Sunday, August 24, 2014

Training for the Over-40s - Achilles Kallos

Have you ever wondered what it feels like to be a worldclass powerlifter? Or a European champion bodybuilder? How about a world record breaker in strongman competition? My name is Ray Nobile and I have been there, done that and got the t-shirt as the saying goes in ALL THREE!! Join me on a journey through the 1960s, 70s, 80s and 90s as I lift, hold, carry and flex my way through my iron game career.

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Achilles Kallos

Many people are reluctant to train with weights because they have the mistaken impression that if they discontinue training they will turn to fat. They even believe that heavy training will affect the heart adversely. Besides, training over a prolonged period is foreign to them and they feel that physical training should be curtailed or even discontinued after the age of thirty.

All this is, of course, incorrect. Weight training can be done all your life. As a matter of fact, weight training is one of the very few forms of physical training that can be done  to an advanced age. You can adjust the poundages according to your age and state. In other words, there is no reason to strain to the point of injury, and no fear of harming yourself . . .  if you use common sense in your training.

Weight training can not only be used to develop the body, but, if done correctly, the respiratory system can be activated to benefit the heart as well. With weight training you do not need a training partner, nor does the weather affect if as in other sporting activities. Therefore, the aim of bodybuilders should be the maintenance of their physical development until an advanced age.

John Grimek, Sig Klein, and Jack LaLanne are examples. Others nearer 40 like Reg Park, John Isaacs, George Paine, Bill Pearl, etc., continue to train in spite of abstaining from competitions and have retained their remarkable bodies.

When a person reaches the age of 40 and over, he becomes aware of the importance of keeping fit. There are usually three types of aspirants. The one who has never trained much before and finds himself in bad shape at the age of 40; and, the one who has trained before but gave up a long time ago and would now like to do something about his out-of-shape body.

For these two categories, it is recommended that before embarking on a weight training program they consult a doctor and have a thorough medical examination. Once the doctor gives them the green light to go ahead with physical training, only mild training, preferably under supervision at a local gymnasium is recommended at first. The instructor should plan an all-round course with exercises which affect the legs, waist and also the upper body. Not more than three workouts weekly are advisable at this stage. One to two sets per body part for the first three weeks. After that they can increase the sets to five, but only once they feel they are capable of doing so. This must, of course, be done gradually - maybe one set increase every two weeks until they reach the recommended five sets. Thus it should take about six to eight weeks for the goal to be reached. For the first week or so they are going to be very stiff, especially in the legs, back, abdominals and chest areas. However, they must not give in by missing a workout because of severe stiffness, as by training on the planned day the stiffness will eventually be eased in the areas aforementioned and by the second week they should be able to settle down to regular training.

It is suggested that only one exercise per body part be selected, working from two to five sets each employing eight to ten repetitions. Something like this:

Warm Up
Full Squat
Calf Raise
Standing Press
Bentover Barbell Row
Barbell Bench Press
Barbell Curl
Triceps Pressdown
Leg Raise
Light Deadlift

Ten simple, basic exercises that will affect the main muscle groups in the body. Eventually, if one's enthusiasm grows, select two exercises for each body part, totaling 20 movements which should take under one and a half hours to do three times a week. 

The third group concerned with in this in this article are those who have trained for many years and have been able to continue exercising without laying off for any prolonged period. In my case, I have trained regularly for over 30 years successfully. Having traveled throughout the bodybuilding world, meeting and training with many top men has given me a certain insight of which not many can boast. In my observations, particularly of those who have kept up training into an advanced age, too many are training incorrectly and have developed bad habits without realizing it. Of course, men like Grimek and Park do not fall into this category.

When I combined amateur wrestling with bodybuilding, I realized that besides developing muscular size with the weights, wind power was essential as well. Wrestling is one of the most perfect forms of exercise, as it develops muscular power and the respiratory system at the same time.

During recent discussion with a doctor who has been a bodybuilder many years, he remarked that most people die from respiratory failure and not old age! He further stated that the older we grow the more important respiratory training becomes.

What is meant by respiratory training, and how does one achieve it - can it be done with weight training?

First, for your heart to benefit a fit person should do an exercise that causes heavy breathing. Normal weight training does not accelerate one's breathing sufficiently. Exercises like curls, bench presses, etc., do not do the job.

