Stronger at age 60 than age 30
Its never too late to reap the benefits of exercise! The human body is very resilient and no matter how you have abused your body in the past with smoking, obesity, alcohol, or inactivity – you can still get incredible gains in health, fitness and physique by starting a sensible exercise program. 60 is not “over the hill”. I am in better shape at age 60 than I was at age 30. People always ask if a 60 year old can gain muscle, IT DEPENDS! I can’t but then I have been lifting nearly 40 years and peaked in muscularity back in 2001. If you are 60 and have never worked out, YES, you can gain a lot of strength and muscle! You still have your “newbie gains” awaiting you so ENJOY!
My fitness history
I started lifting at age 20 in 1981 and have been exercising 7-21 hours a week (weights+cardio) every since then, thats nearly 40 years of exercise. People ask how I stayed motivated to workout consistently for nearly four decades. The truth is that I am NOT motivated. Motivation never enters into it. Discipline does not enter into it. I exercise because it makes me FEEL GOOD. Exercise is a part of my life. Its like eating, I dont need motivation to eat either!
I am definitely stronger and more muscular at age 58 than I was in 1990 at age 29. Of course, a big part of this was because my progress was so slow from making every mistake in the book (remember, I started lifting in the pre-internet era). I probably peaked in strength and muscle mass in 2001 at age 40 and have been in a very slow decline since then. Even though I workout 2X harder and 10X smarter than when I was in my 20s, the slow decline still happens. On a few exercises, I have set personal bests in my 50’s … but only because I didnt do them in my 20s and 30s :) As I have gotten older, I have collected a number of joint issues. Being a successful older lifter requires that you lift smart and that you know a lot about lifting. Because of joint issues, I can probably only perform 40% of the exercises that I could at age 30. Thats ok, if a particular exercise bothers my knee/shoulder/elbow then I find another exercise that does not hurt. If I have to create my own exercise, I do. The point is that as you get older you have to lift smarter but that is part of the fun.
A lot of older people dont seem to understand why they should lift weights when they dont care about looking like Arnold. Its because being strong helps prevent injuries! Being flexible helps prevent injuries. If you are weak and try to pick something heavy off the ground, I can guarantee you will hurt yourself. If you try to weed the garden and you are not flexible enough, I can guarantee that you will hurt yourself. Even if you dont want to be on the cover of Men’s Fitness, getting stronger can help you enjoy everyday life!
Scooby and cardio
I have always loved cardio, in fact, thats how I got my start except back in the 80’s we didnt call it “cardio”, we called it biking, hiking, or running. I really don’t like the term “cardio” because it makes it sound like work instead of being FUN like it is. If your cardio is not fun then you are not doing it right! In college even before I started lifting I used to love jogging with my roomate in the fields around UC Davis. Davis is a bike town and transportation in Davis means a bike. We all biked everywhere. Thats where I learned that the automobile was not the only mode of transportation and that stuck with me during my working career in Silicon Valley where I commuted 30 miles by bike a day instead of sitting in traffic fuming. Upon moving to Silicon Valley I discovered the joy of biking mountains, well hills really at least by California standards. I discovered amazing routes thru the redwoods, the same routes I bike today. After biking, I discovered doubles beach volleyball and my close proximity to Santa Cruz,the beach volleyball capitol of the world (IMO), I was very lucky. For those who have not played doubles beach volleyball, it is incredible cardio. In my 40s I discovered triathlons and double centuries (200 mile bike races) and had a great time doing those. Biking has always been a passion of mine and I started doing 2-3 week bike treks in Europe back in the late 90s. The last 15 years I have branched out to biking in Asia as well. In any case, “cardio” has always been a source of joy for me – never a chore.
New cardio personal best
In 1990 I was preparing for a bicycle hill climbing event and in the course of that training, I logged a personal best of 1 hour and 5 minutes from my door to the top of the mountain – 10.7 miles with 2085′ vertical. That was 1990 when I was 29 years old. The funny thing is that although I did that same route several times a week for decades I never timed myself again until this month. I had just biked across China and thought, “Hey, I wonder if I can beat my old personal best?“. Because I am Scooby1961, of course I had to film it :) Turns out I crushed my old personal best beating it by 6 whole minutes!!!! I am in better cardiovascular shape at age 58 than I was at age 29!!!
Sensible exercise program for mature adults starting an exercise program
- Get a full physical. Make sure you dont have any underlying issues that could prevent you from being able to exercise safely.
- WALK! Walking is the best way to start because you can do it anywhere, anytime, and the risk of injury is nearly zero. Try to walk at least 30 minutes a day, seven days a week. Get a dog if you need motivation :)
- Strengthen your core! Start a core strengthening program like my rotisserie core workout. A strong core is a pre-requisite to being able to exercise without injuring yourself.
- Cleanup your nutrition. Learn what good nutrition is by making yourself a free meal plan at CustomMealPlanner.Com. You dont have to implement all changes with a flashcut, just take one or two healthy meals from the meal plan and start using those.
After you have done this for 3-6 months you can start adding some strength training. Bodyweight workouts are the easiest because you can do them at home. A good first step is to do my pullup progression and my pushup progression so that you can get strong enough to do these amazingly effective exercises. After you have been doing those for six months or so you can consider a beginning home workout. Remember, take it slowly. You cant undo decades of neglect in a month or even a year for that matter! After a year or so doing the beginning workout, you can move on to something more advanced like a 3 day split if you want.