How I stay in shape over 50 – Upper Body (in Detail)

So this is part two of how I stay in shape over 50. The first post, which is the most important one can be found here That post is the centerpiece of how I stay in shape. Squats are the priority for me, it gives me cardio and engages my endocrine system, its critical. That lower body (squat) routine is paramount to my success, however there is a “Workout B” and that’s upper body.

To reiterate the basis for my workouts lets recap:

What I do:

3 Months I do a basic 5×5 split. So what does that mean?

  1. 3 Months start date: Any day you want, but its 3 months so say 6/1/22 – 8/31/22.
  2. 3 workouts per week: Mon-Wed-Fri or Tues-Thurs-Sat

There are only 2 workouts. Workout A is the squat day. Warm up stretch and then get to the free weight squat rack. You start with the bar, if that is to heavy you start with a 25-pound weight. You do 5 sets of 5 reps. That’s the workout. Your next workout day (48 hours later) you do workout B, then next workout you are back to work out A.

Workout B is what we are talking about today. Now this workout has 2 exercise groupings. Meaning each workout B you are doing two movements but each workout B can be different depending on your preference. So let’s get the exercise groupings out of the way first.

  1. Bench Press & Rows
  2. Military Press & Dips

Now you pick one of these groups for the 3-month period paired with Workout A (squats). So if you pick Bench Press & Pull Up’s that’s your workout B for 3 months. The point of the 3-month cycle is to build strength in that specific range of motion, with that specific group. The first set of exercises (bench press and pull ups) will hit every major group in your upper body. You never really need to do Military press or Dips. That exercise group serves a different purpose here but the process is the same.

Men over 50 = Eat right, Lift weights, Sleep.

That process is true for all exercises. 5X5, so for workout B you are doing 10 sets. This is a heavy day, it’s not going to be easy, it’s going to be very hard but it’s not nearly the same cardio work you’ll get from workout A and squats. So you stretch warm up do all your prep and then you hit the bench press. Start with 100 pounds, that’s the bar (45 pounds) and 55 pounds on each side.

Rows are the same approach, on this you start with the bar. Here is a good resource on rows as how you position yourself is very important.   These can be substituted with pull ups if you can pull off the rows. The goal with the back exercise if to engage the back as much as possible. This will be harder because you have tired your anterior deltoid (top of shoulder) so you start with the lighter weight.

You do 5 sets, 5 reps each. No, you don’t do a 6th rep if you feel good, you hit the 25 total reps. That is always our goal with these exercises. Once you get to the 25 reps you go up 5-10 pounds, rinse repeat go for the 25 total reps.  You stick with this for the 3 months, along with your work out A squats. Now once the 3 months are over you should have a noticeable gain in strength, muscle tone and confidence. I can’t promise you weight loss but its highly likely depending on what you are consuming.

Remember that somewhere in the middle you will hit a point where you can’t get the 5 sets for 5 reps. This is when you are making your real gains. Remember the weight doesn’t increase until you get that 25 total reps, and it never decreases. This resistance training and progressive load is excellent for men over 50. Your injury risk is lower here because your starting off light allowing your body to acclimate to the movements.

Disclaimer: Please make sure you are physically and medically able to work out before trying. If you exercise regularly you are probably fine but if you don’t consult your physician.

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3 simple commitments to your health that will help you lose weight

So my personal health journey has been a long running aside to this blog. I post on it from time to time but the blog itself isn’t specifically a health blog. Since the pandemic started I have lost and kept off roughly 30 pounds (this fluctuates believe me). Now I was never obese but as I turned 50 a few years ago I really took stock of how I was feeling. When I was in my 20’s I was actually in great shape, yes I had abs you could see.

Here I am 3 decades later and that wasn’t the case. I had a “great” dad bod. Meaning I worked out I have a good amount of muscle but I carried a spare tire. Now I am down to approx. 215 my highest weight if I recall correctly was 247 or 254 I can’t remember. For context at 23 I was 187. You can’t see my abs now, I still have fat but I feel much better. So how I have kept it off is making small commitments to my health.

Maybe instead of Coffee with cream & sugar its time for Tea?

I have found “resolutions” or huge life changes are often recipes for failure. It’s the small changes that really add up and over time help you keep weight off which is the hardest trick to pull off in the weight loss journey. So what are 3 simple commitments? Let’s take a look.

