Exercises You Shouldn’t Do After 50

Lately, I’ve seen a number of articles that claim that there are exercises that you should not do after 40, 50, or 60. (i.e. This article on cheatsheet) I want to jump on that bandwagon (and kick everyone off)! There are NO exercises that are off-limits because of your age!

Untitled design (6)What is important to note is that with each passing year that you do nothing physical, you lose more ground on what you are capable of doing. Yet, even with the decreased abilities of a sedentary life, there are still no exercises that you should not do because of your age. What you do have to do is change how you start to do that exercise.

Options are a wonderful thing! There are a billion variations of exercises that can be done and you need to simply select the option that is closest to your current physical condition. Say you want to do back squats with weights (which I think is a great exercise), but you haven’t done them in decades, if ever. You can start with bodyweight squats. Do a number that is comfortable on day 1 and see how you feel the next day. If all’s well, move on to the next progression. Maybe that is more repetitions. Maybe it’s doing them deeper. Maybe you work on perfecting the form. Bit by bit, as you perform them better, you can add weight. What if you can’t hold on to a bar behind your head because of limited shoulder mobility? While you work on regaining that mobility, you could hold dumbbells at your sides, or in front of your body under your chin (a la goblet squats). As you regain the mobility in your shoulders, you could eventually start to put a bar on your back across the back of your shoulders (not on your neck). Et voila! You’re doing back squats with weight. To be clear, I’m not saying do back squats. I’m saying that you could safely get to a point where you could do them if you wanted to. Nothing is off-limits because of your age. You can build to being able to do almost anything if you so desire. It’s all about choosing the right progression to get you there safely and effectively.

Now, I know that you may not be aware of all of those possibilities and progressions to get you from point A to point Z (your end game). This is where getting together with a certified personal trainer might be your best bet. Look for one in your area or shoot me a message if you would like my help.

 

Good luck.

 

Challenge Yourself!

There all kinds of “Challenges” running about on the internet. They are set periods of time in which you do or don’t do something throughout that time. Challenges can be great ways to jumpstart a program. Most people can do something difficult to attain a particular goal. However, before you jump on the bandwagon, there are a few considerations that you should take into account.challenge

  • Don’t just do a challenge because it’s out there. I saw a “30 minute plank challenge” on Facebook that was ridiculous. First, there’s no point to doing a plank for 30 minutes and second, couldn’t you choose a challenge that is more meaningful and more likely to help you reach your goals?
    • Choose a challenge that sets up behavioral change beyond the timeframe. Say you want to eat better, maybe the challenge is to eat no processed foods. For a short time this might be a good one and, beyond the end of it, you’ll be in better control and better aware of eating at least less of those food items.
    • Choose to prepare for something. Maybe you want to train for a certain event such as a race or a hike or an obstacle course. Couch to 5K is an example of that.
  • You can create your own challenge. Don’t get hung up on looking for a set program to do. Just create your own.
  • Do it with a friend. Doing things that are challenging are typically more successful if you have the support of, and share the experience with, a friend.
  • Choose a timeframe that is realistic. If the chosen timeframe is too short, it is either unrealistic to reach your goal or it’s not much of a challenge. Many programs run 6, 8, 12 weeks (don’t ask me why, but I don’t see many 10 wk programs). These lengths give enough time to accomplish something meaningful.
  • Review your success once the challenge is done. After you complete your challenge, you should take a good look at what you’ve accomplished and appreciate the effort that you put into it. Maybe it wasn’t perfect. That’s okay. It’s not all or nothing. Look at it in percentages. In example, if you meant to eat breakfast every day and you only did it half of the time, that’s still 50% more than you were doing before. Or, you were training for a running event and you only could get in 3 of the 4 miles per day that you set out to do. That’s still 75% of your goal. In both examples, good for you!

Challenges, something done or not done for a set period of time, may be a way to change your behaviors or accomplish something on your bucket list. Think about what change would be meaningful to you and set up a challenge to get yourself started.

Good luck, and please let me know if you could use some help with this.

Success is Not Linear!

Every advertisement or “guru” (both of which are trying to sell you something) will claim that if you just use this product or try this method, you’ll gain wealth, lose fat, get healthy, be popular, yada, yada, yada… If this, then that! Simple. Well, not so fast. Nothing is that simple. There are always stumbling blocks (funny that nobody wants to talk about that). There are always things that you either didn’t plan for, or couldn’t plan for. These things will set you back. You will lose ground and guess what… it’s okay.

nonlinear success1

Your success will not be a linear progression. The key to success is to stay the course. The path may lead up and down, but the path (your plan) will eventually get you to your goal.

Things that can help you make the path a little smoother include:

  1. Imagine the obstacles that could show up, or ones that have shown up in the past, and come up with a plan to pre-handle those obstacles.
  2. Don’t let the unexpected set you back more than it needs to. When something sets you back, it’s easy to let the emotional side get the better of you. This can often lead to a delay in getting back up and moving again. Whatever happened, the sooner you get back on your path, the sooner you reach your goal. Start back up, now!
  3. Embrace the journey, don’t stress out about the moment. Committing to the long haul gives you prospective and allows you to see that little fluctuations here and there are not that important in the scheme of things.

