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O/T: HEALTH How to Wipe Your Own a$$ When You're 70

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Strategery

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I recently gave a talk about fitness and what has worked for me in front of a group of entrepreneurs. Here it is transcribed for you, with a few extras added at the very end. Enjoy! ~10 min read

Is average fitness advice enough to keep us healthy over the long haul? Should we be doing more, or something different entirely? Entrepreneurs are busy people who need the most effective methods… in marketing, with sales, logistics… why should exercise be any different? If you want to keep the ability to wipe your own a$$ when you’re 70, keep reading.

My doctor is a good guy. But when I’ve asked him in the past about strength training (mostly to amuse myself), his answer is always predictable… “you just need a light resistance program. Use bands. Don’t push too hard. Take it easy.” Sometimes I think he’s just kind of a nerd, and is unique. I thought that until I did some digging on strength levels in the US.

In the above study, grip strength was tested in young men in 1985 and again in 2016, and what they found was that (no surprise) millennials are getting weaker. Less people work physical jobs these days? I suppose it might be ok if it were something small, like it were only a decrease in grip strength. But another statistic from the CDC, summed up in the following article makes me think there’s a more systemic problem at hand..

Most Americans Too Fat, Too Dumb for the Military • The Havok Journal

“Most Americans Too Fat, Too Dumb for the Military”

Ouch. We’ve been hearing about the “obesity epidemic” for a long time now, but then they went and called us stupid. Why do statistics have to be so mean?

I dug around some more, maybe to confirm my biases on strength. Sadly I wasn’t disappointed..

In the above study, researchers concluded that the only way to retain the ability to walk when we’re older is by keeping enough muscle mass and strength in our legs/hips. But can we keep that strength and muscle by following basic guidelines? If the bare minimum is effective for retaining strength, then why isn’t it working?

A little about me… I have a bachelors in Athletic Training, which is a field of sports medicine, primarily concerned with athletic injury, treatment and prevention. I’m not currently working as an AT, but due to my obsession with sport (particularly jiu jitsu, boxing, snowboarding, rockclimbing, CrossFit) and my previous job (heavy equipment operator for a recycling center), I’ve been a great case study for the last decade or so. Before I was ever interested in business, in my twenties, I was only concerned with physical capabilities that directly impacted whatever sport I was doing at the time. I would do things so much that they would leave me debilitated at times… I’ve got a list of chronic injuries that hurts to look at. And up until a few years ago, those same injuries were my excuse for not lifting weights and not taking care of myself. Back then, everything that I did in preparation for physically demanding sports was… you guessed it…AVERAGE.

So how do we avoid average?

Disclaimer: I’m not responsible if you get hurt doing something stupid. Everything I talk about/recommend should be carefully considered and cleared with your doctor (who won’t be thrilled about your decision).

I can almost guarantee if you’re reading this, you want to add quality years to your life. You probably would like to do your activity/sport/hobby better. And for longer. Or maybe I have it completely wrong and you want to be a motherfucking freak-beast athlete NOW. Either way, my recommendation can get you what you want, just keep reading and let me define a few things first so we’re on the same page. Then I’ll tell you what to do.

I’m going to give you another statistic that I want you to keep in the back of your mind while reading:

After about the 30 years of age, physically inactive people lose between 3-5% of their muscle mass per decade which is roughly 0.5 lbs of muscle per year, and after 25, people will gain an average of 1.5lbs of fat per year. Even active people will experience some muscle loss in their lives. So think about it. Whether you exercise or not, your clock is ticking toward fragility.

Ok, so what is average fitness? What makes up the bare minimum? For absolute minimum standards,

  • the ability to walk
  • The ability to get in/out of a seated position
  • Ability to lift objects
Why these? Well, they make up basic ambulation… they let us get around. We do them everyday, regardless of athletic ability. What do every one of these have in common? What joint accomplishes these tasks?

Your hips!

Your hips are the area where strength matters the most, both for longevity, and optimum performance.

So if those criteria are average, what we want to know is how do we both satisfy the minimum, AND train for peak performance. All at once. Efficiently… Can we?

I found this in a few different spots on the interwebs, and there’s a few variations, but they all look alike. They say that the components of fitness are:

  1. Cardiovascular/respiratory endurance
  2. Stamina
  3. Strength
  4. Flexibility
  5. Power
  6. Speed
  7. Coordination
  8. Agility
  9. Balance
  10. Accuracy

Now, what do we not see on this list? … 6-pack abs is NOT a measure of fitness levels. Don’t believe me? Go to a jiu jitsu class… some of the guys who never gas out are a little chubby.

Out of all of these, the one that is trained very poorly, whether folks fall into the “health nut” category or especially with couch potatoes is STRENGTH. The way we, collectively, go about getting stronger is inefficient, and really pretty damn silly. Sadly, by doing this, we limit our ability to improve all the other areas on this list.

Let’s take two things on the list that most people don’t think would be improved by strength training: cardio and stamina. Both are improved with strength training by understanding an idea called sub-maximal effort. Every repetitive motion, like rowing or running or swinging a tennis raquet requires a certain amount of effort to do. If the muscles that perform that action are stronger, less effort is required to do the same task. Now there’s an upper limit on this… if you make big, fluffy body builder muscles, they will impact your ability to do fast motions. And obviously a powerlifter doesn’t have the ideal body to tackle a rock climb. But we’re not talking about that extreme. Let’s keep going.

