#84 Powerlifting Over 40: 5 Things To Consider As We Get Older

The Future Is Female Powerlifting
The Future Is Female Powerlifting
#84 Powerlifting Over 40: 5 Things To Consider As We Get Older

Powerlifting is not just a sport for the young and it’s no surprise that we see more and more masters lifters competing.

As we continue to train, there are some things to consider to help prolong the longevity of your competitive career as well as keep aches and pains at a minimum.

Timestamps are available for the 5 sections. Listen as we go over:

  1. Why training age can matter 5:50
  2. What a warm-up should look like 8:30
  3. How you should look at recovery 12:55
  4. What type of modifications in training should you consider 15:38
  5. Programming split variations: why consider a longer split 19:58

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Episode Transcript

— Speaker 0 00:00:02 Welcome to the future is female powerlifting show where women of all
strengths can explore the world of female power lifting. I am your host, Heidi Dehnel a 60 kilo
power lifting gym owner. And each episode we bring you an inspiring interview for message, to
help you unlock your true inner strength potential. Thanks for tuning in Aloha, my beautiful
friends and welcome back. We are on episode 84 and today it’s a little solo cast I have going on.
And, uh, this is one that I’ve kind of wanted to do for a while because I feel like this conversation
has been coming up a lot more, um, the last five years or so. And that’s a very arbitrary number.
I just kind of threw five years on there, but it’s talking about training and power lifting over the
age of 40. And I am going to use the age 40 because I’m 40 and there’s a lot of things that I
have considered the last, probably last end of the thirties.

Speaker 0 00:01:05 I’m now going into my forties, um, that I didn’t consider in my late
twenties or my early thirties. And these are things that now I’ve incorporated for my, you know,
my athletes myself. And, um, it’s something that I would recommend for anybody getting older
as well. And none of us are getting younger, right? So these are some things that I want you to
really keep in mind if you’re making your own program or even, you know, if you are following a
program things to consider, um, as you, as you keep training. And, and sometimes we don’t
necessarily need to stick to the plan. If there are other ways that we can do things that make our
body feel better, that we recover better from. So just things to keep in mind as you progress in
whatever program you’re doing. So to start off, I did want to say thank you to everybody that’s
putting out the review.

Speaker 0 00:01:57 Um, you know, like I say, I always say that it helps to grow the show,
how it grows a show. Not really sure. I think it just becomes more popular, but when we talk
about like, you know, algorithms and all that kind of stuff, I don’t really get into that. Um, that is
just not why I have the show. So, um, it’s really for all of you. I mean, I think the most important
thing is that I can provide some content for you. Some things that will help you become a better
lifter or that people get to come on the show that are fricking inspirational shit. I feel so inspired
every time I hear somebody and I feel like y’all feel inspired to. So, um, really that’s what this
show is about. But when you do leave a review, not only does it make me feel warm and fuzzy
inside, it also does help grow the show.

Speaker 0 00:02:43 Um, so I wanted to give a shout out to Paula and she messaged me.
She was like, I don’t even know how to do a review. And I, you know, listen, if you are on app on
your apple phone, you have to scroll all the way to the bottom. And there’s a review section
there and that’s how you leave a review. I oh, they don’t make it very easy. So if you do do that,
thank you. And I wanted to thank Paula who left a review. She wrote three white lights. This
podcast is so valuable. Heidi provides exceptional examples for lifters at all levels. Her guests
have interesting stories and share great advice. It’s entertaining, informative packet, full of ideas
to take, to training and the platform. She’s a strong leader in the sport. And so passionate about
helping others. Oh my gosh. My first time reading this, thank you for sharing your gifts with the

Speaker 0 00:03:27 Paula, you are so sweet. Um, and I will say I’m very much humbled by a
lot of times when you guys write things about me, um, I feel like I’m just a vehicle to be here for
y’all. Um, and it makes me feel great knowing that I can provide something for you. Um, and of
course, you know, this episode is brought to you by my gym, core strength and performance,
where we live through strength. And listen, I have been loving that. I have a few more people
that I’ve been training online, who I, you know, listen to the show and I love it. Um, because I
feel like I’m already connected to you. Also, if you are thinking, uh, you need a little bit more
focused on your training. You need some more guidance. You need help stepping on the
platform. You need to know how to pick your numbers, where that training should look like visit
core two, five, six.com.

