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Wednesday, August 5. 2015
To maintain fitness and conditioning from middle age onwards, there are just a few exercises that are most efficient and essential. They are efficient because, combined, they are full-body, all-muscle engagements which require balance and control, and which can eventually pretty much eliminate the need for other exercises. This applies to gals too.
If unfit, it seems that most of these need to be worked up to gradually with smaller muscle groups (eg calves, quads, curls, pull-downs) to be able to handle them with proper technique and without pulling a muscle or damaging a tendon. That's called conditioning.
I mention this topic today because I have just started with barbell squats so I am slowly getting to the full deal as I move from unfit and sort-of weak but fully-functional to borderline-fit for my age. An adventure, physically and mentally:
Plus...general fitness interval-type cardio aerobics of a great variety of fun sorts on off-days, from heavy ball smashes and throws to farmer walks to lunge walks to step-ups to squat+mil pushes to ropes to sprints (elliptical, bike, run, swim, row, etc). It doesn't need to be boring but it does need to be stressful and varied. If not stressful to the max, it's a waste of time: if you can move afterwards and are not dripping with sweat it's not tough enough to make much difference. Gasping and heart pounding for 20-30 minutes.
Lots of the exercise machines and lighter weights seem to be made just to raise you to the point that you can do a few sets of those simple, basic, demanding multi-muscle resistance exercises in a reasonable time before you go to work in the morning. For example, I can't do 20 push-ups or 10 pull-ups yet, so we try to condition the things to make that possible. Intensity, simplicity, and weights save time and money. (nb again - this is not about body-building, it's about maintaining general fitness for life for as long as possible)
This is what I am learning. I get lots of arguments from readers. Go ahead and argue with me while I begin to rediscover my 22 year-old abilities. Painful and deeply-fatiguing, but do-able over time. I know a fit 55 year-old gal who can do 35 regular pushups. She shows no muscles and looks fully trim and feminine.
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Try doing your push ups like plyometrics: lift yourself off the ground, and come back w/ your arms bent. Essentially clap push ups.
I've been doing those, nad have seen increase. I was getting to about 18 of those, and finishing to 30. Now I get to 22-24, and can easily get past 30. These are instead of bench press for me.
But use as heavy weight as possible on all lifts. I stopped w/ the 12 rep sets, and am satisfied w/ 7-10 at heavier weights...and now I see strength increases I didn't get before.
I need to lose weight. I had my weight down last year, but son's sports team zaps so many hours I stop exercising during winter. And weight comes back, endurance goes to squat. Going to avoid that this winter.
I am increasing time and speed on treadmill, elliptical, etc. Mixing it up to keep it interesting and not be slack.
Your weight is related to your diet; not exercise or lack thereof.
Diet is simple: no sugar or simple carbs(Bread, rice, potatoes) eat protein in form of meat from all animals and fish. Throw in some hearty greens and cabbage family veggies. Wash down with good craft brew or red wine.
Lost 30 lbs in 8 mos. and have kept it off for five + years.
I don't eat carbs.
Just a dozen donuts and coffee (black) each day.
re "Go ahead and argue with me while I begin to rediscover my 22 year-old abilities. "
That explains why old baseball players retire. They just don't exercise enough to regain their 22 year old abilities.
I am enlightened.
A few comments:
1. Bench Press - I don't see the "necessity" of this if you're already doing push ups (a far better exercise in terms of safety and efficacy). If one is concerned about push ups being too easy, just add a weight vest, chains, bands, etc.
2. Further re bench press plus push ups. We basically need to train 6 movements:
Push - includes vertical (overhead press) and horizontal (bench press or push ups).
Pull - vertical (pull up variations) and horizontal (rows).
Squat variations, i.e. bending at the knee.
Hip Hinge - includes deadlift variations, cleans, swings.
Picking stuff up and carrying it for time or distance.
Other stuff, e.g. abs, etc.
3. RE plyometrics for people over 40 (or 50 or 60) - why? Are you training for the NFL or the olympics or SEAL Team 6? 99.9% of over-40 folks should be training to lose fat/gain muscle (and strength) and gain/maintain mobility while avoiding injury (PERIOD)! Plyometrics, especially those that add a "shock" during the eccentric phase are a recipe for injury. This is particularly true if one jumps into a movement like plyo push ups without months of very gradual preparation. Even then, ask yourself why you are doing them when the cost benefit ratio is so high.
4. "But use as heavy weight as possible on all lifts. I stopped w/ the 12 rep sets, and am satisfied w/ 7-10 at heavier weights." If you're doing 7-10 reps, you're not (by definition) using "as heavy weight as possible." If you were using as heavy weight as possible, you would fail after 1 rep. I'm not necessarily proposing that you should limit your training ti 1RM singles, just that your argument is faulty.
5. I may have to disagree with feeblemind. It "may" be possible for you to rediscover your 22 year old abilities (I assume you mean the abilities you had as a 22 year old as opposed to abilities that you have had for the past 22 years), but that would assume that you were a very mediocre 22 year old.
6. "Interval-type cardio aerobics of a great variety of fun sorts on off-day" Uh, that's not really an "off" day. Recovery is as important as training if you want to progress.
Plyometrics that feature shock/jolts are foolish. Do the exercises on soft surfaces. Get the benefits w/o the negatives.
I'm rethinking my exercise regime as I get back into the gym after a long time off.
My original training was for muscle building. I've got enough now but need muscle toning and fat burn-off. More muscles means a new wardrobe.
I've been following your "journey" from the beginning - congrats on taking these steps. I've been hesitant to engage on this issue, but I feel that I have something to offer.
I'm 60, I've always been an active person. About six years ago I took up weight training (for reasons that aren't germane to this entry). And for me, it's been that best thing that I've undertaken from a physical health standpoint.
My weight has gone from 165lbs to 205lbs, as that was a goal of mine (I'm 6'3"). My lifts have gone from an empty bar to the point that I could be a competitive Masters lifter (not a terribly high bar, but a good measuring point). I mention these facts just to establish my bona fides.
I would recommend to you that you investigate the works of Mark Rippetoe and / or visit the Starting Strength website as the material contained therein is how I learned the ropes.
One of many interesting points that he make is that this approach is the the best and most efficient way to develop strength for a novice unaccustomed to barbell training.
Further, I would recommend that you read the article "Barbell Training is Big Medicine" which argues that strength training for Seniors of more importance than any other method of exercise.
I've no axe to grind, other than not wanting you to waste your time and efforts, while wanting you to enjoy and understand how this whole process works.
Lastly, and this will appear as an appeal to authority, Glenn Reynolds / Instapundit has been working with Mark's program for a year or so and swears by it.
Best wishes for continued success...
BD, if you're doing 20 pullups, you're either cheating, doing 'em wrong or counting incorrectly.
My 27 yr. old, who's been working out for four years and ripped, can hit 8-10 done fully and correctly.
Perhaps "fully and correctly" is the point of contention, but I am 50ish, not ripped, and last year did 11 dead hang pullups with full ROM. Took some weeks of work, but it happened. 20 is a whole bunch though. :)
Earl, read much???? BD said he can't do 10 pull ups yet.
PS - If your 27 yo is a human male and has been training for 4 years and still can only manage 10 strict pull ups, he needs to change his program.
1. Do the squats correctly!
2. Since I'm doing Rippetoe's "Starting Strength" program I'm also doing overhead presses and starting to do power cleans. Really felt the difference verses the stupid machines.
These posts are great, keep them coming. Couldn't agree more that squats and deadlifts are the two greatest things you can do for your body.