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The Gray Iron Fitness Newsletter, Issue #231 Beginner Exercise Choices.
July 15, 2018

July 15, 2018

In this newsletter . . .

exercise choices

The Gray Iron Fitness beginners’ exercise routine is absolutely free and right here at the Senior Exercise Central website.

So how were the exercises selected? With just a few tweaks, they’re about the same routine as the beginners’ program at Ed Yarick’s gym, from way back in the 1950s, my first gym membership.

Why Yarick’s? Well, superstars like Steve Reeves trained there. And some of the strongest men in the world lifted there. You couldn’t ask for a better trainer/coach than Ed Yarick.

Your first workout at Yarick’s was really an orientation, doing one set of about 12 reps of two exercises per body part. You learned to exhale on the push or pull of a movement; you inhaled on the return. (More about that at the end.) And you controlled the weights in a steady up and down motion. No swinging or cheating them up, as many young beginners will do by using more weight than they can properly handle.

In the half-century since Yarick’s, I’ve never discovered a better way to introduce beginners to weight training. Some call it “old school,” and that is just the opposite of “cutting edge,” which can get a little cute and gimmicky.

So if the old ways were so darned good, why did I bother to tweak them at all? In the old days, cardio usually wasn’t a part of the training. Sixty years ago, most new gym members were skinny young guys who just wanted to put on muscle. So you pumped iron and ate like a horse.

Times have changed

There are still skinny guys today. But these days far more beginners have the opposite problem: they’re too fat. The sedentary life has taken its toll. Reasonable cardio, added to pumping iron, helps trim them down.

The trick is to do enough cardio to exercise heart and lungs, but not so much that it becomes catabolic. In other words, you want to build muscle, trim fat, and not neglect your cardiovascular system.

Another tweak is that in Yarick’s day the vast, vast majority of beginners were young men and a few young women. Because of their youth, they could be pushed faster, harder. At Yarick’s your first workout was one set per exercise. The second workout, it was two sets. Then three at the third session. That ended week one. Starting week two, the quest began to lift ever-heavier weights and pack on muscle.

Today, many beginners are seniors. Pushing them like you would a 16-year old is crazy. You’re likely to discourage or even injure them. Allow their progress to be gradual and they’ll be fine. So you push, but push gently. See what I mean here. And it’s absolutely free.

* * *

More on Yarick breathing

Have you ever heard of the “Valsalva maneuver”? Even many fitness buffs may not know what the term means, but unknowingly practice it, or something like it. You’ve probably seen this many times in the gym: a guy (it’s usually a man) doing a heavy bench press; he is holding his breath and red in the face, looking like his head is about to explode in a do or die struggle to get that very last rep. He may not know the term for it, but he is practicing the Valsalva maneuver.

When we lift or push something heavy there is a natural tendency to hold our breath. Some coaches even teach it as a way of increasing intra-abdominal pressure, thereby providing more back support. But it can have dangerous consequences—especially for seniors.

Blood pressure skyrockets when chest cavity pressure increases as you hold your breath. Dizziness or fainting can result, and even a stroke, cerebral hemorrhage, or retinal detachment is a possibility. Some lifters will tell you the dangers of Valsalva are exaggerated. And I’m sure there are younger lifters who use it to their advantage and get away with it. But my advice is don’t do it. Breathe!

Ed Yarick showed me the basics. He would say to beginners: Don’t hold your breath. Exhale as you push the weight away from you or pull it toward you. Inhale as you return the weight to the starting position. This developed a rhythmic breathing pattern. You didn’t ignore the man who showed Steve Reeves the ropes.

Most trainers today tell their clients not to hold their breath, which is good. But most don’t make as much of an issue about exhaling during the pushing or pulling phase of a lift. They just say, “Don’t hold your breath. Breathe.” And that’s certainly a plus. But Ed Yarick’s instruction to emphasize exhaling during the exertion part of a push or pull was even better.

Breathe the Ed Yarick way. Make it a habit.

Happy mid-July,


Senior Exercise Central

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Newsletter Policy

The Gray Iron Fitness Newsletter is a free publication sent twice monthly to subscribers. The purpose is to provide honest and realistic fitness information for people age 50 and above.

I have never been paid or received compensation of any kind to write a positive review or endorse a product. If I say that I personally use a product or service, it is because I find value in it and have paid for it with my own money.

Like newspapers, magazines and television, this newsletter and my web site contain advertising and marketing links. Naturally, I am compensated for these.

The newsletter and web site provide information to help users establish and maintain a fitness lifestyle. But fitness information is not the same as fitness advice, which is the application of exercise and dietary practices to an individual's specific circumstances. Therefore, always consult with your physician for assurance that fitness information, and your interpretation of it, is appropriate for you.

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Logan Franklin
The Gray Iron Fitness Newsletter

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