STRENGTH AND THE OLDER ATHLETE
When it comes to older athletes, Erin Carson is unequivocal about strength work.
“The bottom line is if you are an aging athlete who cares about maintaining and gaining performance, then you have to do some kind of strength work. It’s that simple,” she says.
Among the scores of athletes Carson trains at RallySport, is an 82-year-old skier with whom she loves working. “I get excited to work with any athlete who is keen to elevate their level of performance, but when it comes to my 82-year-old skier, I get totally stoked to work with him because he is just so passionate about what he does and at his age he can still achieve a high level of performance,” she says.
For older athletes, Carson advocates following a strength program which focuses on healthy movement first and foremost.
“I would never advise adding external load to an unstable or inefficient structure,” she says.
After assessing injury and pain, she explains that with older athletes, the first thing she focuses on is rhythm and timing of movement.
“Having the ability to move freely and confidently is really where it all begins. Think of each one of us having a ‘bubble’ in which we move. As we get older the bubble tends to get smaller and we move less and less. As we get older, I want the bubble to be as big as possible. The limiter here will be strength or any injuries.”
In order to minimize that limiter, Carson says that lifting heavy weights is essential as we age.
“It’s much easier to teach technique at a younger age,” she says, “but it’s 100 per cent possible to teach anyone how to lift weights safely.
“It is always my goal to find two or three challenging movements that can be safely loaded for everyone. These challenges are not the same for everyone due to difference in body type, experience and history, but they can be found and worked upon.”
There is also extensive research which shows the hormonal benefits of lifting heavy weights.
“Our mood can be positively affected by lifting heavy weights,” says Carson. “Almost 100 per cent of the time, my athletes of all ages report that they feel significantly better and even happier after a good gym session.”