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What Happens When a Lifter Gets Old | Starting Strength Radio #35

Mark Rippetoe | December 20, 2019

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Mark Rippetoe:
All Italian is [waves hands]... This is part of the language.

[off-camera]:
It's 80 percent.

Mark Rippetoe:
80 percent is the hand waving in Italian. If you're tied an Italian's hands behind his back, he's mute.

Mark Wulfe:
From The Aasgaard Company studios in beautiful Wichita Falls, Texas... From the finest mind in the modern fitness industry... The One True Voice in the strength and conditioning profession... The most important podcast on the internet... Ladies and Gentlemen! Starting Strength Radio.

Mark Rippetoe:
Welcome back to Starting Strength Radio. Good Friday afternoon. My name is Mark Rippetoe and I'm here to share some stuff with you this afternoon that I haven't even really thought about very hard, but we're going to share it anyway. But first!

Mark Rippetoe:
Comments from the Haters!

Mark Rippetoe:
"Thanks for the tight pants" This is KW, by the way. "Thanks for the tight pants and the manspreading Rip. I can see your flaccid, overly overtly carnivorous, and entirely heterosexual dong flapping down." I'm sorry, "flopping down your left pants leg. Now I'm too distracted to learn about the beef industry."

Mark Rippetoe:
You know, the amazing thing about that is that I was not hard att the time. Now think about That. Can you imagine how hung I must be?

Mark Rippetoe:
Bre, calm down.

Mark Rippetoe:
All right. Here is some music says, "Mr Ripplegut... What's more dangerous? A cupcake with a chocolate chip cookie chaser or a trap bar deadlift?"

Mark Rippetoe:
Very topical since we were talking about... Well, I guess that was he's probably referring to the deal we did about the trap bar down in Houston. Right? Isn't that he's talking about?

Mark Rippetoe:
All right TehHillbilly says, "Funny that it's a video about the beef industry and Rip gained so much weight he actually looks like a cow.

Mark Rippetoe:
There was a problem with that shirt. I'll have to... That was the wrong shirt to wear.

[off-camera]:
Too puffy.

Mark Rippetoe:
Do you know why I wore that shirt? I wanted to look nice for our guests, A. B, I got a bunch of shit on my arm here that... that was worse that day and I was trying to cover it up and instead I end up looking like a cow and disappointing tehhillbilly.

Mark Rippetoe:
Oh, this is this is delicious. Here. dander Noodle says, "Interviewing two criminals. So wholesome."

Mark Rippetoe:
These people are criminals, you see. Yeah, in reference to the meat episode. They're criminals. [laughter]

Mark Rippetoe:
"I think Rippetoe." This is Travis Colella... Colella, something or other makes these two salient comments. " It think Rippetoe should be running because he's fat. He's wrong in this. Cardiovascular training is the best kind of training for longevity."

Mark Rippetoe:
This is in response to the "Why you should not be running" audio article. When did that go up? Two years ago, he just now stumbled across it. All right. And another comment. "He is fat and should work on his endurance training however he teaches barbell training very descriptive and he does have a strength and conditioning certification. He isn't an expert on overall exercise, but he has a niche in powerlifting.

Mark Rippetoe:
So many things wrong with that statement, where do you start?

[off-camera]:
That's called a compliment sandwich. Some good things...

Mark Rippetoe:
Some good things. And then then I'm a piece of shit on either side of the good things, right? Travis, what a guy. We need to get Travis on the show. Travis obviously has his shit together, right?

Mark Rippetoe:
And that's Comments from the Haters!

Mark Rippetoe:
Ok. Now, see my #Prexit shirt? Bre insisted I wear this today so that you people would buy these shirts. And, you know, I completely if agree with me wearing the damn thing can't sell them, nothing can. Right?

Mark Rippetoe:
Got my coffee here. This is not Guiness. This is coffee. What's the name of that machine?

[off-camera]:
Its a Nespresso.

Mark Rippetoe:
A Nespresso. Vertuo. Nespresso vertuo. Right.

Mark Rippetoe:
We should send them a bill for this plug. Send them... get an invoice together.

[off-camera]:
We just sold three machines.

Mark Rippetoe:
Couple of hundred bucks. You know, no telling what the residuals will be on that. Yeah. Get get their address. Get them an invoice off in the mail.

Mark Rippetoe:
Nespresso vertuo! And like if you're learning Italian as a second language. That the teacher up in front of the class say, " OK. Class, get your hand up. Nespresso vertuo!" Because you have to... All Italian is... this is part of that language.

[off-camera]:
It's 80 percent.

Mark Rippetoe:
80 percent is the hand waving in Italian. If you tied an Italian's hands behind his back, he's mute. He just sits there... right? The whole thing's predicated on moving the hands.

