Fitness Over 50

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Question: I am in my early 50’s and would like to put on more muscle but my joints just can’t take the heavy weight necessary to build muscle. I try to do sets of 5 to 8 reps with heavy weight on some of my training but my joints pay for it for a few days after. Is there anything to help joints recover more quickly or not hurt at all?
Answer: There are joint supplements on the market and some of them are quite effective. Glucosamine acts like a wonder drug for about 75% of the population but it is a naturally occurring compound that when taken in daily doses of 1200 to 1500 mg reduces inflammation in joints and seems to lubricate them as well. There are several different mixtures of this on the market under several different brand names. What you should realize, as well, is that the way you train can increase the load on a joint and connective tissues or reduce the load on those tissues and increase the action on the muscles.
If your training is too ballistic, your rep speed is too fast and the explosiveness of the movement subjects the joints to a greater load than necessary. While explosive action is good for building muscle and strength, on occasion slow down the tempo and rep speed which will increase the load on the muscles being worked while decreasing the load on your joints. An alternate method is supersets which will overload muscles working them to exhaustion without being abusive to your joints. Supersets are a terrific way to overload muscles, especially when working isolation sets for a muscle and following it immediately with a compound set for the same muscle. Isolation exercises involve one joint for a movement and compound exercises utilize two or more joints and a greater variety of accessory muscles. For instance, use low incline dumbbell flyes followed by a bench press. Now neither exercise is to be done to complete failure. On the flyes use a weight you would reach failure at ten reps and stop at eight reps. Within 15 seconds begin your bench presses and utilize the accessory muscles, triceps and deltoids, to assist your already fatigued chest muscles to do more work for another 8 reps with a weight you would usually do 10 reps with. I promise you 8 reps will be challenge. There are several combinations of isolation/compound exercises to overload muscles and protect your joints.
When you do go heavy with your training try using volume training principles with heavier weights and give machines an opportunity to determine if they will work better for you than bench presses which can be abusive to shoulders and rotator cuffs. Some machines like the Hammer Incline Bench Press use a swing movement and it tends to feel better for some individuals than the regular bench. Whichever you use, choose a weight that your reach failure with at 6 reps but only do 2 to 3 reps. Rest 30 to 45 seconds and repeat the set. Continue doing this for 5 to 7 sets. If you need to reduce the weight during these sets drop about 10% when necessary. This way you can use a heavy weight and reduce some of the load on your joints.
Intense training tends to elevate both growth hormone levels and testosterone levels so train with intensity and get the rest and nutrition you need to promote growth from your workouts.
God bless and keep training,
Daryl

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