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Accepting that your progress will not be linear and that that is okay, will set you up for a a more positive attitude and with that, a better chance of succeeding.

Good luck with your journey!

PHIT Act Passes in House and Why You Should Care

The PHIT Act ( Personal Health Investment Today) passed the House of Representatives vote on July 25, 2018. What this actually means is that people could pay for health club memberships, fitness programs, personal training, youth sports, etc. using their Health Savings Accounts (HSA) and/or their Flexible Savings Accounts (FSA) with no tax penalty. PHIT

This is one of those steps that we in the fitness industry have been working for and waiting for. This will help decrease one of the barriers to getting fit and healthy… the cost. Now, of course there are other barriers (perceived or actual), such as lack of time, access to quality information, and appropriate facilities, but this is a huge start.

The battle isn’t over either, though. The PHIT Act still needs to pass the Senate. Contact your Senators and let them know how important this is.

Find out more at PHIT America.

A Weight is a Weight is a Weight

I had a call from someone inquiring if we offered kettlebell classes. He was disappointed to hear that we didn’t offer that class nor use kettlebells in our personal training. In spite of trying to explain that we could replicate almost every exercise with a dumbbell, it was a deal breaker. This post is going to give you the scoop on a lot of the trendy pieces of equipment out there.

external wts

Let’s start with external loading, meaning something that has weight that is outside of your body. This includes everything from a dumbbell to your grocery bag.

All things are acted upon by gravity (this is what gives it weight) and gravity’s force is perpendicular to the ground. This is why we need multi-angled benches in the gym. In order to change what muscles or area of muscles we are working, we have to change our body position since the direction of the force of gravity is fixed.

Your muscles do not know what you are holding. It only senses that what you are holding has weight. Your grocery bag could indeed be your workout tool. That said, there are kettlebells, sandbags, medicine balls, BodyBars, sledge hammers, tires, etc. all trying to be the next big training tool. So, what is the deal with all of these workout tools?

They are all external loads with just some minor differences.

Kettlebells: It’s a weighted ball with a handle on it. There a few movements that have a unique advantage because the leverage when held with the “ball” resting on the forearm or when inverted with the “ball” above the handle. Other than that… it’s just a weight.

Sandbags: Think, a sand weighted duffle bag. It’s a weight that shifts and can be thrown around and slammed down without damage. Other than that… it’s just a weight.

Medicine Balls: Weighted balls that can be lifted, thrown, and slammed. Some bounce a lot, a little, or not at all (depending on the style). … it’s just a weight.

BodyBars: it’s just a padded, fixed weight bar…

Sledge-Hammer: It may be a regular sledge-hammer, or maybe a fancier (more expensive) version, which, in essence, is simply a handle with a weight on one end that you can swing around or slam down. Because of the leverage, it offers some slight variation in some movements. But, all in all… it’s just a weight.

Tires: These are typically discarded truck tires (although you can buy some really fancy ones) and are almost strictly used for flipping. OK, again, there’s a leverage issue that’s a little different from, say, doing a deadlift, but only a little. Once again… it’s just a weight.

Now, I’m the first person to say that I love my toys. I love having a variety of implements. I love them because they offer a psychological change for clients, not because they offer a real physiological one. What my point in this whole thing is, is that external loads are mostly all the same and you shouldn’t believe any hype about “X” being the “best” way to train. Buckets filled with water, rocks from your yard, indeed… grocery bags could all be just as effective. Just lift things up and put them down. (Hmmn? that sounds familiar) 😉

Don’t Break the Chain

As the story goes, when a young comedian asked Jerry Seinfeld if he had any words of wisdom, Seinfeld said, “Don’t break the chain.” What he was talking about was that he set a goal for himself of writing X number of jokes every day and when he accomplished this, he would cross off that day on the calendar. This created his “chain” or consecutive days of achievement.

dont break the chain

The idea of this chain, or consistency tracking, is a way to motivate you into creating a habit that helps you work toward your goals. Currently, I’m using Duolingo to help me learn Japanese. The app sends me a reminder every day to not break the chain.

duolingoThere is a definite desire to build that consistency record. Whether you are marking the days that you work out or eat correctly or practice your instrument…. checking off those days feels good and does add motivation. And… the longer your chain or record goes, the more you try not to break it.

Now, probably, at some point, you will miss a day/break the chain, and you need to jump back on and start again from scratch (as far as the chain is concerned), but having worked at that consistency, we are already ahead of the game, both in what we have accomplished goal wise and in the building of a habit.

So, start now and again as often as you need to. Build that chain. Build those habits that will lead you to your goals.