[off-camera]:
That's funny. Why aren't you laughing?

Mark Rippetoe:
Bre, are you Italian?

[off-camera]:
Nope.

Mark Rippetoe:
You're all dark. You got brown eyes and dark haired and stuff.

[off-camera]:
She's North Texan.

Mark Rippetoe:
Arms are hairy. Brown hair on your arms.

[off-camera]:
Half German.

Mark Rippetoe:
You're half German. What's the other half?

[off-camera]:
No idea.

Mark Rippetoe:
Italian. Obviously. They didn't tell you that? They didn't want you to know. And you can't even hold your phone now, can you?

Mark Rippetoe:
All right. So this is what we're going to talk about today. You ready? I haven't even told them what I'm going to do, but what I'm going to talk about today. And I... we're going to talk about what happens to a lifter when he gets old. All right.

Mark Rippetoe:
And so I realize that I'm talking to a minority of the guys in the audience here. I'm taking about guys that have been lifting a long, long time. What happens over time as you are training? Now, you younger guys may not want to listen to this because it's not all good news. All right. The news is not all good. And again, I'm just jerking this out of my ass. I hadn't even thought about it very much, but I thought it's a it's a it's a fertile topic. So I just rely on my ability to to babble sensibly in front of people and share some stuff with you guys about what happens to you as you get older as you're a lifter.

Mark Rippetoe:
Okay now... I guess the first thing that you you have to understand is that after you've been training forty-two years. Forty-three, forty-four years now. I've been training for forty-four years. I'm sixty-three years old. I did not train when I was in high school like some of you people did. I started when I was in college. I was 19 and I started training because I lost a fight. And this was, of course, a blow to. Blow to the pride of a 19-year-old kid. So I thought to myself, what can I do about this?

Mark Rippetoe:
And I started going up to the weight room at Midwestern University. It wasn't Midwestern State at the time, it was Midwestern University. And started lifting weights in the little weight room. And really I started lifting weights, not as a not to get in shape for a fight, but to just burn off the frustration. You know, you got do something with the stress. So I started for that reason. And all my life I have found that training is the place you put your stress.

Mark Rippetoe:
Some terrible things have happened over the course of 44 years of training. And the bar is always your friend. That's where you put bad things. And it's that's that's really why I started training. And here I am 44 years later and I still kind of training on a semi-regular basis.

Mark Rippetoe:
I have arrived at the conclusion over that period of time that the minimum effective dose principle is terribly important. I -- well, and we'll get to this later on in the discussion -- but I'm not going to do another meet. I'm not going to compete again. I've got no reason to train other than to stave off death. And it doesn't take as much training to stave off death as it does to get ready to actually accomplish something at a meet and do PRs.

Mark Rippetoe:
I'm not I'm past the point where PRs are feasible. I have been hurt too many times. And so I'm not training for PRs anymore, I'm just training to not be dead. And as a result, training for not being dead, I'm still fairly strong. I think if I had to, I could probably deadlift 500 right now. I know I've got 450. I'm squatting in the low 300s for triples. I can bench -- I did two and a quarter for three sets of three the other day. Even with this fucked up as my shoulders are, it's actually quite an accomplishment.

Mark Rippetoe:
My last shoulder injury has really trashed my right shoulder and my presses are kind of... They make noises now that I don't like and so I'm just doing some maintenance pressing right now. And I'm doing barbell rows instead of cleans because I'm 63.

Mark Rippetoe:
Now. Let me let me say this again. I'm 63 years old. It's it's kind of hard to wrap my head around that really. 63. I mean, that's. It's like your uncles are 63. Right. At one at one point, your grandfather was sixty-three. But you? sixty-three? This is this irritating. It really is. You know.

Mark Rippetoe:
I used to do all kinds of physical stuff. Hell, I played soccer up into my 40s. I was horseback for five days a week for 30 years. I did all kinds of challenging physical stuff, got hurt doing it quite a bit.

Mark Rippetoe:
So, what limits mean now in terms of what I can do as a 63-year-old lifter is really the result of an accumulation of a bunch of injuries that have occurred, not particularly in the gym, but just during the course of having lived your life actively. You know, on motorcycles and horses and, you know, playing sports and stuff like that. And, you know, it's pretty much impossible to be 63 and previously very, very physically active and not get hurt.

Mark Rippetoe:
So the primary thing that happens over time that's happened over time to me in my 63 years is I've accumulated a lot of my injuries. And I kind of think that this is probably the case for most guys in my position. I don't know anybody my age that hasn't had a couple of surgeries. I've had eleven. I don't know anybody in my situation that's that's come through this process completely intact. I don't think that. I don't think that really occurs.

