Posted On March 20, 2024

Dont Get Old Before Your Time!

How many people have that OMG experience when they suddenly become aware of how lousy they look and feel at an age when they should be in their prime?

They feel ancient and look ten or twenty years older than they actually are.

When a person does not take action to slow physical decline bad things happen.

Taking action to build a strong and healthy body can make a HUGE difference in a persons health and vitality in their 40s, 50s 60s and beyond.

How do I know this?

I’m 83 (almost 84) and most people think I’m a fit 60. The picture below was taken during one of my workouts (age 82) and is pretty dramatic proof that Im in very good shape.

The reason I put this picture in this article is to show that Im not just a 30-something trainer trying to tell seniors how to train because I took a weekend course in how to train mature adults.

I have been in super shape my whole lifeand continue to stay that way.

In short, my advice is based on a lifetime of experience not simply jumping into the fitness thing a few months ago.


Getting in Shape is Straightforward but not always easy.

You have probably heard many times that the secret to health, fitness, and longevity is diet and exercise.

This is fundamentally true.

It is easy to say, but the details are much more complicated than the simple statement would imply.

Getting in good shape and staying there is not easy.

If someone tells you there is a simple way to accomplish this, they are trying to sell you a fantasy.

To get in good shape and stay that way requires consistent work over a long period of time. Basically, it is changing your lifestyle so that exercise and good nutrition are the way you live all the time!

The good news is that this is something you do for yourself. This is not done for you by an outside contractor or done to you by a doctor.

You are the boss.

Thats the good news.and maybe the bad news.

Your present condition is the consequence of everything you have been doing up to this point. If you are in poor condition, you will probably have to change a little or a lot of what you are doing now.



The cornerstone of any exercise program for people who are in their 40s or older is resistance training. The most convenient version of this is weight training.

Building solid muscle in place of flaccid muscle is essential for men and women who want to enjoy an active lifestyle for a long long time.

Lifting weights makes a person strong and when done properly better coordinated.

Never equate weightlifting for fitness training with the huge hulking bodybuilders who are often featured in fitness advertising. Becoming that big typically requires taking significant amounts of steroids. It is virtually impossible to get huge without using drugs.

If you are a normal person and perhaps even a bit overweight, the likely result of weight training is that you will become smaller and more athletic looking. This is particularly true for women.

A second key element of becoming fit and healthy is cardiovascular fitness.

Cardio training can be running, swimming, cycling, rowing, dancing, or any other activity you do for 20-40 minutes that sustains a modestly elevated heart rate a bit.

Cardio training builds a strong heart and vascular system as well as transporting oxygen rich blood to all the bodys vital organs.

There is no need to think in terms of running marathons or riding in the Tour de France.

Regular cardio training with modest exertion will make a significant positive impact on anyones conditioning.


Nutrition (aka. Diet)

The idea of going on a diet is something that most people would not like to do.

However, if you are in poor condition and perhaps carrying too much body fat, a diet/nutrition program is important for teaching you how to manage your food intake and begin building good nutrition habits.

It is essential to structure your eating habits so that eventually you routinely eat the right things in the right amounts.

Most diets have strict rules about how much to eat and when. People struggle to stay on the diet until they have reached their goal.

For many people being on a diet seems like following a harsh set of rules imposed by a malevolent dictator.

The amount of difficulty one has staying on a diet will generally depend on how many changes they must make to eat properly for health and fitness.

The key to long term success is to build your habits over time so that you eat appropriately without too many rules or consciously fretting about it.

In short, over time you build your own system to eat right without thinking much about it.



Other Healthy Habits

Getting proper sleep is one of the single most important factors in building a healthy body. Many people ignore this or pretend it is not critical.

Managing the amount of stress in your life is also essential. This means learning to deal with the continuing demands that life puts on us. We have responsibilities for work, family, managing your daily routine and so forth.

These cannot be waved away with a magic want nor can 10 minutes of faux meditation solve the objective problems that cause stress.

One area that will be directly impacted by fitness training is concern about your own health. Taking positive steps to give yourself the best chance to be healthy can make a significant impact on any nagging concerns you may have.

Becoming fit will not defeat a dread disease (eg. cancer). However, being in the best condition you can will give you powerful odds against developing a range of chronic long term health conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, osteoporosis, etc.

There are a number of marginally important habits that are often touted as being vastly more important than they are.

These include such things as drinking a lot of water, downing dozens of supplements, or being able to get up off the floor without using your hands.

Doing a bunch of marginally useful but somewhat visible things is not a substitute for doing the big thingsexercise and proper nutrition.

When you begin training the most important thing is to get your physical activity and nutrition working well. As you progress through more advanced stages of training the value of small nuances becomes more salient.


