Six Effective Ways To Fortify Your Body for Resilience and Longevity

Mar 11, 2024

- written by Coach Will Safford

I’ve asked countless fitness enthusiasts around the country at what age they noticed a change in their performance and recovery.

Almost unanimously they say 35.

I felt it then too.

It’s not that you fall off the rails in your mid thirties, it’s when you’re no longer on the way up.

I wouldn’t even say you start the decline then, but something definitely changes for most.

You just don’t seem to recover as quickly, or feel like you used to.

TRAINING INTO YOUR 40’s AND BEYOND

It’s been shown that muscle mass loss can start as early as 30. Bone density and testosterone start to decrease around 40.

These are make or break years.

You can fend off much of the inevitable decline with diet and exercise, but you’ll be starting from a harder place the longer you put it off.

Add an injury in there, which will set you back weeks, months, or even years, and it’s even harder to get back.

That’s why my entire mindset toward training shifted at age 35.

I started prioritizing injury prevention, resilience, and longevity over chasing strength numbers, crushing myself with metcons, and getting "jacked."

Don’t get it wrong, I still do strength train, metcons, and muscle building, but they’ve taken a back seat to maintaining mobility, movement quality, and lower impact workouts.

My goal is to stay injury and pain-free for as long as possible.

The beauty of training for durability or resilience is that you get muscle building, strength, endurance, and power as a byproduct.

Here is my strategy for fortifying my body heading into my 40s and beyond.

 

FORTIFY — TO PROTECT OR STRENGTHEN AGAINST ATTACK

 

1. PRIORITIZE MOBILITY AND MOVEMENT QUALITY.

Personally, most of my injuries have happened when I rushed the warmup, went into a session tight, or was dealing with some kind of restriction.

Mobility restores range of motion, strengthens joints at the end range, and just plain makes you feel better.

I dedicate time to mobility work every day. The three I find most effective are PRI breathing drills, end-range conditioning, and loaded mobility.

2. MANAGE VOLUME.

I just simply can’t get away with the training load I used to. I used to smash it 6–7 days a week, with multiple sessions in a day.

Now I don’t have the time, energy, or physical ability to maintain that type of schedule.

I like the 2–2–3 method — 2 strength sessions, 2 cardio sessions, and 3 mobility sessions per week.

That’s a manageable amount of work for the aging person that wont fry your system.

I’m also a minimalist when it comes to training, and prefer to get multiple qualities like strength, mobility, and resilience in one movement.

Things like club swinging, Get Ups, and loaded mobility provide that.

3. FOCUS ON ROTATION.

I used to prioritize sagittal plane movements like squats, deadlifts, and presses, without dedicating time to rotation-based exercises.

That left me tight, compressed, and ultimately, in pain for a long time.

I now prioritize movements the human body was designed for, which is walking, running, and throwing.

You can strengthen these patterns with things like the step press and pull, coiling core training, and throwing patterns with heavy clubs.

4. FORTIFY VULNERABLE AREAS.

The Knees Over Toes Guy is getting a lot of credit for glorifying injury-proof exercises and “bulletproofing” your knees.

I respect what he has brought to the industry, but the truth is, this concept has been around for decades, and he’s also missing half the injury-prevention equation.

Steve Maxwell showed the “toxic” exercises way back in the early 2000s, where you purposely load joints in compromising positions to build their resilience — a concept he took from the ancient martial arts systems of Russia and the Far East.

I still use these methods to fortify individual joints like the knees, elbows, and shoulders, as they will be the ones most likely to get injured and experience pain.

However, a joint by joint approach is shortsighted.

If your hip isn’t rotating properly, no amount of knee tempering is going to prevent an injury there. Bones need to rotate independently for force to move effectively throughout the system.

Improve joint position and rotation first with the methods from number 1 above, then fortify individual joints.

Some of my favorite fortifying exercises are Hindu Squats, Hindu Pushups, Cossack Squats, and Turkish Get Ups.

For an added bonus, do these exercises with isometrics for even more fortifying benefits.

5. PRIORITIZE RECOVERY.

Photo by David Clode on Unsplash

As mentioned, long gone are the two-a-days and “no days off” mentality. As you get older you just need to rest more.

Life’s not fair.

Luckily, the best proven recovery methods are free; sleep, breathing, and walking.

I take 2 full days off a week now, sometimes 3.

The only thing I do on these days is walking, breathing drills, and sometimes, light mobility.

It’s a tough truth to accept, as it’s easy to feel like you’re being lazy or falling behind, but when you shift your mindset to the long game, rest is absolutely worth it.

6. TRAIN SMART.

Finally, more than ever you must listen to your body and pay attention to those nagging pains and fatigue signals.

Checking in with your physical, mental, and emotional state becomes a daily must.

If your body is telling you to take a day off, don’t ignore it.

My last back tweak came after ignoring a funky feeling in my SI joint. I ended up on the couch for 3 days and off the mats for 2 weeks.

Respect what your body is telling you.

FINAL THOUGHTS

We’re in this for the long term. I don’t know about you, but so much of my personal well-being comes from working out.

The knowing that you are capable of pulling your own weight.

The peace of mind that you are giving your body the best shot at fighting decline and disease.

And simply just looking looking and feeling your best.

I left the hard-gaining and aesthetics focus behind a while ago.

A lifetime of strength and pain-free movement is what I'm here for.

You should be too.

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