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Why I Am Passionate About Athletes Doing CrossFit Masters Training (And You Should Be Too)
Over the last eight years I have personally watched my father’s health deteriorate. His negative lifestyle of smoking, poor diet and sedentary living (due to a hip surgery late in life) contributed significantly to his current state of loss of physical and mental function during his late 70’s and now early 80’s. My father’s failing health put me on a path to start our current masters program at CrossFit Zanshin. We recognized the growing interest in health, wellness, and anti-aging in the 40+ community. This environment is producing a large number of older athletes. Today more than 60% of our members are over the age of 40. This means that…
For us, CrossFit masters training for masters athletes is not just the right thing to do, it’s also great for our business. ~ Pete Mongeau
These Masters Athletes Come From All Walks Of Life
Some of these masters 40+ are former collegiate athletes, like myself, who are competitive and eager to stay at the top of their game. While a number of them were never competitive in their younger years but have now picked up the the sport of CrossFit later in life. Regardless of which category your members fall into, masters-aged adults who exercise on a regular basis are highly functional and suffer from fewer chronic diseases. By avoiding negative behaviors and adopting a fitness regime, such as CrossFit, they can maintain good physical performance well into their 70’s.
Did you know the typical aging adult will lose around 30% of muscle mass and strength after the age of 30? ~ Pete Mongeau
This can be avoided through strength training such as olympic weightlifting which has proven to have profound results with people well into their 70s. Twenty-six year Olympic lifting veteran Matt Foreman delves further into detail regarding the benefits of weight training in his book titled Olympic Weightlifting for Masters: Training at 30, 40, 50 & Beyond. Of course, strength training can’t stop the clock on aging but it will certainly help your members remain stronger and more mobile than any of their peers who don’t do CrossFit. Here’s the danger though for many CrossFit gyms: Crossfit Masters Training aged athletes is not the same as training younger athletes. There are certain considerations that have to be made in your approach to programming and coaching if you want to run a program like we have here at CrossFit Zanshin.
The 4 Critical Considerations When Training Masters Levels Athletes
1 - Understand Their Goals And Priorities
Masters athletes usually come to us with pre-existing conditions such as arthritis, prior surgeries, aches and pains. This has a huge impact on their goals and priorities when it comes to exercising. These masters athletes usually come to us with one goal in mind: to maintain their strength and not get hurt. Of course we find that once they start they are surprised at what they can do and they nearly always increase their strength and reduce the aches and pains they’ve become accustomed too. But it’s important to understand where these athletes are at when they first walk in the door so that you can look after their immediate needs and concerns.
2 - Understand The Importance Of Muscle Recovery
Aging muscles take longer to recover from training sessions. This means that when you are working with masters age clients you need to consider the fact that their bodies won’t recover as quickly as younger athletes. For us at CrossFit Zanshin, depending on their current work, life and stress levels, we recommend that masters athletes have a minimum of two days rest per week (but preferrably 3 days). It is also important to understand that many masters age athletes maintain an active lifestyle and participate in physical activities outside of your gym such as tennis, golf and running the occasional 5K run. These types of days should be considered as active recovery and kept in mind while you are working with your clients.
3 - Understand The Importance Of Scaling
It sounds obvious to highlight scalability when I am talking to CrossFit coaches but there is no occasion more important for it than when it comes to looking after masters age crossfitters. Compared to programming for younger athletes the programming must be scaled appropriately for the abilities of your masters athlete perhaps by reducing the load and by being more task-based rather than time-based. At CrossFit Zanshin we also try to make sure we are focussing on accessory movements and skill development and only throwing in only one complex lift per week.
4 - Take A Whole Body Approach
One common thread among masters athletes is that they have all lost a tremendous amount of mobility and their bodies have adapted to the reduced range of motion. To overcome this we have found that it is good to introduce our athletes to specific yoga-inspired positions that increase range of motion in the shoulders, knees, hips, wrists and ankles right from the beginning of their training. These stretches promote ligament and tendon health but, best of all, they provide a sort of homeopathic reset to the central nervous system. By improving their range of motion you will find your masters athletes are able to perform better, increase strength and reduce pain and inflammation. If you are looking for something like this that you can implement in your box or just want to get some more information about how stretching can be incorporated into your CrossFit Masters training then I recommend you check out ROMWOD and give it a try. Finally, at CrossFit Zanshin we recognize there is a need for an expanded network of health professionals such as chiropractors and physical therapists to ensure that our athletes are receiving the necessary help for ongoing muscle and skeletal maintenance. What happens inside the gym is only part of what it means to really look after masters age athletes. Through personal experience we have discovered the value and benefit of referring our members onto professions who adhere to our training principals and understand the needs of our masters athletes. We have also seen great results for many of our members through alternative approaches to repair and recover such as cryotherapy, cupping, active release therapy, and dry needling.
By Way Of Conclusion: A Bit About CrossFit Zanshin
By using a combination of knowledge and experience, we have had great success at CrossFit Zanshin working with 40+ year-old athletes. Our coaches take the time to understand the athletes, their goals and priorities. We understand the importance of rest and recovery; knowing that aging muscles take longer to recover from training sessions. Most importantly we take a whole body approach – not all strength training routines are created equal. At CrossFit Zanshin we train the whole body with functional workouts that focus on movement patterns that promote longevity. If you would like to learn more about CrossFit Zanshin and their CrossFit Masters Training Program please contact Pete on [email protected] or visit their website at www.crossfitzanshin.com