Training for the Older Lifter

By Thom Van Vleck

Thom Van Vleck and his brother Tedd who is over 11 years younger.  Over the years we have talked a lot about training but our age difference has meant we follow different programs.  Age makes a difference in how you train!

Thom Van Vleck and his brother Tedd who is over 11 years younger. Over the years we have talked a lot about training but our age difference has meant we follow different programs. Age makes a difference in how you train!

Shot Put Gold medalist Adam Nelson told me, “Most training programs are designed for a younger athlete and older athletes need to train differently”.

I would say training programs need to be adjusted over the life span.   When I turned 40 I told my Uncle it seemed like when I was a teen I could work out hard every day.  Then at 30 I needed a day to recuperate from soreness.  Then at 40 it seemed to take a week to get past a heavy duty squat workout soreness.  My Uncle, who was pushing 60 and still training very hard said, Thom, I’ve been sore for the last 15 years!”.  I laughed but he was serious!  He said, “If I waited until I felt 100% I’d never workout again”.

So the body doesn’t recuperate as well.

Then there is injury which is different than recuperation.  I remember being young and pulling a muscle or straining a tendon and it recovering very quickly.  Now things stay hurt longer and some things just continue to hurt even after they have healed.  I tore my hamstring many years ago and I will still “feel it” from time to time.

So injuries add up and then don’t heal a quickly (or ever!).  The reality is injury is what ends most lifters competitive careers.  Not age.

Finally, there’s the responsibility that comes with age.  I remember spending a lot of time as a teen lifting, reading about lifting, thinking about lifting, watching other lifters lifting….you get the idea.  I just don’t have that kind of time anymore.

So you don’t have the time as an older lifter.

So the older lifter has to think differently.  They have to be smarter with the lifts they train, manage their time, and stay injury free.  If they get injured they need to address the injury and be less likely to “train through the injury”.

So for me it’s the “Three Keys” for the older lifter.

1.  Facilitating Recuperation

2.  Avoiding Injury

3.  Managing time

So how do you facilitate recuperation, avoid injury, and manage time to achieve the goal of being strong?

Let’s think about adaptation.  Lifting is really adapting to heavier loads.  Younger lifters can adapt faster than older lifters.  Thus it is often beneficial to change up lifts for a younger lifter.  Simply put, they adapt faster.  So that means the older the lifter, the slower they adapt.

The thought is as a younger lifter you need to change up lifts and avoid getting “stale” which is the body resisting adaptation.  So the older lifter needs to work the same lift for a longer period of time.  By doing the same lifts longer they would avoid injury.  Sure there’s a trade off but an older lifter will lose more time injured than the younger lifter so he need to avoid injury more than just gain strength.

Another thing the older lifter can do is find a happy medium for the poundage being lifted in training.  It is ingrained in every strength athlete to lift more and more weight.  They don’t refer to weightlifting as progressive resistance for nothing.  But for the older lifter there needs to be a limit.  I believe that should be around 75% of one’s max and keep the reps explosive and low at 3 sets of 3.  This will allow you to walk that line between getting stronger (or just keeping strength) and injury.  You will also stay in a good groove avoiding squeezing out reps that lead to poor form and injury.

The next concept sounds counter to what I’ve just said but think about it first.  The older lifter needs to lift 3 to 5 days a week.  Essentially, more often than a younger lifter.  But it’s the way the lifter trains (doing 75% instead of higher percentages, the same lifts more often, and walking away rather than crawling away) that makes this lifting scheme work.  To be clear, I’m talking about doing the SAME lifts every workout, not a split routine. So you end up lifting less volume but doing it more often.  This scheme also helps you manage time by keeping you in the training hall more often but for less time.  I also believe by training lifts more often you need less time to stretch, warm up, and all that.  Because you are essentially staying in a lifting groove.  Your body is ready every day to train.

I think a final benefit of following this program is I am enjoying my training more than I have in years.  I don’t crawl out of the gym and don’t avoid stairs for three days.  The hard part is that I often hit a very good set and in the past that’s when it was “go time” to load up the bar and do something REALLY heavy.  Now I simply walk away or move to the next lift.  But that means I’m ready to go again in the next day or two.

So here’s some basic points:

  • Lift for 3 days a week 45 minutes max duration
  • 3 sets of 3 reps on average with a 6 rep max
  • 5-10 minutes foam rolling and dynamic stretching
  • Same workout everyday as the philosophy is master’s throwers don’t adapt as quickly
  • 75% of max and if a consistent tempo can’t be maintained then drop the weight. Lose the ego!

The type of lifts that give you the biggest bang for your buck (lift smarter, remember!)