Run a Simulation for Success

I’m currently reading Mind Hacking by Sir John Hargrave. In essence, the book is about how to change behaviors. One of the concepts that he discusses is the idea of running simulations of your future plans. Now, in the past, I’ve read research that’s shown that those who have a clear plan for the future have a better chance of attaining it than those who do not. Additionally, those that write those plans down have a better chance of attaining them than those that just keep them in their head. Now, Hargrave has cited research that shows that individuals that run simulations as to how they are going to achieve their goals, are the most successful.296D0E66-F203-4F6C-A115-4A84FF7EC0BDSo, what does it mean to run simulations? Imagine mapping out how you intend on reaching your goals from beginning to end. Now, you write out everything you can think of that could throw a monkey-wrench into your plan. A simulation is the addition of those stumbling blocks AND the solutions to deal with them and still keep you on course to attain your goals.

Start simulations with things that have happened in the past, so you know they could happen again in the future. Let’s say you plan out what days and times you are going to head to the gym to work out. Ask yourself what would happen if a deadline for a project is coming up and you’re going to have to stay late to work on it. This is going to knock out the evenings that you were planning to go to the gym. You have, however, thought this possibility through. You have a contingency plan. You get up an hour earlier in the morning and fit your workouts in before work. (as an example) The important idea is to not be reactionary. Don’t wait until something happens and then try to figure it out.

For maximum chances of success, have clear, specific goals in mind. Write them down. Write down how you intend on reaching them. Think of possible obstacles. Run simulations. Come up with contingencies and continue your progress in spite of those things that pop up to challenge you. You will even feel more confident in your ability to reach your goals.

Good luck!

 

“Savage Consistency!”

In describing how he helped one of his clients lose 8″ around his waist in a few short months, a personal trainer friend of mine, Chad Landers stated, “No crazy diets, no insane workouts. Just Savage Consistency with the basics.” I love the phrase that he used, “Savage Consistency” and needed to discuss that idea.

People often wonder why they aren’t seeing results from their fitness program. Well, of course, part of that might be that they aren’t controlling their diets. But the other part is often that they just aren’t working out consistently. Training once a week or every other week is not going to change your body or health status.

Untitled design (8)It’s like brushing your teeth. Just brushing occasionally is not going to keep them pearly white and cavity free. You have to make it part of your daily regimen. The same is true for working out or managing your diet. To see real results, you have to be consistent.

Here’s an important bit, though, it’s not an all or nothing thing. You don’t have to spend huge amounts of time at it. In my opinion, creating the habit is, initially, more important than how much you do during your workout. Show up. Do something. Show up again. Do a little more. Show up again…etc. Create the habit of doing, at whatever level, and you can build the time and intensity as you go.

Start your program with commitment to “Savage Consistency”. Commit to getting some kind of workout in (this may be 3 or more times per week) and some form of nutrition change in every day. Embrace the notion that something done with consistency is going to be better than having that “perfect” workout or diet day, once every blue moon.

P.S. Now, of course, something is better than nothing. So, if occasionally doing something is truly all you can manage, go with it. You just won’t see the results you could if you were more consistent.

What If Your Doctor is Wrong?

There are great doctors and there are awful doctors. There are doctors in-between. Just like any other profession. Of course, there are doctors that are great in some areas and lousy in other areas. The problem is knowing which your doctor is.

Just the other day, a client in her mid-sixties came to me after injuring her wrist. She said that when she went to her doctor, the doctor told her to stop lifting weights, which, for her wrist at the time, would not have been unreasonable. However, the doctor then followed up with, “Why would a woman your age want to lift weights anyway?” I was taken back that this opinion still exists in the medical community. My client said that she wasn’t going to be swayed by her doctor and that she knows the importance of strength training as we get older. (Phew!)

scrubs

A scene from “Scrubs”

Now, even the best doctors can’t stay current on all areas of human health. As a fitness professional, I know that there is new research every day and that it takes work on my part to stay up with the most current information. Because there can be new studies that could potentially disprove what I “know”, I understand that I can be proven wrong and am happy to change my position if enough evidence supports it. Good doctors will do the same.

So, my suggestion to you when you believe your doctor is mistaken, is to find the research to back up what you believe is correct. Present that information to your doctor ask to discuss it with him or her. If they are not willing to discuss it, maybe you should look for a doctor who will. There is a caveat to this though, don’t just take what you find on Facebook or what Dr. Oz says to be as good as scientifically supported information. Use credible sources. Here’s a pretty good list of sources for accurate health and medical information. RefSeek’s guide to the 25 best online resources for medical reference Remember, doctors are not infallible. Don’t fear questioning them. Be your own advocate.

*By the way, here’s some research on strength training as we get older: “Current research has demonstrated that strength-training exercises have the ability to combat weakness and frailty and their debilitating consequences. Done regularly (e.g., 2 to 3 days per week), these exercises build muscle strength and muscle mass and preserve bone density, independence, and vitality with age. In addition, strength training also has the ability to reduce the risk of osteoporosis and the signs and symptoms of numerous chronic diseases such as heart disease, arthritis, and type 2 diabetes, while also improving sleep and reducing depression. – The benefits of strength training for older adults.  Am J Prev Med. 2003 Oct;25 (3 Suppl 2):141-9. Seguin R1, Nelson ME.