3 Exercises To Keep You Athletic As You Age

Let’s face it, you’re getting older. And with age, you start to shy away from athletic exercises in the gym.

You don’t often sprint, jump, or cut because your jobs don’t require you to, and the last time you played coed soccer, your ankles just haven’t been the same. 

As you get older, there are more risks, and injuries can affect our day-to-day lives. You don’t get to leave work 10 minutes early if you’re on crutches like you did in middle school. No, you get to go with everybody else, just slower. 

But you should feel confident in yourself as you age. Falling shouldn’t keep you from trying new things and experiencing life. 

Taking some time at the gym to work on power development is vital as you get older. You also don’t need to try the exercises you saw your nephew doing with his football team. There are plenty of exercises that can build power and strength that don’t require years of experience. 

Let’s take a look at three exercises that will keep you powerful like an athlete as you age. 

What are the benefits of training power?

You may be wondering what the point of doing power exercises is. 

Power training uses both strength and speed, and developing and maintaining power is crucial as you age. 

You may not be competing in any athletic events or trying to box jump 42 inches, but developing power can decrease your chances of falling and make everyday activities easier and pain-free. 

Think of picking up your child or grandchild, walking upstairs, or even standing up from a chair. 

All of these activities require some form of power. 

Power training also develops stronger connective tissues like ligaments and tendons, decreasing your chances of serious injuries like tears or sprains. 

Lastly, power training develops lean muscle mass necessary for weight loss and a body that looks great at the beach! 

You strengthen your type II muscle fibers vital for an athletic appearance and quick movements by performing power exercises.  

I won’t bore you with too many details about the physiology of muscle development, but keep in mind that power exercises will recruit more muscle fibers, keep you robust as you age, and give you that athletic build much better than some bicep curls. 

With that in mind, let’s dive into three exercises that will keep you athletic as you age. 

Heavy Sled Marches

If you can only use one piece of equipment for the rest of your life, you should consider the sled. 

Sleds are the most fantastic piece of equipment known to humankind. They have a low barrier to use, and you can use them for strength or cardio, making you feel strong and athletic. 

The sled push is a full-body workout targeting your quads, glutes, calves, ankles, shoulders, back, and core. There is no axial loading in a sled march, meaning you don’t have pressure on your spine like you would in a barbell squat. 

Sled pushes are also a completely concentric (muscle shortening) exercise. Although your legs will burn while you perform the movement, you’ll limit your soreness the next day since there is no eccentric (muscle lengthening) portion of the exercise. 

Depending on your programming, sled pushes are a great way to target and train your various energy systems. 

The benefits of sled marches

  • Improves ankle stiffness and foot strength.
  • Improves lower body power, strength, and conditioning. 
  • Limits soreness in the legs while still feeling “the burn” during the exercise.

How to perform a sled march

Start with your hands on the sled and arms extended. Drop your chest, keep your back rigid and drive with your legs. Keep your strides long and push off of your forefoot. The sled’s weight will dictate your speed, i.e., a heavy sled should be slower, and a lighter sled can be faster. 

Programming considerations

You’ll mainly program sled marches near the end of your workouts as either a leg burner or conditioning. 

To train power, you’ll use heavier weight and a shorter distance (don’t worry, it’ll still suck!). The length should be around 10-20 yards, and the weight should be heavier than you are comfortable with (think 2-3x bodyweight). 

For conditioning and aerobic capacity, use a distance of 25-40 yards and a manageable weight but still heavy (think 1.5x bodyweight). 

Do sled pushes throughout the week on your upper and lower body days. Since they’re concentric, you don’t have to worry about making your legs so sore that you can’t sit on the toilet the following day. 

Medicine Ball Slams

Medicine ball slams are an underrated exercise that develops upper body power and conditioning. 

Medicine ball slams are fun to do, and they’re one of the few exercises that develop core power. 

You don’t need much practice for a medicine ball slam either. Just think of someone who pisses you off and use that feeling to slam a ball into the ground!

