One of the most important things to recognize and realize, is that in older age we will inevitably see a decline in muscle mass, strength and power. Once you hit 70, there is a 2% decline in muscle mass per year in active adults from age 70-79. At the same time, the functional ability of the muscle decreases 3x, relative to the size of the muscle itself. Which means that the quality of muscle tissue deteriorates relative to its size.
With that said, everything that I’ve read has told me the obvious – the more you use it, the longer you slow the decline and deterioration. And to go along with that, power exercises are as important as anything.
To understand that, you need to slow down and understand muscle fiber types real quick. Your body has a few of different types of muscle fibers – Type 1 and type 2a and type 2b.
-Type 1 muscle is very useful for longer exercise bouts, like running, biking and swimming over longer duration (2 minutes to 1+hour).
-Type 2a muscle fibers are responsible for higher power, higher strength exercises but also with a more extended component of time. Think the duration of a 10 shot rally in racquetball or tennis. (activities that take 20 seconds – 2 minutes)
-Type 2b muscle fibers are responsible for higher power output activities at maximal exertion. Think jumping as high as you can, or running a 100m sprint (0-20ish seconds).
As you get older, you’ll hear that it’s inevitable that your body begins to ‘lose’ muscle. When in reality, the muscle loss is more of a reconfiguring of muscle type. It looks like its more of a transition of fiber type – your body turns your existing Type 2a and 2b muscle fibers into Type 1. And your Type 1 fibers can transition into tendon with long period of non-use.
From there, we can deduce a few things around exercise:
-Exercise focus with older adults is usually to emphasize power and strength activities in our training program to stave off power loss as long as we can. This will slow the deterioration of strength and muscle quality as we age.
-We need to keep a good amount of full range of motion exercises in our program to keep functional ability high. Muscles need to be used through their fullest of ranges in order to maintain fiber type and flexibility.
-Longer duration, low impact activities like walking and swimming are great to keep your healthspan long relative to your lifespan.
Coming up: Nutrition for old farts
I’ll be in touch in the next couple of days to update you on nutrition for muscle maintenance for older adults. As a teaser, here is a quick action you can take with a related article to hold you off until then!
-Increase protein intake to consume 1-1.2 grams of protein per kg of bodyweight per day to support protein synthesis in muscle.
Arthritis is one of those things that literally means there is swelling and tenderness in our joints. It is often accompanied with pain and stiffness.
To put it simply, you wake up one day and you just sort of start feeling old.
And it happens to everyone. It’s inevitable. But you know what is the absolute best thing you can do for that pain? Other than popping pills to mask any semblance of personality??
People with arthritis will always tell you the pain and swelling is worse in the morning (Or when it’s about to rain, but that’s a different story). It’s worst when you’ve been sitting around for hours. Wasting away at a desk. After a long drive. After waking up in the early morning.
Your body literally needs movement to help shuttle away the inflammation that has pooled in your body overnight. And although it may be hard to get those rusty joints moving, it is the absolute best thing for you.
That said, with arthritis let’s start with caution. You don’t want to begin by running (unless you know it doesn’t bug you). Too many people in our world run to get in shape, only to find it ends up setting us back far more than any progress we can make in a single run. You want to listen to your body – if you begin exercising and something keeps getting worse a few minutes after you start – STOP! There is not a lot to gain from ‘pushing through the pain’ that our favorite TV commercials spout on about. When you put your hand on a hot stove, you wouldn’t ‘push through’ as your skin melts off your skeleton. So don’t take an oath to make life suck more by pushing through. I’m talking long term.
So, let’s say you come to me with arthritis and want to figure out what to do to improve that arthritic pain, let me break it down.
Exercise for Arthritis – With anything, you gotta be cognizant. Start slow and easy with what I’ll call general movement.
General movement exercises are low impact. And that’s a generic term for easy on the joints, in case you’re not a nerd.
I always want to stress – there are progressions and regressions to each and every exercise. So because your Doctor tells you that you can never run/walk/bike again, take that with a grain of salt. You CAN. And that just gives you more incentive to prove that ‘medical professional’ wrong. You just have to be responsible in building back up.
Low impact exercise creates less pounding on your joints. Don’t begin with explosive movements right off the bat, nothing that generates high forces quickly (ie, running, jumping, throwing, bouncing, hopping, skipping, etc).
