I want to tell you about a club I belong to — I call it “The Platinum Club.”
Many of you are charter members already and I will be asking for your input as well as offering you a little of my own right now. But first let me give you some background.
I live in the beautiful Okanagan Valley in B.C. Canada. It is often referred to as “Canada’s Hawaii.”
I’m surrounded by lakes, vineyards, wild life and rolling hills and nature’s best vistas and panoramas. Because we get a lot less winter in this part of Canada; and because the scenery is spectacular; this is the place to live to enjoy being outdoors. According to statistics, this is one of the “fittest” cities in Canada as well. I am made aware of this every year. When I travel back east each year it is quite noticeable to me right away how overweight the majority of people seem to be in comparison to my observations of people living here in the Kelowna area. It’s just an observable fact and a very noticeable one if you travel about Canada.
However, where I live is also quite popular as an overall retirement community setting: Between here in Kelowna and Victoria B.C. – another absolutely beautiful and stunning place – retirees live with less winter and beautiful surroundings. Both cities are often referred to as “God’s waiting room” in reference to the older/elderly populations who live here and who live in Victoria. In fact in my area there are many “over 55” communities. And I myself live in a gated community where the gates are labelled as “Adult oriented community” which is a polite way of saying – yep – we’re older in here behind these gates.
But even though I will be 55 this summer, I still enjoy working out 6 days per week and I take pretty damn good care of myself. And there are many other folks who fit the same bill. I don’t necessarily like the term “senior” applied to me in any way shape or form. Call it vanity if you want. But I’d like to think of it as something else. And no this doesn’t mean I am fighting a war against my aging: That is ridiculous as well. But there is a helluva a lot more to passing birthdays than just “getting old.” Yep, I am getting older, but I will not “be” old.
So I welcome you now to “The Platinum Club” where membership has its privileges.
The Platinum Club: “Physique Over 50”
Right now, I am beginning to write a book called “Physique Over 50.” It will be fairly comprehensive. But the title “Physique Over 50” as a phrase didn’t really have the cache value I was looking for to describe membership in this special club. I thought of other witty repartee like variations on “50 Shades of Grey” and all for us over-50 folk.
But let’s face it.
In real terms those “shades of grey” mostly happen in your 40’s, when it comes to hair at least. From there the hair color often goes more “silver” first and then — yes — “platinum.” Just not quite the “blue-hairs” you see sitting at the penny slot machines in your local casino.
So you could say “Platinum Club’ was first a reference to hair color if you like. But platinum is also a rare and highly-priced commodity – more dear than gold.
So I am not going after the “golden years.” No, Platinum Club membership (Physique Over 50) is reserved for those of us with a spirit for living and a commitment to fitness and taking care of our bodies as part of that. Platinum Club Membership is wide and there are thousands of very impressive platinum club physical specimens at gyms around the world.
At my gym alone at the time of day I workout there are two gentlemen that stand out. One is an endurance cyclist and he’s 62 years young. His training partner will be 60 this August. I’m the “young” one in the group turning 55 this summer as I said. We Platinum Club Members are not slackened down by age – nor are we in denial of age and its effects either.
We embrace all that comes with getting older – the Yin and the Yang – the wisdom of the mind and the realities of the body.
When I first pitched the idea of “Physique Over 50” to my business manager Mike, he got back to me and suggested I call it “Physique Over 40” instead. He thought folks dealing with aging after 40 would be just as interested. But I thought about it got back to him and told him I couldn’t do that.
You see, the changes that occur in your body after age 50 are dramatically different than what happens before age 50. For example, I was still Guest Posing in my 40s. I did my last Guest Posing appearance at a pro contest at age 44. And I was about 250 lean, mean, and keen pounds.
But my body was already breaking down from decades of outperforming my own natural physical limits. And at age 50 these realities and physical limitations are much different than what goes on in your 40’s.
Who is talking directly to the “physique over 50 crowd?” It's a large demographic with unique needs. No one is really addressing our demographic in real terms. Well as an expert in physique transformation and everything that goes with it – and as a charter member of the Platinum Club – I wanted to address this growing demographic – I want to talk about all the things that go into “Platinum Club Membership” that you members may want to consider.
So I will talk about a few things here, and then I will ask those of you who are in the platinum club or training people who are – to write your questions here in the comment section of the blog and I will address them directly in future articles and in my book “Physique Over 50.” I’ll also be doing some videos or maybe dedicating a whole playlist on my Youtube channel to “The Platinum Club” as well. But for now, here are just a few things to consider:
Aging and Sarcopenia
Sarcopenia is all about the loss of muscle mass we age. And this has many kinds of corollary effects as well.
This loss of muscle mass that increases as we age can negatively impact metabolism too. Associated issues with sarcopenia can be weakness, fatigue, lack of stamina, diabetes and a host of other issues.
WebMD says this about sarcopenia causes and effects:
- Age-related reduction in nerve cells responsible for sending signals from the brain to the muscles to initiate movement.