  1. Hip Hinge Pattern Movements (i.e. Power Snatches, Cleans, Deadlifts).
  2. Unilateral/Bilateral Squat Movement (i.e. Squats, lunges) followed by Post Activation Potentiation (PAP) such as broad jumps, vertical jumps, sprints.
  3. Pushes (i.e. explosive type pressing movements) followed by shoulder prehab work.
  4. Core work (2 or 3 weighted core exercised for 6-10 reps which may include decline crunches, standing bar twists, handing leg raises).
  5. Competition lifts:  Work them in but focus on the technique and stay at 75% until competition day.  Going heavy too much in training just means more injury.

HOF Bio – Dale Friesz

By Al Myers

(Webmasters Note: Over the next month I will be running a series of biography blogs covering all past USAWA Hall of Fame members.  These bios will be added to the history section, under Hall of Fame.)

Hall of Fame Biography

Dale Friesz – Class of 2002

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Dale E. Friesz was born on July 30th, 1940 in St. Louis, Missouri. As the son of a career Army Colonel he traveled a lot as a youth. His family spent two tours in Virginia, across the Potomac River from Washington D.C.. Dale did his undergraduate and graduate work at George Washington University in Washington D.C.. He spent 11 years as Director of Human Resources for Fairfax County before taking over the family owned shooting sports business.  He ran it for 21 years until his retirement.

Dale was married to Penny for over 40 years. They have three beautiful children – Pamela, Mark and Karen. They also have a great son-in-law Mark, one lovely daughter-in-law Christine, and two beautiful grand children Ansley and Cody. Dale believes his family is his greatest treasure.

Dale learned about Olympic lifting from his older brother Leonard. Dale taught himself to be an Olympic lifter. It was at the 1960 National Collegiate Weightlifting Championships at the University of Maryland that he first met fellow USAWA Hall of Famer, John Vernacchio. In 1963, at the Junior Nationals in Columbia, Missouri he was introduced by his older brother to Bill Clark.  In preparation for entering Bill Clark’s Masters Olympic Weightlifting at age 39, he again started Olympic lifting. Dale stayed with that style of competition until back and shoulder problems put him on the shelf at age 45.

FrieszHOF2

Dale was inspired by Bill Clark’s writings to join the USAWA and is a charter member. The bug to lift again took hold and against medical advice (birth defect in back and a bad shoulder) he entered his first all-round meet in 1989.  He has won 18 Masters National Championships, and has placed in several open all-round competitions – which includes the Zercher Meet, the Heavy Lift Championships, and the Deadlift Dozen. Dale has created more than 150 USAWA records.

Dale is most proud of his Right Hand Deadlift of 353.6 pounds at age 52 in the 85 kilogram class and his Neck Lift of 605 pounds at age 55 in the 85 kilogram class. When these lifts were made they were not only masters records but also open records. Dale also like all the Finger Deadlifts and holds a wide range of records in each weight class from 75 kg to 90 kg.  He received the Francis D. Ciavattone Sr. AWARD FOR COURAGE in 2003. Dale was awarded the USAWA Courage Award in 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012, the only USAWA member to ever win it four times.

FrieszHOF3

Dale spent much time in the hospital with a variety of life threatening issues during his later years, yet he continued to train and compete in the USAWA. In May 2009 he did a 405 pound Neck Lift record at age 68 in the 85 kilogram class at the Heavy Lift National Championships.

Dale once said, “weightlifting is responsible for him being alive.” Dale passed away on March 18th, 2013. Dale, before his death, thanked Bill Clark for having the sagacity to create masters weightlifting competition!!!

Dumbbell to Shoulder

by Thom Van Vleck

A great photo of Al doing the DB to the Shoulder

A great photo of Al doing the DB to the Shoulder

 

As we get ready for the OTSM Championships to be held by Eric Todd (see the upcoming events section) I thought it might be good to go over the events as a review.  Today I’m looking at the Dumbbell to Shoulder lift.  A bit of history on this event was the Dumbbell to the shoulder was a lift from the 1904 Olympics in St. Louis.  This was really a one handed dumbbell clean and really didn’t fit the criteria for an OTSM lift.  So it was switched up to be a two hands “anyhow” type of lift.  I think it’s a really unique lift and one my favorites in the OTSM line up (and not just because I came up with it!).

Dumbbell to Shoulder – A Dumbbell will be taken from the floor to the shoulder using any method the lifter wants to employ. The dumbbell may be lifted with two hands, continental style, may be rested on the belt during the lift, by any part of the dumbbell. Hands may grip the plates, bar, collars or any part of the dumbbell. Any size plate may be loaded onto the dumbbell.The lift is completed when the lifter is standing upright, with the dumbbell resting on the shoulder, and the lifter demonstrating control. Both hands may remain on the dumbbell to complete the lift, or with one hand or both hands off the dumbbell. Time limit of 1 minute is given to complete the lift. An official will give a command to end the lift.

