4 Recovery Tips Every Masters Athlete Needs To Know About Workout Recovery

Written by: Justine Ward



Time to read 5 min

How To Keep Up Your Fitness In Your 30’s, 40’s, 50’s & Beyond

We all like to think that age is just a number. If we’re training hard, eating well, and have a great night cream, we might even look just like the younger athletes at our gyms.

The truth is that even if you’re super healthy, once you’ve crossed that line into the land of ‘Masters athlete’ there are real changes in the way that your body works and recovers compared to the you of yester-years.

Modifying the way that you approach your training and recovery will help you to maximize your current fitness and your fitness longevity.

Here are the 4 most important things you can do to improve your recovery and maintain your fitness as a Masters athlete:

1. Start thinking about and measuring your recovery in days, not hours.

Recovery is not just what you do in the 30 minutes after a workout. Conventional ‘recovery tips’ tend to focus on a very short post workout period and are focused on thinks like ‘do a cool down’, ‘do some stretching or mobility’, and ‘get protein right away.’ These are all fine, but don’t address the bigger recovery picture.

True recovery is a much longer process in which your body takes all the stress you just put it through and rebuilds itself stronger. Your energy systems, cardiovascular system, nervous system, muscles, bones, joints, and brain all need resources and time to achieve this task.

The older you are the more time, energy, and resources your body will need to make this happen.

Being aware of the larger goals and time frame for proper recovery is the first step toward optimizing this critical aspect of your fitness and getting the most out of your training.

While in your twenties you may have been able to get by doing two-a-days followed by a quick stretch and a protein shake, and still feel great for your next workout. That’s not going to cut it in your 30’, 40’s and beyond.

The way you think about and plan for your recovery is foundational for your fitness and ensures that you can keep coming back and training hard day after day.

2. Stop chasing the 20-somethings at your gym.

Man tired from working out

We get it. You’re fit. And you’re not going to let some young kid beat you at something that you’ve been training at longer and harder.

The problem is, that kid is going to be way less crushed by the same workout as you are. If you go in everyday and throw down 100% effort to stay top-of-the-class, you’re charging towards the edge of a cliff with burn out and injury waiting for you when you fall off the edge.

Your programming should be set up with you in mind. If you’re following a generic program – it’s up to you to track your intensity and output to make sure you are not over training.

Good rules of thumb include:

  • Keep your perceived exertion below 70% a couple of days a week.

  • Take at least 1 (preferably 2) real rest days per week.

  • Don’t work the same muscle groups intensely 2 days in a row.

Focusing on your own goals, your own training process, and listening to what your body needs, is critical for maintaining the proper balance between work and recovery.

3. Sleep is your most important recovery tool.

Sleep is not dead time. Sleep is the time when your body gets busy healing. It’s when you are most anabolic (where the body builds and repairs muscle and other tissue as opposed to a catabolic state that involves the process of breaking down tissue).

The majority of growth hormone production happens during deep sleep.

Learning and skill work get consolidated and turned into movement patterns in your brain while you are sleeping.

Sleep is as foundational to your fitness as nutrition and exercise. It should be prioritized, tracked, planned for, and supported.

We are used to thinking about training programs and diet in this way, but often leave sleep out of the equation.

Younger athletes benefit from putting more effort into their sleep routine, but for master’s athletes this can be an absolute game changer.

Sleep quality and efficiency naturally decline with age, but there is plenty of room for improvement in this area.

Better sleep translates to bigger gains from your training, better hormone regulation, improved mood, more energy and motivation, and faster recovery from your workouts.

4. Use Supplements:

As you age, your body becomes less efficient at making the things that it needs to build and maintain your muscles, joints, hormones, brain chemistry, and other tissues and systems. 

That means that supplements have a greater impact for older athletes. 

A great example of this is collagen. Collagen production declines starting in our 20’s, meaning less material to support joint and connective tissue maintenance and repair. Taking collagen can help make up for your bodies’ inability to make as much as it used to, allowing your joints to stay healthy longer. 

There is sometimes a resistance to taking supplements because we want to be ‘natural’ and think we can get everything we need from a healthy diet. This may be true for teenagers and young athletes – though even for young people, there are certain nutrients that are hard to get in sufficient amounts through diet alone.

For adults 35+, with changes in metabolism, nutrient absorption, hormones, and efficiency – supplements have an increased ROI for your fitness. 

A great option for getting more collagen, as well as the essential mineral Magnesium, and other amino acids to support great sleep and recovery is our PM Recovery Collagen. 

It is a safe, natural all-in-one sleep and recovery performance supplement. It helps you get the most out of the hours you spend in bed, giving your brain and body the nutrients you need for efficient sleep cycles and muscle and joint repair. 

Great fitness is attainable at any age. But there is a big difference between training in your 20s and training in your 40s. 

Most of the changes have to do with your body becoming less efficient with age, paired with changes in your hormonal environment. 

  • Collagen production declines starting in our 20’s, meaning less material to support joint and connective tissue maintenance and repair

  • Growth Hormone levels decrease, lowering the rate of healing and growth in all of our systems: muscles, cardiovascular system, bones, skin, etc. 

  • Energy system output starts declining in your 30s 

    • aerobic system decreases about 6-12% of capacity per decade

    • anaerobic system decreases of about 6-8% of capacity per decade

  • Ability to withstand heat and cold stress goes down 

  • Soreness lasts longer

  • Sex hormones plateau in your 30s and begin declining in your 40s – this makes it harder to lose weight and maintain lean mass

  • Sleep quality declines

Some of us get frustrated, confused, ashamed – or even guilty – when we notice these changes in our bodies and our work capacity at the gym. But that doesn’t help us to get better. 

Acknowledging that our bodies need different training and recovery protocols, and implementing the above 4 tips, will help you to maintain your fitness longevity and enjoy hitting the gym at any age.