Start with lower impact stuff. Things that move your joints relatively freely without tons of banging and clanging. Take a walk, go for a swim or a leisurely hike through the woods. If you’re in the gym setting, opt for yoga flow, or a class based around mobility as a lot of the group classes can be surprisingly high impact (looking at you, Zumba). Opt for walking over running. Using the stairs is actually a heck of a good low impact exercise. And in this world, I personally would prefer a hike or walk…because outside. And outside stuff makes me happy.
Low impact exercise increases your heart rate. Good to increase muscle temperature, fluidity of movement and improve recovery.
Bonus points for something that takes your body’s joints through their functional range of motion, while also increasing range of motion. In nerd speak, I call them CARs, that is, Controlled Articular Rotations. And the idea behind them is literally mobilizing your body’s major joints to increase the temperature and taking the rusty joints through a range that your body can handle.
Next, I want to stress the importance of strength training.
Strength training important for so many things – but to me, the most important is that it helps maintain the integrity of a joint. Here is where I drop some nerdy stuff here about tensegrity and tension related around the axis of our joints.
So, depending on where your body has arthritic pain, we would devise a plan to increase strength around the joints that primarily bug your body.
I would make sure to include full body movements, as well as a few isolated movements to truly target the impacted regions of the body. And to hold true to the above statements – we want to start our strength in a controlled environment. Start with low impact strength and balance before plyometrics and high impact movement.
A generic template for strength – perform each exercise for 2-3 sets of 10-15 repetitions. Hit me with some questions if you want to dive deeper for YOU. I’ll also include a typical progression if you follow a consistent schedule:
Squat – Bodyweight squats, progressing to goblet squats
Hinge – Lying Hip bridges, progressing to Romanian deadlifts
Lunge – Stepups, progressing to walking lunges
Push – Pushups, progressing to bench press or overhead presses
Pull – Bent over Ys, Ts, Is, progressing to bent over rows
In summation, with arthritis move more. Aim for 30 minutes daily. Do something you enjoy. It’ll be easier to keep going that way. Get up and take your body through some CARs. Shoulders, hips, knees, scapulae, neck. Mess around with your major joint locations. Let google be your friend. You WILL see benefit from strength improvements.
Arthritis sucks but it can be managed. Be willing to adapt, and unwilling to sit back and wait because there’s too much awesome stuff to do in our world. And if you have any questions or want to spitball some ideas shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
How often do we see someone squat like this in public?
It’s not something you typically see in a world run by desk jockeys and business people.
Imagine being in a desk all day, typing away for eight hours at a time in a dog doodoo posture. Tight spines and hip flexors. Immovable midback and shoulders. And hips that open about as well as those ‘Easy open’ soup cans (Hint: Not easy).
There’s a quick fix that I’m so damn happy to share with you.
It all comes down to getting closer to the ground.
This world has placed us in an environment that makes us terrified of getting down to the floor. Of rolling over. Of crawling, climbing and we end up developing legitimate fear of falling.
What happens when we develop a fear of falling? We end up falling.
So let’s work on that.
Let’s get down to the ground. Then back up. We get down and roll. We get down and crawl. We reignite the movement patterns that our bodies progressed through from the fetal stages to adulthood. Picking our heads up. We twist, we turn. We crawl, creep and learn how to stand up again.
It helps us move better. It improves our mobility. It improves our ability to stand up without breaking our hips.
You don’t have to be tight and stiff all day, everyday. Just get up. And get down a few times.
Here are five videos that will take less than five minutes of action to get your feeling better about movement immediately:
Hoping to give you the tools to succeed in staying stronger, longer.
I’m not a coach who’s going to yell at you or shame. And I think that’s because I did that to myself for years. It hurt to hear those thoughts in my head, and tear myself down. It makes me feel like I’m not good enough to feel good about who I am as a person, much less my body.
I’ve always thought the world of my people and know that we’re all capable of whatever we truly desire. In health and in life, we have to be able to see where we excel. And I tend to focus on the positive side of things.
I had a discussion with a couple of folks who were mid-fast recently. We talked about specific values we hold around food. They looked at their perspective on eating. They were in the middle of a fast due to their religion – and I asked if they could remember the last time they ‘cheated’ on a fast. They broke it down into detail. They were in college, broke as hell and couldn’t afford going out to buy the vegan food necessary to complete the fast. It was 5 or 6 years ago and honestly the only time they could recall breaking fast. There was guilt and shame – but also a moment where they questioned their own virtues.
AMAZING recall because it’s an ingrained value they hold. And to me, THAT was amazing.