The weight exercises that cause you to breathe harder are most leg movements if done in higher repetitions, as well as any bending exercises like the clean and press, power clean, snatch, squat clean, deadlift - but only if done in high repetitions. How many of you are doing this? Few, I can grant you. Running, rope skipping, bag punching, swimming are the most important respiratory exercises. According to the health authorities, it is necessary to one to indulge in any one of the above 'breathing' exercises for at least ten continuous minutes for your heart to derive benefit. This means hard work - ten minutes running should take you a minimum of 1.5 miles, ten minutes swimming at least 10 lengths of 33.3 yards. In other words, a run around the block or a couple of lengths of the swimming pool is not enough.

Recently, I read with amazement that a certain authority claimed that running was not good for bodybuilders and was not necessary. He further claimed that all one had to do for the respiratory system was to train with weights faster by reducing the rest period between sets. However, he does not believe in exercises like squats. So how can curls, chins, presses do this most important phase of training? Experiment for yourself. Take a dozen of the 'normal' bodybuilding exercises and reduce the rest periods. Then try high repetition squats, deadlifts, cleans-and-presses and see how much more you will be breathing. As a matter of fact, I warrant that you will not be fit enough to do more than two sets of each in reasonable time.

Now try something more strenuous. Run, swim, or even better try and wrestle for just five minutes and see how tired you will become. It will become obvious quite quickly just how conditioned you really are from your bodybuilding only workouts. Now, I know you may say that all you want to develop is a muscular body and not be a health fanatic, but as this article is directed at bodybuilders who have passed the forty mark, it is important to consider more than just muscles. At any rate, for those who have been training over a long period, a reassessment may be necessary.

I have observed many 'older' bodybuilders who have developed bad habits, lazy ones at that. Remember, when one is young his metabolism works better and it is not always necessary to consider respiratory training seriously. As one gets older, however, you may become invariably lazier. Maybe social and working responsibilities become greater. Nevertheless, I feel that most bodybuilders are ignorant about the 'true' physical culture way - that besides muscle training one requires respiratory training as well. It should form an integral part or your training program. Breathing exercises should not, of course, interfere with your bodybuilding training. It should form a part of your regime, and this needs correct planning and readjustment.

What happens to a normal bodybuilder who has been training incorrectly for many years? When he trains he thinks of muscle only and and as a result he finds to his consternation that his waist is no longer trim and muscular as it used to be when he was much younger. The neck shows lines and a little flabbiness, but then, he never really did much in the way of neck work. His legs are not what they used to be, much muscular shape has been lost, but then, he trains them little and when he does so he shuns the more strenuous squatting movements and favors leg presses and other less strenuous squatting movements. His chest is still big for he still does countless sets of bench presses and flyes. However, his lower pecs are so big that they now appear soft and even sag a little.

Due to the lack of lower back exercises he does not show any development in this area; as a matter of fact a bit of fat has accumulated here, including around the sides and lower abdominal area, in spite of doing regular situps which he has done for many years without ever trying to vary the exercise much.

Granted, he still has a very good pair of arms, broad shoulders, wide back, but instead of looking like he did many years ago, he may now look like an overgrown bear! Do not ask him to walk for any length of time or run after the bus for he will feel exhausted quickly now if he does. Although he tries to eat correctly, he cannot help overeating and by now may have acquired the habit of taking a few drinks, which he never did before - even smoking may have now become a habit. Through the lack of more strenuous exercise and his lazy training habits, he does not burn enough energy to counteract his overeating habits, habits in his diet that were ingrained during his younger 'bulking' days. Besides this, his heart does not even get the minimum exercise it needs.

Does this sound familiar to you? If so, you had better take another look at your training habits. From now on think respiratory first, and then muscle training.

How do I do this without making my schedule longer than it is, you might ask. Well, it's not so so simple nor is it easy. Respiratory training is hard work, but once you have become fit enough you not only feel better, but also look better.

First, you will have to reorganize your weight training schedule. No doubt you will still want to maintain a certain muscle size that you have taken so many years to cultivate. Combination exercises may be an answer, such as continuous clean and press, squat clean, power clean. These exercises develop more than one group of muscle at a time, especially when done in higher repetitions. More bending exercises are essential, they are good for the spine also. Any movement where you bend over to pick up the weight from the floor is beneficial.

