Photo by Luis Vidal on Unsplash

It’s spring and time to change things up for this bodybuilder

Yesterday morning I had a focused discussion with my fitness trainer. While I ran through my basics, he pored over the fat pile of exercises he’d created for me since last July, some of which I’d retyped from his hen’s scratch and separated into gym and home work.

That was back when the gyms were open, closed, open, closed. Oregon just went back on high alert, which means that because people are effing stupid, the gyms may well have to close again. Time to head over to Play It Again Sports and scoop up a bit more iron. This is likely to keep right on going. But I digress.

Ryan had layered all kinds of terrific moves on me but now there were too many. As a result, my workouts got longer, and I started to forget a few that I really needed to be doing. Over time, we’d also added new moves which were much more difficult, involving balance and core work as well as strength.

So I’d do my workout and forget Turkish getups. Or lunges. Or whatever.

When we reviewed my triceps work, I realized I was doing too many exercises. No wonder they’re sculpted again. However, that’s overkill. So Ryan and I combed through my choices, and teased out the highest payoff, highest impact sets.

This is why I work with a personal trainer. I get into habits like all of us do, and sometimes I keep adding on rather than do a little spring cleaning of my own exercise routines. I’ve forgotten more workouts than most people will ever learn, which is the benefit of getting older. However, that also means that when you forget stuff, which I do because of head injuries, it really helps to have an expert to get a personalized program designed, and to periodically review what you’re doing to make sure that you’re getting the biggest bang for your gym buck.

If you’re working hard, you grow. If you grow, you can plateau. If you’re working with a pro, they can tell you why, and what to do about it.

Ryan’s also checking for muscle growth and improved balance. Every time I master something he throws me a curve ball. He’s got a solid PT background and is an all-natural competitor himself, so he can make micro-changes to a move which will allow a barking joint the relief it needs while I still get the work. As I age, my inner ear my well lose some of its delicate balancing abilities, which is just one reason why I am doing more and more balance work, more core work.

I’m in training for my eighties and beyond. Look, I fall now, often because I’m jerking massive blackberry root balls out of the side of steep hill and I send my butt backwards. Or my butt gets tossed off a spicy horse. Or I take a tumble running down a scree-covered mountain trail.

I don’t care about falling.

I care one hell of a lot about bouncing right back up. My ability to do that, including when I smashed my pelvis and broke my back, is because I never stop working out. I do not take it easy and I never let up.

It’s one thing to rest a tired body. It’s another thing to veg out for months on the couch. I can’t afford to do that. Not in my profession.

Truth? None of us can. But we do, we have, and we have collectively paid the price.

Photo by Scott Webb on Unsplash

BTW I just bought one of the above ropes for my garage, where I installed a gym floor for summer training. I have shoulder surgery in a few months and it’s perfect for rehab. What’s in your basement? What’s in front of your TV, other than a couch or a recliner? Weights? A yoga mat? A bike on a trainer?

These small things can set us up for success, or the lack of access to workouts can set us up for late-in-life failure .

What I require as I age is staying ahead of boredom, which comes of too much of the same thing. An investment in a really good trainer, especially at this point, ensures that I won’t go off half-cocked. Professional support, if you’re training for an outcome (in my case, a combination of strength and endurance for adventure travel) is an investment not only in better results but long-term success.

The older you and I get, the more important that notion of long term success becomes. Gym work has sustained me my entire adult life. I’ve gotten up and walked to safety after injuries that should have killed me, a comment more than one international ER doctor has made.That’s not luck. That’s hard damned work.

I love this research that came out of Ball State a few years ago:

Study: Regular, lifelong exercise keeps the body young
Exercising on a regular basis over a lifetime may help keep the body decades younger, says new research from Ball State…

The gym, my second home for my entire adult life, may not be for you. But movement better be if you plan to thrive into your later years. I’m not talking sixty. To that please see this:

Be Empowered By Your Age!
A guide to renewing your life and becoming vigorous, healthy, and happy. Dr. Josefina's mission is to help you realize…

and this:

84 year old body builder lifts his way into the new Guinness World Records 2018 book
There are many incredible physical achievements that feature in the new Guinness World Records 2018 edition book, but…

And this:

Ernestine Shepherd | The Guinness World Record Oldest Female Body Builder
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and finally, this:

Lessons From A 95-Year-Old Bodybuilder
Dr. Charles Eugster grew less and less active as he aged. The athletic glories of his youth gave way to sedentary…

Eugster finally passed away at 98. He started lifting at 85. Before he passed:

He won more than 100 fitness awards in multiple sports, including bodybuilding and rowing.[2] He won multiple medals at the World Masters Regatta.[3]

Shepherd and Monastario started lifting at about 60. Both are now champions.

To these people, I’m spring chicken.

For those of us who have been doing this a long time, the Ball State study will validate that beneath the wrinkled skin of many an aging athlete lie the powerful, rippling muscles and considerable VO2 of athletes a fraction our age. We will give up our youthful appearance. However, you and I do not have to forfeit our endurance, power or energy.

Our options.

You will note, I hope, that each of these folks uses a trainer. You might think that buying the services of a matchmaker will pay off in better dividends. Sure, you might get laid, but what if you get laid low by illness or injury? If I’m in excellent shape I am far more likely to find a match than if I can barely walk a mile without a walker.

If you have the funds, and this has at times been a challenge, for my longevity dollar there are few better investments than a very well qualified trainer. I do not need to be “motivated.” That’s not their job. Their job is to give feedback, guidance, corrections to form, watch your progress and challenge you to improve by continually upping the game on difficulty.

a buddy and me at the gym. I’m 65 in this photo. Julia Hubbel

Which is why, on this moody, lovely Oregon spring day, I am wrapping this up, taking my new workout and hitting the weights. Ryan’s got some doozies for me to do today, and I can’t wait to see how I do.

Where are you going to go today? To the gym? For a run? Or are you going to head to the couch for more re-runs?

I’m doing lots more than body-building. I’m building my life options.