I am nearing the 18 month mark on my fitness journey. Regular workouts, more activity, and eating clean are paying off!
Armed with my trusty old York 2600 built in the 80s, a good range of hex dumbbells, and soon to be joined by a new-fangled exercise bike for cardio, I've seen and experienced great gains in size and strength. I went from 200lb bench (3 sets of 8) to the maximum of the home gym (260lbs) with a max one time rep of 340lbs. The guns went from 15 or so inches to 17.5+. Not bad for an old guy!
I've kept eating clean for lots of reasons. I'm in the age-range risk of hypertension, and any excess fat I carry around will also prove a liability as the metabolism slows with age. In the past 100 days, I've made my eating even cleaner. I avoid all red meat, any added bad fats, most refined carbs like bread and pasta, any added salt, and zero refined sugars. My diet mostly consists of high-quality protein in bar and shake form, loads of supplements, creatine powder, tuna, chicken, bananas, and spinach or kale. I also get tons of fibre in making great mixed bean and veg dishes. I don't miss salt since I can flavour with paprika, pepper, and other spices. My taste buds are actually far more sensitive now, and I get plenty of onions, garlic, broccoli, celery, and just about any other good vegetable I can throw into the mix with dinner. Weight wise, in the past 100 days alone I've shed about 7lbs of fat. Granted, I wasn't overweight to begin with, but shedding a bit of the excess is making me feel much leaner and fit.
At the age of 39 you begin to face the real limits of aging, and have to acknowledge those limits. I'm not the twentysomething buck I once was with an easier time building mass or recuperating from workouts as quickly. By about January, I was getting pain and reduced range of motion (ROM) in the distal biceps tendon. Curling 55lbs at 3 sets of 8-10 was a bit too much. Eager for affordable solutions, and not wanting to get collagen-destroying cortisone shots that only mask pain and increase the risk of injury, I came upon an at-home remedy. Here's why and how:
Picture your tendons like a steel cable that attaches to the muscle and the bone. When you experience tears from overuse or improper form, this compromises the entire mechanism. Our first instinct is to just rest it until it heals. In most cases for other tissues, that's a great idea - but not for tendons. The problem with tendons is that they do not get a lot of blood flow, and it is blood that carries all the nutrients in the body to facilitate healing. This makes recovery very slow, such as between three to up to twelve months, pending the degree of tendonitis or tendonosis. Moreover, while you are resting it for months, your attaching muscle begins to atrophy from lack of use, and so this further compromises the entire mechanism. So what do you do?
1. Lay off lifting heavy with the affected area. I mean it. Go light to moderate just to remind the muscle with activity, and to get some blood pump into the area that will benefit tendon repair. Use light(er) weights for higher repetitions. On the non-lifting days, use even lighter weights or a resistance band.
2. Incorporate eccentric curls for the biceps. These involve using your good arm to lift the weight up to the ending position of a normal curl, and then let the injured arm extend slowly and with proper form to where you would usually begin a bicep curl. This puts less stress on the tendon.
3. Use NSAIDs sparingly. They only mask pain by bringing down inflammation. Instead, bump up your vitamin C and especially your Omega-3s (double bonus: good for the heart, too!)
4. Even if your arm feels 80-90%, don't immediately jump back into heavy lifting. Premature loading will just bring back the injury with a vengeance, and possibly delay your goals for longer.
5. Don't try to "work through the pain." Once it starts hurting, stop.
6. Spend much more time warming up. If you're my age or older, warm-ups are absolutely critical to minimizing injury if you like to lift heavy.