Your healthy lifestyle doesn’t have to be a religion. It doesn’t need to be something that you base every decision in your life around. But I want you to realize how damn amazing you CAN be.
Here’s where I’ll liken my method of coaching to sunshine coming out of every orifice.
I wish you could see it from my lens just for a day.
There is so much to be said about the pictures we paint of ourselves, where we are far more critical of the choices we make than we would EVER be of any of our own friends and/or family.
I’d rather be a person that says ‘What kind of donut???’ (with a genuine smile on my face because donuts are happiness) than someone who says, ‘don’t eat that, you’ll get fat’.
Hey friends, I wanted to dive into your blood pressure question. Because mostly, I’m a nerd So, here…we…go…
Why is blood pressure important?
It can turn your life expectancy from 76 years old, to 55 years old, with a small difference in blood pressure. A 35 year old with a blood pressure of 120/80 will live on average 76 years. A 35 year old with a blood pressure of 151/91 will live on average 55 years. If you want more data, let me know. But that’s an important piece.
What is blood pressure?
120/80 mmhg This is usually how blood pressure is described. The first number above is called your systolic blood pressure. Systolic blood pressure is the pressure of your blood vessel walls when your heart contracts and blood pumps through them. The second number above is the diastolic. Diastolic blood pressure is the pressure of your blood against your vessel walls when your heart is relaxed. In reference to a garden hose, your blood vessels work similarly. When you turn your water on, the hose fills up and there is pressure against the hose casing. We call this systolic blood pressure. When you turn off the hose, there is still water in the hose but there is no pressure pumping through. Similarly, when your blood isn’t actively being pumped, your diastolic blood pressure is noted by the pressure of your blood against the vessel walls at rest. I hope that makes sense. High blood pressure is another beast. Imagine plugging your garden hose up to a fire hydrant. With the extra pressure of water pumping through, it’s causing a bunch of strain on your hose. And eventually, it could burst. Same thing can happen in your body. If there’s too much strain in your eye, you go blind. If there’s too much strain in your heart, it’s a heart attack. If there’s too much strain close to your brain, you could develop dementia or ALS. A lot of potential outcomes that don’t sound too appealing from my side.
What do I want my blood pressure to be?
Healthy range:Less than 120/80 Prehypertension:120-129 / 80 High Blood pressure Stage 1:130-139 / 80-89 High blood pressure stage 2:>140 / 90+ What impacts blood pressure?
Sex, age, ethinc background, nutrition, dietary norms. A lifestyle and genetics are super important.
Million dollar Question: How do I lower my blood pressure?
1. Get lean and stay lean. With excess bodyfat comes more need to supply blood to fatty tissue. Even so, with excess bodyfat, your body will increase inflammatory markers that actually cause your vessel walls to remain stiff. 2. Get moving and stay moving. I’ve read some studies showing that exercise and moderate intensity activity up to five hours per week can drastically change your blood pressure. WIth that said, a bout of exercise can decrease your blood pressure by 5 mmhg, which reduces all cause mortality by 7%. 3. Reduce booze consumption and stop smoking. A single glass of red wine can help (women moreso than men). But in general, keeping it away will do your body good. 4. Improve nutrition. Diets built around plant based and whole, unprocessed meals are particularly effective. Some recommended actions to take from a nutrition standpoint:
– 1-2 Low fat dairy items/day
– Eat plenty of lean protein to curb insulin
– Eat 3 servings of intact whole grains daily
– Get enough vitamin D (get outside or supplement)
– Balance fat intake – Omega 3s are king!
– Cut sugar – makes you fat when you eat too much. Eating lots of added sugars may also activate the sympathetic nervous system, decrease urinary sodium excretion, increase sodium absorption in the GI tract, and decrease blood vessel nitric oxide. Not good.
– Cut sodium intake. Don’t worry too much about salt. It mostly comes from processed garbage when we eat out. In most cases, we actually need a certain amount to be healthy. So when you eat at home, sprinkle a little on, and don’t feel bad about it. But when you eat that processed good stuff, you know it’s coming at a cost.
They’ll say 90% of people shouldn’t run. They tell you it’s high impact and bad for you.
Or that you can see greater benefit from lifting weights and functionally training your big toe, as long as you track your macros and use PR glue.
I set a goal recently to run a 50k in November, only to be questioned by a local fitness guru, claiming that running that distance won’t make me better at what I do.
