Gut-Check for Guys: Questioning Your Approach to Fitness After 40

I seek a sustainable plan for fitness, nutrition, and feeling “whole” for the 2nd half of my life. I want to feel great, look (at least) pretty good for my age, keep getting happier, and live long.

Of course. But how to really do it? We all face—and can powerfully answer—the same questions…

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I seek a sustainable plan for fitness after 40: physical health and feeling “whole” for the 2nd half of my life. I want to feel great, look my best, keep getting happier, and live long.

Of course. But how to really do it? We all face—and can powerfully answer—the same questions…

1. Exercise: what do I need more (and less) of?

We need to purposefully mix endurance, strength, flexibility and balance. Obvious? Many “fit” guys don’t do this – I’ve been one of them (I was “lucky” to have some injuries over time push me toward more variety). Some of us never had a consistent regimen, and now need one. Wherever you start, the goal is a healthy mix.

Runners: That 3rd or 4th run this week serving you as well as a strength session or a swim? (reverse question for swimmers)

Weights guys: Skip a set or two (or a day) and do some maintenance on the heart and lungs?

Cyclists: What can you do for non-cycling muscles and skeletal benefits of weight-bearing exercise?

All-around gym / boot camp guys: Question for you in “Serenity & Joy” below.

Brothers, with your thriving in mind, I urge you to get more balanced. Try living each week with (minimum) two cardio workouts, one strength session, one trip to the pool or onto the yoga mat (yoga?!! more on that here), and something outdoors (some of these can be combined – that’s beautiful). For concrete weekly suggestions, check out this post.

2. Nutrition: what simple, non-“diet” approach can I live with?

If you’re reading this, you know exercise alone isn’t enough anymore. We need the right quantity of food, and a high batting average on quality. Most of us benefit from a smart mix of vitamins and supplements.

In future posts, I’ll explore many questions we have in this realm. But to begin with, please start:

⇒ Reducing refined sugars and flours (bonus: virtually eliminate these, other than on pig day)

⇒ Upping your protein (some at every meal – lean is better, but occasional bacon won’t kill you)

⇒ Eating fruits and vegetables (duh)…focus on low-sugar cold-weather fruits like apples and berries

⇒ Eating good fats (nuts, avocados, olive oil) – welcome back to the world of peanut butter

⇒ Eating just a little less at each meal – OK if it means you need a snack at some other time

⇒ Avoiding empty calories in drinks (includes cutting down on the booze a little, dude)

Combining some of the above, it is a beautiful thing if you can enjoy a “manly salad” with a protein added and a reasonable amount of some healthy dressing, 3-5 times per week (and skip the bread).

3. Serenity & Joy: How can I get more as I get older?

Why this question here? In the end, this is what it’s all about – the killer benefit all others are in service of. And our physicality should be a huge source.

joyful-dog

When you finish a run, get out of the pool, conclude a yoga practice, complete a hike with your dog, paddle across the lake – you feel it not just physically, but also emotionally, and somewhere deep where those two things are one. There are physiological mind/body explanations, but also the explicit comfort of knowing you’re taking care of yourself, and doing something primal that your ancestor might have done a thousand years ago. There’s destiny and poetry here, man.

Which brings us back to a choice facing the all-around-gym/boot camp guy: can you evolve your routine to get space to breathe, some solitude, some more serenity and joy?

And for all of us, I suggest consciously planning physical fitness to include places and experiences—and occasionally, adventures—that deepen these emotional components of being active. This is a major source of gasoline for us to keep going, when the world barrages us with reasons not to.

4. Implications for Fitness After 40

So if you craft and follow the right plan, you won’t get fat…you won’t lose too much muscle and become a skinny old guy…you may not have a six-pack, but people will know you take care of yourself (and more important, you’ll know)…you’ll keep your heart and lungs as strong as they can be…and you’ll greatly enhance peace of mind and joyfulness as you keep climbing life’s mountain. That’s OlderBeast.

“After all, when the truth is told, you can get you want, or you can just get old.” (Billy Joel, Vienna)

 

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Philosophy & Motivation

REAL fitness New Year’s Resolution: “I Will Discover What’s *Really* Been Holding Me Back.”

So many guys know they need to lose weight, improve cardio health, and/or battle the decline of strength and flexibility. They know all the reasons why and they know reasonably well what to do. But still…time passes. Periods of resolve (especially around New Year’s) are followed by longer periods of less discipline. The body-and-soul health gap grows larger. And the long-term game plan to address it recedes into the fuzzy future.

In truth, do you recognize yourself here? This was me circa 2004 by the way, so please don’t hear this question as criticism or judgment. I’m describing, at least, a sizable minority of 45+ guys. Maybe even a majority.

If you’re one of them, I respectfully believe you need a different kind of 2018 New Year’s resolution, man. Not just to “work out more” or “join a new gym.” These kinds of resolution are easy to make but so hard to keep over time. (So is “eat better,” but nutrition is its own major topic and here I’m sticking to the exercise component of fitness).

