Published on July 28th, 2013 | by Joe Starks1
Old Man Strength!
We all at some time have met a man over or around 40 years old who surprised us with his strength. You see someone with wrinkles and graying hair lift a boulder or carry 30 pounds sacks of cement around like they were pillows and you think to yourself: how does he do that? Should he not be a lot weaker? Some scientists believe that it is due to experience, others believe it is due to popular misconceptions on how men grow old. But what is this old man strength? When and why do you get it? Let’s look at the facts and draw a conclusion of our own.
What is old man strength?
It is actually not simple to describe what old man strength is. Male individuals who grow stronger in their forties than they were in their twenties are considered to have it. Older men who never went to the gym yet still out-lift their sons any time are considered to have it. Finally, men who seem unfit and old, yet can still perform remarkable feats of strength have it.
So a vague description would be that old man strength is an unexpected amount of strength in an older male. People are extremely surprised, because old man strength is not obvious through bulky muscle mass or active lifestyle, but is usually hidden in a generally healthy, experienced man over forty years old.
Why do men get old man strength?
First of all not all men have it. Obviously men who had an accident or are severely ill are ruled out of this phenomenon. Healthy men on the other hand do seem to grow a bit stronger as they age, right until they reach their senior years at about 65 years old. This can partly be attributed to experience.
When we perform a strength task, like lifting a heavy boulder for instance, we usually do not use a 100% of our strength. In fact we only use about 60% or 80% if you are an athlete, which means that things we theoretically could lift will seem unmovable to us. This reaction of our muscles is partly because of our minds protecting us from overexerting our muscles. The closer we get to 100% of our strength the closer we get to injuring ourselves; this is why the brain stops us by making us cautious.
As men get older they begin to learn their boundaries and their mind allows them to use more of their true strength. As anyone who has done martial arts knows, knowing your own strength is half the battle when growing stronger. Older men had a lot more practice than their younger selves. Self-esteem and self-awareness are certainly part of old man strength.
One more explanations for old man strength is this: people simply expect less strength from men as they grow older. It is a common misconception that men grow weaker during their middle age, as if they have a menopause like women. In fact men do not have the typical drop of hormones like women do at that age, making them quite capable to retain a lot of muscle and even build upon it. Men do have fewer hormones as they grow older, but the change is not as sudden as it is with women and is more health related than natural in some cases.
So when you see a man in his forties lift heavy weights you might simply have underestimated what is quite natural: men in their forties are still very capable! Younger men with their smoother faces and greater hormone surges might feel more virile, but that does not mean they are necessarily stronger. A youth going to the gym is not as mentally prepared to lift 100 pounds of bricks as an old builder does.
One final explanation is the quality of the muscle mass. Doing exercises and taking protein supplements doesn’t teach your muscles to lift heavy shopping baggage and push boulders out of your garden. Unless you are doing the precise movement your muscles won’t be as good at it. So a man who has worked lifting potato sacks on his back for twenty years is most certainly better at it than an athlete that lifts specially designed metal bars in a clean gym environment. Knowing how to do something hard is extremely important and at that older men will always beat youngsters.
Old man strength might seem like a mystery still, but when seen from a different angle you can understand how it is possible to exist. Experience that comes with age allows for more muscle strength to be used. Men who have done a specific hard work for a long time are better at it than inexperienced men. Also, we often expect men to wither before their time, thinking that at forty all your manly days are behind you. This is wrong. Forty year old men are quite capable of performing feats of strength and to retain their youthful power. So think of this before you underestimate an older man again.