What about power, agility, and speed? We’ll learn about those in a minute

Coordination, balance, accuracy? Are those affected by strength? Absolutely. Again, it goes back to sub-maximal effort. The stronger the muscles involved, the easier the movement becomes to perform.

So that leaves flexibility as the one component that isn’t positively impacted by strength gain. In fact, the bigger the muscle, the more you decrease your range of motion initially. But we can mitigate that consequence with the way we train as you’ll see.

So that leaves us with what do we actually do to be most effective in these components of fitness?

My model for this is as follows: We need to satisfy high levels of competency for

  • Musculoskeletal ability,
  • cardiovascular conditioning (I know I said it’s effected by strength training, but I still think it should be trained),
  • diet, and
  • mental health. For this article, we’re only going to focus on musculoskeletal ability, since it’s widely trained improperly. So what is it?
Musculoskeletal ability is composed of
  • Strength
  • Power
  • Mobility
Strength is the muscles’ ability to do work. I have a heavy object, I bend down and I pick it up. Strength accomplishes this.

Power is work, as a function of time. For our purposes, it’s the muscles’ ability to instantaneously do work. I have a barbell, and in one motion, I’m going to lift it from the ground up to my shoulders… that’s a power clean. Why do we care about that? Is that just for athletes?

Important concept:

Let’s say that I’m walking down an icy sidewalk. Now I practice what I preach and I lift and do power movements all the time. I slip and either I fall but I’m protected by muscle mass and developed bone density, or I’m able to brace in some way and keep from falling. Little harm is done. Power is what allows me to quickly shift my center of gravity so I don’t fall. But now let’s say I’m old and frail. In this scenario, I’ve never lifted weights. My muscles are strings and my bones are brittle. I slip on the ice, and I break my hip, because I couldn’t react quickly enough, and I don’t have the body structure to take the impact. Well, that’s sadly not the end of it. A broken hip for an older person can nearly be a death sentence. They’re going to be unable to walk for a long time. A longer time than one of us with the same injury. While they aren’t able to walk, their muscles atrophy worse. Remember the statistic I gave you earlier? After a certain age, inactive people lose about 1/2 lb of muscle and gain 1.5 lbs of fat per year. But those people are still walking. What happens to that statistic when you can’t walk? A little bit of muscle and power could have made this a much better scenario.

What about mobility? Mobility is the joint’s ability to go through an entire range of motion. That’s not the same as flexibility. Flexibility is how far a muscle can stretch, which can impact mobility. Since it’s hindered to some level by strength training, at least at the upper levels, we have to actively improve mobility. I’m going to give a general recommendation for it later, but I don’t have a ton to say about it.. in this post anyway.

Exercise Recommendations

So all of that is the why we train, and what we need to focus on to impact longevity and performance. Now I want to get closer to specific exercises, and this is where the direction taken will depend more on the individual… basically, what you’re willing to do.

I want to address optimized strength training, since I personally think it’s the way everyone should train. Now I understand a few of you guys are nomadic, or just super busy with your business and life, but I believe everyone who is capable should prioritize this type of training at least once in your life (and it’s going to take about a year to complete, maybe longer). Why? Because it’s effects don’t go away quickly, and it can be maintained easily later. What’s it look like?

Find out next time, in part 2/3, where you'll learn what programs I've used for peak performance.
 

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Bekit

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Massive value here. Thanks for sharing. Looking forward to part 2!
 

Raja

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waiting for part 2.
 

ZCP

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Are you available for hire? What area are you located?
 

Ocean Man

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I can’t wait for part two!

You can have all the money in the world, but if you don’t have your health to enjoy it, then there’s no point. This topic is definitely important. Thanks for sharing.
 

Strategery

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Are you available for hire? What area are you located?
Yes, I’m available for hire. I’m considering putting together an online coaching package so that I can work with anyone, anywhere.
 

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@Strategery and if you were to list out what that coaching package might look like and how people could best contact you to begin working with you, what might that look like?
 

Strategery

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@Strategery and if you were to list out what that coaching package might look like and how people could best contact you to begin working with you, what might that look like?
I feel like a good coach would address the following issues for clients:

- Exercise Form
- Weight progression
- Injury Prevention
- Diet/supplementation
- Mobility
- Motivation

Having a knowledgable coach would be necessary to make sure all of these things fit together well. I plan to address all of these for clients, for as long as they need to get the basics down. I would expect no less than a month to learn, and between 1-2 months to notice drastic improvements in strength.

To contact me, just DM me here for now, I check the forum quite frequently.

Part 2 is coming up soon, stay tuned y'all.
 

ZCP

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@Strategery would you like to use me as a guinea pig for a 4 week consult? you can put your plan / system together and then we can post a weekly synopsis of what you did here so others can see the awesome work you provide?
 

Strategery

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How to Wipe Your Own a$$ When You're 70: Part 2/3

BARBELLS

victor-freitas-cE31OaOfjbw-unsplash.jpg

… old school, heavy, dangerous-looking barbell exercises. They are difficult, complicated, and in the beginning, they aren’t very fun. Fitness circles today are still divided on barbell exercises, with those in favor of them being seen as a deranged group of folks who most likely do something stupid like CrossFit (did I mention I do CrossFit occasionally?). The ones who don’t do barbells or don’t like them can be found at Planet Fitness and other "safe spaces."

Realistically, most people are just scared to train with barbells, because they don’t know the exercises, they don’t know how effective barbells are for gaining strength, or they are just straight intimidated.

