Turning thirty is a milestone many a twenty-year-old dreads. However, as 31 year old Collingwood captain and one of the best AFL midfielders around, Scott Pendlebury revealed to us in an exclusive interview, it doesn’t have to be the end of your biceps.
“I’m 31 and I’ve had one of my better pre-seasons in 10 years.”
Far from it. In fact — follow these nutrition, exercise, mindset and motivation tips, and you could find yourself smashing PB’s in your 30s that 25 year old you would look at with envy (as Scott did earlier this year, with a bench press record ten years in the making).
Use Compound Lifts To Your Advantage
If you want to do exercises that are good for your fitness, Scott says, “In terms of gym, compound movements like the bench press, deadlifts, squats and chin-ups” are a great way for the average guy to progress — all the while setting small goals and working hard.
“You might benchpress four sets of six at eighty kilos, then the next week you might do a little bit more.”
Don’t Just Wing It
“Get a gym plan,” Scott told us, and actually use it.
“A bit of structure will help you achieve your goals a lot quicker than if you’re just rocking up and winging it.”
This means if you like training on your own; a personal trainer (or a couple of personal training sessions) could be on the cards, while if you are a bit more socially motivated, a group fitness class could be a great idea.
Let’s be real: not every day is going to be your best session in the gym (and every now and then your deep-fried Mars Bar cravings will get the better of you). This is why, Scott told us, success is all about consistency — and not giving up just because you made a small variation from your plan.
“Stick to what you’re trying to do for a long period of time and you’ll see results.”
In other words: “a lot of people want to see results after two weeks (but they don’t realise) getting those little gains is more important.”
Push Yourself In Those 1% Moments
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Struggling on the last rep of the last set? As long as you are just tired, as opposed to on the brink of injury, “Just keep pushing yourself and keep your goal in mind.”
Eat Like A Pro
“The gym work is only half the battle,” Scott told us, explaining how being able to control what you put on your plate is “one of the biggest pieces of the muscle gain process that people overlook.”
Break Your Nutrition Plan Down Into Mini Goals
“If I’m trying to put on weight — small little goals have helped me achieve it. Instead of trying to put 4kg on in a week and feeling sick from eating so much food, I’ll try and do it in six weeks.” So it’s not just workouts where you need to continually set new goals — it’s your nutrition too.
Keep Some Variety In Your Diet
Sick of chicken salad? If you’re keen to mix it up, Scott says some of his personal favourites are fresh (or canned) tuna in a salad or a nice fillet of salmon (high in good fats and protein). Or, if you’re vegetarian there’s always tempeh.
Don’t Get Evangelical About Junk Food
Particularly for the general public, Scott says restricting alcohol and snacks from your diet can actually have a worse effect than if you occasionally (and sensibly) indulge.
“If you restrict yourself completely there will likely be a tipping point where you can’t do it anymore — and it will all come crashing down.”
So to avoid being four weeks into his program and smashing 10 beers or a bottle of wine, Scott says he’s pretty balanced through the preseason — and allows himself the occasional vice.
“If I’ve played on a Friday and I feel like a glass or two of red on Sunday I’ll have it. It’s all about balance.”
“It’s really easy to maintain,” he told us, “And I don’t get caught in that starvation mode.”
“Don’t restrict yourself from anything but also don’t go silly when you do have something that’s not great for you; that’s the key to longevity in the health and fitness space.”
Don’t Get Stuck In A ‘Prehab’ Mindset
While stretching, recovering and maintaining your body is a crucial element of every fitness routine, one of the biggest mistakes men in their 30s make is falling into the trap of just keeping themselves where they are already at rather than pushing for more.
Instead, you should continually aim to improve yourself — whether by training with mates or keeping yourself accountable to new goals.
“I’ve always found that ability to continually try and push myself. In the gym I did a few PB’s this year by identifying a few week spots,” Scott told us.
“For me bench press – doing an extra session for me above what the team does (helped me achieve that goal).”
“I could never get much better at bench no matter how much I did. But this year through time, effort, extra training sessions and new training partners I made it competitive, fun, hard work and without even knowing it I broke the plateau.”
“Took me 13 years but finally got there.”
While prehab is important, Scott told us this kind of breakthrough would never would have happened had he only been focussed on ‘prehab’.
“It’s important you push yourself too — not just about maintenance.”
The conclusion? It’s always possible to keep improving — whether you’re in your 30s or your 50s — you just need to find the right mindset.