To start, I have no qualifications what so ever to give fitness advice. What I’m about to describe is what works for me as I pursue my goal of being fit over 50.
Remember, we are all different, an experiment of one. What works for me may not work for you.
Diminished Recovery Time and Fitness Over 50
A prevalent aging misconception is that people significantly lose their ability to recover the older they get. Whether it’s exercise, injury, hangovers, etc… I will often hear others whine how they just can’t rebound like they did when they were younger.
There is a biological truth to a diminished ability to recover after a workout as you age, but I promise it’s not nearly as bad as you think and it should never be used as an excuse to skip a a chance to workout.
Like speed, strength, balance, and endurance, recovery is something you can train the body to do more efficiently and quicker.
Improving my recovery time is now the central focus of all my workout routines. It has helped me breakthrough multiple fitness plateaus, and it has changed my view of what it means to be physically fit.
Maybe It’s a Generational Thing
I’m sure the concept of no recovery isn’t new to everyone. However, it is new to me. I come from the era where getting fit meant pumping iron and doing minimal cardio to preserve muscle.
If you’re my age, you will likely relate. As long as I can remember, it had been drilled into me the importance of recovery. I had always been taught never to work the same body part two days in a row and always to take rest days if I wanted to make fitness gains.
I followed this advice my entire life, and I consistently achieved average results. Then, a year ago, I decided to break all the rules, and my level of fitness exploded.
If I were to succeed, not only would I need the right bicycle touring gear, I would have to rethink my current fitness routine. The demands on myself physically would be very different from anything I had done in the past.
Training to cycle 60 to 80 miles in a day is pretty straight forward, but preparing to ride 60 to 80 miles a day, and the next day, and the next day, for a month, would be a totally different undertaking. I had to train my body to recover quickly.
I decided the best way to prepare for my ride would be to beat my legs into submission every single day and never give them time to recover, thereby mimicking the physical demands of my upcoming bicycle tour.
Taking the stairs
The No Recovery Experiment Begins
I already had a decent running base. A typical week consisted of running a 6-mile route 4-5 times a week. The plan was to up my route to 9-miles and do it every day, seven days a week, for the two months leading up to my trip.
The schedule wasn’t very different from what I was already doing. Basically, I increased my daily mileage, and eliminated all rest days and easyruns.
It didn’t matter if I was tired, had to walk or even crawl. The plan was 9 -miles a day, and nothing was going to stop me.
As expected, I started strong. The first week went by without a hitch, but by the end of the second week, my times started to slow, and exhaustion began to creep in.
Eventually, I dreaded my daily run. My body screamed for a break. Every day I couldn’t imagine how I would possibly finish.
Then I entered my second month and noticed a change. I was still sore and tired, but I didn’t care anymore. I just ran. I was worn out, but my mind finally accepted my new reality of constant fatigue. I even started to enjoy my runs again.
I’m not sure if it’s because I was in better shape, if being exhausted all the time began to feel normal, or if I was so tired of being tired, I was too tired to be tired. Got it?
It didn’t matter. By ignoring everything I had bad taught, I was now in the best shape of my life, physically and mentally.
The date of my trip arrived and it was a total success. The physical demands of my bicycle tour were tough, but doable.
By running a hard 9-miles every day for a couple of months, I discovered how resilient and adaptable my body and mind really are.
Is Overtraining a Myth
Cue the lightbulb moment.
It would seem everything I thought I knew and practiced regarding recovery, and overtraining had been holding me back.
After returning from my bicycle tour, I became so confident in my ability to work through the constant pain and stress from daily exercising; I decided to push it even further.
In addition to running 9-miles every day, I added a morning gym session a few days a week.
During these morning workouts, I would also break all the rules by working the same body part multiple days in a row and skipping rest days.
Why not? If I no longer used recovery days when running, why should it be any different when lifting weights?
When I started applying the same no recovery principles to the gym, again, I made considerable gains in my fitness level. It’s not that I got bigger or notably stronger; I just felt better and had more energy than ever before.
I had become conditioned to go hard, day after day after day.
Suddenly how I worked out in the past didn’t make any sense. Scheduling workouts and recovery days so I could max out a lift every couple of weeks in an effort to build extra muscle, now seemed silly.
A Balance of Strength, Flexibility, and Endurance Over 50
I know that recovery is a vital part of building maximum muscle, but based on how I felt, I had to ask myself, why would I want to create more muscle than I needed?
As we age, at some point, added muscle becomes a burden. It adds additional calorie requirements, can restrict your movement, and becomes harder to maintain the older we get.
Of even more significant concern is everyone’s propensity towards some degree of body dysmorphia. Years of targeting specific areas for growth often produces terrible results.
I don’t mean to slam anyone, and I realize we all have different goals, but the last thing I want to be is that fifty-something, barrel-chested, chicken-legged guy.
I’m not against lifting weights. I do it all the time. There’s no better way to maintain bone density as we age, but I now firmly believe a slim muscular physique should be your goal when getting fit over 50. Your focus should be to build a body you can use and maintain for decades to come.
What you do in your 50’s creates the foundation for your 60’s, 70’s, and beyond. Train for the life you have ahead of you — train to live an active and vibrant life full of movement and play.
The Bottom Line to Getting Fit Over 50
I’m not saying that all recovery is bad and that overtraining isn’t a real thing. All I ask is that you listen to your body, and don’t always trust the pain. You are capable of more than you can ever imagine.
Work harder than everyone else. Set a higher standard for yourself. That’s what this is all about.
I didn’t name the website AgeHIGH because AgeMEDIOCORE was taken.
I have never aspired to be average, and just because I’m 50, doesn’t mean I’m going to start now. Neither should you.
Old Man Parkour
Fit Over 50 Update
A year has passed, and I still practice my no recovery principles. It’ the core of my Alzheimer’s Prevention Plan. Obviously, life often gets in the way, but for the most part, I have remained reasonably consistent.
My 9-mile run has morphed into a 9-mile obstacle course. I call it “old man parkour.” It is hands down the most complete workout I’ve ever done. It’s full of multi-directional movements, balance exercises, sprints, vertical leaps, and drops.
I know I probably look crazy doing it, but I have never been in better shape, and my core, joints, and tendons are stronger than ever.
First, let’s get past the question of whether or not I am super fit. Like everyone else, I have good days and bad days, but for the most part, I exercise regularly, I maintain a healthy diet, and I feel great. So, for the sake of this article, let’s all agree that I am super fit.
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Once back in Playa Del Carmen, I decided to take the ferry to Cozumel and bicycle tour around the island.
I was off to an early start. Even though the ferry was crowded, it was mostly locals. When I arrived in Cozumel, it looked like a ghost town. I later found out; the typically popular tourist destination usually hosts thirty-nine cruise ships a week. Due to COVID, they haven’t had one visit in 5-months.
Shortly after arriving, I started my counter-clockwise circumnavigation of Cozumel, and the small town of tourist shops, bars, and restaurants quickly faded away.
https://agehigh.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/Fitness-over-50.jpg5401420Bufferhttps://agehigh.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/AgeHIGH-Sidebar-300x138.pngBuffer2019-11-28 11:44:032019-12-17 20:41:11Getting Fit Over 50 and Finding Your Balance