Tuesday, September 20, 2016

AGEING AND EXERCISE .... CONFUSED ? ..... YOU WILL BE.

 In the Seventies there was a famous spoof TV programme called 'Soap'. The catchphrase was always said after the plot update at the start of the programme with - 'Confused? ...you will be.'  Let me explain. As you know I've been a little quiet on the blogging front since I decided to step back from personal training commitments or as my son calls it 'deloading'. I have been trying to concentrate a bit more on my own training these last few months, trying different techniques as well as reading and researching the latest ideas.
  Strangely enough, despite all my research, I find myself going back to basics and consequently have discovered some interesting facts..... well they are to me. I was convinced that I had done much less, in terms of training than last year when I ran the Grand Canyon for the second time, so convinced that I was beating myself up about how lazy I had been! I do not go in for Fitbits and all the running apps and calorie fat burn counters etc.... they are not very accurate when it comes to calories and heart rates so I prefer to manually record everything I do, from reps to types of strength workout, to running miles, elevations, sprint sessions, HIIT sessions, tempo running, weight, food logs, fat %, sleep patterns etc. etc.
    It may sound OCD but it takes seconds to do and if you do it daily then its no big deal. Anyway I decided to add up everything over the past few years to compare and was surprised to find out that I had completed 10% more strength workouts, 8% more sprint sessions and incredibly 12% more running miles than I had done at this time last year before I ran the Grand Canyon! But, my weight is up by 1 kilo and fat % is up by1% and my speed is slower. Go figure. To be honest I don't feel like I'm at peak fitness but maybe I'm not that far off. So what is going on? The answer is simple, I am afraid its all to do with age and its something we must all be aware of. Exercise and healthy nutrition will actually decrease the aging process for the whole body, heart, lungs, muscles, bones, organs, your brain, blood, literally everything except one thing ... and that is your VO2 max. Most people when they age get fat and become unfit purely because they don't do anything. People say I can't exercise because I'm overweight or old....NO.... you are old and fat because you don't exercise! And by the way your VO2max will start dropping automatically after age 25 so whoever you are, take note.
Anyway, back to me....
Your VO2 max (The maximum amount of oxygen that an individual can utilize during intense or maximal exercise) is critical in enabling you to run faster but it is one of the few things that will decrease rapidly with age no matter what you do.... or so we used to think.
 Most research used to suggest that inactive people lose about 10% of aerobic capacity per decade. It also suggested that individuals who train regularly will lose about 5% of VO2max per decade. However, such people generally reduce the quantity and quality of their training, which means that a proportion of this 5% loss is due to the inability to perfectly maintain top-level training programmes. Dr Michael Pollock pointed out that one of the most difficult problems faced by veteran athletes is simply the near impossibility of sustaining very high-quality training over many years, especially when the body is beginning to show signs of 'wear and tear'. It is not that veterans like me can no longer plan and carry out very rugged training sessions it's just that the physiological recovery processes may slow with age, thus increasing the risk of injury and therefore lowering fitness-maximising workouts.  So how do we stay lean, fit, healthy and quick, as we age?
1. Maintain training. To preserve VO2max, it is important for you to maintain the quantity and quality of your training as you get older. If possible you need to increase the average intensity of your training sessions as studies have shown that this may maintain VO2max completely and even improve performances. So its back to the track and interval training such as 60 secs on/60 secs off or the killer Sprint 8 protocol!
2. More muscle less fat. To preserve VO2max, maintain or increase your muscularity and avoid getting fat. Weight gain is a hugely limiting factor in VO2 max performance. This is why strength training is so important as it is the best way to optimise your muscularity when combined with a sensible diet. It is this combination that will keep you lean.
3. Vary your training. To hold on to VO2max,you have to alternate your usual workouts with other kinds of sessions. For example, endurance runners might consider non-impact proprioceptive training to improve balance and running economy such as cycling.
4. Work on lactate threshold. To maintain high-level performance you have to work on other factors besides VO2max. For example, lactate threshold has been found to be much more responsive to training in older athletes than VO2max, probably because it is more dependent on muscle function than on the cardiovascular system per se. So yep you guessed it... you need to do more of those dreaded Tempo runs.... I can see some of my ex-clients squirming in their seats! If not tempo then try more fartlek sessions. Its one thing to maintain speed but to do that over distance you have to work on your lactate threshold as well.
The bottom line? You can't keep the ageing process at bay forever, but if you train smart and stay away from injury, you should be able to hold your VO2max decline to less than 0.5% per year as you get older.
Unfortunately you always have to do more just to stay in the same place.... and that's the takeaway from my stats. Although I've done more training its not enough... and that 1% fat gain has already had an effect on my speed so it's time to step up again by cutting fat and doing more intervals and tempo training.... sounds like fun :)
 Click on link to see video
                  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mz6pB_0gC3M

                                     


 

1 comment:

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