Training Intensity & Age

"your training intensity does not have to diminish one bit even in your fifties or sixties"
George Hood Plank

Muscle Loss

As you age, certain physiological factors are going to affect your performance in all aspects of your life, whether you exercise or not. One of the major factors is sarcopenia, a fancy term for muscle loss.  After 30 years of age, everyone is subject to a certain amount of muscle loss.  It can be as much as 5-7% of your total muscle mass each decade until your mid-sixties and then the process accelerates.

It is well-founded science that you can dramatically slow the rate of sarcopenia by participating in a regular resistance training program. You don’t need to be pulling Olympic level deadlifts, you just have to load your muscles beyond what they’re use to.  Resistance band training can be every bit as effective as pushing iron. Possibly more, as the load continues to increase over the full range of motion.

Training Intensity

Training intensity is highly subjective. Like the pain chart they hand you in the Emergency Room  to describe your pain level.  Is it Level 1, smiley face, or Level 10 boring a hole in your cranium, sad face?  Training intensity is just a measure of how close to your maximum potential you are approaching; it is relative to you as an individual.  Your training intensity does not have to diminish one bit even in your fifties or sixties. What will change is your absolute output when measured against your intensity level; it will go down. Sorry folks, that’s Mother Nature. As with sarcopenia, regularly training at a high intensity level will radically slow the rate of decrease in output.


Another absolute as we age is it takes longer to heal from injury and exercise. About 10 years ago I remember listening to an interview with Dara Torres, who competed and medaled in 5 Olympic Games from 1984 to 2008 and at age of 41, was the oldest swimmer to earn a spot on the U.S. Olympic Team.  What stuck with me, is the interviewer asked if her workouts had changed over time.  Dara’s response was not really, but the time I must allow between workouts has increased. She is an elite athlete at the highest level. In her calculus, the primary adjustment in her exercise regimen was not intensity, but rest between workouts. We should strive to learn from the best.


One of the milestones in life is at 50+ years old you receive an invitation to join AARP. It usually comes around the same time other vendors are trying to sell you discount cemetery plots. If you’re like me, you suddenly realize you are in the 3rd Act, fourth quarter and ask yourself where has all the time gone? Also like me, you should vow to go kicking and screaming and not give an inch to Mother Nature. I know she’ll win, but I’m going down swinging.  Nothing to prove, but what else is there than living life to the fullest and to your maximum potential?

For anyone who has held a plank for more than 5 minutes, George Hood should be an inspiration. He has set numerous Guinness World Records to have them beat by others, only to come back and recapture the record. He OWNS the plank record – at 62 years old, he held a plank for over eight hours. There’s part of me that thinks, maybe he just passed away and went into rigormortis. I can only image the mental fortitude, training intensity and focus it took to achieve that record. He is an inspiration to me. He is the epitome of accomplishing  great things in the fourth quarter. No matter your age, if you want to be inspired, watch his video; it personifies intensity, focus and determination.

George Hood Plank
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The Plank Record

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