Barbells, despite their non-user friendliness, have every advantage when it comes to optimizing strength gain. Why?

  1. They are primarily used for compound lifts, which involve using the most number of muscles possible. This is the opposite of isolation exercises like bicep curls, lat raises that only utilize a group of muscles on one joint. Compound exercises use multiple joints, which saves time with training, and is generally more applicable to real-world strength.
  2. They can be used to load the spine with the most amount of weight possible, making compound lifts more effective. People who do high reps might not see the utility in this… they might think, why load heavy when I can just do a lot of reps? Because you can gain some strength like that. But what makes it ineffective? To do that and really gain strength, you have to have a very high volume that makes it difficult, especially with age, to recover from. For clarity, high rep sets are usually above 12 reps, moderate, bodybuilder rep range is between 10-12 (these make the muscles the biggest) and low rep ranges are subjective. What I’ll be recommending are rep ranges of 5, to keep hypertrophy low (maintaining mobility) and to keep soreness low. High volume also increases inflammation in the joints from what I’ve experienced. So since I’m talking about efficiency, I don’t recommend high reps for strength gain.
  3. The barbell provides a repeatable model for tracking strength adaptation since we’re always at the same height from the ground for each exercise. This also means that it can become a little boring since you’re doing a lot of the same stuff, which is probably another reason people don’t use them.
  4. Barbells provide a safe training tool, since the ends spin… since the ends spin, it prevents a rotational torque from being applied to the user, which would make exercises more difficult in undesirable ways.
So, barbells are the best training tool for gaining the most amount of strength, but with what exercises specifically?

For someone who wants to just do the bare minimum, I would regularly do deadlifts and low bar back squats. Those two exercises train across the hip and can be loaded maximally compared to any other lift. And they will increase strength. But, I think a better use of your time, especially if you’re already in the gym, the barbells and squat rack are there and you have the gumption, is to do an exercise program that emphasizes the following lifts:

  1. Low-bar back squats
  2. Deadlifts
  3. Overhead press(strict)
  4. Bench press
  5. Power Cleans (tricky one)
If you’re doing a program that does all of these, you’re hitting the majority of muscle groups that are responsible for adding years to your healthspan. You’re going to be able to do more physical activities for longer by training these exercises than people who don’t.

I’ll discuss the most important exercise on that list with as much detail as is convenient here, but I want to cover a few more things first.

More importantly than just knowing which exercises to do, we also need to know how to program each one in order to gain the most amount of strength. Sadly, just jumping on the internet and searching for beginning strength training programs may or may not produce a good result, since most people are only interested in getting jacked or ripped or whatever, so I’m going to share with you the most effective programs out there. Number 1 in my book:

The Starting Strength Novice Linear Progression

This program comes from one of the most knowledgeable strength coaches on the planet, Mark Rippetoe. He also has several books about the subject, the most popular of which, and one I highly recommend is called Starting Strength. I’m going to save you some time and energy by giving you the nuts and bolts of this program, but it is by no means going to be comprehensive, because truthfully, Starting Strength is way more than just a book or a program, it’s a revolution for developing strength in any age group.

I would also recommend checking out some of the several case studies at startingstrength.com where the novice program was implemented and the people got crazy strong. There are even a few studies showing where little old ladies were able to do the program and throw their walkers away.

With Starting Strength, you’re going to start all of the lifts off at a light weight. So light that you won’t feel like you’re doing anything at first. With each workout, you’ll add 10 pounds to the squat and deadlift, and 5 pounds to the upper body lifts, until it gets too hard to add that much weight, then you’ll add 5 pounds to the lower body lifts per session, and 2 pounds to the upper lifts… basically you will keep going up in weight each training session until you can’t anymore. When you fail to get to a new weight, you take 10% off your previous successful attempt and start progressing again. The workouts look like this:

1615224505371.png


You squat every workout, and you do an upper body lift every workout. The deadlifts are alternated with power cleans if you can do them, or Pendlay Rows if you can’t. This keeps you from fatiguing the low back. The deadlift volume is limited further by only letting you do one set of them per workout.

I absolutely love this program, especially for folks who’ve never used a barbell. It can work for people who have trained before, but if you’ve never actually done a novice progression, where you have a plan for increasing the amount you do consistently, then this can be a little hard on your ego.

You’ll constantly want to take bigger jumps to get to what you know that you’re capable of doing. I can assure you, this is the wrong approach with this. You want to start light. Basically, it’s easier to not get stuck and have to go down in weight.

Another really important thing to note about this workout plan. For the main lifts, it doesn’t go past sets of 5. Remember when I said we dictate how large our muscles get by the way we train? Well, sets of 5 are perfect for retaining the full range of motion in the joints. It provides only enough hypertrophy to allow the muscle to increase its ability.

Sets of 5 also are best for beginners, because high rep ranges or sets to failure generally cause the form to break down, increasing the chance of injury for the user. That’s why I’m not crazy about CrossFit for beginners. They don’t teach technique very well and they always want to take everything to failure. Maybe as some form of punishment?

The best part about sets of 5... if you eat enough and rest enough, you WON’T GET SORE.

The downside to a linear progression… is that it doesn’t last very long. Usually, a few months to a year is the most anyone can progress with this method. That’s not to say you shouldn’t do it! It’s absolutely worth gaining that type of strength because it opens up your options. If you really want a 6-pack, having big muscles is a damn good start. It makes cuts easier since big muscles tend to burn more energy than small ones. Also, you won’t have a 6-pack while you’re doing this, because it requires you to eat. A lot.

