RATE OF FAILURE

"I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!"— Galatians 2:21

Much is made of the failure rate in baseball.  A successful hitter, it is said, fails to get a hit seven out of every 10 trips to the plate. Despite this otherwise abysmal statistic, those who perform up to such a strict standard are held in high regard. The familiar sound of bat meeting ball is met by a chorus of applause, the hitter greeted by high fives and offered hands of affirmation by teammates upon his return to the dugout. The spoils of a job well done.

In our walks with God, the only measure of success -- the perfection of Christ -- makes failure a certainty. More often than not, despite our best efforts, we will swing and miss at opportunities to glorify God in how we live, work and play. Still, despite no quantifiable measure of achievement and no earthly rewards to be won, we test ourselves, training for a contest in which the outcome has already been determined. Because we know that someday, no matter our rate of failure, we too will be greeted -- not by the roar of the crowd but by choirs of angels. The spoils of a life redeemed by grace.

--Eric Velazquez

LIFE AND TIMES OF AN AGING ATHLETE What does science have to say about your ability to train into your 40s?

Aching backs, ailing knees and rapidly-declining energy levels. Once you hit your 40s, these may be a few of your least favorite things, perhaps even to the point of discouragement. Why train if I can't do it the way I did 20 years ago? Well, science has plenty to say about that. According to Jim Stoppani, PhD, co-author of "PrayFit: Your Guide to a Healthy Body and a Stronger Faith in 28 Days," some of your best years may be ahead of you yet.

Researchers at the University of Central Florida (Orlando) placed untrained men and women between the ages of 18 and 40 on a 12-week periodized, twice-per-week, strength-training program for their non-dominant arm (the opposite arm served as a control). All three groups gained about 20% more muscle on their arms. The only benefit of being younger was the ability to gain slightly more one-rep max strength on the preacher curl. The older the subjects were, the more strength and muscle size they had when they started the 12-week program. Typically, the more strength you have, the less strength you can gain.

"There really is no difference in the ability to gain muscle size as you age, at least up to 40 years old," Stoppani says. "You may find it tougher to increase one-rep strength but you are likely stronger at the beginning of a program than younger trainers are. It really is never too late to start lifting weights."

>> Why not get a head start on banking some of that strength now? Try this at-home bodyweight program for starters, or visit JimStoppani.com for detailed, member-exclusive workout plans.