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Archive for the 'Age Related' Category

Another Case For Exercise Simplicity

It was almost six years ago when I wrote about hill sprints and simplicity at the link below.

Another Vote For Simplicity

In the years since, that old entry has been viewed thousands of times by readers around the world. To this day, I still receive an occasional comment or question about it. Most of the feedback is related to hill sprints or running. Ironically, perhaps the most important paragraph within the entry is rarely discussed.

Within the last paragraph, I wrote about a friend of mine who at the time was in his late 40s. He is a former fighter who stayed in excellent shape with what many would consider a basic routine. When I was last in contact with him, his routine consisted of a strength workout on day one, hill running and calisthenics on day two, and a boxing workout on day three. He would repeat this three day sequence twice a week.

Regrettably, I lost contact with my friend a few years ago. He’s an old school guy who doesn’t have email and never got involved with social media. I had no way to find him. Fortunately, to my surprise, I ran into him at a boxing event over the weekend. He’s in his 50s now and is still in great shape. After busting his stones about disappearing from the earth, we grabbed a cup of coffee and chatted for a few minutes before the fights. I asked him how his training was going and he nonchalantly replied,

“Same sh*t, different day.”

He went on to say that he no longer has access to free weights. Instead, he has been working with a weighted vest. He wears it for exercises such as pull-ups, pushups, dips, squats, and lunges. A strength workout for him consists of a few sets wearing the vest and then a few sets without it. He averages two weighted vest workouts each week in his basement. He has also maintained his running but has shifted towards more trail work. He likes running the trails and will usually do a few sets of calisthenics before or after the run. He also does the same boxing workout once or twice a week which consists of shadow boxing, punching the heavy bag, and skipping rope.

The Moral To The Story

Believe it or not, there is a point to this entry. I’m not just writing to let everyone know that I bumped into an old friend over the weekend. Instead, the message that I hope to convey is one that I’ve shared many times before. In short, complex routines are not necessary for general health and strength. My friend is in his 50s and could hang with most healthy adults who are half his age. Ironically, he has maintained his ability with a routine that many fitness professionals would surely critique.

My friend doesn’t care about periodization, restoration, variety or any other industry buzzword. In fact, he doesn’t even have a computer. He told me that his hard drive crashed sometime around 2012 and he had no reason to purchase another. Therefore, he’s obviously a guy who doesn’t wait until Monday morning to read the latest breakthroughs in the fitness industry. He doesn’t subscribe to any newsletters and has probably never read a scientific journal in his life.

His exercise philosophy is pretty simple. In his words,

“Push yourself and try to find something that you enjoy, or at least don’t dread doing. And if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

And while his routine and philosophy may seem archaic, the results are impossible to deny. This man’s consistency and diligence have proven to be invaluable. He is in tremendous shape in his 50s and doesn’t pay any attention to the modern fitness industry. His comments about the industry were actually quite classic, but are probably something I shouldn’t share here to avoid any lawsuits.

In summary, it was certainly great to catch up with an old friend. It is always refreshing to see an example of hard work, consistency, and simplicity. Such attributes will never receive too much attention from this revenue-driven business, but we should never forget their relevance. Our ability to get in shape is not nearly as complicated as many would like us to believe. Fancy equipment and routines are far from necessities. Plenty can be accomplished with even a rudimentary program as long as you are committed to pushing yourself.


Beware the barrenness of a busy life. – Socrates


Working Hard With The Basics

As each year passes, I become more and more fond of a simplistic approach to exercise. I make this statement as someone who went through my own phase of complex programming many years ago. During those formative years, I split hairs over decisions that I eventually realized were insignificant. I now train with a style that is as simplistic as ever, yet just as effective as anything I’ve ever done.

I say this not to suggest that you should train haphazardly without planning, but instead to emphasize more important variables. Speaking for myself, each year seems to pass faster than the year before. When I see pictures of my children, I am constantly amazed at how fast they have grown. It seems like it is only a hop, skip, and a jump away before they’ll be headed off to college. The last thing that I want before that time is to be lost in paralysis by analysis with my own training. I’d much rather work hard with a smaller group of exercises that I enjoy without beating my head against the wall over trivial details.

