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How I stay in shape over 50 – “Warm Up Day”

Working out = putting stress on your body. There is no way around this no matter what you are doing you are exposing your body to stress. Now stress by way of exercise can produce higher calorie burns, increased muscle mass and generally good health. What about when you get older? As I have said before on my blog, I lift weights, moderately heavy weights. This is important for men over 50 to maintain testosterone levels but this has the negative impact of really putting stress on joints.

Warm ups are important. If you have been in any form of an exercise program you have heard of the concept. Simply put, you are warming your body up so that it is prepared for a stress movement. You don’t warm up for a walk, but you do for squats, you get the idea. The older you get the more important it is to “warm up”. Its more than just getting your heart rate elevated to increase blood flow, that’s an important part of it.

The more important part is to target the areas in the warm up you plan to work in that training session. If your squatting today, you need to stretch your hamstrings and release your hips. If you benching pressing you need to target your shoulders for stretches. The key is being very aware of the muscle group you are working that day, and plan your warm up accordingly. Now the over 50 part. What I do at 52 and what I recommend everyone over 50 do is have one day a week as a “warm up day”

Stretch your body and your mind

What does that mean? That means you are exclusively using light exercise and stretching one day a week outside of your normal workout routines. Now maybe you aren’t here yet in your training. Maybe you go to the gym, do the treadmill leave. That’s cool you do you, this advice is really meant for people engaged in a moderate to mid-level training routine and are over 50. For those people, your recovery is more important as you do not have youth on your side. This “warm up day” is part of your recovery cycle.

What a “warm up day” looks like for me

  1. 30 min walk on the treadmill: I use the track which is flat and just do 30 min at about 3.0 speed. This loosens up my hips, gets blood moving, and helps me identify pain points. If it hurts when you are walking, you need to address it.
  2. Hamstring stretches: I put time in here, this is a pain point for me. My hamstrings are extremely tight. There are a few good stretches you can do, find one that works for you.
  3. Unlocking my hips: I sit Japanese style first, then flare out the bottom of my legs (calf area) and try and rest my butt on the floor in the gap. This will stretch your hips a lot. There are a lot of hip stretches out there, this one works for me.
  4. Snake pose & Planks: Snake pose is with two hands on the ground and push up locking your lower body on the ground. This stretches your lower back. Plank is a plank, lol they suck.
  5. I then stand and get a light bar and do trunk twists
  6. Next shoulders: I cross my right arm in front of my body and pull it at the elbow with my left, then switch sides.
  7. I then find an upright bar/machine and stretch my chest, then my back.

Now I realize I am not getting into great detail and posting pictures etc. You can find stretches online and or are doing something similar. For me this “warm up day” is about an hour (I rarely spend more than an hour in the gym per session). As I am leaving, I am aware of what “spot” has pain.

This is the benefit of the warm up day, you are hitting everything with a stretch nothing can escape. You will know if something isn’t right and or what needs to be rested going forward. Or in my case, what area needs icy hot (or for all my Gen X Friends out there, some bengay, lol). Remember to warm up before each work out with targeted stretches and start incorporating a “warm up day” into your routine, your 50+ year old self will thank you.

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How I stay in shape over 50: The importance and illusion of the forearm

If you have been working out for a while you’ve likely heard about the illusion of the V taper. Basically the broader your shoulders are, the smaller your waist will appear. This creates the illusion of you being thinner then you actually are. This actually works, but there is a subtler, yet potent illusion men can use to increase attraction. The Forearm.

To be clear, this post is meant for heterosexual men attempting to attract women. I don’t know if this works for other sexualities, you would have to tell me. Now your forearms are the director connector to your hands which many people watch while engaged. Hands are used in communication all the time, people watch your hands, so do women. There is plenty of psychology around this, I’m not going to post a bunch of links here but I would ask you to consider this: Why do women get their nails done and make sure their hands are smooth?

