Gyms are filled with men and women of all ages. With different ages come differing goals, and it’s important that trainers recognize the differences, train according to the stage they fall into, and respect those in differing stages. Breaking down each decade of life into general gym goals and pitfalls allows us to be more realistic about our own expectations in the gym, and recognize the successes of others as they move upward into the later decades of life.
Your goal in your twenties is to pack on the muscle. Your testosterone and energy levels are the highest they will be in your life. You heal/recover faster. Watch for the metabolism drop off around age 25. This is the best time – enjoy it and pile on that raw muscle.
The name of the game now is injury avoidance and muscle maturity. You’ve been training for 10 or 20 years now (hopefully) and your muscles will reach their peak this decade. Prepare for the testosterone drop-off as you reach 35. Most top amateur and professional bodybuilders (and athletes in general) find their absolute peak from 32 to 36. Nearly all bodybuilders achieve their best vascularity in their late thirties.
Your body may begin to break down this decade. Stay on track, but move a bit of the time dedicated to dangerous weights over to cardio training. Your heart is very important and cannot be ignored. Devote four 45-minute sessions to cardio every week for long term viability.
In your fifties, you’ll want to avoid risky lifting and pushing max poundages. Weights are great, as it is imperative that you maintain some muscle mass. But cardiovascular fitness is more important. Look into HRT this decade – your body’s levels will begin to decline rapidly this decade. In the 50s, being strong and active will certainly begin to differentiate you from your peers.
Age 60 and beyond
Staying active is the most important thing as you pass sixty and move into your golden years. Lift light and frequent. Engage in cardiovascular activity. You’ve made it! After all, the goal IS to get old – you just don’t have to look it. Use weight and cardiovascular training to make the most out of life, and to live the longest life possible.