The Ultimate Goal: Training Longevity

older male training longevity

A few years ago, Josh Hanagarne, aka The World’s Strongest Librarian, sent me this great piece of work on training longevity. Enjoy!

How to Train for Your Future

We hear about weight training goals all the time.

  • I want more muscle.
  • I want less fat.
  • I want to look good naked.
  • I want to deadlift more.
  • I want to bench press 500 pounds.

What about training goals that wily matter when you spot your first gray hair or when you buy your first pair of bifocals? Granted fat loss is always a concern as you age, but what can we, as dedicated strength athletes, focus on NOW that will help us stay healthy as the years tick by?

Lifetime Training Goals

I am a huge believer in goals and they are the most effective way for me to make constant progress. But I recently had a fascinating conversation with a man in his early 50s who gave me a fascinating perspective I don’t have yet in my early 30s. He asked me my opinion on the best way to “age well,” in terms of fitness. When I asked him what his goals were, he simply said “I want to age well and maintain as much strength as possible.”

What a wonderful goal! And it was a great experience for me to step outside of the box in which most of my clients operate.

Suddenly I was forced to take the long-view on someone else’s behalf. We all like to say that lifting is about quality of life, but I know my motivations are often more superficial. It’s fun to be strong, big, and look good. Yes, those things improve my quality of life, but when I hit a new deadlift max, I don’t say to myself, “Wow, this is going to benefit me 20 years down the road.”

I asked him to give me a week and we’d meet again and talk some more.

Evaluating Training History

We began our first session by talking about his training history. He had dabbled in his 20s with bodybuilding and powerlifting. We at least had that level of training longevity in common. He spent the years between 30 and 50 vacillating between bodybuilding and rehabbing injuries that cropped up with increasing frequency. He had also played around with kettlebells for the most recent five years at a local Crossfit Gym, but he wasn’t doing the Crossfit workouts.

“Of all the training you have done,” I asked, “What did you enjoy the most?”

“I think I probably look forward to kettlebell workouts the best,” he said.

I tried to think of a reason why kettlebells would therefore not be the best way for him to hit his goal of aging well and maintaining strength. I couldn’t find one. It is not because they are the best tool — but they may very well be the best tool for him because he stated that he could always look forward to training with them.

The Tool Does Not Make the Movement

If you’ve got a few years of dedicated training behind you, training longevity will help you understand that you could meet most of your physique goals with various implements. Barbells, kettlebells, dumbbells, sandbags, weight vests, etc.

If you are purely interested in physique and quality of life, I do not believe any one tool is better than any other. If all we had was a wasteland full of heavy rocks, we’d find out who valued their resistance training, because they would find a zillion ways to train with stones without mourning their dumbbells and TRX trainers.

But if you know what you like to do the most, I would consider that a clue as to what will get you the best results and help you reach your goals. I do best when I’m doing things I enjoy. Most people I know seem to be wired similarly.

Competition Training

Of course, if you’re a competitive powerlifter, you will need to put in barbell work on the three big lifts. Strongmen are included here, but even more so you’ll want to lift, carry, or drag whatever objects you can get your hands on.

If you’re a competitive bodybuilder, limiting your training to a sandbag probably wouldn’t get you to the Mr. Olympia competition. It’s going to take a lot of reps and a lot of disciplined dieting to place on that stage.

If you’re an endurance athlete, obviously you’ll have to spend some time on the track, water, or road putting in the required miles. It’s never a good look to be gassed halfway through the comp.

But if you just want to improve your quality of life, age well, and enjoy the time you spend in the gym, I would highly recommend concentrating on the things you already know you like to do. It should do a lot in terms of providing motivation and keeping you excited about your training.

Final Thoughts on Training Longevity

The more years you can spend training, the longer you will benefit from the process of training longevity. And if you’re having fun in the gym, you are much more unlikely to get out of the habit of training.

As to the gentleman I have talked about in this article, he’s currently hitting kettlebell snatch numbers that all the young guys in the gym could learn a lot from!

Josh Hanagarne

Josh Hanagarne is a fanatic about strength, both mentally and physically. Unfortunately, it seems his website is gone and his social media accounts are deleted, but you can still read about him online and check out his award-winning best-selling book The World’s Strongest Librarian on Amazon.

Read more: Fat Loss for Men: A 7-Day Full Body Routine Plus HIIT

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3 Responses to “The Ultimate Goal: Training Longevity”

  1. Great philosophy toward your goals. Enjoy what you are good at or are excited about so that you maintain your healthy stature. The only thing I would like to say is that, it doesn’t hurt to branch out and try new things for your own health. Staying stuck with one set of weight tools, exercise, routine can ultimately bring that motivation down. Be inventive on your own or read those health articles to see what makes sense to you.

  2. Wow some good points here, I never thought long term about my weight lifting goals, always just relatively short term

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