How to make progress in Crossfit when you’re over 30?

So you’re in your thirties. Hitting the gym every day. Feeling pretty fit. Until a new generation of twenty something youngsters enters the gym. Hitting PR’s almost every week. Getting bigger, leaner and fitter by the day. And there you go: frustration knocks on your door. F*ck, what just happened? How to make progress in Crossfit when you’re over 30?

 

 

 

 

So you’re in your thirties. Hitting the gym every day. Feeling pretty fit, besides some aches here and there every once in a while. No problem so far. You’re still making progess and are confident about yourself. Then suddenly, a new generation of twenty something youngsters enters the gym. Hitting PR’s almost every week. Getting bigger, leaner and fitter by the day.

And there you go: frustration knocks on your door. F*ck, what just happened? You think you need to train harder. You’re in your thirties, you’re not old! You should be able to keep up with them, right? You think you’re doing something wrong and you need to switch training programs, starting yesterday!

And there you go: your mindset went from being a positive and very contributing factor to your training results, to a negative and demolishing factor to your training, your results and the fun you had at the gym.

Now what? First of all, you need to realize: It’s not you, yet it is totally you!

It’s not you…
As we age, our performance declines. And this decline is the steepest between the age of 30 and 40.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Furthermore, the decline in performance is the biggest in powerlifting and weightlifting, followed by endurance. Sad, but true. The good thing is, we lose the least on power speed such as high box jumps, and on light power such as med ball slams and kettlebell swings. So, it’s not you…

… yet it is totally you!
What is totally up to you, is your response to this. You have basically three choices:

1. Fight against it
The first choice is to fight against it: You’re gonna ignore your age, you’re only thirty something, this is ridiculous, you’re far from old or in need to change something. Well, a bold and above all very stupid and ignorant choice: you’re on your way to injuries, more frustration and in the end, you’ll end up worse than ever.

2. Give up
The second choice is to give up: This is useless. Why even go to the gym, when you can’t crush your old PR’s no more? When you feel like an old fart around all those big and lean youngsters? Forget it, it’s over, bye bye gym life. Once again a very stupid choice: hitting the gym frequently and regularly contributes greatly to the quality of life: it delays the ageing process and keeps you fitter and more vital longer in life, physically as well as mentally. Good to know: if at 70, you’ve reached the level of intermediate Crossfit athlete (yes you can still make gains when ageing!), you’re still as fit as a physically active 30 year old!

3. Be smart, step over your ego, reframe your goals and PR’s
The third choice is to train smarter, not harder. You probably need a longer warmup. You probably need to work on your mobility a bit more. You definately need to downsize the volume of your training.

Furthermore, you need to step over your ego and reframe your goals and PR’s. That means modifying and scaling your workouts, according to what your body is telling you on a daily basis. So invest 5 minutes every morning to assess yourself: Woke up with an aching lower back? Do split squats in stead of regular squats. Got stiff shoulders? Maybe ring pullups give you more flexiblity than bar pullups, or dumbbells instead of barbell presses. Adjust exercises and and maybe even workout routines. Find out what works for you on a daily basis.

Reframe your goals and PR’s. You can be nostalgic about your former PR’s, maybe even cry a little bit about it. But the wining, stop living in the past, let alone compare yourself with youngsters. You’re in new place in life, and that means new goals and reframing the concept of “PR’s”. You’re concept of PR was probably defined in terms of your 1 RM. Now it’s time to redefine it, maybe in terms of 3, 5 or 10 RM. Shift your focus.

Think of it like this: The most effective training is the one that recruits the most muscle fiber. That does not necesarrily equals the one with the heaviest weight. The two concepts of 1) time under tension, and 2) proper technique as being the one and only way to results, might get the creative site of your brain working: Think of other ways to fire up those muscle fibers. Experiment with it. High intensity and great power output can be achieved in so many differents ways. And with this creative brain and some experimenting in the gym, the shift back to your positive and contributing mindset will follow automatically!

Be that smart not just that old fart! 😉

(Source: Kilmore, 2015)