  1. Consistent Sleep schedule: Sleep is critical for so many health outcomes we can’t possibly do it justice here. The simple commitment? Go to bed at the same time every night. I don’t care if its 9PM or 1AM, its creating a consistent schedule that your body wants. Now if you can go to bed earlier great but THE SAME TIME every night is the goal here.
  2. Less sugar: Sugar is hastening your bodies demise. I can’t be any more blunt than that, and yes that includes all sweeteners. Let’s be clear here, some sugar is okay. Sugar in everything is not. Sweeteners in food are artificial most of the time and have a dramatic impact on the base components of the food and how your body processes what you have eaten. I don’t care where you find it, but in your food consumption right now there is hidden sugars, start cutting some of it out.
  3. Your face: caring for your face is critical to physical health. When you look in the mirror if you don’t like what you see you will be unhappy and food is a great place to find imagined happiness. Keep your teeth clean, use moisturizer, keep your beard trimmed, eyebrows neat, be honest about the amount of makeup you use. If you are happy with your face you will generally be happier and that leads to many positive outcomes.

Notice I didn’t mention exercise here. This is a given, you have to do it. I’m not going to preach to you about exercise at length, but I will say that if you aren’t exercising regularly the 3 tips above will not be as potent.

You have to take care of yourself. I am 52 and I am looking back at all of you 40,30 and 20 somethings and telling you it gets harder. Start your work now, it’s like planting a garden. The seeds you sow now means you will reap a harvest later.

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A simple weight loss tip – Timing.

If you have frequented this blog you know that over the last few years, I have dropped over 30 pounds and kept it off. I was not obese, I was overweight. Like many out there I had “20 pounds to lose” and I did it during a raging pandemic. I am not super athlete, I don’t train every day, I eat normal food. In my journey I have picked up a few helpful tricks.

One of the main things I have done to keep the weight off is to be more active. Yes, that means going to the gym, but it also means taking more stairs, walking more and just generally being as active as I can. Every motion burns calories and it’s a critical part of anyone’s weight loss journey. So is food, and no matter how many diet programs you try the bottom line is if you want to lose weight you have to be in a caloric deficit.

This particular blog post isn’t about that it is just another simple weight loss tip. Basically this tip is to help trick your mind into thinking it’s getting more food than it actually is. It is simply, to eat slower. I know it’s not the magic trick you were thinking. There has to be some special diet or workout that the super fit use to be in shape always. There isn’t. There is one thing that the super fit does have that many of us don’t and that is the ability to muster self-discipline.

The faster you eat, the more you want.

So how do you slow down the pace in which you eat your food? You have to start timing yourself. Literally, when you start eating time how long it takes you from start to finish. Everything you put in your mouth and chew should be timed and recorded in a journal. Do this for a week and look at the results. Obviously the time it takes to eat a candy bar will be shorter than a 3 course meal but from here you will see patterns.

  1. What you are eating.
  2. How often you eat the same foods.
  3. How long you eat for.

You will be amazed at how fast you eat, particularly if you binge eat. Get your phone out, put on the stop watch and see how fast you consume calories. If you can slow this down, even 10% it gives your brain time to “digest” what you are consuming and signals to you when you have had enough. This isn’t full proof of course but you are going to see patterns here and you will see just how fast you eat.

It’s like getting on a scale; you can’t hide the number. You can’t hide how fast you are consuming your food either. By timing yourself you are actively changing the way you eat your food and how long it takes you. This by default will change your relationship with food and that is really the hardest part of the weight loss journey. Try it, let me know how it goes.

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A simple weight loss tip (short post)

This blog isn’t a health and fitness blog but having lost a lot of weight myself in the last few years (30 lbs +) the hardest thing for me is keeping it off. When I eat, I often find myself thinking about the next bite not enjoying the one I currently have in my mouth. I’m not going to get into the psychology of this everyone is different. I have read online a few tricks you can use to change the way you eat, and thus change your relationship with food.

The simple weight loss tip? Eat with your non dominant hand.

I tried this and I ended up eating much slower and thinking about actually eating the food and how the hell I was going to do it. It slowed me down, I ate less and well 100 calories here, a 100 calories there it adds up on a weight loss journey. I’m not suggesting this will be the winning strategy for your weight loss but thinking outside of the box and trying new things might help.

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Squats

How I keep the weight off

This isn’t a weight loss and nutrition blog but on my blogging journey I have lost over 30 pounds. The hardest thing I have found is keeping the weight off. I think it’s easy to focus for 60 days and lose weight but what happens 6 months later? This isn’t going to be a long post but I wanted to share with you one exercise trick I use to help me keep weight off.

Every 72 hours, so every 3rd day approximately…. I do heavy squats. This one exercise gives me cardio, strength, testosterone boost on and on. I do 5 sets of 5 reps and they are gut busting. I do a good 30 min stretch and warm up beforehand but this is a progressive loading technique that Is designed to increase strength. You should barely be getting the 5 rep of the 5 set completed and failure to complete the 5 set is the ideal.

