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Strength gains in mid 40s (Read 6621 times)

Stewart

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Strength gains in mid 40s
August 10, 2022, 09:53:32 pm
Hi folks.  Probably been asked before but what are folks thoughts about making genuine strength gains in your 40s?

I'm thinking about signing up to lattice as I've never followed a training program.  Mainly just bouldered 3 times a week. But now the only problems I've left to do in D and G are Varians 7c+s and I'm not strong enough.  Don't want to spend 24 weeks training for nowt (don't want to spend any time training,  hate it! But would stick to it if I pay for it). Is it realistic to expect more than marginal gains.. if that?

Edited to add some specifics
Age 43
Weight 83kg
Started climbing at 32 and (humblebrag) climbed 8A at 36. Was xfit from other sport and addicted quickly. Done a few more 8s since then but def not operating regularly at that level.  Def better on probs with big holds/moves as don't think ihave good finger strength. Never routinely fingerboarded, campused or system board but do have a crap board garage of my own.  I suspect I may have peaked!
« Last Edit: August 10, 2022, 10:03:55 pm by Stewart »

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#1 Re: Strength gains in mid 40s
August 10, 2022, 09:56:52 pm
1. Be light or have the ability to get light.

2. Don't get injured.

I have no idea about the actually possibilities for gainz though. Maybe depends how much effort you've put in previously, and how long you've plateaued?? Trying a more structured / focused plan and seeing what happens seems worth a shot though.

Stewart

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#2 Re: Strength gains in mid 40s
August 10, 2022, 10:05:45 pm
1. Be light or have the ability to get light.

I do not have this ability  :'(

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#3 Re: Strength gains in mid 40s
August 10, 2022, 10:19:29 pm
I've been as good, possibly better, in my mid 40s as previously; but that's a pretty low bar (I only started climbing in my late 20s).   As Fiend said, avoiding injury and recent weight / activity levels are probably more important factors than age.  There are enough 50+ crushers to suggest that age is less important than psyche / training.  Your own response to the stimulus of an organized training programme is a complete unknown - perhaps just get on with it, and if it seems a losing proposition, stop early?

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#4 Re: Strength gains in mid 40s
August 10, 2022, 10:20:02 pm

2. Don't get injured.


I don’t have this ability. which is unfortunate as it’s probably the single most important one to have.

Re strength, I expect you can continue to get a lot stronger, 43 really shouldn’t be a barrier to that. I would see age as something that slows rate of progress and demands more recovery time, not something that prevents progress (unless you’ve been an elite sportsperson since age 8 or something), far from it.

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#5 Re: Strength gains in mid 40s
August 10, 2022, 10:35:28 pm
Sorry, I am not in my 5th decade, but I have done a lot of thinking about the ability to make strength gains as we get older.  In elite sports where participants can't trick their way to success with skills and kneebars, the physical decline is usually evident for most from the mid 30's. However, that's in elite sport and one would assume they are/were approaching their genetic potential. For average Joe's, there's plenty of evidence that gains can be made at any age, particularly in the untrained.

Now for possibly a load of bollocks... My hypothesis is that the 'natural limit', 'genetic potential' or whatever you want to call it declines from the early 30's. Pulling numbers out of my arse, it might go something like: by 40 your limit reduces to 90% of what it once was, by 50 it's 80%, and so on. For a 30 year old elite athlete who has reached 99% of their natural limit, they shouldn't expect to maintain that level for the next 30 years, but a pensioner who has never done any sport in their life could potentially make big gains. Most of us are somewhere in the middle.

TLDR: it's likely you can get stronger if you're currently not strong enough for 7c+ (rather than strong and not good enough) and haven't done much training before.

