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Training For Older Athletes Proves Itself

The Beijing Olympics raised the spectre of training for older athletes being so advanced that veterans performed as well as juveniles. Shock horror! How could that be?

Could it possibly be that advances in fitness training and exercise physiology have answers - just like Jon Benson has been saying - that they did not have just a few years ago?

Maybe the proof is in the pudding - less training can produce more results.

When Dara Torres swam 0.01 seconds outside the Olympic 50m freestyle record this week in winning silver, she not only won her 11th Olympic medal, but she swam almost two seconds faster than her best time for the distance 24 years ago. How did she do it?

The secret to her success is that she cut back on her swimming. At 41, the Dara Torres training method says recovery is the biggest word in her vocabulary... along with a team of seven coaches and trainers and a training regime that concentrates on stretching, massage and weight lifting.

"My body no longer responds like it used to," she told interviewers, "so I found more effective ways of training."

Torres says she swims 5 times a week (no double sessions), four 90 minute strength sessions (Swiss balls, medicine balls, bands and resistance work, no weights) and then a 60 minute stretching sessions at the completion of each workout.  

Switch to the women's marathon. At 39, Romanian Constantina Tomescu became the oldest gold medal winner in the history of the Olympic Games. A marriage split apparently caused her to cut down on her training and also focus more on intense core strength exercises.

Interestingly, while the winner bowled along in front, the women in the marathon chase group were subjected to intense scrutiny from cameramen who focused much of their footage on the women runners' abs.

This prompted several commentators to remark upon the way many marathon training regimens have diversified away from constant running and shifted towards Pilates and other methods that focus on building core strength.

Even in artistic gymnastics, bastion of the tiny teens for decades, along came Oksana Chusovitina - 38 years old - to take silver in the women's vault.

This recognition of the different needs of the human body to perform at elite levels mush surely focus ordinary fitness and health nuts' attention on the need to adjust as well.

Just be careful. Torres revealed that her training cost is $100,000 a year. Less than $100 on something like Jon Benson's 7 Minute Muscle might be a much better investment!

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