What do I do?

Getting started can be confusing and frustrating. It is common for most people to quit a fitness program very soon after starting. Industry statistics show that roughly 90% of the people who join a gym for the first time will quit within 30 days.

There is no way around the fact that starting a new program will be disruptive of your current routines and ways of doing things. However, remember the long-term objective. You want to start feeling younger, stronger and be in better health now and well into the future.

The first thing to do is assess your current level of fitness and health.

If you have been inactive for more than a year, I strongly recommend that you consult with your physician before beginning a workout program. For some people there is an element of risk in starting activities that may stress parts of your body that have deteriorated.

When you begin an exercise program you will start using muscles that have not been used for a long time. They will be relatively weak and thus prone to injury more than muscles you have been using.

You should also understand that you will be putting stresses on your joints and spine that are much higher than you are used to.

Thus, begin with relatively easy work and build up over time. Your body will accommodate to a gradual increase in workload. If you do too much too soon, the likely result is injury.

If you are heavy, I strongly recommend that you avoid running until you have been training for a while. Your joints and skeletal system are not used to the pounding and stress that running will put on your system.

If you begin running as your aerobic training, I strongly advise against doing any HITT type work until you have built up a solid base of moving at a jogging pace.

You must be in good running shape to train with high intensity effort. Several months of slow running is necessary before beginning any form of interval training.


Starting Weight Training

Beginning weight training after years of being relatively inactive must be done cautiously.

In the first month I recommend doing compound movements that work major muscle groups using dumbbells and barbells.

Keep the weights light and emphasize full range of motion. All exercises 1 or 2 sets for 6-8 reps. Train 3 or 4 days a week with rest days between sessions.

Here is a basic program:

  1. Standing dumbbell overhead press
  2. Barbell bench press (feet on the floor always)
  3. Dumbbell triceps press
  4. Dumbbell biceps curl
  5. Leg press
  6. Barbell rowing
  7. Squat holding dumbbells in each hand
  8. Abdominal plank

When you are beginning to train again the main thing to focus on is getting your body used to the stresses of working out after long periods of inactivity.

If you have been inactive for a long period of time before starting weight training, you will be pleasantly surprised by the rapid results you see. Your body will begin making transformations that you didnt believe were possible.

There are NO shortcuts.

There is no magic program that will give you huge gains in a few weeks. You cannot jump in and do advanced training without the foundation work.

It is necessary to build a solid foundation of strength and athleticism before thinking about going to more demanding programs. The ONLY path to progress is build your foundation and then undertake progressively more challenging training.

For example, after the first month of basic training you can begin doing some more difficult exercises such as the barbell squat and the deadlift. If you are diligent and consistently work on building strength and perfecting lifting technique, you will continue to make progress.

Although power lifts such as the bench press appear to be simple, you must be aware that to come close to your full potential you must master many skills of strength that are completely invisible to the novice.

For a more detailed discussion of weight training and getting back in shape check out my book on Amazon:

Getting Back in Shape After 50


Starting Aerobic Training

Ill use running in these examples because going outside and jogging is accessible to almost anyone.

However, you can use the same training logic for cycling, swimming, rowing, etc.

As with weights, begin easily and gradually work up. The gradual increase in training volume and intensity may take several months. The main thing is to do the work consistently.

Train 3-4 days a week. If you do weight training on the same day as running, do weights first.

Begin by jogging at a pace that is easy for you to maintain for roughly 400 yards. Walk until your breathing returns to normal then jog another 400 yards.

Everyone is a bit different. Some will find this easy to do while others will find it difficult.

The main objective is to be consistent and gradually work up to do slightly longer distances and slightly shorter walks between jogs.

When you have reached the point where you can run a mile without walking, then increase your total distance jogged to 1.5 miles.

Eventually you want to be able to routinely jog 2 miles without walking.


Time to Move!

If you have been sedentary for a long while, you can barely imagine what it feels like to be in great shape at an advanced age. Literally you feel great 24/7/365!

But you cannot get there in a few simple sessions. However, the longer you train the more benefit you get.

Getting is good physical condition is one of the few things in life where you are in almost complete control of what you do. It is also one of the few things in life where the results are directly related to the energy and effort you put in.

It is also the case that the sooner you start training the better chance you have to experience amazing results.

If you want more detailed information at a very modest cost, check out these two books I have written that are available on Amazon.

A Guide to Getting Younger After 60

Getting Back in Shape After 50

For those who are more experienced and in good basic shape for heavy lifting you may want to check out:

Powerlifting Over 50

Wherever you are on your quest for health and strength, I wish you the best. The rewards of being fit and strong as a senior are yours to enjoy 24/7/365.

Enjoy the journey and Lift Big!



Written by Richard

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