As for coaching, i've always been into training and have learnt quite a lot over the years, but have found it useful getting coached this year for the first time. I think it's the outside perspective that helps me the most. Based on personal experience i'd recommend going for the package where your plan can be amended as needed. My plan has been switched up several times due to my body not responding to the training as anticipated. After 6 months we're really starting to see what does and doesn't work for me.

moose

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#6 Re: Strength gains in mid 40s
August 10, 2022, 10:45:13 pm
Re strength, I expect you can continue to get a lot stronger, 43 really shouldn’t be a barrier to that. I would see age as something that slows rate of progress and demands more recovery time, not something that prevents progress (unless you’ve been an elite sportsperson since age 8 or something), far from it.

+1. As I've aged into and through my 40s, I feel that my maximum ability is pretty unchanged. The difference is that I have far less "good goes" in a day than previously, and I need more days of recovery.  I've adjusted accordingly - more rests and saving myself for infrequent but really intense efforts, and [to quote my Dad] "treating myself nice" with regard to training - better miss a fingerboard / indoor session or two than spend 6 months nursing a tendon injury.

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#7 Re: Strength gains in mid 40s
August 11, 2022, 12:01:30 am
I don’t want to train I just want to get better than ever. “ don't want to spend any time training,  hate it! ”

The more focused you are on a specific project the easier it will be to identify what your weaknesses are and what needs improving. I’m thinking flexibility, tactics, diet, recovery and self belief. Physical strength is harder to gain but there’s so many aspects to what is required to climb harder that there must be areas of strength and power endurance or mobility that you previously haven’t max out on.

Learn to love the journey and don’t get too obsessed with the achievement. Better to have tried and failed…

scragrock

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#8 Re: Strength gains in mid 40s
August 11, 2022, 07:15:11 am
Morning Stew
Firstly i cant believe your 83kg! there's more meat on a butchers pencil than you.

I did Lattice for 18 months back in the early days{tested on Tom's home wall} and found it to be useful in order to gain all-round fitness strength etc but it didn't really push my grade, it did however give me the template to structure my own training specific to each project and this seemed to work..ish.

I would agree with a lot of what Moose said, rest more as you aint going to have as many quality goes as you used too.

I used to be able to spend a few hours scrubbing & cleaning and then climb all the problems i just cleaned, this is Not the case anymore.

So - Rein it in, be tactical with your attention and energy. be even more specific with your training and laser focus on your goals.
try to bite off a little bit of the Macleod magic and implement it to your climbing.

For me this might look like this-

Winter 2022, finish off last 2 lines in Rooftown

Project one- Build replica of hard Dyno in garden, work on legs ,flexibility and finger strength, wait for cooler temps and loose weight to send in Oct/Nov

Project two- Aligns with Project one{purposely} but a focus on crimp/pinch strength, send first project then tick this off.

Use Ruthven circuit as training and assessment guide.   

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#9 Re: Strength gains in mid 40s
August 11, 2022, 08:13:20 am
Age shouldn’t be a barrier/excuse. I only started fingerboarding in my mid/late 40’s and made significant measured gains. Still getting all time weighted deadhang scores in my mid/late 50’s. I also hated training and even wrote an article to that effect highlighting the pointlessness of it all.

Yes the gains may be marginal compared to your meteoric rise through the grades but they do add up and if you get into it and calibrate yourself accordingly then you may find yourself fist pumping from smashing your deadhang PB by a kilo.

As Scragrock experienced I also didn’t get any grade/strength improvement from Lattice a long time ago though it did get me very fit and the programmes were more about energy systems back then. If you go down the coaching route (at Lattice or elsewhere) make sure it is with a coach who is more focused and experienced on bouldering/strength at the levels you aspire to. Maybe consider someone like Dave Mason (Monkey boy on here)

« Last Edit: August 11, 2022, 08:32:41 am by shark »

MischaHY

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#10 Re: Strength gains in mid 40s
August 11, 2022, 08:24:57 am
Hi folks.  Probably been asked before but what are folks thoughts about making genuine strength gains in your 40s?

I'm thinking about signing up to lattice as I've never followed a training program.  Mainly just bouldered 3 times a week. But now the only problems I've left to do in D and G are Varians 7c+s and I'm not strong enough.  Don't want to spend 24 weeks training for nowt (don't want to spend any time training,  hate it! But would stick to it if I pay for it). Is it realistic to expect more than marginal gains.. if that?