Speaker 0 00:04:18 Uh, you can find out more about online training with me, or if you jus —
— t want to just message me, find me an Instagram, you can also send me a message.
[email protected]. And we can talk a little bit about how that looks like for
you, cause it’s a little different for everybody. Everybody started off in a different spot. What kind
of meats they have available in their area is different. Um, your training age, these things are all
very important when really thinking about like, what’s going to be the next step for you and then
how that’s going to look like for the next couple of years. So if you are interested, you want to
train with me, visit dot com and find out more. All right. So the number one thing, I’m going to list
five things here today that I think are going to be most important when you’re thinking about
training, especially powerlifting, right?

Speaker 0 00:05:05 Because when we’re powerlifting, we’re going to be working in ranges
that are really bucking heavy. Okay. So they’re heavy, not meant to be, um, hypertrophy all the
time, which is working in a higher rep range, meaning that the intensity is a little bit lower
intensity means how much weight you have on the bar, right? So we’re lowering the intensity
when we’re doing it more of a high perch fee. For the most part, of course, we’re going to have
some, some variety in that, but in training and powerlifting, as we, um, try to express our
absolute strength on the platform, that shit can take a toll on your body. And there are some
things to consider when you are, um, training for powerlifting. So number one, I think that this is
probably gonna be six things, cause this is one that I, you know, I think that we need to all think
about if you are starting powerlifting or strength training later on in life.

Speaker 0 00:06:02 Well, so let’s say that you’re starting your, your powerlifting. You’re really
getting into this in your late thirties. Um, late forties, your training age is a lot less than
somebody who has, for example, my coach, Julia, who has been a strength coach and has been
training power lifting since she was 20. So her training age is 21 years. You know, she’s been
doing this for 20 years, so that’s a lot of wear and tear that you can accumulate over 20 years
versus somebody who comes in at just 40 years old, 50, even 50 years old. Um, so the
difference is that your training age probably will have a little bit more accumulation on your body,
right? So you’re going to have more reps and more sets and things that you’ve done that just
takes a toll. So that kind of helps you direct how much you’ll be able to do and how much you’ll
be able to recover from because in the end, you’re only as good as you what you can recover

Speaker 0 00:07:05 Um, so part of this leads into that. So I want you to consider this as you
get into this. And I would probably argue that many people who are listening, who are a masters
lifter probably got into powerlifting later on in life, which means you’re training. And you might
have done something before, like for example, Linda, Linda, Franklin, um, even Ellen, you know,
Ellen zines in her late sixties, Linda’s in her mid sixties. Um, Linda got into training when she
was in her fifties. So she was doing, uh, you know, soccer and she’d always been active. And I
use quote unquote here. And if you are listening, uh, I will have this on the YouTube and you get
to see my face with like the blinds right now. Um, but Linda got into it a little bit later. So her
training age, isn’t the same in the sense that, um, she had been, you know, pumping weights for
a long time now, um, why that makes a difference is that somebody who has an older training
age probably is going to have to do more, to feel better.
Speaker 0 00:08:04 They’ll also probably need more stimulus, meaning that a little bit is not
going to be enough after a while. And there’s going to be some, you know, there’s a lot of, it
depends in this, in this conversation right now, but that’s something to keep in mind as we get
into what you might want to consider training over 40, number one, your warmup. When I was 20
David, I didn’t have to do shit. I could have just done some jumping jacks and I could have done
maybe some, two touches and some arbitrary warmup that I decided was a good idea at the
time, which was probably never good. Uh, I mean, I was taking, you know, so many different
like, uh, ephedra things to lose weight who, you know, that that time was a whole blur, uh —
— , when it came to fitness. But I didn’t have to worry about my warmups so much nor did I even
consider it.

