The Mindset of Training in Your 50s vs. Your 20s

As we grow older, we notice gradually how some of the things we used to do with ease have become progressively more difficult to do. In some cases, we can still do them just as easily, but we begin to feel their effects more harshly. We have a harder time recovering or suffer from various aches and pains because of it. Therefore, many of us just think, “well, I’m older now, and I need to take things easier because my body can’t take the same activities anymore.” Some people notice changes as early as their 30s. However, more commonly, people begin to feel these differences in their 40s or 50s.

Mike Gillette is now 54. From a young age, the renowned motivational coach and strongman has been engaging in what can be considered demanding physical training, starting with his time in the military to his security and law enforcement days and, in the last eight years or so, as someone engaged in incredible feats of physical strength and ability. But he does admit that there are some things he pays attention to more now, especially since he has had some serious injuries over the years due to his physical pursuits.

Gillette says that the main difference he has noticed now compared to when he was in his 20s is that his present training requires more of a sense of urgency. What he means by this is that in his younger days, he seemed to get away with a lot of intense physical activities to the point that he feels he may have taken for granted how much effort he was putting in. This was mainly before he got hurt in a serious climbing accident that required a long rehabilitation, although even after his recovery he still, to an extent, lapsed back to a similar mindset.

Gillette says that through his time as a trainer, including his work with some elite athletes, he has seen people who are just blessed with more physical gifts than others. They physically achieve more with less effort, so much so that they don’t always appreciate how naturally talented they are. In his own life, Gillette acknowledges that at his current age, he is still able to outperform most people his age. However, because of his experiences with injuries and the appreciation of the hard work entailed, he has become thankful to the point of trying consciously to act as a steward of his physical gifts. This isn’t to say that he has become too careful. Rather, it means that he’s still trying to max out his abilities in a more methodical way.

Gillette’s zest for his physical endeavors has not waned, but he now uses his scientific knowledge and experience about training in a more systematic way. So, whether it is maintaining his cardiovascular fitness, muscular strength, flexibility or doing the extreme feats he has become known for, he is now more consciously attentive to other things such as his diet or undergoing the proper recovery process to prevent injuries.

Gillette always tells people he works with to do their best to control only the controllable things. You have to identify what these things are. If some things turn out to be beyond your control, you shouldn’t waste your time concentrating too much on them. The main controllable items include your training, recovery and diet. Seek as much help as you need but do your best to optimize these for your current condition. If you can do that, you can continue to enjoy whatever physical activities you love doing and not lose your physical identity, even in your later years.

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Take care.

Rick Kaselj, MS