- A decrease in the concentrations of some hormones, including growth hormone, testosterone, and insulin-like growth factor
- A decrease in the body's ability to synthesize protein
- Inadequate intake of calories and/or protein to sustain muscle mass
Here is what WebMD says about treatment for Sarcopenia:
“The primary treatment for sarcopenia is exercise. Specifically, resistance training or strength training – exercise that increases muscle strength and endurance with weights or resistance bands – has been shown to be useful for both the prevention and treatment of sarcopenia.
Resistance training has been reported to positively influence the neuromuscular system, hormone concentrations, and protein synthesis rate.” (end of WebMd quote)
What you don’t see above in terms of fighting off sarcopenia is a recommendation of doing a lot of aerobic/cardio work. If your goal is a robust and healthy “physique over 50” then bodybuilding training makes the most sense. And I will explain the reasons for this in greater depth in my Physique Over 50 book. But if your aim is to be a member in good standing of the “Platinum Club” – feeling great and looking great, even after age 50 – then resistance-training should form the bulk of your fitness approach.
Hormones, Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT), and Aging
As you can see above, some of the causes of sarcopenia are from a natural decline in relevant hormonal levels as we age. As many of you may know I am a big – scratch that – HUGE fan of hormone replacement therapy for men and women. And weight training in combination with HRT can simply lead to a better quality of life for you after age 50.
HRT and a proper weight-training approach helps you go from being considered “a senior” to having membership in my “Platinum Club” where you feel and function in a much more vibrant and productive way. Now, let me say this – I am not a doctor, endocrinologist, or internal medicine specialist even though I study these things a great deal. So I suggest if you are over 50 years of age and not on an HRT regimen; then get a referral to an endocrinologist and discuss your options.
Metabolism and Aging
There’s no question that metabolism slows with age. And it is on a steady decline after about age 35 for women and age 40 for men. This has to do with many inter-related elements of physiology – such as hormonal decline mentioned above as well as biochemical processes slowing down as well. It’s all inter-related. As metabolism slows and declines with age, making metabolically active tissue makes all the difference in weight-control, preventing the middle-age spread (paunch) and having a cosmetically pleasing “physique over 50.” This means once again that weight-training is the preferred method of fitness activity for members of the Platinum Club.
Conversely, overdoing aerobic training can actually enhance the negative effects of sarcopenia as branch chain amino acids get sacrificed from the muscle tissue and are used for energy. This can have a resulting effect of further slowing down metabolism as well. Bodypart, traditional bodybuilding/innervation training makes the best sense for training for a physique over 50 as you enter membership into the platinum club. It’s just the easiest and safest way to keep metabolically active tissue – metabolically active.
The older we get the more susceptible joints become to injury or chronic overuse issues. Arthritic joints can also be a problem. I myself have severe osteoarthritis and was once facing shoulder replacement surgery but I solved that issue, at least for now. Ironically enough, weight training can help lessen joint issues by keeping muscles surrounding a joint strong and supple. However, ill-advised weight training or fitness training can actually make joint issues worse as well. Ballistic weight training, plyometrics, explosive or jarring movements are not good ideas when training for physique after 50. This eliminates many modern “vogue exercises” like battling ropes, kipping chin ups, power cleans, and other such movements. These motions invite joint trauma; they don’t lessen it.
Furthermore and also for this same reason, running and jogging are terrible ideas for trainees in the Platinum Club. Running/jogging can wreak havoc on knees and hips and even on the feet. And yet walking and power-walking are perfectly fine – although it doesn’t do much of anything to help sculpt a physique over 50. Make no mistake here; joint issues are a real problem for members of the platinum club. But good smart training, like bodypart training is a way to keep joint issues at bay.
But so is proper warm up sequences – and sitting on a bike or doing some “cardio” does NOT – NOT – NOT – warm up muscles and joints for weight-training sessions: Any personal trainer that has you sitting on a bike or walking on a treadmill or some such thing as “a warm up” for your weight-training workout – that trainer should be FIRED!
Aging and Your Work Capacity
Like so many other elements of our physiology, our work capacity and levels of intensity also diminish and decline as we age. The most ridiculous notion here is to think you can push your body like you did when you were younger. There are huge and often dire consequences for doing so. Many Platinum Club trainees learn this lesson the hard way. I think of Sylvester Stallone tearing his pec as one example of this lesson and now his physique is damaged to say the least – both cosmetically-disfigured and in terms of optimal function. If you have a long history of training and working out one of the hardest lessons to learn is that you must “train your age” once you are over 50.
Accept that you have certain limitations and that you can’t push your body like you once did. Do not try to keep up to the younger sect, or even with your former self. Be a card-carrying member in good standing of the Platinum Club, and “represent” by being consistent with smart training. Ego training should be distant in your mind’s rear-view mirror. Don’t go to the gym with something to prove – go to the gym to take care of your body so that your body can continue taking care of you. Honor and respect your body and your physique – don’t punish it.