Speaker 0 00:08:57 I will say that it was a little stupid when that, in that respect, but as we
get older, sometimes the body just needs a little bit more grooving, right? We’re going to have to
kind of groove the joints a little bit more, meaning that you might need a little bit of a more robust
warmup. How should that warm up look like? I personally do not recommend getting on a
treadmill or a stair climber or something to that nature for like 10 minutes and then getting right
into your training. There is a place for elevating your heart rate, getting the heart rate, going
pumping a little bit. Um, I do think that that is important in a warmup because that sort of
prepares a body. However, just doing that. And then moving on to powerlifting is not necessarily
going to optimize your training as much as you want.

Speaker 0 00:09:45 Right? So we, you want to have something that’s slightly more specific.
And so for us, we have a warmup that kind of moves the body back and forth through different
planes, right? So it’ll be, um, something that’s going to warm you up. There are like some little
jumping jacks here. We also do things where we’re doing toe touches. We’re moving the hips
open and closed. We’re doing some lunges. Um, and it’s probably an eight minute warmup. I
also incorporate, um, RPR, which I, I have a podcast with jail, um, uh, episode with jail. And we
talk about what RPR is, um, in that’s reflexive performance resets. And I like RPR because it’s
sort of a nervous system wake up. And if I were to like put this in perspective, what’s the easiest,
what’s my elevator pitch for RPR RPR really is sort of just preparing the body in the nervous
system, just to work a little better for what you’re doing.

Speaker 0 00:10:35 Um, and it’s almost the same response I get when I get like a deep
tissue massage or the, you know, that feeling where you’re kind of like, woo, woo. It’s like up
there, um, that’s part of the warmup. So we do that before even getting into the movement
portions and then the warmup we’ll include warm-up sets. So for example, for where I’m
squatting, and let’s say that we are working up to 200 pounds, right. And I tell them, okay, we
want two to three warm-up sets to get in there. Well, what do you do? I actually send in a
newsletter about this. So if you want to get on our newsletter, um, go, you know, send me a
similar thing. I have, I’ll put, leave it in the, in the comment section and in the, um, and then the
comment, yeah, the compensation of this episode, but, um, a great way of kind of just
simplifying how to get to your working sets is take that number 200 and divided by three, boom.

Speaker 0 00:11:32 You have even workings that’s to get there and then use a number that
kind of makes sense to you if it’s like, you know, like 85 or 90, 95, you know what I mean? So
think of those, uh, kind of, what’s going to be easier for you in the moment. However, don’t skip
those warm-up sets. Those are all neurologically important for you to get to that warm set. Uh, I
will say that if you start getting up to a higher amount, sometimes there is a better way to get to
a warm up the body, then just evenly splitting it. There’s also ways where you want to sort of just
take, let’s say that you’re doing 200, let’s say it’s 400, you’re doing 400 for three. Uh, sometimes
you can just take 3 95 or 400 for one. And that neurologically sort of prepares the body a little bit

Speaker 0 00:12:19 Lots of people like doing stuff like that. Um, whatever your choice is, a
warmup as we get older is probably going to be very important. That doesn’t mean however,
foam rolling for 20 minutes and then doing some sort of warm up for 15 minutes. And now it’s
fucking 40 minutes later and you haven’t even started your training. That is not good. That is not
an adequate use of your time. You also run a remember that you need to be efficient with your
training time. Um, and sometimes we can get carried away with all the extra stuff. Um, so keep
that in mind, as you’re doing your warmup, next recovery recovery is going to be so important
and recovery can look like a number of different ways. Um, of course me personally, I love sleep.
If your sleep is not very good, you’re going to have some problems really recovering.