Now if the increases in weight seem to be too much for you, you can either start smaller or use a slower progression. An example would be 5/3/1 by Jim Wendler. I won’t go into detail about that workout here, but it’s based on percentages of previous best lifts, and the weight increases every month instead of every workout.


I used this one after my hernia surgery because I was afraid to get under the bar… the hernia wasn’t from lifting, just fyi. So this is really ideal if you’re an advanced lifter who’s plateaued with their training, you’re injured, or you just prefer a snail’s pace.

The biggest downside to all of these programs would be that you’re going to have to either teach yourself the lifts, as I did initially, by reading Rip’s books, watching the videos, and getting on the starting strength forum, or you can do the more expedited version and just go see one of his coaches. Either way, learning these lifts is a commitment.


You can always use the strategy of using Starting Strength until it gets hard, then use 5/3/1 or another workout to keep progressing. Or you can just do maintenance for a while, which I’m going to talk about briefly.

Maintenance

Maintenance is basically doing the same movement as the main lifts, the Big 5, but with much less intensity. People’s reasons for not pursuing a full strength program could be that they just don’t have the time, or they aren’t near a gym. This is where you’re sadly just going to have to be creative. I don’t have a program for you to strictly follow, because there are very few ways for me to actually track the effectiveness of a maintenance program compared to a strength program. But I can give a few rules that I follow when I just don’t have time for a full workout.

Since we still want to involve hip muscles, I would always seek out a way to use kettlebells. And incorporate the following exercises: swings, Turkish getups, cleans, and goblet squats. You can train whatever muscles you want in addition to this, but these will hit the basics of the previous program.

This is fine for a while, but I’m not going to dilute the overall message of my post by saying that a maintenance protocol should be your main focus. It shouldn’t.

So I said I’d go into depth on the most important exercise of the Big 5, and that is the squat, for a few reasons, which you can read all about next time in part 3.
 

Strategery

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@Strategery would you like to use me as a guinea pig for a 4 week consult? you can put your plan / system together and then we can post a weekly synopsis of what you did here so others can see the awesome work you provide?
I would love to!
 

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BizyDad

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I feel like a good coach would address the following issues for clients:

- Exercise Form
- Weight progression
- Injury Prevention
- Diet/supplementation
- Mobility
- Motivation

Having a knowledgable coach would be necessary to make sure all of these things fit together well. I plan to address all of these for clients, for as long as they need to get the basics down. I would expect no less than a month to learn, and between 1-2 months to notice drastic improvements in strength.

To contact me, just DM me here for now, I check the forum quite frequently.

Part 2 is coming up soon, stay tuned y'all.

I've never given a personal testimonial on the forum before. But I met @Strategery back at the summit last year. At the time I was struggling with some knee/calf issues while exercising. His advice was more helpful than the 2 doctors, one PT, and numerous knowledgable friends I had discussed things with. He got me on a path where a small problem didn't grow to a bigger one and thankfully my issues haven't returned.

Thank you. I hope this venture works out for you.
 

WJK

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How to Wipe Your Own a$$ When You're 70: Part 2/3

BARBELLS

View attachment 37104

… old school, heavy, dangerous-looking barbell exercises. They are difficult, complicated, and in the beginning, they aren’t very fun. Fitness circles today are still divided on barbell exercises, with those in favor of them being seen as a deranged group of folks who most likely do something stupid like CrossFit (did I mention I do CrossFit occasionally?). The ones who don’t do barbells or don’t like them can be found at Planet Fitness and other "safe spaces."

Realistically, most people are just scared to train with barbells, because they don’t know the exercises, they don’t know how effective barbells are for gaining strength, or they are just straight intimidated.

Barbells, despite their non-user friendliness, have every advantage when it comes to optimizing strength gain. Why?

  1. They are primarily used for compound lifts, which involve using the most number of muscles possible. This is the opposite of isolation exercises like bicep curls, lat raises that only utilize a group of muscles on one joint. Compound exercises use multiple joints, which saves time with training, and is generally more applicable to real-world strength.
  2. They can be used to load the spine with the most amount of weight possible, making compound lifts more effective. People who do high reps might not see the utility in this… they might think, why load heavy when I can just do a lot of reps? Because you can gain some strength like that. But what makes it ineffective? To do that and really gain strength, you have to have a very high volume that makes it difficult, especially with age, to recover from. For clarity, high rep sets are usually above 12 reps, moderate, bodybuilder rep range is between 10-12 (these make the muscles the biggest) and low rep ranges are subjective. What I’ll be recommending are rep ranges of 5, to keep hypertrophy low (maintaining mobility) and to keep soreness low. High volume also increases inflammation in the joints from what I’ve experienced. So since I’m talking about efficiency, I don’t recommend high reps for strength gain.
  3. The barbell provides a repeatable model for tracking strength adaptation since we’re always at the same height from the ground for each exercise. This also means that it can become a little boring since you’re doing a lot of the same stuff, which is probably another reason people don’t use them.
  4. Barbells provide a safe training tool, since the ends spin… since the ends spin, it prevents a rotational torque from being applied to the user, which would make exercises more difficult in undesirable ways.
So, barbells are the best training tool for gaining the most amount of strength, but with what exercises specifically?