Mark Rippetoe:
I think if you're if you're mashing on the envelope like we do, you're going to step outside of it occasionally and you're going to get hurt. You know, I've had two or three motorcycle accidents, been bucked off a bunch of horses, rolled on by a bunch of horses. And, you know, I'm just not I'm just not I don't feel like you little snotty nosed 21 year olds that are sitting here typing on YouTube about how fat I am. All right. I don't feel like that. I don't feel good like you do.

Mark Rippetoe:
And as a result of being injured. And and accumulating all of this damage over the years, I can't do the things that I used to be able to do. When I was in my thirties and still fairly strong -- squatting in the five hundreds, PR squat was 622 -- when I was when I was in my thirties and strong like that, weighing about 220, I would on a regular weekly basis go out and run five miles. Because I could. It hurts too bad to do that now, so I don't do it.

Mark Rippetoe:
Now, as a result of accumulating all of these injuries and accumulating all of this damage and being just, you know, less than less intact than I was half my lifespan ago. Several things have happened as a result of that.

Mark Rippetoe:
First thing that's happened is I don't sleep well anymore and I don't know a lot of 60 year old lifters that sleep well, just accumulated injuries wake us up. Probably the vast majority of people in their 60s don't sleep as well as they did when they were in their 30s.

Mark Rippetoe:
Sleep is the most anabolic substance on Earth. Sleep is when you recover. If you don't sleep well, you don't recover well and you can't make up for the at for the lack of sleep with drugs or food or anything else. You have to sleep. You've got to get some sleep. And if you only sleep well couple of nights a week, you're not going to be able to train as hard as you as you could 30 years ago when you could sleep well most of the time.

Mark Rippetoe:
I mean, when when you're my age, things wake you up. You know, your shoulder hurts and it wakes you up. And if you get too awake, then you start thinking about pointless, idiotic shit that needs to be done. You know, like here I am laying in bed. It's 5:30 in the morning and I've got another three or 4 hours I need to sleep. I wonder if... when was the last time I changed the oil in my lawnmower? You know, now that I think about it, you know, it's been... god almighty, I didn't do it this year. What's going to happen to that lawnmower you know, if I don't... I probably need to get up right now and go out and change the oil in the lawnmower. Oh, wait. It's 32 degrees. It's dark.

Mark Rippetoe:
I shouldn't. Probably shouldn't change the oil in a lawnmower, but, you know, I need to get up, make a note of that. Need to get up and write myself a note to make sure I change the oil in my lawnmower.

Mark Rippetoe:
You know, I know you think that's funny, but this just happens, you know, pointless bullshit like this. You wake up in the middle of night and if you get too awake, you start thinking and then you can't go back to sleep because of all this bullshit. So then what do you do?

Mark Rippetoe:
Well, you pick up a book that you're reading and you start reading and then you get interested in the book and you still can't go back to sleep. Until finally, after about 30 minutes reading, you find your eyes closing and then you can get, then you can get some some sleep, you know. But by now, an hour has passed and your sleep has been thoroughly-ass interrupted. And, you know, and then your shoulder still keeps waking you up.

Mark Rippetoe:
So you take a series of like 15, 20 minute naps until your shoulder wakes you up and then you roll over and then you go back to sleep on the other shoulder and then that side wakes you up and then you get you know. It's just awful. You know, I don't mean to whine about it, but I mean, that's this is you know, you -- a lot of you guys listening to this right now -- are in the same situation. And. My point here is that if you can't get enough good sleep during the week, it's extremely difficult to train as hard as you want to. As hard as you remember being able to train.

Mark Rippetoe:
That's really what that because in the back of my mind, you know... Hell in the back of my mind the way I feel right now, I still feel as though I ought to be able to squat 405 for 3 sets of 10. You know.

Mark Rippetoe:
I ought to be able to eat 6000 calories a day. In fact I used to have to eat 6000 calories a day. Because back then, I was mowing yards and training and I was burning up a hell of a bunch of fuel during the day. So I, you know, I tend to order too much food at a restaurant. You ever notice that, Nick? Why is Rip always getting that double meat on these sandwiches? What the hell is wrong with him?

Mark Rippetoe:
You can't use all the protein effectively anyway. You got a double patty on this cheeseburger.

[off-camera]:
It is impressive though. Triple, triple meat sandwich.

Mark Rippetoe:
Triple meat sandwich. About like that. That's the way it ought to look, you know. And me looking back on it 30 years ago, that's a normal sandwich, you know? But it's hard to adjust. It's hard to adjust downward once you've what you've actually been there. So, you know, things... Damage accumulates and you can't sleep as well as you used to. Ok.