Speaker 0 00:13:17 Um, so prioritizing your sleep, your nutrition, how many calories you’re eating. Like these are all things that are actually very
important for how well you recover. If you were in a calorie deficit and you’re trying to lose weight
while training for powerlifting, just know that being in a calorie deficit will affect your recovery. So
keep these things in mind when we’re trying to balance out really training, um, and then having a
mixed result of like wanting to lose weight, uh, that is important if that’s important for you, I get it.
And that’s not always easy as it sounds uh, to do both. Sometimes it can happen a lot easier
when you’re a lot bigger and you have a lot more to lose. Uh, but one of the biggest things that
people forget is that when we are in a calorie deficit, it will affect your coverage more than likely.

Speaker 0 00:14:11 Um, so prioritizing your recovery with, you know, not only sleep and
nutrition, keeping up with your calories, um, having at least a maintenance of your calories is
going to be super important, but also having massages and things like this that are, uh, they’re
not necessary, but I tell you right now, almost all my clients. And if quail is listening right now,
this girl loves massages. And she’s like, if I don’t get a massage, I don’t feel as good. And you
know, for her, that is a total recovery. I mean, it would be for me to my husband, no, he would
not want to get a massage that would not be something recovery for him. Some of my, some of
my members, they do better with like an active recovery, right? So they like to take the on a
walk. They like to actually do real, uh, GPP, active recovery things.

Speaker 0 00:14:56 And these GPP is general prepared fitness, but things like I’m going to
walk backwards with a sled and I’m just going to do a sled walk. And the reason why that can be
re uh, a recovery is because there’s not a lot of ecentric motion to, um, like a sled drag. And you
can find out more information about sled, drags and GPP and things like this from Louie
Simmons. A lot of his writing sort of, um, projected this whole idea of actually lifting while, while
recovery. And I would say he more popularized it when in the powerlifting community, but that is
just another way that we can prioritize recovery. Um, but as we get older, that’s going to be more
important because you will have probably a harder time recovering as we age number three
modifications. So not all exercises you’ll be able to do.

Speaker 0 00:15:48 If you are powerlifting, you’re going to have to be specific with the
movements that are going to be used in powerlifting. That meaning that at some point, especially
if you don’t have years of learning, how to squat with a barbell, at some point, you’re going to
have to use a barbell for your squat bench and deadlift. If you had a lot of years in training age
or sufficient amount of time underneath a barbell, then you may not have to use a barbell as
often. Why? Because you sort of develop the pattern, you know, how to barbell squat and the
time you’ll need under that barbell might not be as long as somebody who needs to still groove
that pattern. They still need to learn that behavior, you know, powerlifting or any kind of exercise
for the most part. It’s a learned skill. So if your skill is not, you know, high yet, if you haven’t
developed what we call skill acquisition, um, there’s a high skill acquisition when it comes to, to
squat bench and deadlift, not as much as like Olympic lifting and things like this.

Speaker 0 00:16:53 But if I were to have you goblet squat for all of your training, and then for
two weeks just gave you a barbell, you’d be fucked on the platform. So that’s not a good idea,
but what I try to reinforce to people is like, you don’t necessarily have to do a barbell squat, the
whole training program. And a good example is, is, is, is a lot of the conjugate method. They
actually recommend, you know, not doing the straight bar work as specific, right? These are the
most specific you can get is the barbell back squat. If what they recommend is that you have
some variability with that, right? So maybe it’s a Cambridge bar, a safety squat bar. Maybe it’s a
box squat. Maybe it’s a safety bars box squat, like, like Dave date does, you know? Um, and the
reason why they do that is, is to have some variability in the training, uh, so that the body doesn’t
get so bent out of shape at times from using a straight bar.