Hard Work and Consistency

Although I have simplified my approach, my belief in hard work has not changed. I just don’t spend as much time worrying about how that work will be applied. As long as I am consistent and diligent, I know that I can stay in shape without hindering other aspects of life. In other words, I can continue to thrive physically without life passing me by.

As for inspirations to my philosophy, there is no denying that the age-related section within my own blog has been a motivator. I first created that section to inspire readers of the site, but the stories actually served to motivate me as well. Seeing countless examples of men and women who have thrived in their 60s, 70s, and beyond has undoubtedly influenced me. I hope to one day create a video that is similar to what can be seen below.

Take a look at the latest addition to the age-related archives. Within the video, you will see 80 year old Walt Ottenad Jr. perform 500 pushups in approximately 30 minutes.

This 80 year old Marine has kept himself in excellent condition. I don’t know much about him, but it is safe to say that he grew up in a much different world from what we see today. He certainly performed his share of calisthenics while serving and has continued to do so throughout his life. No one knocks off that number of reps at 80 without years of practice beforehand.

Thus, while there are clipboard trainers who may critique his technique or argue about alternatives, I’m guessing that few will be as active and capable as Walt if they are fortunate to live 80 years. As an old saying suggests, actions speak louder than words and Walt is clearly a man of action. He continues to do while others debate what should or shouldn’t be done. I see him as a huge inspiration in that regard. I too plan to keep doing without worrying too much about what others believe to be optimal. As long as I’m working hard and consistent with my efforts, I’ll take my chances doing what I enjoy. The specifics matter less than the conscious attempt to regularly apply yourself diligently and effectively.


Related Entries:

Just Work

Beyond Sets and Reps

Grand Master Jhoon Rhee


None are so old as those who have outlived enthusiasm. – Henry David Thoreau


40 Is The New 20

In the video below, you will see a reader of the site who is 41 years old and still going strong. He demonstrates countless exercise variations that would humble most men half his age.

This man is not just physically strong however. What I liked most about his video is the creativity that accompanies his strength. He is clearly capable of training almost anywhere with almost anything. He is not dependent on any particular facility. The bulk of his training is performed with nothing but a pull-up bar and ordinary household items such as chairs. This man certainly subscribes to the idea that the world is his gym. It is always open and can be found wherever he goes.

It is also great to see yet another example of a 40+ year old man who possesses such strength and athleticism. So many adults in our world today have been fooled to believe that 40 is over the hill. Sadly, it has become the norm for parents in their late 30s and early 40s to label themselves as old. Speaking as someone in this age group, I literally hear these words uttered on a weekly basis. I am always left speechless when a man or woman who is younger than me describes themselves as being too old for brisk exercise.

40 is the new 20

Personally, I think it is pathetic that society is surprised whenever a 40+ year old displays above average strength and athleticism. I wish I could share these stories as just another day in the neighborhood. There should be no need to highlight this man’s age. We should just be able to appreciate his strength and creativity.

Unfortunately, much of society still believes otherwise. It is not as if people want to become sedentary and unable to enjoy the world around them. The real problem is that many intelligent adults honestly believe that they are too old for exercise. This notion has become somewhat of a wives’ tale that has been passed on from generation to generation.

With that in mind, it is videos such as that above which truly need more widespread attention. Not only do you see a 40+ year old who is strong and capable, but also one who can train anywhere without spending a dollar. He is truly self sufficient. Wherever he goes, you can be sure that strength and vitality will accompany him.

Yet, perhaps most importantly, these priceless attributes are not just available to him. Strength is readily available to almost anyone who desires it. Ultimately, it boils down to an individual’s willingness to display hard work, consistency, and dedication. And fortunately, you can work hard regularly without feeling miserable. It is not difficult to see that this man is enjoying himself. He obviously enjoys his time outdoors.

In summary, the man above provides yet another example that exercise can be fun at any age, and doesn’t need to break the bank. If you wish to stay active as the years pass, you need to stay active. It is as simple as that. There is no secret formula or equation that is yet to be solved. Strength and vitality are there for the taking.


