In defense (and praise) of the EASY workout

It’s important to keep physically challenging ourselves as we age. That’s why OlderBeast feature things like push-up challenges, exhortations to increase your weekly workout frequency, and calls to keep on running uphill.

But the name of the game is to do it thoughtfully, man — in a way we can sustain for years and hopefully decades. And on some days that calls for a game-time decision to do an EASY workout.

There’s the planned easy workout, to recover from intense effort yesterday or get ready to go hard tomorrow. But here, I want to talk about something different…a last-minute call to just do something “light” today.

Maybe a shorter and/or slower run. Or just some light body weight exercises and stretching. Or some lower-intensity cardio on a machine and then a short core routine.

The idea of switching to an easier workout is really about our relationship with motivation: having more than one response to call on when we feel unmotivated.

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It’s important to keep physically challenging ourselves as we age. That’s why OlderBeast features things like push-up challenges, exhortations to increase your weekly workout frequency, and calls to keep on running uphill.

But the name of the game is to do it thoughtfully, man — in a way we can sustain for years and hopefully decades. And on some days that calls for a game-time decision to do an EASY workout.

There’s the planned easy workout, to recover from intense effort yesterday or get ready to go hard tomorrow. But here, I want to talk about something different…a last-minute call to just do something “light” today.

Maybe a shorter and/or slower run. Or just some light body weight exercises and stretching. Or some lower-intensity cardio on a machine and then a short core routine.

The idea of switching to an easier workout is really about our relationship with motivation: having more than one response to call on when we feel unmotivated.

The Impromptu Easy Workout — a Third Option When De-Motivation Strikes

Sometimes the workouts we plan are simply “hard” when you think about them objectively. You going to run 5 miles, do an hour of strength & conditioning, swim a mile? That’s great, brother.

But occasionally these plans create a binary choice between “Hard” and “Nothing.” And when we’re tired or otherwise not at our best, “Nothing” can tend to win that battle.

This is especially true if we’ve had a recent interruption in our fitness habits due to travel, aches and pains, or other life circumstances. At such times, we’re a little bit out of the mental groove on fitness and vulnerable to lack of motivation.

For example, if I get even slightly out of my routine of doing a strength workout twice a week, I find myself kind of dreading it and feeling pangs of de-motivation. For other guys, it might be the cardio aspect that’s more prone to this phenomenon.

Feeling this binary Hard vs. Nothing Choice, without any third option, risks letting a “mini-lapse” of fitness turn into a true lapse. And because getting into shape is much harder than staying in shape — and re-starting a habit is much harder than continuing one — the true lapse is an infinitely bigger threat to our long-term goals than not having a “hard enough” workout today!

Benefits

So, under exceptional circumstances that you don’t let become your norm…sometimes just make a last-minute plan adjustment to go easy, dude.

When you do, you’ll experience several benefits.

First, you’ll actually get in a workout today. Something — anything — is better than nothing. An easy workout still gives you a sweat, burns some calories, gets your heart rate up a bit, and does some maintenance of muscle tone. That harder workout you were “gonna” do, but didn’t? Of course, it does none of these things.

Also, the easy workout still brings you the routine mental reset you need even if you’re physically not feeling tip-top today. De-stressing, having some time to yourself, stepping away from the various screens that are so-often in front of you in the 21st Century…with the easy workout instead of the blown-off one, you still get some of this precious benefit.

Finally and most importantly, you won’t seriously threaten the positive habit track you’re on. The discipline of planning, then fulfilling on your plans, won’t be completely violated. And nurturing discipline (and rewards you feel from it) is the biggest battle of all for the OlderBeast.

Conclusions

To be clear, I don’t advocate this as a routine compromise to make. Keep challenging yourself with hard workouts as part of a varied weekly plan. If at first you feel some sluggishness, employ tactics to overcome that lazy urge.

But if the reality is that you’re on your way to blowing off a workout you have planned for today, and nothing else is working…then go EASY, man. You’ll be glad you did.

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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.

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Fitness Planning & Gear

What We REALLY Need From a Workout Plan (Introducing OlderBeast Weekly Workouts)

“Just tell me what to do” is a common desire people have for workout plans. That’s understandable. Expert direction and a friendly kick in the butt are helpful.

But for 40+ guys seeking diverse fitness that’s sustainable month-in/month-out for decades…typical sources of “tell me what to do” have drawbacks. They usually don’t cover the range of activities you need to be all-over fit. They often overlook the need for exercise to be a place of mental retreat and restoration. And they rarely guide you to take charge of your own planning and motivation, which is key to long-term habits (in OlderBeast language referred to as being your own Architect). Not to mention, using “tell me what to do” sources over years and decades gets expensive.

Here’s what OlderBeasts really need from workout plans. And a public service announcement: OlderBeast is beta testing a new Weekly Workouts feature.

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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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Health & Medicine , Philosophy & Motivation

Fitness as We Age: 5 Ways to Combat Physical Vulnerability

In our quest to stay fit and vital as we age, sometimes we can’t help but experience feelings that counter-productively undermine our resolve.

It’s natural to fear and lament that our basic physical capabilities are diminished compared to our younger selves. But while this is true, you’re less over-the-hill than you think, man. This should be a manageable fear. Anyway, what are you gonna do about this – exercise less and let yourself get less fit because you can’t run a mile as fast as you could 20 years ago?

Also, like people of any age, we sometimes battle that sluggish feeling that whispers “don’t work out today…there’s always tomorrow.” But as we age, doubling down on fitness becomes ever more important, so effectively responding to that sluggish feeling is key.

Here’s the feeling that threatens our long-term body-and-soul health more than any other: the fear that we are getting more fragile, more VULNERABLE to injury and other activity-limiting aches and pains.

This is so dangerous because we can observe that it’s least partly true…but at the same time we can’t let it dictate our fitness habits and start a self-fulfilling downward trend. So how to deal with this shadow of vulnerability we feel? The trick is to neither ignore nor surrender to it.

Here are five things you can do starting now, to face up to this most-human feeling of vulnerability.

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