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How UFC’s The Ultimate Fighter’s Bobby Maximus Trains After 40 – Men’s Health

Intense MMA training exposes truths that are hard to swallow.

When you are in a cage, you can’t hide behind social media, filters, or gym exercises filmed in short clips that make you look good. Every single part of you is on display for the world to see unfiltered and raw. My experience on The Ultimate Fighter Season 30 really opened my eyes.

Despite what the internet would have you believe, no one is as fit in their forties as they were in their twenties. Being on the Ultimate Fighter this season exposed that truth to me. How am I so certain about that difference? Because I was also on the show in my twenties so I can directly compare the experience.

During this 20 year journey, I have learned a few things that have affected how I train now, at 43 years of age, and how I’ll keep training in the future. If you’re also getting older, you can take these tips to heart to find the best ways to stay active and healthy in your 40s and beyond.

Men Over 40 Can’t Always Train The Same Way Every Day

When I was in my twenties, I felt like I could go hard every single day. I could actually go hard twice a day every day. I could lift heavy, run fast, and jump tall buildings in a single bound. Okay, maybe that’s an exaggeration—but the point is I could take a beating and keep coming back for more.

It’s not like that anymore. My training has had to change. I can’t go “balls to the wall” every day. Some days need to be dedicated to technique, or mobility, or flexibility or recovery.

Why you should care: As you age, you need to alter the way you train. You will actually make more progress by paying more attention to other aspects of your fitness, like mobility or flexibility. By doing this you will also limit your risk of injury and feel better on a day-to-day basis. As a base recommendation, I would advise you to start by alternating hard and ‘easy’ days. Some days are tune-ups, and some days are test drives. Do both.

Here are some basic guidelines to determine what’s hard vs. what’s easy.

Hard Days: Heavy Lifting, Metcon Circuits, Intervals, Heavy Volume or Bodybuilding days

Easy Days: Easy Cardiovascular effort (i.e. steady state cardio), Yoga, Mobility, Flexibility Work

Men Over 40 Need to Pay Attention to Recovery

When I was in my twenties, I didn’t need the sauna, I didn’t need the ice bath. The only time I would go for a massage was when I was injured. I’d laugh at the idea of a cold shower, and I certainly didn’t look to alternate means of healing, like acupuncture or yoga.

Now in my forties, these are the things that keep me together. Without a full time dedication to recovery, I can’t train full time.

Why you should care: I want you to look at doing recovery work as an investment in yourself. It’s like putting extra money in your bank account so you can spend more later. Every sauna, or ice bath, or cold shower you take will allow you to hit your workout harder, with more energy, and more intensity.

So while it may take a bit of time, and it may hurt a bit in the moment (no one likes freezing water), recovery practices will be the thing that takes your training to the next level. I don’t expect a person to dedicate their entire life to recovery, but as a start I recommend they do one practice a day. Just doing that can change your life. Choose from the following: 20 minute sauna session, five minute ice bath or cold shower, massage, 20 minute foam roller Stretching, or 30 minute walk and meditation.

Men Over 40 Need More Sleep

Rewind to 2005. I could work out all day, hit a bar at night, sleep a few hours, and do it all again the next day. Now if I stay up an hour past my bedtime, I feel like trash for two days. My ability to perform on four hours sleep a night are long gone. Now, sleep needs to be a priority. It’s the number one way to ensure I can keep training intensity up. Conversely, if I skip on sleep, training intensity is in the gutter.

Why you should care: I get that we live in a rise and grind world, but adding an hour of sleep a night will change your life. It will improve your productivity, your workout intensity, your attitude, and your sex drive. It’s simple, easy, and free. Everyone is looking for a magic pill for performance—this is as close as it gets.

A lot of people say they can’t get more sleep due to kids, work, and other commitments. That might be the case. But for some people, the real reason they don’t sleep is that they’d rather watch TV or scroll through their phone. Try this: starting at 8 p.m., no more phone, electronics, or TV. That might not be easy—but it’s a simple method to prioritize the rest you’ll need for peak performance.

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