Edited to add some specifics
Age 43
Weight 83kg
Started climbing at 32 and (humblebrag) climbed 8A at 36. Was xfit from other sport and addicted quickly. Done a few more 8s since then but def not operating regularly at that level.  Def better on probs with big holds/moves as don't think ihave good finger strength. Never routinely fingerboarded, campused or system board but do have a crap board garage of my own.  I suspect I may have peaked!

My opinion on this - broadly speaking - is that you've got plenty of room to move but need to be careful how you do it.

I'm actually not of the opinion that someone in their 40's gets injured a lot more than someone in their 20's, but rather that an overall drop in pace of recovery leads to a) slower recovery from actual injury and/or b) higher potential for chronic overuse injury such as tendonitis, synovitis etc. 

With this in mind if I was writing you a training plan I would first look at your climbing/training history (even though you may not consider it 'training' - I know several people who seem to think 3hr sessions on a hard project isn't 'training') and then consider what your mid-term goals are and what dials need to shift in order to take you in that direction. Basically what it would likely come down to though is reducing overall volume for a period of time so that you could increase intensity in specific areas whilst allowing for full recovery.

For example, if the project/s require you to lock off a small edge and reach high to another small edge whilst holding body tension through bad footholds, then smashing around a load of steep blobby indoor stuff would be a total waste of recovery potential. Instead I'd be looking to get you having quality (short/intense) sessions on a 35-45 board with a good selection of edges, and maybe look at specifically conditioning the grip types you'll expect to find on the boulders you want to do. This could be full crimp, middle 2 drag, whatever. 

The main challenge here considering you're a self-admitted sport nut might be controlling the session volume in order to keep quality high and avoid getting injured. The most straightforward way of doing this is to stop a session when you notice you can no longer deliver a good effort on something fairly maximal for you - this is the point where many people drop grade and keep motoring for another hour, but stopping here instead will allow you to recover much faster and train again sooner, meaning more quality training time overall.

Re. the weight comments - I think it's important to consider it as whether you have excess fat mass or simply a more muscular build. If you have a moderate percentage of fat to lose (this will be obvious) then you can shift the scale in your favour to a moderate degree ~2-4kg for most people who have some fat to lose. That being said, a training period is not the time to do this and you would be kicking yourself in the teeth to try! It's important to be in energy balance when training strength (ideally moderate surplus 100~200kcal) and concentrate on diet quality instead.

Hope this helps.

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#11 Re: Strength gains in mid 40s
August 11, 2022, 08:52:59 am
 :agree:

Most of my most significant ascents have been in my 40's and I've been climbing since I was 13.
Knowledge is power, keep gaining knowledge and actively seek to apply it to your climbing. You say you were fit from other sports, some of my biggest gains have been from applying knowledge from other sources (especially Pilates).
Mischa is on the money that training specifically for a goal that means something to you is key. However, all gains feed into the general skillset.
I am also training adverse, but project obsession ( and fear of decrepitude) will overcome that.

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#12 Re: Strength gains in mid 40s
August 11, 2022, 09:28:06 am
If you’ve never trained and have managed to knock out a few 8s then you definitely have potential to keep improving into your 50s if you use a well structured plan. As coaches always say, consistency is key to seeing incremental improvements.

Now Jonathan mentioned that being light and not getting injured are two of the most important factors to seeing improvements and he’s totally right, both can also go hand in hand as being heavier can burden your tendons and ligaments more but they can also be decoupled slightly, if you consistently fingerboard I can guarantee that you’ll see good improvements in your finger strength and that your fingers will also feel healthy.

Anecdotally the moment I reduce my fingerboard training my fingers start to feel tweaky, I think keeping them loaded regularly helps to keep them strong and healthy. From the sounds of it you’ve mostly stuck to stuff with big holds/big moves and as you venture into smaller holds you’ll likely find your fingers start to get tweaky if you’re not also training them regularly on a fingerboard - this can be as easy as one session of max hangs and one session of density hangs a week spaced out say max hangs on a monday, density hangs on a Saturday.

