There is a lot of “extreme" training still going around these days. Coincidentally, there is also a lot of “injury" still going around too. Training when you get past your thirties and forties is important for physical and mental health, but it also requires more attention to detail than when you were a young kid. There are a number of amazing athletes who continue their athletics into their forties, and perhaps you're one of them. The sad fact however, is that when many older adults finally have the time to start training, they've already invested a few decades in a sedentary lifestyle which puts them in danger.

Here are 3 training tips I've learned from my experiences that will help you find the courage to start, continue, and pursue your fitness goals whether you're picking it back up past your forties or just starting out.

1. Patience

The plus side is, at this age you've developed patience and you know that good things take hard work and time. So keep in mind that just like your 401k, your physical body cannot be built to impressive levels overnight. The first piece of advice is to take your time. There are protocols out there for laying in pools of sweat and making you feel like you've been run over by a bus- but this level of exertion isn't necessary to build up the strength and fitness to improve your life. Only patience and assertive effort.

If you can do one thing well as you train past age forty, it's to be smart and avoid unnecessary injuries. (Read more on 3 Shoulder Mobility & Strength Exercises to Prevent Injury) Injures take longer to heal, but more importantly they might stifle an already faded bravado you've mustered to begin working out in the first place. On one end of the spectrum is an immovable couch potato; on the other end of the spectrum is you leaping into exercises you've never even seen before carrying weight you've never imagined before into positions you didn't know existed before. Take it easy and take your time.

2. Focus & Motivation

Even though you may have a little extra free time now that the kids are out of the house or a least not in diapers anymore, you still have a full time job and plenty of other responsibilities as well as duties around the house. This means you've got to be efficient with your training. You don't have the time to waste two hours a night, every night running around in circles hoping for a payoff in terms of fitness and athletic health. Look for good coaches who understand the latest research into what is actually required to make progress and get in shape. The nature of the types of sports you enjoy may also start to come into play here too, which leads to the next topi c- Staying focused and realizing your motivation.

Coming from martial arts, I had already internalized the foundational principle of loyalty. It was loyalty to a concept rather than to a particular teacher or person generally which drove me to keep going to class and training. It drove me to keep getting up after I was thrown down, literally thousands of times. If you practiced any martial art for more than a couple years, including wrestling or boxing, then I urge you to draw on this feeling to keep you going to the gym. Some people look to their kids or other loved ones as motivation. Sometimes, however, true motivation can only come from deep inside yourself, the kind of motivation which will continue for many years.

3. Dedication

Understanding and putting your finger on motivation is a tough nut to crack. Sometimes it changes. Sometimes it vanishes. And sometimes it gets stronger. It's sort of a like a fire, that must be tended and treated with respect. I've found that most people who launch themselves too enthusiastically and too vigorously into something brand new like a martial art or functional training program very often quit and drop out of sight within a few weeks or a few months. That kind of excitement can't possible last. Just as the excitement of a new romantic relationship fades from its original level somewhat, it is only the deeper love and understanding which comes with lots of time and patience that can sustain a long term endeavor. Just like training. The long term commitment of patience and dedication is what not only gives you the physical body you desire, but it allows for that very practice of dedication to continue. A beautiful circle.

About the Author: Neil Bednar began martial arts training in 1990 while in college and has earned a fourth degree black belt in Aikido, a first degree black belt in Okinawan Uechi-Ryu Karate, and a blue belt in no-gi Brazilian jiu jitsu. He currently teaches Combat Systema in the San Francisco Bay Area and explores progressive bodyweight calisthenics and gymnastics. He also offers random wisdom on growing older and being a father. Neil's blog can be found here.

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