Anytime I complete the 5 sets of 5 reps, the next session I increase the weight 5 pounds. This progressive loading is extremely taxing and let me tell you, I am drenched in sweat and exhausted after this work out. This one compound exercise has an incredible impact on your entire body. It works your core, your legs, glutes and really ramps up your endro system. I do other workouts of course but this is the most gut busting one.

If you do this, every 72 hours you will see positive effects on your body I am convinced of this. Start light, and work up from there.

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The easiest most direct way to lose weight

Yes, I have discovered the secret. All the celebrities, the fitness gurus kept it well guarded but I found it! This secret elixir to weight loss is tested and proven. You will lose weight if you employ it and you can eat just about any kind of food you want.

“Well? What’s the secret!!!” the masses scream….

Eat less calories then you burn

I know, the dumbfounded look you have will subside shortly. It is that easy. Counting calories works. If you burn 3000 calories a day and you eat 2500 you have a caloric deficit of 500 calories. If you do this for multiple days in a row you will lose weight.

No special supplements, no complex mix of food at specific hours, no gut busting workouts. Now all of those will make the process faster yes but you literally only need to eat less calories then you burn every day and you will lose weight. I know there are umpteen excuses and reasons why this can’t be done etc. so on, I’ve made many of them and heard the rest.

Get moving and eat less, you will lose weight. You could go spend thousands on meal plans, exercise programs etc. if you want but, do this simple process for 1 month, caloric deficit, let me know how it goes.

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A very simple health tip

If you read my blog regularly, first thank you, second you know that I have lost a lot of weight over the last year in a half. I am like millions; I was not obese I was overweight. What does that mean exactly? I had 30 pounds of extra weight. I dropped most of it. Do I have a visible 6 pack of abs? no, but I am more vascular, I have good definition now, I look normal. Not fat, not thin, not over muscled just normal.

The hardest part is keeping it off. One simple way to do that? 1000 steps a day. You have an app on your phone that should track it for you. That’s it! 1000 steps, it’s not a lot and its likely you can do more than that. However, the 1000 steps is every day, not 500 today and 1500 tomorrow. Everyday 1000 steps. You can do that.

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3 simple things I did to lose 30 pounds and keep it off

I am no diet guru, no fitness expert this blog is mainly focused around anxiety issues. 2021 has been a year where I have decided to broaden the scope of the blog and one of my personal triumphs is something I want to chat about today. I turned 50 on 2.2.20 and weighed 238. I talk about the specifics in my blog post here:

So why am I posting about it today? Because one of the hardest things to do is lose weight, harder still is to keep it off. I have done it successfully and I’ve done it by employing 3 simple techniques below.

  1. I move: That includes scheduled trips to the gym but more importantly I do what I can to move as much as possible. Walk more, take stairs if I can, anything to be as mobile as possible. 2 calories here, 7 there you’d be surprised at how much it adds up. Doing laundry burns calories…
  2. I eat the least amount of processed foods I can: This is harder than it reads as there is processed food in the U.S. everywhere. Further I am not advocating you go out and hunt and process animals, although its fine if you do. The point here is take the time to read the ingredients of the food you eat. If there are more than 5 it’s probably time to consider something else.
  3. I weigh myself daily: Sometimes multiple times. There are several articles on the web discussing the pros and cons of weighing yourself. For me it keeps me honest and If I am ticking up I start to cut back. Couple of weeks ago I was at 216 had a weekend of good food cocktails etc. That week I focused on my discipline and got back to 213 I am not at 208-210 (fluctuates)
The Importance of Sleep
Sleep is the secret weapon to weight loss

Losing weight is hard and if you are on that journey the best advice I can give you is start with adjusting small things. Less sugar in your coffee, one extra walk a week. Its cumulatively where it can be overwhelming. This journey is a marathon not a sprint and small changes you can actually implement become victories which accumulate into a snow ball effect. 2-5 small changes usually get you on the path to 1-2 larger changes.

I will be on this journey for the rest of my life now. I am currently working on more sleep, a hard fight in of itself due to my lifestyle. If you are on a weight loss journey don’t be disheartened, just take one day at a time, be honest with yourself and rack up as many small victories as you can.

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1 year later…. I turned 51 and I lost 25 pounds during covid ! (how I did it)

Hey folks, no this isn’t turning into a “my weight loss journey blog” but I wanted to share with you one of my personal triumphs. I turned 50 on 2.2.20 and I decided I needed to lose weight. I was not obese, I worked out regularly and ate well, but I carried fat like most people. I am 6’1 on my 50th birthday I weighed 238 pounds. Shirts fit, pants were sized 36-38 waist overall I felt in decent shape for someone my age.