What the hell does that do? Telling someone that you’re not going to improve your life by accomplishing a goal? Buzz off brosario dawson.
Makes me realize there’s far more resolve in my heart than there is to be accepted in the community. Running has taught me how to live between my ears. And it’s given me an outlet for my own anxieties while recognizing and confronting my faults, of which there are plenty.
The first mile has taught me how tough I can be. The grit and the pain in getting started. The middle teaches me how to take it easy. Push where I need to and slow down when it hurts. To pace myself in a happy way. To take each step with as much care as the next. And leave the previous one behind.
The final mile has taught me what matters. Why I run. What I run for. Who I run for. And the amount of effort it takes to finish what I start.
And I’m looking forward to JUST running, a bit more going forward.
I’m using this one to build volume for the ultimate goal of a 50k in November.
The fitness world is fraught with inconsistencies.
Butter used to be bad. But now it’s good.
Eggs are terrible for your cholesterol. But actually it’s not!
Squats kill your knees, don’t do them. But actually, do them because you have to every time you poop!
It’s a world full of noise.
It makes living a healthy life difficult. Your intentions are good, only to learn that your focus has been ‘wrong’.
I’ve got a quick fix for you. And it’s far more simple in thought than in practice.
To every person I’ve ever worked with, and to every person I have had the pleasure of capturing with these words…
Try something difficult.
Let’s unpack that.
The word try. Trying something isn’t just dipping your toe in the water. It’s committing to something for the short term. Let’s say three months. The commitment-phobe in me wants to remind you – it’s not a long term commitment. And it’s OK to quit. Make your commitment enough to dive into a particular skill, game or activity. It’s a short term trial run to see if you enjoy it! Find a group that runs regularly. Find an adult sports league in a social setting. Find a dance instructor to learn the cha-cha from. Try. Because if you can commit to trying, and you learn that you enjoy whatever that thing is, you’ll stick with it.
The word something. If you’ve ever wanted to LOOK a certain way. If you’ve ever wanted to learn how to do a kickflip on a skateboard. If you’ve ever wanted to see how far you can run. The key is that you make it something active. The whole reason you’re here is because you’ve enjoyed my message. And I’ve seen so many long term success stories. The ones who change their lives are the ones who find something relatively active – and actually end up enjoying it! It doesn’t have to be weight lifting. It doesn’t have to be yoga. Try something you’ve always wanted to do. Because taking an action toward something new will invigorate you, or it won’t. But by trying something, you aren’t giving up. And that’s a HUGE victory. Become a serial Try-er. When you find the thing you enjoy, you won’t be thinking about fitness. You’ll realize you’re thinking about improving a skill.
The world difficult. For some, it’s tying your own shoes. For others, it’s going for a walk. It’s subjective. Difficult for you may be mustering up the courage to tie up the ole shoes and take a walk around the block. For others, it could be hiking up a mountain at 13000 feet. And difficult doesn’t have to mean physical pain. It can be emotional pain. You could be hanging out in your house, resting up after an injury, fully resigned to the fact that you’ll never ‘feel’ young again. And personally, that’s the most difficult pain to endure. So strap up the kicks and skip your ass out the door. It may be the hardest damn steps you take today. But you will feel proud. And you damn well should.
In my case, I tried running – with the sole intent of going out and enjoying it. I’ve always hated the idea of running because I couldn’t get out of my own head when hitting the pavement. I have a theory that I hated running because it was always a ‘punishment’ in sports. So I resolved to try and reverse that thinking. And today, after a year of giving it a shot, I’m in the middle of training for a 30k Trail Race. So far, it’s been a hell of a challenge. I’m damn proud of myself for being willing to stick to it despite feeling like such a crappy runner in the beginning.
Try something difficult. You’ll realize the commitment bleeds over into other aspects of your life. You’ll look in the mirror and enjoy the face looking back. You’ll be proud, confident, excited and motivated – by your own success.
And that’s all I’ve ever wanted for my people – to realize how fucking amazing you are.
Try something difficult. Your body and mind will love you for it.
Things I’m excited about:
Taking Lily to a baseball game on Friday
Getting people with like minds together to try something new
Getting my ass handed to me in racquetball
Finishing the book What You Do is Who You Are: How to Create Your Business Culture
Being a fitness professional can be hard. It’s balancing everything about a person’s life. It’s trying to help an individual balance exercise, diet, mental state, obstacles, and EVERYTHING in their life that can detract them from a successful relationship with themselves. With that said, there are some serious struggles I see with the industry and where WE can improve how we interact with our people, by sending a more clear message. And here is where I get a little too sappy. But that’s what I am. So here we go.
