Fitness Setbacks: You WILL Overcome! (Here are Suggestions to Help)

As 40+ guys living in the real world of work, family, and our own not-bulletproof anatomy, setbacks to fitness and nutrition plans are inevitable.

In the last decade, mine included plantar fasciitis (foot/heal pain), a strained rotator cuff, and sporadic right knee pain…not to mention crunch times at work that constrained exercise as effectively as any injury.

With “experience being the best teacher,” the OlderBeast tenets of fitness variety, workout/recovery sequencing, and personal time prioritization help minimize such setbacks. But still, they’ll happen – so here are a few suggestions for dealing with injuries and fitness interruptions in a way that minimizes impact, and even gets longer-term benefits from them.

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As 40+ guys living in the real world of work, family, and our own not-bulletproof anatomy, setbacks to fitness and nutrition plans are inevitable.

In the last decade, mine included plantar fasciitis (foot/heal pain), a strained rotator cuff, and sporadic right knee pain.  Not to mention, crunch times at work that constrained exercise as effectively as any injury.

With “experience being the best teacher,” OlderBeast tenets of fitness variety, workout/recovery sequencing, and personal time prioritization help minimize such setbacks.  But still, they’ll happen. So here are a few suggestions for dealing with setbacks in a way that minimizes impact, and even gets longer-term benefits from them.

1. Don’t let injury or workout interruptions have pile-on effects that set you back more than necessary.

For example:

⇒ If you can’t run for a while…don’t let that prevent you from keeping up your cardio fitness. Swimming is an awesome substitute and nearly always will be OK for any running-based injury; cycling often is as well.

⇒ If a sore shoulder prevents some parts of your strength routine…don’t let that keep you from working legs and core. Also, carefully figure out what else is possible for your upper body. Maybe you can still do curls, or lat pull-downs, for example.

⇒ If demands of life really, truly make your normal exercise not possible for a short period…don’t “wallow” and compound the problem by eating poorly. Stay strong on nutrition. And, still look for even 15 minutes a day where you can be physically active. Don’t think of a workout as “45-60+ minutes, or nothing.”

If nothing else, WALK (up the stairs at the airport, back to the hotel after dinner, for a longer-than-normal nightly loop with your dog, etc.).

2. For an injury, get active in figuring out what caused it, and make a concrete plan for both Do’s and Don’ts

7 billion people on Earth means you’re not the first to have this problem, man.  So researching do’s and don’ts for recovery is relatively easy.

The harder part is actually doing the Do’s as well as avoiding the Don’ts. The “avoid” remedies tend to get done more than the “do this to help recover” ones.

It’s psychologically and behaviorally easier, for example, to decide “OK, I won’t run for a while” than it is to also act on “I’m going to do these exercises to strengthen/balance my leg muscles and glutes, and avoid this problem in the future.”

Sure, some injuries are simply from overuse or overexertion…but especially once you’ve reached the OlderBeast threshold, many of them are symptoms of an underlying weakness or imbalance that you can fix, brother.

Experiment with active steps to help yourself get better.

3. Finally, stay positive by thinking of a few silver linings that setbacks can bring.

⇒ They force us out of a comfort zone to try something new and complementary. E.g., I really got committed to swimming as a core part of fitness because of running injuries. Now, I’d never give up swimming.

⇒ They remind us that we’re fragile. Or at least that we tend toward fragility, unless we actively seek diversity and all-over strength/flexibility from fitness.

This is not a fun reminder…but it’s a great motivator to get thoughtful about how your workout regime for the future will make you less vulnerable and more resilient.

⇒ Once recovered and back to activities you’ve missed, you get the positive feedback of getting back into shape for that activity. Being on an upward ramp of performance feels great…and that feeling is a rarer commodity when you’re not 25 or even 35 anymore!

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With your thriving in mind, I hope you architect a “sustainable for decades” fitness/nutrition plan that consciously avoids setbacks, of both the physical and time-pressure variety.  Helping you do that is one of OlderBeast’s main missions.

But when setbacks do occur, I hope the ideas here are useful to you. As always, I welcome feedback on how I might further help here, gents.

“It’s not whether you get knocked down, it’s whether you get back up.” (Vince Lombardi)

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Fitness: What Men Can Learn From Women (Part 2)

Part One of this series said 40+ guys should take valuable cues from women to refine their fitness-and-health approach for the decades ahead.

Women…
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2. Focus more on total-body fitness
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I have no intent to perpetuate stereotypes. But these patterns do fit with how many people assume women behave compared to men. So yeah, I’ll admit it in this language: Part One suggested we learn from attitudes and behaviors some might describe as “womanly.”

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If anything, this Part Two makes a more cage-rattling point. Some women in the OlderBeast phase of life are “manning up” to fearlessly embrace age and double down on fitness — on “historically-male” fitness turf — more than many guys are.

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Love Running? Me Too (But Here’s Why I’ll Never Run More Than 10K Again)

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Are these part of your life, too? I hope so, brother. If not, you can and in fact should experience them.

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Owed to Yourself: 6-Week Plan for Guys to Give Yoga a Fair Shake

Among 40+ guys who don’t do yoga (which is to say, among most 40+ guys), I think there are three reactions when I tout yoga in OlderBeast articles.

1. Inspired to try it. Man, I hope there have been at least a few of these…please?

2. Tuning me out. Kind of like the grown-ups in the old Charlie Brown TV specials – blah blah-blah blah.

3. Feeling somewhat persuaded, and a little motivated. But not enough to overcome remaining hesitancy or inertia.

You in Reaction mode #3? If so, this is for you, dude.

Here’s a step-by-step, no-commitments way for you to figure out more about yoga, try it, and decide if it’s for you. This envisions a 4 to 6 week period, after which you can “fish or cut bait” on the whole topic of yoga and you. 

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High-Intensity Intervals (HIIT) or Longer/Moderate Workouts? Why You Need Some of Each.

A lot of research shows great benefits can come from shorter workouts (~25-35 minutes total) with alternating periods of high intensity and recovery. So should we stop doing “traditional” runs, bike rides, swims and other cardio sessions, and just do high-intensity interval training (HITT)?

Based on my own experience, a review of what experts are saying, and some simple logic about “why we exercise,” I think the answer is to seek the best of both worlds here.

Incorporate some HIIT benefits into your routine, but do also retain some longer, moderate cardio workouts. Here’s why, and some tips for getting started.

2 Comments
  1. […] I work my way back from the knee problem, running four or five miles still feels good and like “enough.” When I […]

  2. […] I work my way back from the knee problem, running four or five miles still feels good and like “enough.” When I […]

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