Updated: Oct 31, 2018
By Tim LeDonne -
I’m asked all the time, usually by Baby Boomers (born between 1946 and 1964) and Gen X’ers (born between 1965 and 1976), “Am I too old to CrossFit?” The ones who don’t ask the question, usually inform me they ARE too old to CrossFit. Let me tell you this…. NOTHING could be farther from the truth!
In a world of people taking advantage of handicapped parking spaces, Walmart carts, and mobility scooters, it seems to be somewhat acceptable to ‘allow’ age and obesity to be ‘acceptable’. Not only acceptable but ‘controlling’, which leads to further deterioration of simple daily functions such as standing up and walking.
CrossFit delivers benefits for many age groups. It is designed as “functional fitness”, which means it consists of exercises that help people perform daily tasks more easily and without injuries. These exercises usually target the core muscles and posterior chain (i.e. abdomen, obliques, hamstrings, glutes and lower back) and focus on improving the mobility, or full range of motion, of the body and its joints… exactly what aging bodies need. Regardless, whether it is a body weight movement or a movement that uses weights, the exercises mimic experiences you would encounter in your daily life. For example, a common strength movement with weights is the ‘deadlift’. The actual exercise movement mimics a very common movement you would encounter such as picking up a child or lifting a bag of groceries.
The Movements are ALL “Scalable”
Maybe there is concern about physically being able to do the exercises. Some people won’t start CrossFit because they’ve never lifted weights before, never done a pull-up, or are afraid the exercises won’t have an impact because they are incapable of doing them. Again, nothing could be farther from the truth. The interesting thing about a CrossFit gym is that the membership is widely varied. By that, I mean the athletes are of all different shapes, sizes, ages and abilities. Part of what we do at our CrossFit gym is review the workout of the day (WOD) together as a group at the beginning of every class. One of the purposes of this review is to discuss scaling options for each exercise. For example, if you are not capable of doing a push-up, we discuss substitute movement options that exercise the same muscle groups, so your strength and stamina can improve while continuing to work on improving your push-up form. We may have you do push-ups from your knees or while standing and leaning towards a wall. Part of your CrossFit trainer’s responsibility is to give you an alternative movement if you have an issue with capability, strength, mobility or an injury. Take advantage of having that trainer at every workout!
Effect of CrossFit on the Body
According to WebMD, we build muscle mass from the time we’re born to somewhere around age 30. At some point in your 30’s, we start to lose muscle mass, strength and mobility. This is called “Sarcopenia”. Sarcopenia is enhanced in inactive people but could also occur in active people due to lower concentrations of hormones such as testosterone, the bodies inability to convert protein to energy like it used to, or an improper nutrition plan. Symptoms can include loss of stamina and weakness. Regardless of your age, it’s not too late to slow down or even reverse the effects of sarcopenia.
The effect CrossFit has on the aging body is ideal and falls right in line with the treatment of sarcopenia. First, it provides you with the primary treatment of muscle deterioration…. strength training. Strength training increases muscle strength and endurance with the use of weights. CrossFit also incorporates the use of body weight exercises where no equipment is used, just the weight of your own body. In addition to helping reverse muscular decline, other benefits of CrossFit include increasing mobility of the joints, improving lung health, lowering glucose levels, and even improving memory.
Tired of Being Tired?
Any reputable CrossFit gym or fitness facility will offer some sort of beginner class for new athletes (yes, that’s you…an athlete!). Among other things, this class is meant to teach you how the gym works, how to do the movements and exercises correctly, the importance of form and safety, and how to get the best workout possible for you and your fitness journey. Take advantage of this and having a trainer with you every step of the way. It makes it all worthwhile. In the end, aren’t you worth it??
They Did It. Why Can’t You?
Check out the videos below of a few “older adults” who decided to make a change…. despite their age.
If you want to learn more about what CrossFit and a regular fitness program could do for you, contact us for a free consultation at FortHarrodCrossFit@gmail.com or 859-583-2197.