When is it too late to start training?

When is it too late to start training?

by Coachjon

Wee Liang, our personal training client, dropped from 29% to 14.9% of fat in 16 weeks. A total of 15kg of fat gone and 4kg of lean mass gained. Here he is at week 0, 12, and 16.

In my 14 years experience helping thousands of clients get leaner, stronger and fitter, I have come across an interesting observation that answers a common question.

“When is it too late to start training?” or “Is it too late for me?”

Well, first let me share an observation, after all coaching is a large part about giving observations.

There is an age group that, as a general rule, is tougher to coach. As of 2011, this age group is approximately 35-45 years old.

No, I have nothing against this age group, and I myself will be entering that age group pretty soon!

But the reason we need to put a lot of effort into coaching this group is that this is the age where two “problems” converge.

The people older than this, e.g. my parent’s generation aged 50-60, actually can be easier to coach because they are what I call the “catch spider” generation.

Their default play option was running around and, literally, catching spiders and other games. They were raised in “kampung” environments, lots of play time, physical activity, rough and tumble games, and squatting toilets which improve hip and back mechanics.

This means, that although they may be a few kilo’s overweight, they actually have good movement skills and are easy to teach correct exercise technique to.

The younger generation aged below the late twenties have the blessing of youth, and are just a few years removed from national service or school PE and sports. They still have the great metabolism that allows them to get away with less than perfect nutrition. They are still injury free (mostly) and they still have not put on much fat.

Because of these factors, they can be pretty easy to coach as well.

The middle-aged may be less coordinated

However the “in-between” ages of about 35-45 are the age where parents started to focus more and more on purely academic education, so it was far less outdoor playtime for them. And also the age where work and other commitments start to lead to less activity.

Less play time means less coordination developed in the critical ages below 12 years. That is the time where speed, agility and coordination are developed. Any personal trainer or sports coach who is telling you that he can increase your child’s “agility” or “quickness” much after age 12, is selling you a lie. Don’t be fooled. Strength can be built a lot after age 12, but coordination hardly so.

This means that people in this 35-45 age group are likely to be less coordinated (please don’t take this personally, it is a generalisation and even in our gym we have awesome athletes in this age group).

In addition, less activity and the overall stress and business of Singapore life, along with dropping muscle building hormones and metabolism lead to fat gain.

This age group then ends up with a double whammy. More fat… AND… less coordinated, thus, the most challenging age group to work with!

But it’s not too late. With the right nutrition, training and supplementation plan, anybody can build habits that allow him or her to be totally healthy. Regardless of age. 6-12 months of dedication to healthy living can drop the risk of lifestyle related disease very close to zero.

No you cannot become a top level athlete if you did not have a strong play and sport background before age 12 but you can be strong, lean and healthy. It is NEVER too late.

Michael Phelps with his 8 gold medals in 2008 Beijing Olympics. Your children might be next

As a note to parents, I always encourage the parents in our gym to allow their kids to play many sports and not specialise till about age 14 or later. Play some soccer, basketball, softball, swimming, gymnastics, martial arts and some dance. This huge array of physical skills will allow your kid to excel at any sport he/she chooses when they mature physically. Yes it means less chance of medals at primary school, but more chance of medals at international level when they are fully grown!

Coach Jonathan Wong is a Singapore personal trainer and performance expert. He is also a fitness author and a member of Singapore Men’s Health Advisory Panel.

For the best personal training and fitness boot camp program in Singapore visit www.genesisgym.com.sg

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