There is no stopping aging, (well actually there is, but I don’t want to go there yet). If you are involved in a sport and you are in your 30′s and later, you already know your performances have already started taking a big hit.
Call it denial, but I made no concessions to age until I reached the age of 50 and even then, did so reluctantly. At 55, I am still getting PR’s, but my baseline is at age 50, so maybe I don’t notice a decline yet like you guys who have been training for a longer time.
What sports and activities drop off the quickest as you age? Well, if you are here because you are lifter, the news isn’t exactly great.
Jamie Carruthers in the UK is the messenger who brings this study to our attention:
Aging performance for masters records in athletics, swimming, rowing, cycling,
triathlon, and weightlifting.
Baker AB, Tang YQ.
Exp Aging Res. 2010 Oct;36(4):453-77.
Record performances for Masters sporting events for swimming, cycling,
triathlon, rowing, and weightlifting were analyzed and then compared with the
authors’ previously published results for Masters running, walking, and jumping
sports events. Records were normalized using the 30s age records as a baseline,
and studied through the various age ranges to the 90s. A curvilinear
mathematical model [y = 1 - exp((T - T(0))/ô)] was again used for the major
comparisons, along with slope changes using a linear model [y = á(T -T'0)]
across the age groupings. All sports declined with increasing age, with rowing
showing the least deterioration. Performances in running, swimming, and walking
were reasonably well maintained, followed by greater decline with age for
cycling, triathlon, and jumping events. Weightlifting showed the fastest and
greatest decline with increasing age. The relative performances for women, when
compared with men’s performances for these Masters events, was approximately 80%
to 85%, with jumping at 73% and weightlifting at 52%. These relative
performances compared with World Record comparisons of approximately 90% (with
weightlifting at approximately 75%). All these results show no greater decline
with age for endurance events over the sprint events, though there was a greater
decline for the strength events of weightlifting and jumping.
There may be real physiological differences for these strength events, or there
may be other explanations such as training or competitive considerations or
smaller numbers participating.
Well, at least the last paragraph offers some encouragement, but the fact remains; performance in the strength and power events will decrease more than the endurance events.
Vladimir Zatsiorsky in his book, “Science and Practice of Strength Training” says dramatic changes occur in the sixth decade but also adds aging is a function of genetics, which may or may not be a good thing depending on the DNA each of us has. Chapter 11 is titled “Strength Training For Senior Athletes”. If you are in that category, it is a very useful chapter to help guide you through the inevitable physiologic and neurological changes that will take place. Further, Brooks Kubik has an entire book dedicated to the older lifter, titled “Gray Hair and Black Iron” which provides, inspiration, motivation, science and ready-to-use programming to fit into your lifestyle.
There may be a decrease in personal bests as we age, (well there IS), but lifting weights still will improve the physical quality of one’s life and slow down the effects of sarcopenia.