Training for Middle Age and Beyond

About two years ago, I was asked to comment on growing old gracefully. Or powerfully. I reread this and added a point or two and I still think it passes the test of time. I added a few points, but it is still worth the discussion.

A couple of quick suggestions: first, the role of hypertrophy needs to be addressed. One of things that starts to mellow out is the “passion” to train. Honestly, I don’t have the answer there, but a few years ago, DHEA was argued to be the answer here. So, whatever it takes to reignite the spark, do it. I suggest camps, workshops, seminars, or any kind of full leap back into whatever lights you up. Relearn everything. I think that might be part of the reason things like the RKC really got me going again. Call it immersion.

Now, health is the optimal interplay of the human organs, but you have had an effect on your health. On my list, the first eight are health related and the last two are what people want from me.
1. Don’t Smoke
2. Wear a seatbelt or a helmet
3. Learn to fall AND recover
4. Eat more protein
5. Eat more fiber
6. Take more fish oil
7. Drink more water
8. Floss your teeth
9. Build some muscle
10. Improve joint mobility


With that, the older person also needs to address specific hypertrophy issues. Now, be sure to look up tonic and phasic muscles and you really want to build up the deltoids, triceps, rhomboids, and glutes with explosive big movements. Doing stuff like Double KB Clean and Press or Double KB Clean and Front Squat will do a lot for you. At the same time, you need to do some flexibility work, but just what you need. I find stretching the pecs, the hammies, the hips psoas and the calves to be plenty. Absolutely, things like Bikram Yoga are great, but you can get by with much less.

Don’t be afraid to do workouts like my 2-3-5-10 press workout that emphasize one weight but you get 20 reps fast. Do that five times and you have 100 reps…good for hypertrophy, yet little damage to the system. Passion can come back through some hypertophy and a little fat loss. Take your Vitamin D, follow Atkins’s induction (see the recent books) and get in the sun. For supplements, do stuff like ALCAR and ALA and more fish oil than you think. Also, pound down the orange flavored sugar free metamucil. Drink your water. And….a big one…donate blood five times a year.

Honestly, that newer Atkins book, something like the companion or something, is a great thing to follow. Eat all you want of fish, eggs, meat, poultry…one cup of cooked veggies a day….3-4 cups of raw veggies and drink a lot of water. If you drink, buy the book, “Martinis and Whipped Cream.” Too bad locarbcris no longer has a site, she had great low carb drink recipes. Crystal Light and either rum, vodka or tequila is a pretty good little “how you doing.”

Sleep is huge. I take ZMA, Z-12, fish oil, Alpha Male and some metamucil before bed (about 45 minutes before bed) every night. I also invested in good shades, good pillows, and I worry about comfort in bed. It’s worth every nickel to invest in sleep. If you live in a dorm or in a busy city, buy ear plugs, eye shades and a CD or something that will teach you to relax and sleep. Underrated advice here…

Train in two week blocks. If you are doing Kenneth Jay’s VO2 max, that’s fine, do it like I did: an 8 minutes workout, a 12 and a 15. Do THAT five times every two weeks. So, week one is 8/12/15 then week two is 8/12 and week three is 15/8/12…you get the drift. Work over two weeks. If you do something like I just mentioned, week two might be three lifting sessions where weeks one and three are two. Also, you need to nail down this issue: do I do light days or off days. I can’t do light. I can only workout, so for me, an easy day is “off.”

Be sure to block out certain months where you are going to “Go for it.” That tends to be January and May for me now as it just works out perfectly for me and schedule. This is the time for “Kettlebell Fever” or Josh’s “21 Day Swing Challenge.” It could also be any kind of short term, “here you go, do this” program. The upside is that when you see the challenge approaching, you can prepare yourself (financial, nutritional, mental, or whatever needs) and be ready for the event. Also, as you bore of it, and you will, you will see the end in sight.

Don’t ignore these final two things: either do Farmer Bars and/or Sprints about twice a week. I call my sprints the “Great 8.” I start off slow and taper. I don’t measure the sprints and merely strive for 4 “Down and Backs.” The idea is to be smooth and get into a sprinting movement. Farmer Bars for distance is something you also need to do. I would argue these last two ideas tie into everything I have said (see tonic and phasic…explosive glute work…two week blocks, whatever), but many people will become addicted to the gym for their answers and the answer is probably outside.

Having said all of this, remember that part of the victory is simply playing longer than anybody else. I’m 52 (at the time of the original writing) and I’m already planning how to beat the crap out of college kids next year. In ten years, I would love to say that these guys will be competing but I have the sense that I will be in the kilt or the ring or the field and they will be discovering Scotch.

So, remember Buddha’s insight:
“What you are is what you have been,
what you will be is what you do now.”

I can’t say it better and no of few who can!

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