I see a lot of people laugh at those who use structured training plans but people who have coaches see the best gains and usually stay injury free when they follow their programs properly, my 2c.

Stewart

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#13 Re: Strength gains in mid 40s
August 11, 2022, 09:48:54 am
Thanks everyone for the thoughtful and detailed replies.  General consensus is fairly encouraging.

I have no plans to mess with weight,  I'm tall and my weight has never really varied. At this age I know I'm technically a better climber than ever.  I consider myself fairly flexible. I did suffer a lot of injuries early on, probably unsurprising considering rapid progress, but had no problems in a few years now though. 

Most of my harder climbs have been on burly, slopey stuff (eg queen Kong, sabotage). I often struggle on more crimpy stuff,  which I suppose is inevitable being on the heavier side but does feel like an obvious weakness.

Firstly i cant believe your 83kg! there's more meat on a butchers pencil than you.

 :lol: lamplight is obviously flattering!

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#14 Re: Strength gains in mid 40s
August 11, 2022, 10:10:18 am
I’m pretty sure I was physically strongest during my 40s, because I had a good board at home (and because I’d previously been pretty weak), but I was at my best at climbing in my late 20s, because I climbed a lot.

SA Chris

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#15 Re: Strength gains in mid 40s
August 11, 2022, 10:19:41 am
the only problems I've left to do in D and G are Varians 7c+s and I'm not strong enough. 

Move somewhere else. Problem solved :)

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#16 Re: Strength gains in mid 40s
August 11, 2022, 11:12:32 am
My experience is at age 29 with zero physical athleticism at all starting to go bouldering, and developing a lot of progress in the three years since then. So not hugely relevant to the thread, but my understanding from reading about training in later life is that past your late 30s absolute strength gains from a trained athlete (8A+ to me says definitely that) absolute strength and power (esp. power) gains are tough but relative strength gains, endurance and so on are very doable.

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#17 Re: Strength gains in mid 40s
August 11, 2022, 11:21:29 am
Why are people under 40 posting in this thread?

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#18 Re: Strength gains in mid 40s
August 11, 2022, 11:22:25 am
1. Be light or have the ability to get light.
Corrected: 1. Be light for your height or have the ability to get light for your height (or may not apply if "weight" is disproportionately in climbing relevant muscles)

Started climbing at 32 and (humblebrag) climbed 8A at 36. Was xfit from other sport and addicted quickly. Done a few more 8s since then but def not operating regularly at that level.  Def better on probs with big holds/moves as don't think ihave good finger strength. Never routinely fingerboarded, campused or system board but do have a crap board garage of my own.  I suspect I may have peaked!
Okay this sounds promising. A few things stand out from that:

1. You've had a late start and a quick rise through the grades, so your plateau might not be very long term nor plateauy, thus potential to improve.

2. You've got a sporting background which is good for base level fitness and the ability to stay athletic, thus helping coping with a training load.

3. You've identified your preferred climbing style and a relative area of weakness. If you've pushed a lot in the former to get those nice juicy big numbers that suit your ability, you might not progress so much in that area, but there seems to be potential to improve the weaker areas and become stronger all-round.

4. Along with that, there seems to be lots of training things you haven't done, which could definitely be beneficial or at least worth a try.

5. Thus, sounds like you haven't peaked. Focusing on areas of weakness, neglected training methods, and slower progress rather than the previous meteoric rise could bring the GAINZ.

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#19 Re: Strength gains in mid 40s
August 11, 2022, 11:46:51 am
The biggest thing I've noticed (I'm late-mid-forties) is the decline in ability to move explosively. My shoulders are arguably the strongest they've ever been, but that won't get me up my old projects where speed of movement and contact-strength were key.

Well, that and i now have the face of a gaunt old man, whilst simultaneously having a spare tyre around my waist.

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#20 Re: Strength gains in mid 40s
August 11, 2022, 12:09:14 pm
Same here.