Come out the the OTSM meet and check it out.  Check the record book as I think this lift is pretty wide open in many categories for a record!  See you then.

Lift at Lou’s

By Al Myers

MEET ANNOUNCEMENT
LIFT AT LOU’S

We are about to have our first USAWA event in New Jersey.  Lou Tortorelli, of Lou’s Physical Culture Studio, is hosting a record day at his training facility. Lou has always been interested in Odd Lifting and the history of Old Time Strongman Lifting.   This first event will be by “invitation only” as he doesn’t want a large group for his first event.  But hopefully, it will be a big success and he will host more competitions in the USAWA.

Meet Director:  Lou Tortorelli

Meet Date: September 23rd, 2017

Location:

Lou’s Physical Culture Studio
41 Sweet Gum Road
Howell, NJ 07731

Big Inch Lifts

By John McKean

American health pioneer, Bernaar Macfadden trained extensively with cables in a manner similar to the "big inch " concept below. Even way back in 1901 Macfadden could've set USAWA records (if we had been around over 100 years ago) that lasted a century with tremendous poundages in dumbbell overhead and hold-out lifts for the 65K class!

American health pioneer, Bernaar Macfadden trained extensively with cables in a manner similar to the “big inch ” concept below. Even way back in 1901 Macfadden could’ve set USAWA records (if we had been around over 100 years ago) that lasted a century with tremendous poundages in dumbbell overhead and hold-out lifts for the 65K class!

“Andraes,” I asked my 11-year-old grandson, “did I ever tell you about my gold mine in Alaska?” Dra just rolled his eyes skyward, certain that he was about to become a captive audience and suffer through another one of my cornball stories!

“Ah c’mon, Paw” replied the wise-beyond-his-years sixth grader. “You’re sure old enough, but nobody ever mentioned you dog-sledding up North to the Klondike gold rush!”

I went on to explain that when I was his age, a breakfast cereal giant offered within each box a “genuine deed” for Alaskan real estate! The company on each deed proclaimed themselves as the “Big Inch Land Company,” and that’s exactly what the document allotted to you –  one square inch of “prime” property with a numbered lot and everything! I couldn’t stand the soggy cereal, so only acquired a grand total of 3 square inches! (My gold must still be awaiting me!!)

Explaining to Draes that this “Big Inch” name was vividly recalled by a summer-long lifting innovation, I went on to describe what soon will be his training procedure through the coming fall and winter! Of course, this will be an advancement in my usual “flex band over barbell” concept.

First, a quick history lesson. Back when Dr. John Ziegler was instructing famous lifters Bill March and Lou Riecke on the virtues of isometrics and power rack work, he emphasized that complete concentration on the iso hold and absolute maximum effort was required. Few lifters could handle that type of commitment to a non moving sticking point, so wily ole Doc Ziegler HYPNOTIZED these two future world record holders before each training session!

Well, Doc Ziegler is gone, and most of us have little access to pro hypnotists in our gyms or garages (and some, like my wife Marilyn, says ya gotta have some mind power in order to BE hypnotized, and I don’t qualify!). So I discovered a way to push myself beyond what I think is a maximum effort iso!  From other stories I’ve done on flex band isos, using various strength rubber strands over barbells, dumbbells, kettlebells, or just a very heavy duty band itself, you know that for practically any lift that initial experimenting will provide enough resistance that the movement won’t be permitted full extension. You will grind to a halt somewhere before completion and be forced into a severe muscle contracting iso! I USED to believe this was that 100% limit that we all strive to achieve. However I discovered that if I’d hold for a few seconds, then gutted it up slightly further, I could use still yieldable stretch of the bands to push just 1/2″ MORE! And, if I got my head really into it (SELF Hypnosis?), after a few seconds I could usually strain just moving one more half inch. Here, then, became my “Big Inch” for  achieving new maximums in lifting stress !

Take, for instance, a Straddle Lift – after finding the right weight and band combo to insure this Jefferson will not go all the way up, place a band over the barbell, then stomp on the band ends at the floor. Stand up until the band will allow absolutely no more positive movement. Hold for maybe 3 seconds. Then convince yourself that you can “probably” yet manage a mere 1/2″ more. Do it! After 3 seconds of this, WILL yourself to another 1/2 inch! Hang on for a final 3 seconds. Ziegler, March, and Riecke would be proud: You’ve managed the ultra max “Big Inch” which will go MILES toward progress and gains!

As I was detailing this procedure to young Dra, he chirped out, “Hey, Paw, I’ve got a Big Inch of my own!”

“Uh oh,” I thought. “He’s getting to be about THAT age!”

But I was a bit relieved to hear the not so little lad respond, Gramma measured my height and at 5’3 I’m now a BIG INCH taller than you!!”

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