I will be 47 years YOUNG next month. Is it sad that I have to count out the years from my date of birth to figure that out? While my mind might be failing me at times, I don’t plan on having my body do the same. We love training, but it’s worth noting the things that I do outside of the gym are just as important to my success as what I do inside the gym.
Melatonin and GABA for Sleep
I used to be well known to my athletes and my fellow coaches for my ability to function on very little sleep. It was believed that I never slept. The closer I get to 50 though, I’ve noticed that not only my training progression suffers, but my mental focus does as well. So, when it comes time to go to bed, my sleep aids are not far away. I take melatonin and GABA (Gamma Aminobutyric Acid) to not only help me get to sleep but have some of most restful sleep I’ve had in years. The kind that puts you to sleep as soon as your head hits the pillow and 8 hours later you feel like it passed in minutes. For those interested in more info, check out the Examine.com page on melatonin for information on it, and this study on GABAs impact on sleep.
3 Liters of Water Per Day
Over the last few years I’ve slacked on my water intake due to urinary frequency. I’ve come to believe though that not only is that a poor excuse but is detrimental to recovery and repair. I came to this conclusion only recently when my son suffered a grade 1 hamstring strain. As long as he was drinking his 4 to 6 liters per day (he’s bigger than me so he requires more), his hamstring would not bother him during normal activities like walking, jogging, or lifting. However as soon as he stopped monitoring it and making sure he met his quota, his hamstring would start to bother him when simply walking. Then when he’d get it back up, the hamstring would feel better. Coincidence? Maybe, but it was a strong enough correlation to convince me to drink more water.
Cold and Hot Showers After Training
Ice baths after training to fight inflammation have been utilized for years and cryotherapy is a trendy treatment right now as well. However, while cold water immersion can improve performance acutely, regular use can blunt hypertrophy and strength adaptations as discussed in this review. In essence, you can choose whether you want to be adapting (which requires a stressor and the adaptive response, including inflammation) or optimizing recovery, and if you try to always do the latter, you can end up short circuiting adaptation. My own version is alternating the hot and cold water when I take my post workout shower. Getting in a warm shower is a whole lot easier than jumping into an Ice bath. Then as I shower, I slowly turn the water temperature down until it’s as cold as I can stand it. Then as I am getting out, I turn the heat up one final time. There is a study showing contrast showers resulted in fewer self-reported sickness absences from work, but I also take care to only do this sort of thing after strenuous workouts or the day prior to strenuous workouts and not regularly, so as not to interfere with my long term gains.
Fruits and Vegetables Every Day
It’s not hard to eat fruits and vegetables every day. However, it is hard to get 5 to 9 servings of fruits and vegetables every day as is recommended. Additionally, for those of you who are dieting or watching your calories, it’s hard to get your fruits to fit into your calories (some low kcal fruit options are peaches, strawberries, watermelon, cantaloupe, grapefruit, oranges, and papaya). So in addition to eating the vegetables that I eat with my foods every day, I also juice carrots, celery, apples and pears every day.
150g Protein Every Day
The importance of protein is well known and most of us make it a priority. I make sure to keep well stocked with a wide variety of protein sources such as Greek Yogurt, Cottage Cheese, Lean Meats, Eggs and whey protein. This variety also makes it easy to keep a bolus of protein around 45 to 55g with each of my 3 daily meals so that I hit my daily target.
Creatine Every Day
There is not a whole lot to say here. Creatine is cheap, easy to take, and is one of the most effective supplements ever created. Taking it consistently is a no brainer and as I mentioned in a previous blog post, it’s not just for growth and strength, it has cognitive and neuroprotective benefits too.
Stretching Every Day
I don’t have an exhaustive stretching routine that I do. However I do a stretch every day, while laying on my back for a few seconds, several times a day. The stretch that helps me the most is an adductor stretch where I simply place the bottoms of my feet together and let both knees fall out to the side. I try to relax and let my legs become dead weight. I can only hold this stretch for about 30 seconds to a minute at most before it becomes too painful. Usually I need to use my arms to bring my knees back together as using my adductors once they have been so stretched is a bit painful. On any given day, I do this stretch 3 or maybe 4 times all for a total of about 1 to 3 minutes. Given that age results in steady declines in mobility which may be offset by staying physically active, it’s a small investment in time that really adds up.
I plan on doing what I do for the rest of my life. However in order to do so, it’s the lifestyle more than the training that is going to allow me to do that. Grinding into my 50’s is just as much keeping healthy and disease free as it is about progressing in the gym.