Back to Men…. So hands are important, for men this extends to the forearms. A muscled and cut (you can see the veins) forearm creates the illusion (in some cases its true) that the rest of the body is as defined. Most men are covered head to toe. Often the only thing exposed is the head, neck and arms. If you have sleeves on your jacket or shirt even your arms aren’t exposed. Females like flesh too. Don’t be fooled by this, this might not be their sole motivation for engaging with you but we have to be real here, women evaluate men sexually too. Attraction may be different for them (meaning the fact you can fix the car might be “Hot” to them) but they also enjoy a man who looks good physically.

What ever you say Popeye

This isn’t absolute, there are always exceptions to the rule. Your forearms set off one of the few socially acceptable “flesh points” for men. If you are having your nails polished, nvm… if you aren’t, then a vascular well-muscled forearm will get you attention most of the time. The issue then becomes training. Your forearms are engaged in nearly every exercise you do in the gym so hitting them exclusively has to be done carefully.

Forearms should be worked at the end of a workout so you do not pre exhaust them and prohibit other lifts. Reverse curls, and wrist curls are two simple exercises you can do that will beef up your forearms. Start working these into your routine a few times week. Your forearms will grow quickly, you use them all the time so be very aware of how they feel and where you are at with them.  Strong forearms set off an entire look. You can be wearing a suit and you roll up your sleeves…. Your forearms will take center stage. You might lift something for someone, and the veins pop, and their eyes widen.

Don’t neglect your forearms, the illusion they can create is potent.

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How I stay in shape over 50 – Reality

So I dedicate a portion of my blog to my fitness journey. This started with my post here on how I lost weight during covid etc. I have maintained that weight loss and am now in the midst of obtaining higher fitness levels. To be less semantic, I am attempting to move into a space where I can actually be athletic. Meaning running races, playing in a basketball league etc.

The reality of being over 50 is injuries have accumulated over the years. If you are over 50 you know what I mean. If you aren’t, say you are 28, that wrist injury you had a few months ago (or something else) maybe you get another one in 5 years, well those start to accumulate into a propensity to be injury susceptible for that specific region. Lower backs, Knees, elbows, shoulders it happens.

This is the reality of staying in shape over 50, you have to tailor your training to accommodate the accumulated effects of your injuries. I have two myself, my left anterior deltoid (top shoulder) and my right ring finger (I have broken it twice, sprained it a dozen times). So for me this effects upper body work specifically bench press. I can no longer go as heavy as I used to and so I find myself altering my upper body work a lot.

As you age and you enter your 5th decade you will come face to face with these realities as well based on your history. It goes without saying stretching, hydration and proper recovery are paramount along with good nutrition. At some point you may experience (like I have) long term damage to one area, prohibiting your progress. So what do you do?

Shoulder injuries suck

For me on my chest days I have changes the methodology on how I train. In prior posts I put forth the concept of bigger loads, lower reps = higher metabolic outcomes and that is factually true. The heavier you lift the more of your endocrine system you engage. Now I am working on volume training. So I will get on the bench and put on 2 45 pound plates, + the bar = 135 pounds. I will do 50 reps as fast as I can. Now I can’t do 50 in a row but the speed in which you do it is important because you are creating a DIFFERENT anabolic effect through the cardio application.

I am still getting as sore and I am not losing mass. I am not gaining muscle either WHICH IS POSSIBLE for men over 50, yes you can still gain muscle. The point of all of this is dealing with reality, over 50. I don’t know where you are in your health journey, I hope it’s a good spot. Be mindful of what hurts, be mindful of when it hurts and be mindful of how long it hurts. Its highly likely as you age you are going to have issues in that area and you have to be prepared to alter your approach to continue positive outcomes.

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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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How I stay in shape over 50 – Squats (in detail)

In 2021 I lost a lot of weight and to be blunt most of it was fat and water. My muscle tone improved dramatically, obviously from losing weight but because I also increased my muscle mass. I am by no means a diet guru, this isn’t a fitness blog but I’ve done it. I lost nearly 30 pounds and kept it off. Sure there are no photos to prove this, I mean you are going to believe what you want any way. How do I keep it off though? Perhaps more importantly how do I train to maintain muscle mass.