For someone who wants to just do the bare minimum, I would regularly do deadlifts and low bar back squats. Those two exercises train across the hip and can be loaded maximally compared to any other lift. And they will increase strength. But, I think a better use of your time, especially if you’re already in the gym, the barbells and squat rack are there and you have the gumption, is to do an exercise program that emphasizes the following lifts:

  1. Low-bar back squats
  2. Deadlifts
  3. Overhead press(strict)
  4. Bench press
  5. Power Cleans (tricky one)
If you’re doing a program that does all of these, you’re hitting the majority of muscle groups that are responsible for adding years to your healthspan. You’re going to be able to do more physical activities for longer by training these exercises than people who don’t.

I’ll discuss the most important exercise on that list with as much detail as is convenient here, but I want to cover a few more things first.

More importantly than just knowing which exercises to do, we also need to know how to program each one in order to gain the most amount of strength. Sadly, just jumping on the internet and searching for beginning strength training programs may or may not produce a good result, since most people are only interested in getting jacked or ripped or whatever, so I’m going to share with you the most effective programs out there. Number 1 in my book:

The Starting Strength Novice Linear Progression

This program comes from one of the most knowledgeable strength coaches on the planet, Mark Rippetoe. He also has several books about the subject, the most popular of which, and one I highly recommend is called Starting Strength. I’m going to save you some time and energy by giving you the nuts and bolts of this program, but it is by no means going to be comprehensive, because truthfully, Starting Strength is way more than just a book or a program, it’s a revolution for developing strength in any age group.

I would also recommend checking out some of the several case studies at startingstrength.com where the novice program was implemented and the people got crazy strong. There are even a few studies showing where little old ladies were able to do the program and throw their walkers away.

With Starting Strength, you’re going to start all of the lifts off at a light weight. So light that you won’t feel like you’re doing anything at first. With each workout, you’ll add 10 pounds to the squat and deadlift, and 5 pounds to the upper body lifts, until it gets too hard to add that much weight, then you’ll add 5 pounds to the lower body lifts per session, and 2 pounds to the upper lifts… basically you will keep going up in weight each training session until you can’t anymore. When you fail to get to a new weight, you take 10% off your previous successful attempt and start progressing again. The workouts look like this:

View attachment 37102


You squat every workout, and you do an upper body lift every workout. The deadlifts are alternated with power cleans if you can do them, or Pendlay Rows if you can’t. This keeps you from fatiguing the low back. The deadlift volume is limited further by only letting you do one set of them per workout.

I absolutely love this program, especially for folks who’ve never used a barbell. It can work for people who have trained before, but if you’ve never actually done a novice progression, where you have a plan for increasing the amount you do consistently, then this can be a little hard on your ego.

You’ll constantly want to take bigger jumps to get to what you know that you’re capable of doing. I can assure you, this is the wrong approach with this. You want to start light. Basically, it’s easier to not get stuck and have to go down in weight.

Another really important thing to note about this workout plan. For the main lifts, it doesn’t go past sets of 5. Remember when I said we dictate how large our muscles get by the way we train? Well, sets of 5 are perfect for retaining the full range of motion in the joints. It provides only enough hypertrophy to allow the muscle to increase its ability.

Sets of 5 also are best for beginners, because high rep ranges or sets to failure generally cause the form to break down, increasing the chance of injury for the user. That’s why I’m not crazy about CrossFit for beginners. They don’t teach technique very well and they always want to take everything to failure. Maybe as some form of punishment?

The best part about sets of 5... if you eat enough and rest enough, you WON’T GET SORE.

The downside to a linear progression… is that it doesn’t last very long. Usually, a few months to a year is the most anyone can progress with this method. That’s not to say you shouldn’t do it! It’s absolutely worth gaining that type of strength because it opens up your options. If you really want a 6-pack, having big muscles is a damn good start. It makes cuts easier since big muscles tend to burn more energy than small ones. Also, you won’t have a 6-pack while you’re doing this, because it requires you to eat. A lot.

Now if the increases in weight seem to be too much for you, you can either start smaller or use a slower progression. An example would be 5/3/1 by Jim Wendler. I won’t go into detail about that workout here, but it’s based on percentages of previous best lifts, and the weight increases every month instead of every workout.


I used this one after my hernia surgery because I was afraid to get under the bar… the hernia wasn’t from lifting, just fyi. So this is really ideal if you’re an advanced lifter who’s plateaued with their training, you’re injured, or you just prefer a snail’s pace.

The biggest downside to all of these programs would be that you’re going to have to either teach yourself the lifts, as I did initially, by reading Rip’s books, watching the videos, and getting on the starting strength forum, or you can do the more expedited version and just go see one of his coaches. Either way, learning these lifts is a commitment.


You can always use the strategy of using Starting Strength until it gets hard, then use 5/3/1 or another workout to keep progressing. Or you can just do maintenance for a while, which I’m going to talk about briefly.

Maintenance

Maintenance is basically doing the same movement as the main lifts, the Big 5, but with much less intensity. People’s reasons for not pursuing a full strength program could be that they just don’t have the time, or they aren’t near a gym. This is where you’re sadly just going to have to be creative. I don’t have a program for you to strictly follow, because there are very few ways for me to actually track the effectiveness of a maintenance program compared to a strength program. But I can give a few rules that I follow when I just don’t have time for a full workout.

Since we still want to involve hip muscles, I would always seek out a way to use kettlebells. And incorporate the following exercises: swings, Turkish getups, cleans, and goblet squats. You can train whatever muscles you want in addition to this, but these will hit the basics of the previous program.