So when I decided to lose weight it wasn’t for a health reason, it was pure vanity. I know, that’s shallow and slightly obtuse but it’s the truth. I just wanted to look better. When I was in my 20’s I had abs was athletic, I was hot or so I am told, lol. Fast forward 30 years, still muscular, more fat, less hair, no abs. So 50 is one of those catalyst moments, one of your Gen X friends will confirm this I assure you. You really look at where you are, where you have been and where you are going.

Yes, you are nearing the end of middle age closing in on retirement age and progressing toward elderly. For me 80 is as close as 20 was, and its where I hope to be but still think about where I had been. So I decided to lose some weight. The goal was to get to 200 pounds. I was 195 when I was 24 years old and I thought “that would be cool to get back to that” well, I failed to hit that mark but on my 51st birthday 2.2.21 I weighed in at 211 a 27-pound loss over 1 year.

Squats
Squats = Weight loss

How did I do it? We had Covid, we had holidays, winter, 2020 worst year ever…. On and on. Below is a list of 3 things I changed that resulted in this weight loss that I have managed to keep off.

  1. Intermittent fasting 16/8: Now there are entire blogs and web sites dedicated to this and there are several strategies. I employed the 16/8 strategy, I eat between 12 and 8 PM. The mornings are the hardest because I get up early and it’s a long window. Yes, I’ve had days where I cheated but 90% of the time I stuck to it.
  2. Increased activity:  I walked more than ever before. We had about 3 months where gyms were closed but I still go and went to the gym 3 times a week minimum during 2020. From push-ups at home to driving to trails and walking to more sex (yes!) I increased my physical activity across the board. Shoveling snow instead of the snow blower, raking leaves, mowing the lawn, moving stones I created opportunities to be physical.
  3. Reduced carb intake: I didn’t go full keto but I ate more keto (if that makes sense). I cut out breads, cut out sugars, cut out as much carb heavy food as I could and replaced it with higher fat foods. I didn’t count calories really, but I ate smarter. For example, I made an effort to cut my meal sizes slightly (so instead of three eggs two) and eat more frequently. This meant smaller meals more often which made me full and resulted in me eating less.

Now will these work for you? I don’t know but it’s how I did it. Minimally, increasing your activity and not changing anything else should result in a net weight loss for you. I found the hardest thing was the intermittent fasting personally. I don’t think that is for everyone it just happened to work for me. Changing up what foods you eat was surprisingly easy for me but I am not a vegan or vegetarian so I didn’t have any issues there.

Weight loss is a challenging endeavor, if you embark on it be honest why you are doing it. It made it way easier for me to achieve my goal by being honest that I just wanted to look better. No shame in that IMHO, and if your journey is for health reasons all the better.

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Simple first steps to lose weight

And on and on it goes… Loosing weight is a topic that gets covered ad nuseum on the internet. The whole spectrum is covered from work outs to diets to how many breaths a minute you should take a minute LOL. Where do you start though? Sure you can read a book, subscribe to a website, get a trainer no one is stopping you but there are a couple very simple things you can do right now that can get you on the path to losing weight.

Does this mean these simple steps are going to result in a 100lb weight loss? Maybe, but what I can say is this will help change your metabolism which is the lynch pin to losing weight. Your metabolism is basically how you convert food to energy to sustain life functions. From breathing to bathroom breaks you need energy to execute bodilty functions.

So a few things you can do:

  1. Always take the stairs: By increasing your steps you increase the amount of calories you burn. Find a way to take more steps at work, take the stairs, take the long way to the office etc.
  2. Reduce your sugar: Candy, Gum, Sugar in the coffee, processed foods… look at the food you are eating and look for food that has low sugar. That doesn’t mean low carbs (that’s later) just start cutting sugar.
  3. Soda is a treat not a staple: Start replacing some of your soda intake with either water or coffee. Not heavy cream/sugar filled coffee but soda really has no benefit at all. Sure have it once in a while but start cutting this out of your diet.
  4. Higher quality of food: Think of your body as a mutual fund, the more you invest over time the more income you get. Start eating the best quality food you can get. Yes this will cost you more but your worth the investment. Higher quality food = less chemicals = less stress on your body functions.
  5. Fruit in moderation: People rightly believe that fruit is good for them. The issue really is the amount of fruit and source of fruit. First you want organic fruit, as non organic fruit is covered in pesticides your body has a hard time processing these. But the amount of fruit is critical as fruit is loaded with sugars.

Bottom line is small changes like these get you on the path. If every Monday you start a new diet, this Monday start a new lifestyle and try incorporating one or ALL of the items above !