Mark Rippetoe:
Then as a as a function of the fact that you still, in the back of your mind, want to eat too much and more, really more likely, the fact that you just don't care anymore. You'll have a little belly.

Mark Rippetoe:
Now... and I am not inviting anyone to do this, but if you stripped me naked and photoshopped my belly out. And just my belly, my little pot belly I've got, I don't look too bad for sixty three, you know. I really don't. I'm not fat anywhere else. I've just got this little pot belly.

Mark Rippetoe:
I drink too much. I freely admit that I eat too much. I freely admit that. More importantly, I don't care what you think I look like. So all these goddamn comments from the haters... Rip's fat! Type. It's fine with me.

Mark Rippetoe:
I'm long past the point where I was operating under the delusion that people care what I look like. People don't care what I look like. And you know what's even more important? Girls don't care what you look like now. Girls don't care if you have abs. All right.

Mark Rippetoe:
They may tell you that if you've got abs, they may tell you that they care about your abs. But you know what? Their other boyfriend didn't have abs. The ones you don't know about. He doesn't have abs. He's got a lot of money. He's got a big dick. Doesn't have abs. She's just telling you that. Keep this in mind. OK.

[off-camera]:
Those guys do it for other guys.

Mark Rippetoe:
You know, you're you're you're absolutely right about that.

[off-camera]:
Women don't give a shit.

Mark Rippetoe:
Women don't give a shit about your abs. You know, there is a there's a school of thought that also says that women get boob jobs for other women. What do you think about that? I don't... I don't know either. I mean, I like boob jobs.

[off-camera]:
I mean, if you get down to it...

Mark Rippetoe:
If you get down to it, guys want... guys like big boobs, but they don't like them to feel like tires, like inflated tires. We them to move. Right. We want some movement. But if you've got these rock solid double D tits, I think you got those for other girls. I really do. You know. Yeah, that's that's a that's an interesting little bit of human psychology.

Mark Rippetoe:
I think abs are fine, if they're easy to maintain. If you've got.. if you've got abs and you're normally walking around with with thin skin before you started training, that's fine. You know, these are the kind of guys that become bodybuilders. Right?

Mark Rippetoe:
And you know, guys with naturally thin skin. And by that I mean not just sub-Q fat, but thin actual skin. Some people have thinner skin than other people. And thin skin is necessary, if you're going to show a lot of detailed muscularity and vascularity, especially. Thin skin is genetic. That's all there is to it. Ronnie Coleman and Dorian Yates were born and then they were trained.

[off-camera]:
For any reason or any reason that matters abs just... I mean, it's not even an alpha male thing. It's just a show showing off to other guys. You know, that kind of thing. It's an intra-male thing.

Mark Rippetoe:
Yes. And it was you know, I've said this many times. It was... people did not become aware of visible abs until Mr. Weider successfully got his magazines on the grocery store checkout shelves. That's when people became aware of abs.

Mark Rippetoe:
Do you think in World War 2, those guys that fought World War 2 judged each other on the basis of their abs? Think how preposterous that sounds, you know. Now, I'd say so, you know. You know. Yeah. AB's meant you weren't getting enough to eat at one point and places in the world...

[off-camera]:
It usually still means that.

Mark Rippetoe:
Yeah. Visible abs in sub-Saharan Africa is not a badge of honor. It's a badge poverty. And that's just such a weird ass deal that you people are sitting there typing right now about my lack of abs, I don't care.

Mark Rippetoe:
And I think it's really, really suspicious that you do. I think that indicates that you've got some problems that I don't have. OK.

Mark Rippetoe:
I am aware of the fact that practical women. Practical women. And I've been I've been aware of this for decades, practical women have told me, told me this a long time ago, that a pot belly on on a man is not an unattractive thing.

Mark Rippetoe:
Now a pot belly.... All right. What did Tony Soprano look like?

[off-camera]:
Big man.

Mark Rippetoe:
Big man had a gut. Powerful man, influential man, attractive to women. Because what attracts women?

[off-camera]:
Big, powerful men.

Mark Rippetoe:
Big, powerful men attract women.

Mark Rippetoe:
Notice there won't be any comments from the haters about these comments from women. Right.

Mark Rippetoe:
So as I've gotten older, I've grown a little belly and I've learned that... what it would basically boil down to I how to get rid of the damn thing, I just don't want to. I don't care. I don't care. I don't want to be a cut. I don't want to be on some bizarre fucking diet where I have to, you know, not have fun at night when I get home with my, you know. I want to make a martini. I want to have some nice little glass of scotch or two. You know, this is what I want to do. I want to have something good to eat that I'm looking forward to going home to eat.

Mark Rippetoe:
You know, we cook. We're good cooks. We make good food. We like to eat good food. I'm not interested in dropping my belly just so that you will say nicer things about me on the YouTube comments. [Laughter] Oh shit.