My views on change are NOT absolute and they are perfectly fluid from person to person.
My guide to being a successful advocate for change:
Guide, don’t dictate. Too many fitness professionals try to ‘drive’ their clients. Rather than laying out a roadmap, together, and allowing the client to drive. You are doing your clients a disservice by not allowing them autonomy. A person wakes up and makes thousands of decisions a day. Adulting is exhausting. A successful fitness professional includes the client in the process. Guiding someone in fitness is a lot like being the passenger on a road trip. You’re navigating. The person to your left is driving. You can’t take the wheel. It’s the fitness professional’s job to let the client know where a detour occurs, or that one path could potentially take us in a different direction. And the driver may discover a new path. Or decide on a new endpoint. Be there for them, let them know they aren’t alone. And help them along in their decision making process. Your job is to understand obstacles. And help the driver navigate.
Celebrate success. Allow people to see how successful their bodies ARE. I could have a client bike 20 miles on a mountain, run up Olympus and swim twelve miles. But their mind tells them they are a failure because they didn’t lose five pounds. Success could be staring you in the face from every direction. But because gravity’s pull is a little greater on a given day, all successes go to nil. The fitness world is already harsh enough when it comes to appearance, with unattainable standards of beauty. I’ll let you in on something. When I had veins in my abs, I still wasn’t lean enough. When I got lean, I wasn’t big enough. I was short sighted. Don’t let your physical successes go to waste. Yell that shit from the rooftops. When you do something you are proud of, tell the world. Don’t apologize for DOING something amazing. Nobody gives a shit about how much you weigh. And you shouldn’t feel bad for a number that tells more about gravity’s pull on you. If anything, the fact that you did some awesome shit with more weight on you, makes the feat even more badass. CELEBRATE.
Connect and understand the WHY. Getting all sciencey is a waste of my time and yours. Nobody gives a shit about your breadth of knowledge and how big of words you can use, effectively or not. When you spout of stuff that someone doesn’t understand, they stop listening. By going over someone’s head, all you do is stroke your own ego. Keep it tight, relate success to a client’s WHY. For example, I had a geri-athlete complain the other day about a straight legged situp. I replied simply, by asking why they think I threw it into our routine. They told me that it was similar to how they get up in the morning when they wake up. I could have talked all day about hip flexor strength, rectus abdominis, flexion in the spine and how controversial it can be in fitness (I’ll save that for another day). But by phrasing it around the client’s need, they answered their own question. And that makes me feel even more proud of my exercise selection! Sometimes, the client wants to complain. But if you can get them to see the carryover into their life, you are doing a hell of a job. You make the movement worth doing. It doesn’t matter what you know. What matters is that the message you send is consistent with why they came to see you in the first place.
I guess that’s kind of all for now. In the next couple of days, I’ll add more stuff to the list in time. But please feel free to share any transformative experiences you have had, whether it’s a success of your own, or someone else’s.
And a random list of things I can’t get enough of:
Including my clients in the decision making process.
Stepping back and allowing my client to drive the process, especially if they have expertise in the subject matter. It means I am learning.
Demonstrating to the people around me realize how fucking amazing they are.
And a highlight in my life was watching her first steps. It didn’t happen overnight. She tried, and tried, and tried. She fell a bunch. Got bruised up here and there. It took her months. Time, effort and consistency.
The persistent need to walk was the only thing that kept her going. The will to keep pushing herself up was always there. It took time. It took setbacks. But it meant too much for her to quit.
She needed to walk. And it was not a question of whether it was going to happen.
Just a matter of when and how.
And no matter who you are, if you want something bad enough, you’ll get back up. You’ll get bruised, you’ll feel shame and guilt and you’ll get frustrated as hell. But you will succeed if your desire is greater than your feelings of failure.
Succeed one time. It gets easier from there.
And with that success, you’ll be able to replicate it. And you’ll learn to appreciate the failures even more.
Take time today and praise your failures. Failure is only as powerful as you make it.
Embrace the challenges.
Embrace your efforts.
And be proud of your consistency.
And chances are, the effort for you to walk was similar to my kid’s.
So I KNOW you can do it.
BE persistent. Be honest about your failures. And you will succeed if you want it as bad as you wanted to learn to walk.