This is fine for a while, but I’m not going to dilute the overall message of my post by saying that a maintenance protocol should be your main focus. It shouldn’t.

So I said I’d go into depth on the most important exercise of the Big 5, and that is the squat, for a few reasons, which you can read all about next time in part 3.
For us who are already older, how about water walking and doing exercises in the pool? I try to go to our public pool almost every day during the winter. I'm really looking forward to walking my dog this summer in our woods.

I usually cross country ski in the spring. Maybe my arm will be healed enough in the next couple of weeks. We do have 4' of snow right now. I live in the arctic where the weather keeps me indoors a lot of the time. Last year I fell and broke my right arm. This year, I fell again and I broke my left arm. I've become a lot more careful with walking on the ice even when I am wearing my cleats.

My assistant, who is in her 40s, also fell this year. She had a broken bone in her spine and she tore an old surgery scar. It's not just us older folks who fall.
 

Strategery

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Good post. Personally, I live on kettlebell swings, squats, get ups and yoga.

I love all of those too. If you're happy where you are strength-wise, those are excellent ways to maintain muscle. You can gain muscle with them, but I'll keep my stance on barbells... they are the most efficient way to gain strength.

For us who are already older, how about water walking and doing exercises in the pool?

I don't have a problem with those exercises at all. Water stuff is typically easier on joints, so that's cool too. I think the key is, and I'm going through this training my mother (she's 60), you need to have a progression of some sort with any strength exercises that you do. I know it's a slow go with age, but any strength gain will combat sarcopenia (natural muscle loss with age).

Also, keep in mind that you can perform light variations of all the exercises that I recommend, i.e. a bodyweight version, then progress to a light barbell version.

I usually cross country ski in the spring. Maybe my arm will be healed enough in the next couple of weeks. We do have 4' of snow right now. I live in the arctic where the weather keeps me indoors a lot of the time. Last year I fell and broke my right arm. This year, I fell again and I broke my left arm. I've become a lot more careful with walking on the ice even when I am wearing my cleats.

My assistant, who is in her 40s, also fell this year. She had a broken bone in her spine and she tore an old surgery scar. It's not just us older folks who fall.
This is worrying to me. I obviously don't know what your diet looks like, but I would strongly recommend investigating a vitamin D supplement, especially where you're inside for long stretches... this could help improve bone density.

Also, another adaptation that occurs with strength increase is an increase in bone density.

 

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Aging is definitely a concern, and you want to get on top of it BEFORE you break a hip. I'm almost 65. I've never done any kind of regular consistent exercise program, but I usually stayed somewhat active -- biking, hiking, skiing, yardwork, etc. I didn't lose any muscle mass and I have basically zero fat. (6'4", 180lbs) In the last few years I've gotten lazier and I've been dealing with other issues: in 6 months I got a prostate-cancer diagnosis, flipped my bike and cracked 5 ribs, got a lymphoma diagnosis, had several minor surgeries for the cancers, somehow tore a rotator cuff which morphed into a totally frozen shoulder joint, yadda yadda. So I've been dealing with repair more than optimized fitness. Now I'm getting back into focusing on fitness.

My oncologist said exercise is about the best treatment there is for cancer. Just 30 mins a day of light work like a brisk walk. So for the last year or so I've been more consistent than I've ever been, but it's pretty lightweight.

Unfortunately unwanted weight loss (cachexia) is a common effect of cancer -- basically your body starts consuming itself. Normally my weight stays rock-steady for decades, but in the last 6-9 months I've dropped another 11 lbs, down to 169. Haven't weighed that little since junior high. Fortunately my appetite is still good; in the last two months I've been eating 3000+ calories/day, and all I've accomplished is that I've stopped the loss. But I recently started my first lymphoma treatment drugs and that may have improved the metabolic problem that causes the loss -- I think I may have gained a pound. So I'm heading in the right direction.

I've done some light work with dumbbells. Sounds like I need to get a barbell. Thanks for the nudge, @Strategery !
 

Strategery

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Aging is definitely a concern, and you want to get on top of it BEFORE you break a hip. I'm almost 65. I've never done any kind of regular consistent exercise program, but I usually stayed somewhat active -- biking, hiking, skiing, yardwork, etc. I didn't lose any muscle mass and I have basically zero fat. (6'4", 180lbs) In the last few years I've gotten lazier and I've been dealing with other issues: in 6 months I got a prostate-cancer diagnosis, flipped my bike and cracked 5 ribs, got a lymphoma diagnosis, had several minor surgeries for the cancers, somehow tore a rotator cuff which morphed into a totally frozen shoulder joint, yadda yadda. So I've been dealing with repair more than optimized fitness. Now I'm getting back into focusing on fitness.

My oncologist said exercise is about the best treatment there is for cancer. Just 30 mins a day of light work like a brisk walk. So for the last year or so I've been more consistent than I've ever been, but it's pretty lightweight.

Unfortunately unwanted weight loss (cachexia) is a common effect of cancer -- basically your body starts consuming itself. Normally my weight stays rock-steady for decades, but in the last 6-9 months I've dropped another 11 lbs, down to 169. Haven't weighed that little since junior high. Fortunately my appetite is still good; in the last two months I've been eating 3000+ calories/day, and all I've accomplished is that I've stopped the loss. But I recently started my first lymphoma treatment drugs and that may have improved the metabolic problem that causes the loss -- I think I may have gained a pound. So I'm heading in the right direction.