Mark Rippetoe:
So as I've gotten older, I've gotten I've got I've grown a little belly. That's fine.

Mark Rippetoe:
As I've gotten older, another important thing that I have learned about training myself and training other guys in my situation is that we don't need as many sets and reps as we used to. More importantly, if we try to do as many sets and reps as we used to do, we're sore all of the time. We can't get recovered because of the aforementioned inability to sleep. And we... it's counterproductive. It's counterproductive.

Mark Rippetoe:
If you'll if you'll remember our discussion with Stan Efferding recently he and I were talking about this and we both kind of approached the same thing... We approach this the same way. He's about four times stronger than I am and always has been. But he has arrived at about the same conclusion I have.

Mark Rippetoe:
Is that I need to squat about once every two weeks. I need to do one work set about once every two weeks and that's all. If I do more than that, it just makes my knees hurt and it doesn't really make me any stronger because I can't squat as effectively if my knees hurt, is if I'm not worried about my knees during the set.

Mark Rippetoe:
And I've had discussions with people about this, that the stronger you actually once were and... What you'll find is that the stronger you can stay with less work. All right, so you you bust your ass in your 30s. You know, your early 40s when you're actually able -- when you're in your mature strength. And you know, people have long made the observation that powerlifters career peaks in his mid-thirties. Guys get their strongest in their mid-thirties and then they enter on a slide downward from there. And that's been pretty much everybody's experience.

Mark Rippetoe:
So if you paid your dues back then when your strength was peaking, before you started accumulating a bunch of injuries and while you were capable of building a lot of strength, and then what you can do is on that investment, you can carry your strength forward with less total volume, less sets and reps, fewer sets and reps and a continued exposure to heavy weight.

Mark Rippetoe:
But you don't need five sets of five anymore. Five sets of five is for building strength when you're able to do that. And at 63, I'm not able to do that. So, in contrast to five sets of five, I will do one set of three heavy. The heaviest triple I can do.

Mark Rippetoe:
I'm going to rack pull tonight. I'm going to do four sixty five. For a triple. One triple, that's all I'm going to do. Next week instead of the rack pull, I'll squat. And I'm doing a parallel box squat. I'm using... I'll probably do 325 for a triple next week. They'll pause at the box. I'm trying to figure out a way to make the make the set harder with not so much weight on my back, because I have found over the past couple years that my SI joints are irritated a lot of the time. And if I do too much, my back hurts quite a bit.

Mark Rippetoe:
And this is probably an accumulation of badly designed training over the over the course of a career. That's why you should do what I tell you to do, not what I did, because I've learned from having done it wrong.

Mark Rippetoe:
Oh, God, I remember... I remember one meet cycle. I remember being in the gym one meet cycle, I was training in the afternoon. I was going to a meet probably five weeks from the day of this workout. And I had I had... I think I had five twenty five for three sets of five listed for my work set on this... My work sets on this Monday. So I would have been in the middle of one of a cycle having started at eights and I was in the middle of the cycle five twenty five and I had I was beat up. I was terribly beat up. I wasn't eating enough. I got some bad advice early on about weight class, I should have been 242 and I was 220. I wasn't heavy enough.

Mark Rippetoe:
When I tell you to gain weight gain weight, ok, do the things you need to do to get recovered. I was 5' 8" 220. That's too tall for a 220. Should have been 242. But here I was laboring under the delusion that I needed to stay in that weight class and I wouldn't get recovered. Was overtrained.

Mark Rippetoe:
I was overtrained for twenty five years. Completely overtrained for 25 years. I did too much before I learned this lesson I'm trying to share with you. And that day -- this is how stupid I was -- all right. I came in, warmed up for that five and a quarter for three sets of five. All right. Last warm up was four seventy five for single. Loaded five at a quarter on the bar. Spotters. Right?

Mark Rippetoe:
I take the first rep down and it's just a limit rep. It's a limit rep. Now, four seventy five was hard, but you know, my last warm up has been hard a hundred thousand times and all the work sets went. That's never an indication of what you do. But that day, five and a quarter, I went down, came back up on the first rep and it was a limit rep.

Mark Rippetoe:
So me being me, I did the second rep. And I got stuck at the bottom. Those spotters pulled it up. So what did I do? What do you think I did? Rusty, what do you think I did?

[off-camera]:
Forced reps

Mark Rippetoe:
Three of them. Three forced reps. Yeah. So don't tell me I'm a pussy. All right. Don't tell me that shit, because I know what a pussy is and I'm not a pussy, but I also know what a stupid ass is.