Aging and Recovery Capacity
This is related to the above decline in work capacity. Recovery concerns take on a new level of importance for platinum club trainees. You can’t train your body into the ground anymore. Training to failure is not a good idea because it will take your muscles and nervous system beyond your recovery capacity. You should still have a little performance energy left in the tank when you leave the gym after each workout. This doesn’t mean you can’t train frequently, you can. I work out 6 Days per week. But I know from biofeedback not to push my body beyond intra-workout recovery ability. Sore joints are the first sign of pushing too hard and too often. For the platinum club trainee seeking a pleasing “physique over 50” consistency is more important than intensity, all things considered.
But there are other elements to recovery capacity to consider as well. Quality and quantity of sleep go a long, long way to insuring optimum recovery for your body and your whole system really. One of my “Abelisms” is that “the body thrives on regularity” and this becomes even more imperative over age 50. The more you can keep your sleep and wake times, meal times and training times to a consistent regular time slot, the better you are serving your body’s needs. And the better you serve your body, the more efficiently your body can continue serving you. And this is a key consideration you can no longer take for granted as a member of the platinum club.
Lifestyle of the Over-50 Demographic
And then there are much broader lifestyle considerations that factor into all of this as well. The Platinum Club Membership can cover anyone over 50, so that can include people like myself who are about to approach mid-50’s, and all the way up to the retiree – like the 67 years young cyclist I mentioned at the top of this article. But there are variations of lifestyle considerations that factor in here and that extend well-beyond just the physical considerations of training for “physique over 50.”
As Platinum Club members many of you have a larger extended family now. You have kids, but you may also have grandkids. You might be on a second or even a third marriage and blending families from past and present. On the occupational side, many of us are not “out to pasture” and never will be. Some people work very hard over the years to find that their professional lives are now just peaking as they enter their 50’s: Myself for instance – I Coach over 100 people spread across the globe. I write blogs, I write articles. I write books. I’m doing Podcasts and I’ve started shooting videos again for my Youtube channel. I am a long way from “having nothing else to do except workout.”
And many Platinum Club Members are experiencing the same thing. We are just now “peaking” professionally in so many ways. And these things must take precedent. In fact, we want them to take precedent. My writing and my goal to reach people and help people are far more important to me than my workouts are. However, as a fitness and workout expert my workouts also inform my writings in so many ways. So I am very fortunate in that regard – fortunate that my workouts – even beyond age 50 – can continue to be both my classroom, and my playground.
But the point of emphasis here is that there are qualitatively different lifestyle considerations for the Platinum Club Trainees after age 50. Personal trainers don’t seem to acknowledge this at all. They likely don’t even understand all the factors involved either. It would likely require a Coach or a trainer to themselves be a Platinum Club member in order to understand all these distinct variations, both physical and lifestyle-wise.
You can absolutely train for a better physique over 50. You hair may go from grey to platinum. Mine stays blond thanks to John Frieda’s “Blonde Spray for men.” These years don’t have to be your “Golden Years” with all the connotations inherent in that term. If you're over 50, forget being a “Golden Girl” or even being 50 shades of grey! Enter membership in the Platinum Club and learn that you can still train for a “physique over 50” whether male or female. It just requires a more specific and delicate approach.
Are you a member?
What do you want to know about?
Are you a Platinum Club member yet?
If so, embrace it.
Share in the comment section your thoughts or your struggles now that you are in your 50s. I’m happy to lend my expertise. I know for many women who write me menopause and hormonal issues wreak havoc on them. Like I said at the top of this article, I will be shooting videos for “The Platinum Club” and I may even establish a playlist on my Youtube Channel for it as well, if there is enough demand.
Aren’t you tired and frustrated that few training and nutrition experts are really addressing “Platinum Club’ members specifically? Do you notice how most experts cater their advice and expertise to the younger crowd? Do you notice how they just often making a passing reference to “older trainees.” SCREW THAT!
We need our own experts speaking to this demographic directly and specifically. Let me know the kinds of topics you’d like me to cover. Don’t forget I’m not just writing about “The Platinum Club.” I’m about to turn 55 years young and I am a full card-carrying member! I’ve started working on a book about this topic as well.
So if you are a Platinum Club Member, or you are a personal trainer who trains many clients who are over 50, you need to start paying attention to just how distinct and different bodies and lives are for people over 50. There are all kinds of issues to discuss here. Let’s start discussing them! Let me know what you want to address and I’m all over it.
Platinum Club members: we aren’t just waiting around for walkers, scooters, wheelchairs, and blue hair. Some of us are energizer bunnies. We just keep going, and going, not because we have to, but because we want to. And what’s wrong with looking good as we do! As Yogi Berra said, “It ain’t over till it’s over.” Well, I am a long way from “over the hill,” and for members of The Platinum Club we find that comment patronizing at best.
You can settle for “Golden” Years if you like, but if you don’t like to settle, then join us in the Platinum Club… where membership has its privileges!