Vaca Vieja: Aged Steak. A delicacy in Spain and now being served at the top steak restaurants in the U.S. Perceptions are changing so that aged steak is like a fine wine. Just gets better with age.
Strength in age is similar.
The single most focused-on statistic that endurance athletes care about is VO2 max. Simply put, it’s a measure of your current fitness level (technically – how efficient your body is at moving oxygen throughout your muscle groups and heart). The higher the number, the better.
Common misconception is that you are washed up by the time you’re thirty. Your VO2 max will decline precipitously and you’ll just get slower as you get older.
Vaca Vieja! It’s a myth…
One of the best studies on this topic was done out of the Departments of Kinesiology at UCLA and Cal State. They reached two conclusions:
- If you maintain what you’re doing in your midlife – yep, you’re going to get slower. Your VO2 max will decrease by about 1% each year starting at age 40 and is non-linear by the time you hit 60 years old.
- If you incorporate strength and resistance training, then you can cut your VO2 decline in half through your midlife.
If you focus on lean body mass, high intensity workouts, and an increase in volume during your midlife, then they’ve seen individuals maintain a constant or even increase their VO2 max much into your 60s.
Moral of the story: You might not be as good as you once were, but you can be as good once as you ever were.
P.S. Book teaser: What if you had a goal of focusing on your VO2 max for a couple years by taking a gap year retirement…