Mark Rippetoe:
And quite often the two are mutually incompatible. OK. That was a stupid, stupid thing to have done and I did so much damage during that set that I had that ruined the meet for me. And that is the kind of thing that produces long term damage to knees and low backs and everything else. But that's how bad I wanted it. OK. That's how bad I wanted it. I paid my dues. All right.

Mark Rippetoe:
And as a consequence of having paid my dues incorrectly, I'm beat up, I'm real beat up now. I shouldn't have done that, but I don't have anybody to tell me. Look, Rippetoe, rack the bar. I was my own coach.

[off-camera]:
You said it ruined the meet for you, but how much further past the meet?

Mark Rippetoe:
Till today? Probably. Till probably today. What I mean is, is that kind of stupid shit is is what produces a bunch of damage. No telling what that did. My cortisol levels, no telling what that did to the hormone axes, all that other stuff besides just the soft tissue damage and everything else. That's a hell of a bunch of stress, you know.

Mark Rippetoe:
And minimum effective dose doesn't just apply to old people like me. It may well apply to you. If you'll pay attention to what's going on. OK. A whole bunch of reps, a whole bunch of sets sometimes are a good idea, a lot of times they're not. Right.

Mark Rippetoe:
And the stronger you already are -- what you need to do is what I've learned is, you need to see how little work you can do to make yourself stronger or maintain the strength you got, as opposed to seeing how much work you can tolerate because it's not useful to beat the piss out of yourself like that. It's terribly costly. OK.

Mark Rippetoe:
So lower volume as you get older is. And this is not just an observation based on my own experience. I train guys. I have always trained older guys. And for, you know, decades I've trained older guys and it's been my experience. That the older you are, the fewer sets and reps you need, the fewer. More importantly, the fewer sets and reps you can tolerate. And really, that's that's the point. All right.

Mark Rippetoe:
An older guy is not going to get strong as fast as a younger guy. OK, guys that start lifting weights in their 40s do not respond the same way that guys that start lifting weights when they're 18, they don't respond the same way. They can't tolerate as much work as guys that are younger because of the aforementioned accumulation of injuries that injuries that life just hands you whether you want them or not.

Mark Rippetoe:
If you can't sleep, you can't sleep well, you're worried about shit. You wake up, you're getting four hours of sleep a night. You cannot recover the same way that you can when you're a blissful little 18 year old boy, not worried about the IRS or lawsuits or any other god damn thing that you have to worry about when you're an older guy.

Mark Rippetoe:
You know, you sleep like a little baby child. And that is anabolic and that is how you recover. And when you... the more stress you're under as you get older, everybody accumulates stress, psychological stress, social stress, all this kind of shit that goes on as your life gets more complicated as you grow up. You can't recover as well as you did when you were younger. As a result, you have to train older guys differently than you do younger guys. OK.

Mark Rippetoe:
Now, what's the evidence for this? Everybody's experience that's actually done it. And that's actually trained older people. You have a large client base and you haven't noticed that your older guys don't respond to training, saying, well, your younger guys do, then you're not paying attention. Maybe you're on purpose, not paying attention. But you're not paying any fucking attention because it's right there in front of you. All right.

Mark Rippetoe:
That's the evidence. There are no peer reviewed studies on this. There aren't any, at least none that are of any use to anyone. So the evidence has to be the phenomenology. What actually happens? In other words, the evidence is anecdotal. Anecdotal evidence is evidence. Course it's evidence. Especially if you've accumulated the evidence of having trained five thousand different people over the course of your life. You'd better pay attention to somebody that's trained that many people because he knows more about it than you do. OK.

Mark Rippetoe:
So the body composition thing as you get older is it is an interesting thing. I remember when I was in my 20s when I started. When I was just the, you know, intermediate lifter, if I noticed that my belly was growing a little bit, I'd just add another squat workout during the week and three or four weeks later it was gone.

Mark Rippetoe:
As you get older, if you find that. And I'm not talking about a guy with a little pot belly like me, but I mean an actual fat guy. If you find yourself as a fat guy in your training, despite the observations of our friends on Comments from the Haters, you can't run a belly off. You can't do it because you can't run and train at the same time. You can't recover.

Mark Rippetoe:
More importantly, if you could. It doesn't work. All right. Because if you're trying to create a caloric deficit with your training, then you're what you're doing is is fundamentally misunderstanding the the energy demands of training are not that high. All right.

Mark Rippetoe:
You can't burn a belly off. And I'm I'm telling you, all of this recent flurry about volume -- you know, seven sets of four or whatever the, you know, eight sets of nine reps or all this bullshit, you know? You know what that is all about? I'll tell you what that's all about. It's about abs.