Growing old is a bad habit which a busy man has no time to form. – Andre Maurois


Retirement Home or Workout Park?

Below is a video that has been making its way around Facebook (see here). Unfortunately, the Youtube version of the video is not available for embedding so I created an external link through the image below. If you have not seen the video on Facebook, it is well worth a look.

Anatoliy Nikitovich - 73 years old

What you will see within is a 73 year old man (Anatoliy Nikitovich) whose abilities would humble most healthy adults a fraction of his age. I’m sure I speak for many in saying that I hope to perform at his level if and when I reach that age. If it ever happens, I promise that I will choose different training attire however.

As for the video itself, I enjoyed it for several reasons. First, it is obvious that this man is extremely capable despite training at a gym that consists of nothing but outdoor bars. If there was ever a case for the potential of a low-tech environment, this man should certainly be included in the discussion.

It is also nice to be reminded that bodyweight exercise is available to all. Anyone can head to a local playground and train from the bars. Calisthenics were never intended to be expensive to learn or perform. Unfortunately, it seems like every week there is a new bodyweight exercise certification being pimped to the masses. I have seen several bodyweight seminars and certifications marketed for hundreds of dollars (even more in some cases).

And while I have nothing against earning a living and providing quality instruction, charging such outrageous prices defeats the purpose of making calisthenics available to all. It shouldn’t be necessary that you refinance your home to learn how to effectively perform bodyweight exercise.

It is safe to assume that Anatoliy did not develop his strength at a weekend seminar. Instead, he is obviously the product years of intense dedication and effort. Fortunately, such attributes are free to all. You can’t purchase effort and dedication at the supplement store. Even the savviest marketers haven’t figured out how to sell these intangibles.

You will be hard pressed to find many senior citizens who are as capable as Anatoliy Nikitovich. Yet, rather than just being inspired by his example, we can learn from him as well. For instance, don’t confuse calisthenics with rocket science. Working with your body isn’t nearly as complicated as many would like you to believe. With a little creativity, you can exercise anywhere. Anatoliy trains at an outdoor gym that is available to all. It consists of nothing but bars. Anyone can go there to train. There are no secrets to his success. He shows up regularly and has done so for years. It is amazing what can be accomplished with a consistent and diligent effort. The sooner more people realize this simple fact, the better off we’ll all be.

In summary, don’t be blinded by the industry’s hype. Keep it simple, work hard, and remain consistent. Those are the only training secrets that you will ever need.


We’ve put more effort into helping folks reach old age than into helping them enjoy it. – Frank A. Clark


RIP Tom Hafey

I first wrote about Tom Hafey in 2011. Sadly, the former Australian rules football player and coach recently passed away at age 82. As for his relevance to this site, I didn’t write about Tom Hafey because of his coaching or athletic career. I admittedly know little if anything about Australian rules football. What fascinated me about Tom Hafey wasn’t his sporting experience, but rather the enthusiasm that he had towards life. Even as he approached 80 years old, Tom Hafey continued to exercise with a daily routine that would put most youngsters to shame.

In the video below (filmed last year), Hafey shares some of his wisdom regarding health and longevity.

Hafey’s simplistic routine certainly allowed him to age gracefully. As he neared his 80th birthday, he was even asked to portray a healthy 70 year old in the commercial below. It wasn’t difficult for him to play the part of a younger man.

Tom Hafey is the type of person whose story is worthy of remembering and sharing. It is one thing to read about aging, yet entirely different to hear from someone who walked the walk with obvious success. Hafey lived life to the fullest and was able to remain healthy and active with a regular dose of calisthenics. The work that he performed is readily available to all. He did not rely on a commercial gym or any specific equipment. Instead, Tom Hafey subscribed to the idea that the world is our gym. The secret to his success was rooted in hard work and consistency. He didn’t do anything flashy, but he did keep doing. And while some may argue that is routine was overly simplistic or repetitive, it’s impossible to argue with the results.

RIP to a true inspiration.


Youth is a wonderful thing. What a crime to waste it on children. – George Bernard Shaw


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