In today’s article, we look at the lost art of athleticism. We discuss why it’s so important for people over 30 to train athletically in the war against aging.
- Everyone is an athlete
- Everybody should train the ten components of complete athleticism
- How to quickly assess your current training plan
- Why you don’t just lose strength as we age, but complete athleticism
Our philosophy is simple: Everyone is an athlete.
Yes, that’s right, everyone. Now, if you read that and are thinking, “I’m not an athlete,” stay with me. I’m going to help you unleash and discover your inner athlete. I will share the importance of being athletic and why having the mindset of an athlete is vital to age well after 30.
When coaches write about athlete’s training plans, they mostly refer to the elite. The 1% who compete at the highest level. Why? Because it’s sexy. Everyone secretly wants to become elite. I often joke that if you combine the words “elite” with “Russian” and “secret” you have an instant best seller.
These words are designed to lure you in. They play on the celebrity curiosity factor that modern society thrives on. They used to lure me in too. But, finally, after ten years of trial and error, something finally clicked. Maybe I shouldn’t be doing these “super-elite Russian top-secret workouts”.
Why? Because athletes performing these routines have ten to 15 years of prior experience. They’re probably gifted genetically. And, moreover, don’t have to deal with the same work/life balance issues us mere mortals are dealing with.
The day-to-day stresses could be family, work, lack of sleep, travel—you name it. Life sometimes just gets in the way of everything else. And that’s ok because we’re on this planet to live our lives and make the most of our precious time here. You’d be mad not to.
So instead of focusing on training programs and strategies for the 1%, we are going to focus on the other 99%. The Everyday Athlete.Even 'elite' athletes become everyday athletes eventually.Click To Tweet
This is where most of us reading this sit. Even “elite” athletes become everyday athletes eventually.
How do Athletes and Everyday Athletes Compare?
Let’s look at the qualities required of an athlete and the term “athleticism”. According to Wikipedia “an athlete is a person who competes in one or more sports that involve physical strength, speed and/or endurance”.
Google defines “athleticism” as “the physical qualities that are characteristic of athletes, such as strength, fitness, and agility”.
Both are quite vague. Consider how many non-elite athletes compete in sport every weekend. Per a study in the U.K. 16 million people over the age of 16 play sport every weekend. Are they all elite? No. Should they all be training like an elite athlete? My guess would be, no. Why? Because they cannot commit the same amount of time and dedication as that of an elite athlete.
Remember, elite athletes can dedicate their entire lives to their sport. The risk of injury to “everyday athletes” when performing elite programs is high.
The #1 rule in training is don’t injure yourself or others.
Everyday athletes still need to train complete athleticism. Complete athleticism will enable us to live a healthier, more meaningful life.
But what is complete athleticism? We like to define it as having ten components.
The Ten Components of Complete Athleticism
- Anaerobic Capacity
- Balance & Coordination
- Mental Resilience
- Aerobic Capacity
Life is all about balance. By identifying gaps in the ten components we can plan our training better. We can identify and eradicate weaknesses.
Each sport prioritizes these ten components differently. Knowing what and how much of each you need of each is key to working with the elites. For example, the strength needs of a powerlifter are very different to that of a tennis player.
However, the everyday athlete needs balance, or “balance in the force” as we like to call it.The #1 rule in training is don’t injure yourself or others.Click To Tweet
Training And The Everyday Athlete
There are many factors that go into a comprehensive strength and conditioning program. However, by looking at a training plan through a lens of the ten components, we can identify what’s missing. And when we see what’s missing, we can start to address these imbalances.
All ten components can be performed by the human body at any given time and in any combination. In fact, all ten components work with each other throughout your day-to-day life. They’re not just sport or competition specific. You may not know it yet, but they do.
Athletic goals and needs will determine which combination of abilities are prioritized. The everyday athlete needs a healthy balance of all ten. Yet, most training plans are unbalanced.
Too much emphasis is often placed on one ability. This can leave an everyday athlete feeling strong but without basic aerobic capacity.
Unless you’re an elite athlete, that is. That is when all this goes out the window and it’s all about top-end performance. But even then, elite athletes need a healthy balance, to begin with.
To address these imbalances, we need to establish a baseline assessment. Where are you at right now?
On a piece of paper write down all ten components of athleticism:
- Anaerobic Capacity
- Balance & Coordination
- Aerobic Capacity
- Mental Resilience
Now, for each characteristic imagine an elite athlete that embodies a characteristic. Example, Usain Bolt for Speed.
You are now going to score yourself out of 10 for each characteristic. Bolt, under speed, would score a 10 out of 10 as he is the fastest man in the world.
Now, comparing yourself to Usain Bolt, how would you score yourself (be honest!)? Repeat this for the other nine components.
Is there anything that stands out and surprises you? A lack of balance in the numbers? Most people tend to score between a 3 and 8 on each of the characteristics, with a disparity between each one.Are you training your weaknesses?Click To Tweet
This is normal, as human beings we tend to focus on our strengths. We like to avoid our weaknesses. But as we age, we tend to stop performing some of the characteristics altogether. That’s life.
This quick test can identify areas that need work in our own training. It allows us to assess our own fitness in a heartbeat. This is our baseline and a starting point. It’s not a thorough assessment. Just a baseline. But once we have the numbers, now what?
Does Your Training Plan Contain All Ten Components?
Once you’ve written down your results, ask yourself: “Am I incorporating tall ten in my training?”
It’s a simple Yes or No.
Yes? Great! Maybe you only need a few minor tweaks, but this should not mean you’ve scored evenly across the board. Unless you’re an elite athlete.
No? Is this because you are training for something very specific (such as a powerlifting meet)? Or, are you ignoring some of the key characteristics completely? If it’s the latter, we need to address these needs ASAP.
Applying This To Everyday Athletes
If you’re an elite athlete, you’re going to see some variations in numbers. It happens because each sport is unique. However, for the rest of us, the goal is to have balance.
Not everyone wants to compete at a sport and that’s OK. But, if you ask anyone if they would like a better quality of life, you’ll find the answer is always a resounding yes. That’s why balance is important.
Everyday athletes prioritize high-level performance AND living their best life possible. This means finding balance. Balancing each of these qualities will have a tremendous carryover effect on everyday life.
The Lost Art Of Athleticism
Aging is a never-ending battle and a fight we won’t win, but, we can slow it down and fight back. In our late 20s or early 30s, we all start to lose muscle mass and function. The cause is age-related sarcopenia. Physically inactive people can lose as much as 3 – 5% of their muscle mass each decade after age 30. Even if you are active, you’ll still have some muscle loss.
However, athleticism is something that is rarely spoken about and yet, as we age, we’re getting slower. It’s becoming a real problem. This scares me. Next time you are walking down the street, look around you and the number of people shuffling along. How many people have lost their athletic ability to move?
Most people lose the ability to move athletically once they stop training athletically. This contributes to accelerated aging. A lack of understanding of the ten components leads to unbalanced training plans. In fact, a lot of training plans are becoming very static in nature.
It’s simple: athleticism requires movement. It’s a move it or lose philosophy. Likewise for balance and coordination. As we age, we need to address these qualities. When was the last time you did any balance or coordination drills?
At Strength Matters, we believe that everyone is an athlete. Athletic qualities needed to perform at an elite level also apply to everyday humans. Athleticism allows us to lead a healthy and fulfilling lifestyle. The more athletic we are, the more equipped we are to handle anything life throws at us.
To train athletically, you need to know what athleticism is and the ten components. Address your weaknesses and put together a plan that works all ten components.
And remember, balance in the force helps us fight the aging process.People over 30 need to be more athleticClick To Tweet