Mark Rippetoe:
It's all about abs because it isn't. It's intuitively satisfying to think that you can sculpt abs with your training, you can't. You can't. All right. ABS is diet. That's all there is to it. After the age of twenty two abs is diet.

Mark Rippetoe:
Now, if you are going to try to do enough work, burn enough calories with your training. To constitute that, the training constitutes a sufficient caloric deficit to burn off a bunch of fat. How do you plan on recovering from that? How do you plan on recovering from from training heavy four days a week and running 30 miles?

Mark Rippetoe:
Maybe a young man, strong young man, get away with it for a little while. But even he will have to understand that if really you're really for some bizarre reason, motivated by the need for abs, you're going to have to go on a pretty tough diet in order to do this.

Mark Rippetoe:
And the only people that that I know of that can actually get this done correctly are pretty serious bodybuilders. You know, guys that are that are really committed to contests, bodybuilding and, you know, guys that have the luxury of manipulating the whole days, training and diet and not having to worry about anything else.

Mark Rippetoe:
There aren't many people like that. All right. And let's go ahead and put it in the other variable here, because that's got to be considered. These guys are taking a bunch of drugs. They're all taking a bunch of drugs.

[off-camera]:
Also, their paycheck is determining if they have abs.

Mark Rippetoe:
Their paycheck is dependent on abs. And you know, how many people in the United States today do you think are making a living on their abs?

[off-camera]:
Not that many.

Mark Rippetoe:
I mean, a hundred guys. How many hundred? Three hundred. Four hundred guys are getting paid for their abs. You know, there's models, you know, exercise models, guys that work for the Sears catalog. You know? These guys are all... these guys, you know, have to maintain, you know, there's actors, you know, all the actors in Hollywood that do action shit with their shirts off.

Mark Rippetoe:
Those guys have got to have abs, right? They get paid for this.

[off-camera]:
But you it it on the head - they're all on drugs.

Mark Rippetoe:
But but they're all on drugs. I'm sorry. I hate to say that. But, you know, and maybe there's the the stray guy with such exceptional genetics that he can do this without a bunch of drugs. But when he gets to be sixty three, things are going to be different for him too.

Mark Rippetoe:
Things will be different for him, just like they are for me. As you get older, things become less efficient. Things become less fun. That used to be fun a long time ago. You know, watching your diet that closely was a was a thing I did for years and years. Don't tell me about diet. I know all about it. I was the same in the same position you are but I grew out of it.

Mark Rippetoe:
And. You know, if if you're laboring under the delusion, you typists out there right now that that if you don't have abs, that you have heart disease. You don't have abs, you got heart disease.

Mark Rippetoe:
You know, I don't know. I don't how to help you. I don't have heart disease. My blood pressure is normal. Everything about me is just fine, except that I don't sleep very well. I've got a pot belly.

Mark Rippetoe:
But I've learned to manage it. I've learned to manage my my age and my injuries. And you just have to learn to train around these things. You have to learn that less sometimes is better than more. That a realistic assessment of your physical capacity. You have to reassess from time to time. You can't do the things at 63 you did when you were 33. You may remember them clearly. You may remember them as clear as a bell.

Mark Rippetoe:
This is kind of one of the things that happens if you take a pretty good high school athlete who graduated high school and he's you know, you now he's twenty five or six and he's decided to come back to the gym the first day he's trains, you're going to have to to talk him down off the ledge because he remembers not that many years ago when he could win a do a bunch of stuff in a weight room, but he hadn't done any of it. He hasn't done it in a while and he's not adapted to it. And if you let him do the things he wants to do, remembering clearly what he did at one time, then he will hurt himself. And one of your jobs as his coach is to keep him from doing that.

Mark Rippetoe:
You got to harness his enthusiasm, but you got to also prevent him from doing stupid things and. You know, as I sit here at 63, remembering clearly getting ready for meets when I was a competitive lifter 30 years ago. I can't do the same things.

Mark Rippetoe:
And you know, it bothers me that I can't. It bothers me that I can't bothers me, that I'm older, bothers me, that I have a different set of physical capacities now than I used to have. It bothers me that the accumulated experience of all of that training and all the fun I used to have. Horseback, motorcycles. Playing rough sports.

Mark Rippetoe:
All that stuff is that I've paid a price for all of that and now I'm not able to do it anymore. That bothers me. It... If I let it bother me. It would contribute to me laying awake at night like I do sometimes anyway. You know, worrying about worrying about the fact that I can't do five, three sets a 10 at 405 anymore would keep me awake like that unchanged oil in the lawnmower.

Mark Rippetoe:
You know, but I I understand with my brain that as you age and as you get beat up and as, you know, your knees aren't as good as they used to be. You know, these little snotty nosed fuckers on the Internet don't understand. You know.

