Sunday, May 30, 2010

If You’re 40 or Older - Fred Grace

Bill Good, 75

If you’re 40, you need power like a frog needs a pogo stick. Like a kangaroo needs patch pocket pants. At 50, a 500 pound squat has one-five-hundredth of the health-giving quality of 500 reps with 100 pounds on the bar. At 60, a 600 pound deadlift is just a down payment on a wheelchair, but 20 mile runs or 700 rep workouts with 100 pounds on the bar mean a 20 year, or longer, reprieve from the so-called “rest” home.

From 40 on, what one needs is endurance and flexibility. We are old, physically, when any exertion makes us huff and puff like that wolf in the kids’ story. We are old when we creak like a wind-dried bamboo chair. Some people are old at a young age, no?

I knew a man who, at age 32, couldn’t stoop to tie his own shoes. At 74 I take five to six 15-mile runs a week. Other times I run four 35 to 40 milers. During all my runs I see men in their 50’s and 60’s limping along like a chair with a short leg. Their bodies are about as flexible as a squat bar.

Before I leave on my runs I take a flexibility workout. I do 100 reps each of side bends, forward bends and back bends. I do 100 twists to each side. Then I work on my legs. Running develops great endurance but affords only limited flexibility. I do 100 leg raises with each leg to the front, side and back. The flexibility exercises I do not only help to keep one flexible but add to one’s endurance as well.

Doing 100 reps in any exercise is not doing 10 sets of 10 curls, barbell or French.

Later in the day I take an upper body workout. A shoulder problem has kept me from the weights for months, but I can use elastic expanders with very little discomfort in the interim. I take 20 to 30 reps of every exercise I do, and three to four sets of each.

The long workouts and the high reps have given me unusual leanness and muscle tone for an “old” man in his 70’s. I have more cuts than a Boy Scout’s knife and feel like a kid at a picnic.

If you have the will you’ll find time to start training for a rosy life in your sunset years. In the beginning, train, don’t strain, or you’ll give up before you realize results. If you’re WAY out of shape, jog an easy 25 yards in the beginning. Eventually you’ll make that into 25 miles.

I’ve developed my endurance to the point where I can run for hours and recover completely in minutes. It just takes a little walking after a long run to relax. On days when I don’t run I take long walks to stay loose. It’s disuse that robs us of our endurance and flexibility.

And remember, it’s better to push ourselves than depend on others to push our wheelchairs.

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