I have given many athletes some of these exercises to be done in higher repetitions and they were surprised how strenuous and beneficial they were in spite of the light weights they were using. These exercises not only affect the lower back and trapezius but the waist in general, thus benefiting the abdominals, besides, they also make you breathe harder. Your legs may also need a new look, especially the thighs. When did you last do high repetition squatting movements? Well, if you have neglected this phase of your training, you are in for an unpleasant surprise. Recently an old friend of mine who now owns a gym, and still competes in international events, received a bit of a shock after we had a workout together. Some of my 'pet' respiratory exercises caused him to be terribly stiff the next day in spite of being a seasoned veteran in the game. What about your neck? When (if ever) did you last do any direct neck exercises? They are important. Neck exercises affect the head, bringing new blood to the area, thus benefiting the brain and the eyes. Besides, they will firm the neck and give a better appearance, especially when clothed.

With regard to the chest, you may have to concentrate more on the upper chest and even the rib box. I will not elaborate on the arms or upper back, because I am sure you are aware of the important exercises for these areas.

Your workout should not take longer than 1.5 hours and the tempo should be fast, with as little rest as possible. If you train correctly you need not train more than three times a week when doing weights. As a matter of fact, if you incorporate the more strenuous breathing exercises in your routine, you will not find it necessary to do more training.

With regard to the other non-weight respiratory exercises, you may have to do them on another day. Skipping or bag punching can be done after your workout if you are not too tired; otherwise try and reserve your energy by curtailing some other bodybuilding movements. Try skipping for three minutes at first (I doubt if you will be fit to do more) and work up to ten full minutes.

I feel running or swimming (if you can) should be done at least twice a week even though weight training is done. Ten minutes running does not take up that great a part of your life. It can be done on your off days, either early in the morning or after work. Jog at first for about five minutes; when you become more fit, run harder and faster. I usually run normally for the first mile or two, then sprint in bursts of 200 yards for the next mile. Let me outline a training schedule.

Weight Training -
Three times a week. It is important to warm up properly. The older you get the more careful you must be before attempting heavy weights. Some exercises require more warmups than others, and each of us has different needs for different exercises in this respect. For instance, I do free squats before attempting my commencing poundage. Free squats (squats without weights) are done in 2 sets 30 reps. I do not have the same flexibility in the knees as I used to have when I was younger. Before I do any lower back exercises I do free toe touching. Before shoulder work I swing my arms, etc., until I feel I have warmed up the shoulder area. By doing these simple physical training movements injuries will be avoided.

Full Squat - 18-20 reps for the first set, a little under bodyweight. Take deep breaths between reps. Increase the weight about 20 lbs and decrease the reps to 15. Increase again by 15-20 lbs and do 12 reps, and so forth until you achieve the amount of reps and sets you require. Strenuous, I know, and if you have not done breathing squats (as they are called) for some time, then attempt only two sets at first and increase weekly. You can substitute regular parallel squats, front squats or lunging squats. Full-squat cleans done in reps of 10-15 are tough and will definitely get you breathing rapidly.

As mentioned, movements that make you bend forward are important. They affect the lower back, abdominals and trapezius in particular, and make you breather heavier. These compound exercises are time savers as well.

A) Continuous Clean and Press - Increase the weight and decrease the reps each set. Pyramid. Start with 15 reps.

B) Power Clean - Pull the barbell from the floor to your shoulders in one movement, reps and sets as above.

C) Pull Up From Floor to Overhead - Similar to the clean and press, but you do not pause at the shoulders. Sets and reps the same.

D) Dumbbell Swing - Arms stiff, legs slightly bent, swing a pair of light dumbbells (25-30 lbs) from the floor between your feet to overhead in one movement. In sets of 10-15 reps.

E) Deadlifts - Ordinary, and stiff legged, in reps of 10-15, will benefit you now more than those heavy lifts you did in the past. Instead of straining your back you will benefit from them.

These compound exercises will make you breather heavier than ever before, your lower back will come strongly into play and, surprisingly, the abdominals are affected strongly as well.

Regarding direct abdominal exercises, I favor movements that make me stretch. Situps off a high bench with a twist done slowly affects them much more than regular situps.

NECK - From now on take special care of your neck and always do at least one exercise for it. When the neck is better conditioned you can try more strenuous bridging work.