I've done some light work with dumbbells. Sounds like I need to get a barbell. Thanks for the nudge, @Strategery !

Thank you so much for sharing your story! You're a badass, and I'm inspired by your commitment.

It sounds to me like you are absolutely on the right track, please reach out with any questions about buying/using barbells, I'd be happy to help.
 

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I'll be honest, for a minute I was skeptical that you were going to promote some BS like cro$$hit. Thanks for violating my expectations. You're definitely on the money about using barbells and compound lifts for maximum efficiency.

This is particularly true for women, who have to worry a little more about bone density loss due to aging. All women should be using the barbell, unless they have an injury that would be prohibitive.

Couple things to add, and @Strategery please correct me if you think I'm wrong here:

If you're overweight and can't do pull ups, you can do barbell rows as a substitute. It's just about impossible to do progressive overload on pull ups if you're 30%+ bodyfat, and if you're untrained you may not even be able to do 1.

You can do starting strength even if you're in a calorie deficit (because you're overweight). In that case, add weight to the bar every other workout, instead of at each workout.

You can milk linear progression a little longer by getting micro plates (0.5 pound plates) that allow you to add 1 - 4 points to the bar, instead of the usual 5 - 10 pounds with the larger plates.

You should not move on to an intermediate program until you absolutely have to. Trying to do an intermediate level program (which typically has higher volumes) too early will lead to suboptimal gains and a higher probability of injury due to the higher levels of stress on the body, before it's ready. The trigger for this should be something like "I've had to do 2 or 3 10% resets in the last couple months and still can't make any gains, and I'm already squatting well over 2 and a half plates, and deadlifting over 3 [for men])".

Great posts, wish we still had a rep system so I could donate some.
 

Dora Wi

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I love this, thanks OP for sharing your insights!

I like the part where you wrote your fitness level is not defined by having a six-pack. For a very long time I only exercised for looks, and I still fall into that trap sometimes. But I'm realizing more and more how much functional significance it has. I've been experimenting a lot, trying to improve my flexibility and mobility, because these are my weakest points. I find it interesting that - while having a lot of muscle can make you more stiff - the right forms of strength training can do wonders for flexibility, since many muscles are needed to hold a given stretched-out position.
 

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You can make a lot of progress in a few years, which is why I proselytize weightlifting to anyone who I think will listen.

And I got picked dead last in every gym class from grade school through high school (fat kid). There's no reason why you couldn't do this.

February 2019 vs February 2021 / 27 vs 29 (no drugs)

1615312978560.png
 

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After about the 30 years of age, physically inactive people lose between 3-5% of their muscle mass per decade which is roughly 0.5 lbs of muscle per year, and after 25, people will gain an average of 1.5lbs of fat per year. Even active people will experience some muscle loss in their lives. So think about it. Whether you exercise or not, your clock is ticking toward fragility.

The part about fat gain. Is that because of a gradual decline in base metabolic rate from the age of 25? That could mean you could also eat less and/or train more gradually?
 

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Strategery

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Thanks for violating my expectations.
Happy to do so.

If you're overweight and can't do pull ups, you can do barbell rows as a substitute. It's just about impossible to do progressive overload on pull ups if you're 30%+ bodyfat, and if you're untrained you may not even be able to do 1.
Barbell rows would for sure hit some of the same muscles. But in the event that someone couldn't do a single pull-up, I would rather see them either use a lat pull-down machine, followed by assisted pull-ups, and eventually progress to unassisted pull-ups.

You can do starting strength even if you're in a calorie deficit (because you're overweight). In that case, add weight to the bar every other workout, instead of at each workout.
I'm happy to admit that I don't know. I've not heard of that strategy before. But you've got me super curious and I'm going to investigate it now. Body composition will change no matter what if you continue with a linear progression, but I can see modifying it for someone who really needed to lose a whole lot of weight really quickly.

You can milk linear progression a little longer by getting micro plates (0.5 pound plates) that allow you to add 1 - 4 points to the bar, instead of the usual 5 - 10 pounds with the larger plates.

You should not move on to an intermediate program until you absolutely have to. Trying to do an intermediate level program (which typically has higher volumes) too early will lead to suboptimal gains and a higher probability of injury due to the higher levels of stress on the body, before it's ready.
Absolutely. I did an intermediate program because I was scared (at the time) of bigger weights since I had just had a hernia repair months prior to rebooting my strength training. I'm not saying it was the correct thing to do, it's just something that tricked my brain into lifting again.

I like the part where you wrote your fitness level is not defined by having a six-pack. For a very long time I only exercised for looks, and I still fall into that trap sometimes.
I feel you, and I've been guilty of that in the past. And I'm not even saying that you can't ever have a six-pack again, just that folks should, for a time, make strength gain their focus.

February 2019 vs February 2021 / 27 vs 29 (no drugs)
Hell yeah dude, huge change!

The part about fat gain. Is that because of a gradual decline in base metabolic rate from the age of 25? That could mean you could also eat less and/or train more gradually?
Sure, diet will definitely have an effect (likely the biggest, in fact) on body fat percentage. But the overall model of using strength training alongside diet will have the biggest impact on your body composition. And that's what we want... to be effective.
 

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This is why I come to the forum. Insane educational value here.
Thank you for this thread.
 

