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I am a 44 year old male. A few days ago I managed to fall skiing downhill and hurt some ligaments in my shoulder. I have done a lot of skiing in my life and must have fallen a 100 times without hurting myself seriously.

Falling and hurting oneself is something I associate with older people but for me this is coming sooner. The reason for this may be that I am tall: 192 cm and heavy: 100 kg.

I understand that flexibility is very important and will adress this. Also I will lower my bodyfat percentage.

What I am wondering is how my situation should influence my strength training?

I have read that the fast muscle fibers are the one we loose as we get older. That seems plausible since we use the enduring ones a bit in our daily life. I would think that on impact the muscles would mobilize and brace themselves to absorb the shock. The fast ones would maybe react faster than the enduring ones? Also max force would be important. Should I aim for max strength or explosive strength? I am a bit sceptical regarding training for explosive strength since I am afraid I might hurt myself.

Regarding bulk I would think that it would be best for me to add as little muscle mass as possible. I can probably loose 10 kg of fat but not much more. And I do not want to be heavy since that leads to harder impact.

Unfortunately I have always had much more enduring muscle fibers than fast ones. So using say 10 reps instead of 5 have been the fastest way for me to get stronger. But now I can not afford to get bulky. I guess that means I should train with fewer reps?

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    As a 44 year old it will take years of hard work and top nutrition to get anywhere near bulky naturally. You will not get magically heavier either without a caloric surplus, maybe a kg of waterweight max. Don't worry about it. Do what gives you the best results. – Raditz_35 Feb 14 '18 at 11:58
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    Hurting yourself falling is generally neither a function of age or weight until you get into your 60+ or have a condition. All it means is that you didn't fall correctly. :) – JohnP Feb 14 '18 at 14:18
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    @Andy - Quite possible, but I teach martial arts in various capacities, and most fall injuries are because of improper technique. :) – JohnP Feb 14 '18 at 16:57
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    It's really hard to say without being there and seeing the fall. Yes, maybe? And putting your hands in pushup position is almost guaranteed to eventually give you a wrist fracture, unfortunately. It's the most instinctive way to fall, but it's also the most risky. (The body instinctively protects the head/torso at the expense of the limbs). It's also exacerbated because skis get in the way huge, and motion is limited by boots/bindings unless you get snapped out of them. – JohnP Feb 14 '18 at 17:37
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    As a 40 year old snowboarder, I feel your pain, at least metaphorically. – Eric Feb 14 '18 at 20:05
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What I am wondering is how my situation should influence my strength training?

You should get stronger. Stronger muscles protect joints better than weaker muscles.

Yes, fast-twitch muscle fibers tend to atrophy more quickly than do slow-twitch muscle fibers. Effective strength training is the best way to preserve as much of all types of muscle fibers as possible.

Should I aim for max strength or explosive strength?

Edited:

I read "explosive strength" as simply power, which force divided by time. Power increases:

  • When the force increases; for example, due to increases in strength and/or neuromuscular efficiency, that is, the percentage of the relevant muscular units that engage when you wish them to do so. This is achievable via strength training.
  • When the time decreases; but this seems to be dominated by genetic endowment, and decreases with age.

Power can help you avoid hurting yourself: the ability to produce more force might help you avoid a fall, and help you manage your bodyweight during a fall. Also, larger muscles absorb direct impact better than smaller muscles do.

Regarding bodyweight and strength: A muscle becomes stronger if and only if its cross-sectional area increases. You must get bigger in order to get stronger. So, you need to gain muscular bodyweight, which more than compensates for its own weight.

Consider the following excerpt from "Neuromuscular Efficiency for the Strength-Lifter":

"[W]hen max strength increases, RFD [rate of force development] increases. For a million reasons (structural, neural, psychological), the stronger the athlete becomes, the more explosive he is, and at the novice level, strength = power. After a point, the transfer will slow down or stop, but specifically training for power is inefficient at best if you haven't put in the time on developing basic strength."

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  • Thank you for a thorough answer Christian! I think it is possible to get stronger without getting much bigger by increasing my neurological capacity to fire all muscle fibers at the same time though. Not how long way this goes though. – Andy Feb 14 '18 at 17:55
  • Regarding "Stronger muscles protect joints better than weaker muscles." I found this site: osteobiflex.com/articles/strengthening-muscles-for-joint-health which expands upon your important point. Personally I would think that weight training would strengthen the soft tissue surronding the joints also? – Andy Feb 14 '18 at 18:06
  • @Andy, you can increase your "neurological capacity to fire all muscle fibers at the same"; strength training is a good way to do this, because the process of getting stronger forces you to recruit, simultaneously, as much musculature as you can. – Christian Conti-Vock Feb 14 '18 at 18:43
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    @Andy, yes, effective weight training strengthens soft tissue around joints. It strengthens bone, too. – Christian Conti-Vock Feb 14 '18 at 19:13

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