Stalled Fitness Progress: Is It Age or Lifestyle?

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Many of us fall into the trap blaming our age for stagnated muscle growth, slowed strength gains and increased body fat. I gained 92 lbs. when I reached the age of 40 and I’m doing something about it. We often look back fondly at the high level of muscular strength, development and endurance we had in our 20s. Stalled fitness progress is a reality and here I will explore it further.

Many of our conversations related to our physical fitness include the phrase, “I used to…”  Used to what? Used to bench 350; used to have 7% body fat; used to easily recover from intense, two hour long daily workouts?

The problem is, we so often blame our age for the sorry state of our physical fitness that we actually convince ourselves that we can never achieve the body we “used to” have.  Don’t get me wrong, age indeed plays a role in exercise recoverability, rate of muscle growth and overall muscular strength and endurance to some degree.  However, I believe that the influence of our age and stalled fitness progress is often over-exaggerated.

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Change of Lifestyle and Stalled Fitness Progress

When thinking about the current state of your physical fitness compared to how fit, muscular or strong you “used to” be, consider how different your lifestyle is now as opposed to what it was like way back then.  Many people erroneously believe that the best strength and muscle gains of your life will be made in your late teens through your 20s.  Common popular belief is that once you hit the magic age of 30 your hormone levels drastically change and it is nearly impossible to make new strength or muscle gains.

The fact is, gains in muscle mass and developing the nervous system and muscular system to build significant strength requires decades of hard training and proper nutrition.   Many of the biggest, strongest and fastest athletes in the world reach their peak in their late 30s and early 40s.

In fact, some of the strongest strength athletes I’ve ever met have been well into their 40s and have maintained their incredible strength and muscularity well into their 50s.  It took them decades to build on the foundation that was established in their teens and 20s.  It wasn’t until they reached their 30s that they really started looking and performing impressively.  What these athletes have in common over the vast majority of aging fitness enthusiasts is consistency, discipline and prioritization.

Sure, many people want to accelerate their gains through pharmaceutical enhancement, which can be done through legal steroid alternatives.  But those folks are playing by an entirely different set of rules than the average strength athlete or bodybuilder who has a life outside of their chosen sport.  That’s where the controversy of age vs. lifestyle comes in.

Teens vs. 40s: What’s the Difference? Does It Equate to Stalled Fitness Progress?

Consider your lifestyle when you were in your teens and 20s when you seemed to recover quickly, stayed lean, and got stronger almost every time you stepped into the gym.  For many of us, the only responsibility we had was school or a job.  When we weren’t working, studying or attending classes, we were living a pretty care-free lifestyle.  Stress was low, sleep was plentiful, schedules were flexible and food was abundant.

Now, think about your lifestyle as a middle-ager.  You probably work 40-60 hours per week at a moderate to high stress job, have personal stressors such as finances, sleep 5-6 hours per night, have at least one or two kids and can barely keep your eyes open when driving home from work.

This lifestyle is simply not conducive to building massive amounts of muscle mass or muscular strength.   Many people who live under these conditions often blame their age for their growing waist lines, shrinking biceps and inability to do a full squat.  Reality is, their lifestyle and stalled fitness progress has far more to do with their fitness level than their age. This can combated by applying the Better Than Steroids program.

Even if you are in good shape, lean and muscular, chances are your lifestyle throws obstacles in your way that can give the illusion of “age catching up with you.”  In reality, your life has caught up with you and chances are if the quality of your sleep, diet and workout consistency improved, your body and performance would too.

The next time you’re tempted to blame your age for your stalled gains and lackluster performance in the gym, think about how your lifestyle may be negatively impacting your physical fitness.  There may not be an easy solution, but at least you can be secure in the knowledge that you haven’t yet reached your physical fitness peak.

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About Kristoffer Perry

Kris Perry is a former competitive powerlifter and certified personal trainer. He currently works as a police officer in the state of Maryland and is the physical fitness coordinator and consultant for the Annapolis Police Department. He also works as a fitness consultant and health and wellness freelance writer and blogger.

View all posts by Kristoffer Perry →

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