a very old injury. In no way was crossfit related to this injury, in fact I am far more functional than before crossfit and have no intention of ending my crossfit experience. Again, I apologize for the language of the previous post.


wrote …

Approach new exercises with respect. When adding a new movement to your program, don’t ever go as heavy as you can the first time. Aim for about half of what you think you can do, and the second time go about 75 percent, saving the heavy effort for the third time or beyond. This may be the best advice in this whole sorry article. Please heed it.
45 in a few weeks and hoping I learn this one day.
Somehow though, in the middle of the workout, feeling good because I haven't injured whatever the new exercise is working yet, I probably won't.


wrote …

At 51 yoa myself, it was good to read this. Though I often scale the WOD, or sub a kettlebell workout and marksmanship training for those WOD's that I cannot do....I still have those "listen to the body" periods of time....


wrote …

ROFLMAO!!! Perfect! I'm 51, FM, have lost 65#s over the past 10 years, always been active and have the battle scars to prove it and over the years, somehow those injuries taught me that if I want to hurt less, I should lift more. Just found the CF site a few days ago - this is fascinating stuff! I suspect I'll never get bored weight lifting like this! And this article is PERFECT!!!! Just as I'm wondering how a fitness-nut (according to my family) has any business thinking I could do what the CF super fit are doing, along comes Rip and says it perfectly! "Stay away from the walker -- TRAIN!!!" :-) It will take me a couple weeks of figuring out the details of CF, but I suspect I'm on my way to being a lifer. Thanks for a great article for us "old folks"...


Rick Larson wrote …

Great Article Rip!
I am 52 and found CrossFit a year and a half ago and what a difference it has made to my overall fitness. I am in the best shape of my life, but I do have to be smart about my training. Lot's of old sports injuries raise their ugly head from time to time. I feel like I am always working around some kind of flare up. That's the price I pay but it is so worth it. I own an affiliate in West Sacramento and am able to help our older athletes deal with these types of injuries that come with age. What makes me the most happy is I can compete and push our younger athletes, none of them want the "old man" to beat them which I do at times. Also, ice packs have become by best friends.....
Jeff Puliz
CrossFit West Sacramento

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