It is my understanding that men over age 40 should start changing their exercise routines to allow for more muscle recovery. What would optimal work to recovery be, and can I be directed to some research on the subject?
Strength training has many benefits to the aging exerciser, but more specific to the age group of 40 years and above is the prevention of sarcopenia. Briefly, sarcopenia is the age related loss of muscle, and it typically begins in the fourth decade of life. Lean body mass is the single most important factor for the accumulation of excess body fat, and the preservation of lean mass should be the focal point of the exercise program.
Strength training programs that provide a load of 60 to 100 percent of one repetition maximum increase strength and result in muscular hypertrophy. Heavy strength training has a profound effect in older adults, and there have been studies indicating that higher intensity, higher velocity strength training reaps more benefits than traditional program methods. While some individuals may require more recovery as they progress from year to year, the exact ratio is still somewhat of a mystery. The various factors such as the health history of the person, past and/or current injuries, past exercise program, future goals and physiological adaptation should be taken into consideration before constructing recovery intervals.
Given that a number of studies have indicated older men and women have similar or even greater strength gains versus younger men and women with an adequate training stimulus, it is important to conclude that there is not a single method of recovery that will meet the needs of all individuals.
Recovery time should be greater in the beginning phases of an exercise program and should follow an undulating pattern as the individual progresses. One day or week could employ reduced recovery for the specific training stimulus/mode while the next could employ a greater recovery time that accompanies a more demanding training stimulus. Regardless, this progression should be safe, logical and follow the physiological adaptations of the person. A specific work to recovery ratio may be planned before entering a specific training session or training cycle, but it is paramount to receive feedback from the person in order to determine if his body has undergone proper progression from the last training session or cycle. This feedback will provide the health professional necessary information regarding the individual’s response to the training load and whether or not recovery should be shortened or lengthened and at what times.
Research papers of interest include:
- Adamo, M.L. et al. (2006). Resistance training and IGF involvement in the maintenance of muscle mass during the aging process. Ageing Res Rev; 5(3): 310-331.
- American College of Sports Medicine Position Stand. Exercise and physical activity for older adults. (1998). Med Sci Sports Exer; 30(6): 992-1008.
- Henwood T.R. et al. (2006). Short-term resistance training and the older adult: the effect of varied programs for the enhancement of muscle strength and functional performance. Clin Physiol Funct Imaging; 26(5): 305-313.
- Kosek, D.J. et al. (2006). Efficacy of 3 days/wk resistance training on myofiber hypertrophy and myogenic mechanisms in young vs. older adults. J Appl Physi; 101(2): 531-544.
- Porter, M.M. (2001). The effects of strength training on sarcopenia. Can J Appl Physiol; 26(1): 123-141.
- Roth, S.M. et al. (2006). Inflammatory factors in age-related muscle wasting. Curr Opin Rheumatol; 18(6): 625-630.
- Taafe, D.R. (2006). Sarcopenia—exercise as a treatment strategy. Aust Fam Physician; 35(3): 130-134.