Climbing/training for 35 years. Used the campus board for 23 years. Climbed 8As between 25 and at 41. Very noticeable decline in power the last couple of years (now 46). Extra body weight very noticeable too. Static finger strength same or better than ever. Unfortunately as Mr Moon said “it’s having the power to move between the holds”.

If I wanted to improve bouldering (rather than shifting focus back onto trad) I’d get a coach. I doubt they’d have me deadhanging, but perhaps the OP is technically very good and small finger strength gains would make a difference?

So many older climbers still trying to get at it seem either stuck doing the same things or trying to replicate 20-somethings. If performance is that important to you then get help.

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#21 Re: Strength gains in mid 40s
August 11, 2022, 12:21:53 pm
I've noticed my power wane in the last 5 years (now in my early 50's), although injuries and motivation haven't helped. Fortunately, not having much power to begin with means the loss isn't a bad as it could be.
What I've found is that I've become much more cunning, finding the most efficient sequences and teching my way around stuff that I'd just power past. Training has helped slow the loss of strength, with blocks of campussing and fingerboarding occasionally, or when focused on a project to get a meager enough gain to finally get up something.
So, yeah, training does help.

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#22 Re: Strength gains in mid 40s
August 11, 2022, 12:44:27 pm
Why are people under 40 posting in this thread?
:lol: I wondered that too.. People under 40 with experience coaching/ climbing/ training with people over 40 might have something to offer though.
I am approaching the end of my 40s, so maybe qualify to comment. Bust my ankle, around this time of year, 4 years ago.  Avoid injury!!  Taken a while for confidence and ability to return.
Similar to posts above, I find having specific goals and tailoring everything towards them to be successful.  Find it much harder to maintain the height of my ability in all styles these days (although much experience does help to 'cheat' my way up things sometimes).
eg. Recently I have wanted to repeat and put up some more sustained sloper based test pieces locally that I've passed up in my 30s/early 40s.  So my focus has been on open hand strength and then endurance. (Managed to tick these off in the last few weeks and feel like anything long and sloper based will not present me with issues at the moment). Also working on hip mobility for a shorter more technical sloper based up problem that I have high pointed on in the last week.
However, a recent visit to the big 45 degree roof at Hartland left me flailing on individual moves.  Hardly surprising really as I have done nothing to prepare in this style recently.
Pick the DV problem that inspires you the most, have sessions on it.  Work out what is limiting you on it.  Finger strength?  Why not do some fingerboarding.  Core strength? Train your core.  Keep having sessions on the problem too, a good way to measure how/if the training is helping.  If you hate training keep everything focused on  the thing you enjoy, the problem and keep visiting the problem.  You'll likely make the specific gains (or are is it just waking what was already there?) you need.

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#23 Re: Strength gains in mid 40s
August 11, 2022, 02:56:55 pm
I think the most important thing to be aware of as a climber is general fitness.

I know young climbers with very strong fingers and bags of power but poor overall fitness.
I know a climber in their late 40's who can come out of a full summer/spring of one repeaters session a week on top of lots of running and cycling to climb 8a routes and 7Bs in a session.

I am 42 now and I've started to struggle with my weight.
I've always been tall and thin with a constant body weight of 72kg but since turning forty I have ballooned up to 77kg.
My diet is good and I don't eat junk food or sugary drinks at all but I still like a few beers at the weekend.

I have to keep an eye on my weight now and try harder to maintain the activity levels of my younger days... My routine has changed and i need to shock myself and my body into changing out of my lazier habits.

Id say, if you haven't done any consistent finger-boarding before, have a 4-6 week block of that once or twice a week.
if you haven't been to a commercial wall for a while, get stuck in a couple of times a week for a month or two...
Shock your system into adapting.

SA Chris

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#24 Re: Strength gains in mid 40s
August 11, 2022, 03:16:10 pm
Ballooned to 77 kg, how we laughed.

I used to be tall and thin, now early 50s and even at peak training / minimum weight (marathon fitness) I am still in the low 80s, and can't sustain that for long.

 

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