Speaker 0 00:17:48 Now there is a downside to that. I personally work with a lot of people who just started and they need that. So they need the barbell, even if you’re 50 or 60, they need to learn how to use a barbell at some point more than somebody who’s not been training their whole life. So part of it is like, you
know, our, when I program our gym people, you know, people that are athletes, when we have
them do their work, we try to build a base strength. So that might include goblet squats, Zercher
squats, barbells, or squads. There’s going to be a variety of different things that we choose
before we get to the barbell. And the biggest reason is that the barbell really keeps you in one
position, right? So it’s going to stick you in this position. And it might be very uncomfortable. I
cannot be in a barbell for a very long time because my shoulder just starts to ache.

Speaker 0 00:18:40 It’s awful. So in my off season, I have safety bar squats. I have any kind
of barbell, like pretty much. He was like, Hey, you choose what you want. You know, I, I
personally, she trusts me to choose what I think is going to be best for me. Um, but the reason
why you would want to make those modifications is that the longer you can train the better. And
if you don’t need to learn the skill as much, you know, right. Then if you aren’t competing, let’s
say in the next, you know, six months by, by all means you can vary the barbell. You can change
the exercise and that’s going to be good for you. Um, as you get closer to competing, yes, you’re
going to want to be much more specific. Specificity is one of the things you need to have, uh, to
progress in powerlifting.

Speaker 0 00:19:24 And you can’t expect to have a safety bar squat, and you just started.
And then you try to transfer that over the, the, it would be just be a hot mess. You dude, your
fucking form would be all over the place and I’d be like, well, what did you expect? Right? But,
um, modifying your exercises is going to be very important. So leave that open for yourself to
say like, oh, you know what? My knees really hurt when I am squatting this way, but they don’t
hurt if I do a single leg, goblet squat, who knows whatever the exercise may be. Just remember
that modification, it’s going to be your best friend.

Speaker 0 00:20:00 Next one is your split. So how your program is designed for you. And I
think that this one is a very important one that we sometimes overlook. Um, as you get older,
sometimes your body needs more time to recover in between days. Now, this is going to be very
dependent on everybody. I think everything I say here is going to be dependent on you
individually. So you’re going to have to be very aware of how well you feel the day after your
training two days after your training, maybe even three days after your training, because that will
dictate, like what’s going to be the best move for you to program. For example, when we had
Jen Thompson on here, Jen and I were talking about her benching, what does her training
program look like? Right. She does a 10 day split. So what does a 10 days split look like?

Speaker 0 00:20:51 Traditionally, we have a seven-day split, right? We do squat bench and
deadlift in seven days. That’s a seven day split. I with we’ll S we’ll program a nine day split. So
how that looks is bench squat bench deadlift on the next week. And then it goes right back into
bench. So what she does, she actually does it. And she spreads that out through 10 days. What
that allows her to do is add more rest days in between the cycle is longer. Yeah. It’ll take her
longer to finish that, that cycle, but she needs a lot more rest because of the load she’s doing
now, even for you, even if your load is not 300 pounds like Jen, um, you may need just a little bit
more time in between each training day. And I’ll say right now, as I’ve gotten older, that is so

Speaker 0 00:21:39 When I was, you know, when I first started training, I was like, yeah, I
could do six days a week. I don’t know what the fuck I was thinking. You know? And I did it very
unaware of how I felt, not really recognizing that maybe this wasn’t the best idea, um, that the
training was much more than I needed. Um, and as I’ve gotten older, I like feeling okay. I don’t
like when I’m sore all the fucking time. Like I like to be a little sore. Yes. But I don’t want to be
sore all the time. And sometimes I just need more time in between before I even have enough
energy —
— . Like my fatigue is so accumulated. Sometimes I’m like, holy crap. And that’s for a number of
different reasons that I, you know, the fatigue accumulates as we train. And if I didn’t recover
well, that fatigue is not dropping down even on my days off as much as it should.