To be blunt I do very little. I train, hard but I am in the gym only 3 times a week and each session is intense for perhaps 30 min. Now outside of the gym I stay active. I shovel snow, I walk, I rake leaves, I take the stairs, I mow the lawn. I find ways to move which = calories burned. But how do I stay in shape? I do squats. I employ the same strategy to my upper body as well but that is another post for another day.

So Squats – In detail……

Squats are a compound exercise engaging multiple muscle groups in one motion. Get familiar with the concept of “Compound Exercises” if you are a man over 50 it’s the fountain of youth if you can pull them off. Squats are considered by many the “king of exercises” because of how much of your body and systems are engaged in the operation. Simply put, you bend at the knee lowering down, ideally touching your but to the ground (no one can do this, but go deep and low) and then rise up. Feet placement can vary but as a general rule you want your feet shoulder length apart, slight wider is fine, your toes should be straight ahead or outward. This largely depends on your hip flexibility, do a few air squats and then look at your feet, your body tells you where they belong.

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 1/1/22 – 3/31/22.
  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.

Over time you will make gains

The catch here is every workout you make the 5×5 (25 total reps) you increase the weight for the next workout by 10% or for simplicity 10 pounds. Additionally, you want to start with a weight that is challenging. Most free-weight bars are 45 pounds. I would encourage you to start there, for me I start with 90 pounds (the bar with a 25-pound plate on each side). So in a 3 month span you would have 36 workouts, 18 of which would be squat days. If you started with 100 pounds and were able to hit the 25 rep each workout, by your last workout you would be squatting 260 pounds for 5 sets 5 reps. Again it really depends on what weight you start at but somewhere in the middle is when things should get very hard, and you should be failing. There will be workouts you can’t get 3 full sets of 5. That’s okay, you come back the next work out and use that same weight UNTIL you get the 5 sets and 5 reps.

This becomes a gut busting sweaty mess, but it’s the kick in the ass any man over 50 needs. Its increasing your strength, your endocrine system, your cardio system it really is hard work. I do a very similar workout for my upper body as well but that is for another time. I don’t run, I diet, I don’t skip desert but when I go to the gym, I go intense.

If you do this, you will lose weight and keep it off. Try it, let me know how you do.

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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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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Lower your anxiety with Exercise

I know we have all seen plenty of articles on this subject. Well add another one to the list because a new year is around the corner and you should, once and for all, make exercise a priority. Notice I didn’t say lose weight, I didn’t say diet, I didn’t say train, EXERCISE.

Just exercise more, that’s it. I’m not saying change your eating habits, I mean if you want to down a pint of ice cream a day that’s cool. If you increase your exercise and everything else in your life remains the same you will lower your anxiety (and improve your health!).

I found a good article here that discusses this a little more in depth.

From the article: “More specifically, the follow-up analysis showed that “people with the lowest combined aerobic and muscular fitness had 98% higher odds of depression, 60% higher odds of anxiety, and 81% higher odds of having either one of the common mental health disorders, compared to those with high levels of overall fitness.”

Based on these findings, the authors speculate that aerobic and resistance training may offset the risk of experiencing depression, anxiety, and other common mental health disorders. “While broadly increasing physical activity will be beneficial, structured aerobic and resistance exercises with sufficient intensity to improve fitness may have a greater effect on risk reduction,” the authors note.”

Do something, anything ! GET MOVING !

Again this article isn’t pushing the fitness industry narratives we are all currently swarmed with. You know the super fit models doing some exercise and eating a handful of berries on one leaf of spinach? It’s creating an unobtainable goal for many people to pull you in, get your money, sell you products (fitness equipment, supplements, sleep aids, on and on) and keep you literally on a treadmill to extract as much money from you as possible.

Cynical enough? The point here is, and this study confirms that ANY increase in exercise is a net positive in combating anxiety and general mental health issues. This can be as little as once a day doing as many pushups as you can. Maybe increase your steps 2000 a day, jump rope for 5 min… you get the picture.

You don’t have to go on extreme diets, train like a professional athlete or be a genetic specimen to benefit from exercise. Small incremental increases in activity begin to translate into planned exercise. This can directly lead to anxiety relief and isn’t that what we are all looking for? This article supports that notion so go ahead, go out for a walk, every day.

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