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In this letter . . .

My Current Workout

Confession is Good for the Soul

My Current Workout

I change routines regularly. It is not because I am searching for some magic formula that will prove all others lacking. Mostly, it is because I have been training for so many years that I would get bored doing the same workout all the time. So I make changes to keep things interesting. And, over all, I think it is a good policy for most people.

Naturally, some of my routines turn out to be more fun and more productive than others. And circumstance, of course, plays a role in the type of training that is practical at the time. In my book, Living the Fitness Lifestyle, I list a variety of programs to fit almost any situation.

Right now, I’m doing a routine that I like a lot. It’s what I call “5 x 5.” It works like this . . .

I have two basic workouts, and I alternate them, in a Monday, Wednesday, Friday format. As with nearly all of my routines, I like to superset opposing muscle groups. There is no rest (only long enough to move from one station to the next) between movements.

Five times five means I am doing 5 sets of 5 reps for each exercise. For each movement, I select a weight I normally use for 10 fairly hard to get but not backbreaking reps. Remember, there’s no real rest/recovery period between sets.

After 3 minutes of light calisthenics to warm up, I do either program A or B. Remember, the supersets are exercises in pairs.

Program A:

  • Nautilus Crunch Machine
  • Back Extensions

  • Leg Press
  • Leg Curl

  • Chest Press (I use a Cybex cable device that I love. Certainly standard barbell or dumbbell bench presses are appropriate, but I stopped doing those several years ago because of shoulder irritation.)
  • 1-Arm Dumbbell Rows or Seated Cable Rows.

  • Preacher Curls
  • Cable Triceps Press downs

Program B:

  • Weighted Decline (crunch) Sit-ups
  • Back Extensions

  • Dead lifts
  • Side Split Squats (see demo at

  • Overhead Press (barbell or dumbbells)
  • Lat Machine Pull downs

  • Cable Curls
  • Parallel Bars Dips

Following each program, I hop on a recumbent or upright stationary bike for 15 minutes. The first 5 minutes are at 65 percent of my larget heart rate. Then 5 minutes at 85 percent. And the final 5 minutes back to 65 percent.

Finally, I stretch for 5 minutes.

From start to finish, my workouts take about 48 minutes.

On my off days, I go for walk/hike with my dog, 30 minutes to an hour.

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Confession is Good for the Soul

I have a confession. I watched Oprah on daytime TV one day last week. My wife, Patty, is a school teacher and the schools were closed for Thanksgiving week. She read that Dr. Mehmet Oz was going to be with Oprah to talk about aging. (Dr. Oz, along with Michael Roizen, M.D., is the author of YOU: The Owner’s Manual.) We were interested.

Dr. Oz was joined by Dan Buettner, a medical journalist who had visited six places in the world he calls “Blue Zones.” These are places where people live longer and have healthier lives than anyplace else. Only one Blue Zone is in the U.S., Loma Linda, California, with its concentration of Seventh Day Adventists. Adventists are vegetarians and do not smoke or drink alcohol. Parts of Sardinia, Okinawa, and Costa Rico are three more of the six Blue Zones.

Most of the subjects interviewed were over 100 years old, yet not one was wheelchair bound or warehoused in a nursing home. They were physically and mentally active people living happily in family units.

What all these Blue Zones have in common was the subject, and what can we learn from them.

The very active old people in Blue Zones . . .

  • Live in close family units.

  • Typically, people in Blue Zones do not smoke.

  • Each Blue Zone has its own typical diet, based on foods available locally. But in each one fruits, vegetables, and whole grains play big roles. None eat processed foods, sugar, or foods containing much saturated fat.

  • Moderate exercise in various forms is a way of life.

  • They are socially active.

  • Everyone has a reason to get up in the morning. Most people never actually retire from all work.

  • They appeared to be almost stress-free, though always busy (one 93- year-old man is still a practicing surgeon in Loma Linda, California). None lived a hurry-hurry-rush-rush lifestyle.

I noticed something else, too. Neither Dr. OZ nor Buettner said it directly, but not one active, old person was overweight. Not one. But when the cameras panned to Oprah’s enthralled audience, what we saw were obviously overfed and under-exercised Americans.

It’s an uphill struggle, but Oz and Buettner are doing all they can get the word out: With lifestyle modification that is permanent — and making it permanent is the key —we can all greatly improve our odds of living actively into old age.

P.S. About making the lifestyle permanent: Going on a “health kick” to lose some pounds before a wedding or getting in shape before a class reunion has zero affect on longevity or vibrant health. As Dr. Oz said, “Don’t bother!” To get the benefits, making permanent lifestyle changes is the only way to do it.

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

Always consult with your physician before making dietary changes or starting an exercise program.

Your comments or questions are always appreciated.


Logan Franklin
The Gray Iron Fitness Newsletter