There’s also no loading of the body and it doesn’t put stress on your joints making it relatively pain-free.

The benefits of medicine ball slams

  • Develops an explosive and strong core 
  • Improve aerobic capacity – increase general fitness and improve recovery
  • Very easy to perform without risking injury

How to perform the medicine ball slam

Start in an athletic stance, with your feet hip-width apart and the medicine between your feet. Hinge down (push your butt back and keep your back flat) and grab the medicine ball. Stand up as tall as you can, even go on your toes, with the medicine ball overhead. With a powerful hinge and squat, slam the ball on the ground as hard as possible. Use your core as much as your arms to slam the ball. The key to developing power is to complete every rep with the intention of breaking the floor. Depending on the type of medicine ball you use, it may bounce right back into your hands. Be careful using a bouncy ball. 

Programming considerations

Programming the medicine ball slam can be a bit tricky. You may feel that you benefit more with a heavy ball, but remember, you’re going for power. Power is equal to force x velocity. 

The harder you slam, and the faster the ball travels, you’ll develop more power. So using a heavier ball won’t necessarily make you more powerful.  

You should use a medicine ball between the weight of 6-12lbs. 

Suppose you want to work on conditioning; you’ll use higher reps and lower weight. Try an 8 lbs medicine ball for 4 sets of 12-15 reps with a 15-20 second rest in between sets.  

Consider a 10 lbs medicine ball for more power development, and go for 2-4 sets of 8 reps with a longer rest in between sets. 

Landmine Push Press

The landmine push press is an excellent exercise to develop lower body power and coordination while strengthening your shoulders and promoting shoulder health and stability. The landmine push press can be performed unilaterally or bilaterally and still be effective.

The landmine is a unique piece of equipment for shoulder exercises. As you age, you’ll lose shoulder and thoracic mobility, making it challenging to perform overhead movements. 

The landmine, instead, allows us to develop shoulder strength in a more friendly position based on the bar path. With a dumbbell or barbell, you’ll need the shoulder mobility to press directly overhead, whereas the landmine is closer to a 45-degree angle, like a standing incline bench press. 

Unlike the landmine thruster, which requires a full squat, the push press requires you to transfer force from your legs to your arms quickly. This movement requires more power and athleticism. You can also load your shoulder with a heavier weight developing more strength and power than a regular shoulder or landmine press. 

The landmine push press develops shoulder, tricep, chest, quad, core, and glutes strength and can even out strength asymmetries if you perform it unilaterally.

The benefits of the landmine push press

  • Develops lower body power while strengthening the shoulder, chest, and triceps. 
  • Requires less shoulder mobility than a dumbbell or barbell push press. 
  • Develops your ability to transfer force from the ground through your upper body.  

How to perform the landmine push press

Grab the top of the barbell with one hand and position yourself in an athletic position with your feet hip-width apart. You can either stay in this position or stagger your feet with your opposite foot forward. From here, you’ll do a quick bend with your knees and push through the floor using your momentum and power to push the landmine up. 

At the top of the movement, keep your chest high and look forward. Dipping your chest will decrease the stability in your shoulder. Slowly lower the weight back to the starting position. 

Programming considerations

You don’t need to do too many reps since you’re using the landmine push press for power and strength. 

Consider around 2 to 4 sets of 4 to 6 reps with a 60 to 90-second rest in between sets. 

This allows you to push press heavyweight without fatiguing your muscles too much. 

Remember, you’re trying to develop explosive muscles for power, and performing too many reps can limit that training effect. 

You’re Still an Athlete

You don’t have to lose your athleticism as you get older. There’s no age requirement for being an athlete. 

However, you may have to alter how you train as were not all eighteen years old again. 

You may not be able to power clean or snatch like you used to, but these exercises will still increase your explosiveness and are fun to perform. 

The exercises above take into consideration mobility restrictions and age-related aches and pains. But after a while of performing these exercises, you’ll start to feel more powerful and can recover faster between sets. Isn’t this what athleticism is? 

Feel free to send me some other exercises that make you feel like an athlete again!