Dadbod or not, most men over 50 are too busy working (or enjoying the spoils of it) to maintain the peak fitness of their intramural-trophy-winning youth.
And while we're living in the golden age of “wellness” — and the multi-billion-dollar industry it has inspired — there is also stock in sticking to the basics: daily physical exercise and a balanced, nutritious diet. So we sought out Beachbody trainer Joel Freeman, the creator of LIIFT4, and the team behind Freeletics for some advice on the best tried-and-true methods for keeping an aging body performing at its best.
Above all, the workouts they recommend below focus on the parts of your body less affected by age, specifically the skeletal muscles used in endurance and cardio (versus the muscles associated with increasing muscle mass and strength). Activating these muscles also has the added benefit of lowering blood pressure.
As Freeletics told us, “even if there are biological changes in your body, it doesn’t mean you need to stop working on yourself. There is no age limit to being fit.” So while you may not be able to do your own stunts for a Mission: Impossible movie at age 56 the way Tom Cruise manages, incorporating the exercises below into your weekly routine will help keep you spry, chipper and visiting your doctor as infrequently as possible.
First, a note on nutrition ...
Today’s standards for healthy eating are wildly different from what was recommended for gymgoers 20 years ago. According to nutritionist Jonny Bowden (PhD, CNS), what many men have been told about diets and fat content isn’t exactly true. “Instead of ‘low-fat’ being the mantra of health, researchers are exploring the enormous benefits of higher-fat, lower-carb eating,” Dr. Bowden says. He suggests incorporating high-quality fats like coconut and avocado oil into your diet along with a focus on fewer processed foods, breads and pastas to see quicker results from your workouts.
And now, the workouts ...
Image via Max Pixel
GO IT SOLO
1. Trail Running
Due to the rough, uneven terrain, a trail runner's body absorbs a huge amount of force. Accordingly, a certain amount of strength and stability are required in the ankles to accept that force and prevent injuries. The many twists, turns and obstacles encountered on a trail also build core in the shoulders and torso. It's altogether a much more dynamic exercise that running on pavement. The Freeletics team recommends trail running as a way to increase mobility in the hips and create a stronger center axis from which to move. It also improves your reflexes and helps reaction time. Not to mention the views.
Swimming is the perfect exercise when it comes to protecting your joints — there’s practically no way to injure yourself provided you use good form and a comfortable pace. Swimming builds endurance, muscle strength and cardiovascular fitness while also improving lung capacity, according to Freeman.
3. Inline Skating
People who rollerblade may consider themselves part of an odd crowd, but skating is a fun alternative to running that trains balance and increases endurance. In addition, it helps maintain a healthy weight and it's low-impact: meaning it will improve your knee health and prevent injuries, according to Freeletics. The smooth, repetitive, gliding motion of skating reduces strain on joints while working the entirety of your legs and core. Also, Drake does it.
Not only easy on the joints, but also an incredible cardiovascular workout that increases muscular strength, according to Beachbody. Just don't make the mistake of hopping on a rental bike and pedaling as furiously as you can. Like all exercises, form is key here. When buying your next bike, make sure to really test her out, and then equip it with proper seating. The seat should be parallel to the ground, with your knee slightly bent when at the bottom of a pedal stroke. If you have arthritis or other pre existing knee conditions, tilt the seat slightly forward to ease pressure on the perineum and hips (or opt for the recumbent bike at your gym).
5. Anything in the snow
An ironic favorite of Beachbody trainers: “Skiing, snowboarding, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing all require coordination, skill and practice. They also can increase your heart rate, work your endurance and leave you with some exhausted muscles.” says Freeman. And don’t worry, injured or recovering slope lovers: you can still shred well into old age with the help of a little medical science.
Image via Wikimedia Commons
Take a class
If you prefer a group setting, every man from Robert Downey, Jr., to Sting swears by yoga. It’s an easily modifiable workout that can accommodate anyone’s needs while also encouraging mindfulness and a focus on form. It’s also severely underrated for strength training: yoga can prevent your body from losing muscle mass and strengthens bones, in addition to other unexpected benefits.
“The best sport is always a combination of many,” states Freeletics training expert John Francis Kennedy. “Dancing is the perfect solution for men over 50 and at the same time an activity that is completely underrated, especially amongst men. It trains coordination, rhythm and balance in a unique way,”
8. Racquet Sports
The Beachbody team says tennis and racquetball are great for your heart, lungs, muscles and coordination. The more coordination you use, the more your brain has to be involved. They're basically the ideal full-body sports for aging guys: they don't require too much physical strength, yet will make you sweat hard.
Image via sportandsocial
Hit the gym
9. Body Weight Workouts
Aside from being able to fit into a tight schedule and done from anywhere, high-intensity interval training helps fortify your endurance while building muscle. The Freeletics team are pros at individualized HIIT workouts, and recommend the following — it’s not too intensive, excluding exercises that could be problematic for the back, such as burpees or situps.
Complete three sets of:
- 10 Squat Jumps
- 15 Squats
- 15 Sprawls
- 10 Pushups
One important thing to keep in mind when doing sprawls is to keep the back straight and the muscles engaged. This will help you avoid pain in the back and lower the risk of injuries.
We might miss Frank on the next season of House of Cards, but we have his wife Claire to thank for reminding us that the "monstrosity" is still a good choice for a full-body wokrout. While bending over and back and over and back may look daunting, rowing is still a low-impact exercise and good for building stamina and strengthening bones. The resistance is also easily adjustable, meaning you can kick it up a notch (or take it down) at ease.