Speaker 0 00:22:31 And so those are all things to consider when we are making our
programs. So that might be something you might want to incorporate just adding more days,
make your split a bit, a little bit longer. And the last one I did want to touch base about, which I
kind of talked about in modifications is using different implements or using different bars and
different things. Um, one of the hugest, uh, things you’ll hear as people get older and I’ll use
Dave as an example, again, is like, you know, he said, he’ll probably never compete again. Um,
he’ll probably never fully barbell squat again, right? He safety bar squats to a box and that height
changes, you know, on how he feels, but he finds that he can still find a challenge in trying to PR
what that safety bar box squat is. Um, but incorporating different implant implements or different
barbells, like a safety, uh, safety bar, a safety squat bar, my goodness, highly incorporating a
safety squat bar like that can still give you wonderful training effect.

Speaker 0 00:23:38 Uh, but you don’t always have to use the same barbell. And I think that if
you want to a body that’s able to move well and perform well, we need to be open to using not
only different barbells, but different training methods, methodologies. I like to incorporate, um, at
our gym, my husband and I, we, we incorporate a lot of rotational things, you know, breathing
through these rotational things. And you look at that, it looks almost like, like physical therapy,
like what the fuck, but we need one of our tenants in our gym is that people feel good. Yes. They
perform well and develop strength, but they need to feel good. And if we disregard in our own
training, knowing what we know as drink, coaches disregard all of the things that we feel are
going to help people live better, move in a way that feels good.

Speaker 0 00:24:31 So they’re not reaching over and throwing their back out, trying to grab a
piece of paper on the floor, which I know one of you here is probably happy. Um, if we disregard
those things and not incorporate different ways of training using different things, not only straight
barbell, but we’re using kettlebells, we’re using maces, we’re using sleds, reducing different
things. Um, we would be our, our members would be missing out, right? They would not be able
to develop an all over healthy, strong body in the way that we look at training. And to wrap this
all up, just to say that you don’t have to always stick to what is on the plan. There are ways that
if you are either in pain or you’re not feeling good for whatever reason, take a look at that. Be
very aware of how your body feels and investigate that and say like on a scale of one to five, five
being the worst pain ever, and you know, one being nothing, this is what I use with my nutrition.

Speaker 0 00:25:33 You know, if you’re on a five all the time, maybe we need to look at what
that means. Maybe that exercise is too demanding on your body. Um, maybe it’s something you
just need to do once a month. I ha I know somebody who, who only deadlifts once a month
because the demand on his body and the fatigue that is accumulated. So we’re talking about
stimulus to fatigue ratio here. The fatigue that’s accumulated is so high for him that it’s just, he
can’t, he can’t really function doing other things. So it’s like the rest of his training suffers. If he is
to deadlift more than, you know, four times, you know, four times a month is sometimes what
we’re doing. And some people are doing it more, right? So they’re dead lifting or doing a very
variation of dead lifting on their, on their, um, squat day.

Speaker 0 00:26:20 You know, that’s a lot of deadlifting for people who traditionally feel like
that’s, uh, a lot of stimulus on the body. So just know that through this whole thing, that you have
choices and those choices can be working on your recovery, working on your warmup, modifying
the exercise, adding different things in there to change your training, to make it feel better. And
thinking about, should I extend my split? Should my split look different? Should that be like,
maybe I only do deadlifts once a month. —
— These are things to think about. There’s nothing is written in stone and, you know, yes,
maybe certain things might get you there faster, but really I’m one thing I preach is that the
longer you can train and whether that is powerlifting or not, I won’t always be powerlifting like
competitive powerlifting. Will I always be a strength training book? Yes.

Speaker 0 00:27:13 There, I will be strength training to like cannot fucking move because the
reward on my body, on my mentality, on my, my mental capacity, how well I function, uh, the
benefit of all that outweighs everything else. So as long as I’m going to be able to strength, train,
I will continue doing that. And the only way that I’m going to continue to do that is if I keep all
these things in mind, and I’m hoping that, you know, you’re listening here today and you’re just
trying to get into it. Um, or you’ve been doing this for a while and you’re like, holy shit. That is
me. I do feel like crap every time I did that. Well, think about these things and have fun training,
stay, you know, stay with it as long as you can, that you’ll have a great day messaged me if you
need anything.

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