Here’s a resolution that may sound harder to start acting on, but which is much more likely to really matter in your life. “In 2018, I’m going to discover and attack the root cause – cognitive or emotional – of my persistent under-attention to fitness and health.”

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Health & Medicine , Philosophy & Motivation

Aging: 3 Reasons Why You’re Not as “Over the Hill” as You Think

We’re not 25 anymore, physically (duh). But 40++ guys (and gals) can feel pretty darn good if they’re physically active, eat well, get enough sleep and manage stress. And perform pretty well too – in endurance events, strength activities, skill sports and daily life.

Consider these recent news items. A 52-year-old guy set the world record for most push-ups in an hour. At the USA Track & Field masters’ championships, women in their 40’s, 50’s, 60’s, 80’s, 90’s and 100’s turned in “age-defying” performances.

The glass-half-empty views says 40+ means “over the hill.” But the quest to live in glass-half-full mode raises these questions: 1). What’s the nature of this “hill?” Is there one crest, or different ones for different things?…2). When do these crests come along?…3). How steep is our slope post-crest?

I’ve researched this a bit, and here are my conclusions so far. Yeah, our “VO2max” aerobic capacity is lower, and we have less fast-twitch muscle fiber for explosive things like sprinting and jumping. But there are also several pieces of good news from research, brothers.

Read on for a summary of good-news points and links to research sources. Plus, some amazing data on how today’s OlderBeast-age guys would have done at the first modern Olympics in 1896.

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Fitness Planning & Gear , Strength

This At-Home, Full-Body Strength Routine Will Keep You Heroic Past 40 (and 50, 60…)

I’m always surprised at how focused the strength workouts are for guys doing traditional weight training as their main fitness thing. “What are you working on today? My left bicep.”

OK, I exaggerate. But old-school “lifting” does often focus on 1-2 things per workout (like chest, legs or back) while assuming you lift 4-5+ times per week.

But what if you’re a 40+ guy trying to balance strength, endurance and flexibility? (And not as fixated on getting Hulk-like as maybe you once were?). In that case, you aren’t well served by old-school strength training patterns.

Yeah, bootcamp-style classes address this need by working all-over strength in single sessions (strength-focused HITT does too). But at $10-20+ per session, each decade of training this way twice a week is a $10-20K+ proposition. I like attending such classes from time to time, for learning and for variety. But I’d rather spend my $10-20K per decade somewhere else, man.

So. With non-strength fitness/wellness needs rightly occupying part of your week, you need to work more body parts in fewer strength-focused days. And you need a long-term-sustainable strength routine you can do on your own, without driving and paying every time.

Put these needs together, brother…and you arrive at a key pillar of OlderBeasthood, regardless of whether you’re coming from a strength-focused, endurance-focused, or limited-fitness starting point. The full-body, at-home strength workout.

Here’s my take on a practical, adaptable routine you can do at home with relatively little equipment.

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Endurance , Fitness Planning & Gear , Strength

High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) Reviews: 9Round Kickboxing

This is Part Two in a series of reviews of “High Intensity Interval Training” (HIIT) gyms. Part One provided context on HITT and its components, then reviewed Orange Theory Fitness.

9Round bills itself as “your all-inclusive kickboxing fitness gym.” All workouts are 30 minutes, and can be started any time you arrive (as opposed to scheduled classes). The goal: use rapid-fire progression through nine activity stations (kickboxing plus a few other types) to get an intense, fun 30-minute interval workout.

7 Comments
  1. […] ⇒ Fitness and nutrition are major pillars of Wellness in their own right. The more we keep up a level of overall physical fitness (endurance, strength, flexibility, balance) and start/keep eating right, the more likely we are to enjoy an overall sense of well-being in life.  Many OlderBeast posts are all about this, but if you’re new here, please start with this. […]

  2. […] Of course. But how to really do it? We all face—and can powerfully answer—the same questions (continue reading)… […]

  3. […] Helping you be your own Architect is OlderBeast’s core mission. (If you’re new here, check out this introductory post). […]

  4. […] run twice, go swimming once, do two strength-training sessions, and do a yoga practice. Moving to a more-varied fitness regime is a key OlderBeast […]

  5. […] run twice, go swimming once, do two strength-training sessions, and do a yoga practice. Moving to a more-varied fitness regime is a key OlderBeast […]

  6. […] Past 40, God-given levels of these physical traits do start to erode. It’s only by our conscious and continuous effort, via a good fitness mix, that we maintain them. This foundational OlderBeast article talks more about this need to seek more diverse fitness. […]

  7. […] or weight training guy confronting this conflict, or just starting/re-starting fitness now…you need a varied routine, brother. What the doctor orders for us nowadays is rotating among 2+ different cardio activities, […]

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