Dora Wi

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You can do starting strength even if you're in a calorie deficit (because you're overweight). In that case, add weight to the bar every other workout, instead of at each workout.
One approach I have seen people do if they train and diet at the same time is that they alternate phases of eating maintenance calories + progressive overload and eating a deficit + maintaining the same exercise routine. What do you think about this?
 

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One approach I have seen people do if they train and diet at the same time is that they alternate phases of eating maintenance calories + progressive overload and eating a deficit + maintaining the same exercise routine. What do you think about this?

It depends on a few factors. Figures I'm giving are for men. For women, add 10%. Healthy body fat levels for women are around 25 - 30% (15-20% for men). Men can get away with getting down to 10% body fat, while some women may experience adverse effects going down to 20% or below. This is due to the role of body fat in hormone regulation, which is of course critical for women's reproductive health.

I think the concept of using cycles is fine, with some caveats. Eating in a deficit or surplus for a month is a pointless endeavor. It takes about a month to generate any weight loss or weight gain momentum, so just as you're getting the ball rolling you're cutting it short. This isn't dangerous, but it's highly inefficient.

It also depends on your bodyfat levels. If you're a man and you cut from 40% down to 30% body fat, you probably shouldn't be taking a sustained break for maintenance (unless you're injured). The health risks associated with such a high body fat level are going to outweigh pretty much any other concerns except injury. Going from 40% down to 20% and then taking a break just because you're exhausted is fine, as the health risks are minimal at that body fat level.

At some point, you should definitely be thinking about dedicated gaining phases of 3 - 6 months in duration. Aiming to put on 1 - 2 pounds per month of quality size. As far as I'm aware, this should be at the 15% or lower point for men. This gives you room to gain some extra fat without hurting your health, and allows you to have solid performance in the gym.

You also shouldn't be gaining above 20% body fat. Again, due to the negative consequences for your health.

All of this assumes the person has a relatively normal relationship with food. I'm assuming that most people get obese simply due to laziness and poor lifestyle choices, rather than using food as a drug.

In the latter case, intermittent diet breaks to normalize a healthy relationship with food can make some sense, as it could reduce the probability of rebounds later.
 

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For us who are already older, how about water walking and doing exercises in the pool? I try to go to our public pool almost every day during the winter. I'm really looking forward to walking my dog this summer in our woods.

I usually cross country ski in the spring. Maybe my arm will be healed enough in the next couple of weeks. We do have 4' of snow right now. I live in the arctic where the weather keeps me indoors a lot of the time. Last year I fell and broke my right arm. This year, I fell again and I broke my left arm. I've become a lot more careful with walking on the ice even when I am wearing my cleats.

My assistant, who is in her 40s, also fell this year. She had a broken bone in her spine and she tore an old surgery scar. It's not just us older folks who fall.

Apart from exercises, I would recommend focusing heavily on what you eat. Inflammatory issues will exacerbate all issues, weaken your bones and muscles, and slow recovery.

Something close to Dr. Terry Wahls diet is the best way to go.
 

lowtek

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Apart from exercises, I would recommend focusing heavily on what you eat. Inflammatory issues will exacerbate all issues, weaken your bones and muscles, and slow recovery.

Something close to Dr. Terry Wahls diet is the best way to go.
It never ceases to amaze me how "doctors" can repackage common sense and sell it as a "diet". Absolutely brilliant marketing.

You mean to tell me I should be eating fruits, veggies, lean meats and some nuts? NO WAY?!@?!

Note, I'm not saying there's really anything wrong with what she's saying. It's just that it's basically what everybody has known forever.
 

Strategery

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This is great. When's part 3?
Thanks!

I've been crazy busy with other things but will get it posted this weekend sometime.
 

ExaltedLife

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It never ceases to amaze me how "doctors" can repackage common sense and sell it as a "diet". Absolutely brilliant marketing.

You mean to tell me I should be eating fruits, veggies, lean meats and some nuts? NO WAY?!@?!

Note, I'm not saying there's really anything wrong with what she's saying. It's just that it's basically what everybody has known forever.

It's not what everybody has known forever, and there's WAY more to the story. I highly recommend her book. She goes into nutrient profiles, what certain foods do to the immune system, a whole bunch of interesting stuff.

For example, she doesn't just say 'eat fruits and veggies'. She says, eat 3 cups of greens, 3 cups of polyphenol rich 'coloured' vegetables', and 3 cups of 'sulphurous' veggies like cabbage, broccoli, onion, mushroom, etc. because they all have different effects on the body, from your gut, to your immune system down to your mitochondria. Why bone broth is so beneficial (collagen), why there actually is a huge difference when it comes to organic vs non-organic, and why grass-fed and wild is so much better than grain fed, why probiotics and pre-biotics, etc. etc.

And there's a lot more to it beyond that.

If you want a testament to the efficacy of the diet, before she started eating this way she was confined to a wheelchair because of her Multiple Sclerosis. She changed the way she was eating, and now she can ride a bike again. Basically by removing inflammatory foods she halted and reversed neuron damage, and halted the growth of plaques, and then by eating nutrient-dense foods, rich in antioxidants, she removed the plaques in her brain - beating not only MS, but improving memory, concentration, energy levels, and clearing brain fog.

I've been into health since I was a little kid who thought mixing orange juice and milk would be the ultimate combination of vitamins and protein (I was so, so wrong). What I loved about Terry Wahls book is that she integrated pretty much every little thing I had ever read in various books and corners of the internet into a comprehensive, cause and effect view of the relationship between diet and biology.
 

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