Now this does not mean that you have to incorporate all the exercises recommended, only a few at a time. They are tough and you will undoubtedly have difficulty with them at first. I recommend the following routine (as a guide):

1) Squat - high reps
2) Calf work
3) Clean and Press
4) Shoulder work - presses, laterals, etc.
5) Upper back - chins, rowing, etc.
6) Chest work - mostly upper pecs
7) Arm work - the usual
8) Light deadlifts - high reps
9) Dumbbell swings or pull up from the floor -
10) Abdominals - high sit up or slow leg raise
11) Neck work
12) Skipping or bag punching - 5-10 minutes

Do you think you can do the above routine within 1.5 hours? I have no trouble in doing so. However, I must caution you to take it easy for the first two weeks. Gradually increase the sets and reps. If this program is too long, then by all means reduce it accordingly and sensibly.

Maybe you can split your program into by doing legs one day, upper body the next, then rest the third day and so forth. At any rate, you have been training long enough to be your own judge by now.

A novel way of incorporating cardiovascular work with weight training is by using the P.H.A. system, or sequence training. Bob Gajda, former Mr. America, popularized this system which became known as 'peripheral heart action' training. He not only found this method benefited his heart and lungs but his physique as well.

It is a very rugged way of training when done properly. By selecting four or five completely different exercises for various muscle groups and doing each exercise for the required repetitions one after the other without rest between, a terrific heart-muscular action occurs. But you have to work up to a high level of fitness before being able to do justice to this type of routine.

On the other hand, because different muscle areas are exercises each set, a certain amount of respite enables you to go through the schedule without the same effort as if one tried compound sets.

Let me give you an example by selecting five different exercises that can be done one after the other with hardly any rest between.

Standing Press
Barbell Curl
Lying DB Flye
Calf Raise

Upright Row
Leg Raise

Bentover Row
Calf Raise
Standing Lateral
DB Swing
Calf Raise

Make up your mind you are going to be healthier, fitter and trimmer. Do not forget to incorporate running or swimming or any activity you choose that will take care of your breathing.

Diet Plays an Important Part in Your Training Program

Older people are plagued with the cholesterol problem and efforts are made to curtail a high cholesterol intake. A high protein diet is essential, although many doctors are against large quantities of animal products like milk, butter, etc. It may be advisable to have your cholesterol level checked by your doctor and if it is high. to refrain from foods that contain too much of it. It has been been proven that exercise keeps cholesterol down.

I personally believe in the power of fresh fruit and vegetables and make sure to eat them in abundance daily. In my salads I use lemon and olive oil dressing with plenty of fresh onions and garlic. Meat and fish are eaten sparingly as I feel overeating them should not be done. In between meals I like apples, bananas and nuts rather than cookies, sandwiches etc. I do not drink tea or coffee, instead choosing herbal tea (mainly German origin) with honey as a sweetener, also yogurt and fresh milk. Milk taken in moderation is still one of the healthiest drinks. Fresh orange juice is also taken daily upon rising in the morning. At breakfast I favor old fashioned oats with honey. Bread is seldom eaten and only the whole grain variety. Somehow eggs have not played an important part in diet. About once a week I may have a couple of soft boiled eggs. I find that eggs do not mix well with porridge in the gut in the morning.

Fried foods, heavily spiced foods, etc., are taboo and should always be avoided.

Protein supplements are important as well, even if your diet is well balanced. Poor soil, overcooking, etc., can damage food.

Liver tablets for Vitamin B, wheat germ oil for your heart, kelp for minerals (abstain from using normal salt) are the most important vitamins you should take every day.

In conclusion, the author has always led an active life, but this does not mean that everyone over the age of 45 can be so active. By all means train according to your ability and it what is outlined in this article is too much then adjust your efforts accordingly.

Your editor, Peary Rader, has always advocated continued training to an advanced age. He will tell you that training should become less strenuous as you get older. For instance, at 35 you are able to do a lot more than at the age of 45. At 50, 60, and over, you are able to do less. Yet it does not mean you should automatically refrain from active training. As a matter of fact, as stated before, it is most important to train for health via muscular and respiratory activation.

So be your own judge, but try not to get into those lazy habits discussed in this article. Training is hard work but then, health is the reward and

anything worth having is worth working for.



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