Mark Rippetoe:
It you know, it's. It's it's it's not a giant problem, but it grates on you primarily not because other people's opinions, but all the fun I used to have and all the hard shit I used to do. I can't do it anymore. And it's just. You know, it's I guess that's what old pictures are for.

Mark Rippetoe:
But am I better today than I was then? Am I better today having done all that stuff? As opposed to having not done it? I think I am. I think I'd have to conclude that I am. Because of all the experience, I accumulated making all those god damn mistakes.

Mark Rippetoe:
You know, when I tell you that if you are sixty three, that you might want to consider going to one work set a week, and that maybe fives are too much, maybe threes are better, you need to pay attention to me. OK. You need to pay attention to me. You don't pay attention to people, they haven't done it themselves. I know what I'm talking about. OK. I know what I'm talking about. And you will benefit from listening to me. All right.

Mark Rippetoe:
All of the things that I have accumulated over all the years I've been doing this. I'm not I'm not, you know, a genius, but I am of above average intelligence. I think you can tell that. And I've learned so much stuff, and I think it needs to be. I think you need to understand that I've when I tell you something that I've learned, I've learned it the hard way. And that's usually the best way.

Mark Rippetoe:
So keep all this in mind when you see my pot bellied ass waddling around in the gym, you know, on videos that we take during the seminar. Yeah, I got a little belly on me. But I earned it. I came by it, honestly.

Mark Rippetoe:
And more importantly, as you get older and you keep training -- and you should. You need to keep training. You know, if you're not training now, you need to start training. And as you... if you are training, you need to keep training. Be aware that things are going to change as you get older. You can't always do what you used to be able to do and making an attempt to do that is not productive.

Mark Rippetoe:
Realistically assess your ability. Realistically appraise your situation. And often, you know, things change from month to month quite often as you get older. If you get hurt, something's telling you not do that last rep. You need to be able to distinguish with your experience between the thing lying to you -- because you may be able to do the last rep -- or when to prudently rack the bar. Right.

Mark Rippetoe:
You need to learn how to push. But you lead need to also learn when not to push. All right. Typically push for the heavy weight. But don't push for more sets and reps because it's just not productive and it's not necessary. All right.

Mark Rippetoe:
Learn to distinguish between an injury, and a false input from your knee. You just have to learn with experience. And having done it, I can tell you, sometimes if a knee hurts, you need to go ahead and squat. Having done it, I can tell you that if your back's hurting, you probably need to go ahead and deadlift. Because it's not going to, it's not going to adversely affect you to experience a little bit of pain.

Mark Rippetoe:
But what you want to avoid doing is so much work that you're going to produce a problem later on down the road. I don't know if you'll get out of this little discussion what I intended for you to get out of it. I hope you do. My my whole point is that as you get older, you need to train. If you're not training now and you're older, you need to start training.

Mark Rippetoe:
Older people respond differently to training than younger people. It's terribly important for you to understand that.

Mark Rippetoe:
If somebody is telling you to do things a certain way and you're older, you need to think about the perspective that they're bringing to the deal. Do they know? Or are they just trying to sell you something?

Mark Rippetoe:
You know, if you've if if you are trying to do a workout that somebody has given you and it's beating you up, don't keep doing it. Ok.

Mark Rippetoe:
We've dealt with this just recently. Don't keep doing shit that's not productive. And the primary lesson here is that no matter where you are in your training, don't do more than you need to to get the expected result. This is not penance. We're not paying for sin. We're not hanging on the cross here. We're trying to get stronger. We're trying to stay healthy longer and maintain our muscle mass and our bone density. All right.

Mark Rippetoe:
And doing work just for the sake of doing the work is not productive or especially for older people. You've got any questions about this? Feel free to shoot them our way. We'll deal with any questions about this in an upcoming Q&A episode when these things we do that once a month.

Mark Rippetoe:
But please understand what I'm trying to tell you. OK. As you get older, things get harder. It's incumbent upon you to train anyway. But be smart about it. All right.

Mark Rippetoe:
Thanks for watching. We'll see you next Friday on Starting Strength Radio. And remember, Jeffrey EPSTEIN didn't kill himself.

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Rippetoe gets introspective as he reflects on 40 plus years of training at the age of 63.

  • 00:00 Introduction
  • 01:01 Comments from the Haters!
  • 05:12 Prexit & Nespresso
  • 07:30 Lifting over 40+ years
  • 13:04 Injury accumulation from motorcycles, horses, sports
  • 16:25 Poor sleep
  • 20:12 Triple meat
  • 28:57 Needing less volume
  • 33:12 Being stupid
  • 38:27 Tolerating less volume
  • 41:39 Body composition response
  • 47:50 Reassessing
  • 54:41 Experience matters

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