In this letter . . .

  • Defining Seniors

  • A Workout for Combat Fitness

Defining Seniors

Years ago, when I put up my first Gray Iron Fitness web site, I aimed at a core audience of people at age 50 and above - seniors. If 50 is the eligible age for an AARP membership, which it is, it seemed a reasonable age for me to draw the line as well.

Someone said that 50 is the youth of old age. That sounds about right. A trainee at 50, in most instances, can handle more intense training than someone at 60, 70, or more. Since I keep pretty good training logs, I can look back and compare my own ability in my late 50s to today. At 72, I’m not as strong as I was then, which should surprise no one.

All of this is leading to something a newsletter subscriber, Bob White, sent that I enjoyed. It follows . . .

A doctor on his morning walk noticed an old lady sitting on her front step smoking a cigar. Though very elderly, she seemed quite happy with herself and obviously enjoying her stogy.

So he walked up to her and said, "I couldn't help but notice how happy you look! What is your secret?"

"I smoke ten cigars a day," she said. And before I go to bed, I smoke a nice big joint. Apart from that, I drink a whole bottle of Jack Daniels every week, and, frankly, eat only junk food. On weekends, I pop a few happy pills, and I don't exercise at all."

"That is absolutely amazing! How old are you?"

"Thirty-four," she replied.

I hope she's having fun.

Meanwhile, senior health club memberships are growing faster than any other age category. Most of us treat ourselves better than the cigar lady, and we still have fun, too.

It is sarcopenia, the wasting away of muscle that robs seniors of strength, balance and, eventually, independence. Resistance training — weights (especially), resistance bands and bodyweight calisthenics — is the antidote to sarcopenia.

The training should include some portion of resistance work, some portion of cardio, and some portion of flexibility training. And ideally, resistance training should be the heart of the program.

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A Workout for Combat Fitness

Combat sports athletes like workouts like this one because they build rock-solid, functional strength and fitness. Try it for a break from your weight room program. Or include it in a weekly training format and get hard as nails.

At its "easiest" level—that is by walking the workout— any reasonably fit person can handle the format. At the next level, it gets tougher, as slow running (jogging) replaces walking. At the highest level, sprints are included.

Begin at the level coinciding with your present fitness. Even at the starting level, you will be getting a good workout. At the highest level, it is a relentless fat-burner — with the added feature of not eating away muscle along with the fat, as too much long distance running tends to do.

Here is how it works:

  • Select two sets of *hexagon dumbbells (or kettlebells). Don’t go too heavy. Start with about half the weight you normally clean-and-press 10 times when you are fresh and rested.

  • Go to a park or school athletic field (soccer or football), or any other patch of green that is about the size and shape of a football field. It doesn’t have to be exact.

  • Place one set of dumbbells at a corner of the field. Diagonally, place the other dumbbells at the corner at the opposite end of the field.

Now you’re ready to start

Do a couple of minutes of gentle arm swings, knee bends, toe-touches, etc., just enough to get warmed up a bit. No exaggerated stretching.

The first lap

  • Walk or jog the length of the field to the corner without the dumbbells. Do 20 sit-ups with bent knees.

  • Walk, jog, or sprint (depending on your fitness level) the width of the field to the first set of dumbbells. Do 10 reps of the clean and press.

  • Walk or jog the length of the field to the corner without the dumbbells. Do 20 squats (deep-knee bends).

  • Walk, jog or sprint the width of the field to the second set of dumbbells. From a push-up position, hands gripping the dumbbell handles, do one-arm dumbbell rows, alternating, right arm, left arm, until you have done 8 on each side.

Now you are back where you started.

The second lap:

  • Walk or jog the length of the field to corner without the dumbbells, do 20 standard push-ups.

  • Walk, jog or sprint the width of the field. Do 10 dumbbell cleans.

  • Walk or jog the length of the field. Do 10 squat thrusts (a.k.a. Burpees).

  • Walk, jog, or sprint the width of the field to the second set of dumbbells. Do 8 see-saw presses (8 each arm).
Again, you back where you started.

Repeat the first lap. Then repeat the second lap.

How many laps? Aim for 20 minutes without stopping. The more laps you can manage in 20 minutes, the higher the intensity. Believe me, if you work up to sprinting the widths, jogging the lengths, and making serious efforts with the exercises at the corners, 20 minutes will be plenty.

Expect that the first time you do the workout, it won’t be perfect. Your dumbbells may be too light or too heavy. You may be sprinting/jogging too fast or too slow. All of that is easily adjusted at the next workout.

Challenge yourself — but do it gradually.

This not a workout for senior beginners or extremely overweight people.

*Hexagon dumbbells (or kettle bells) do not roll when you do one-arm rowing from a push-up position. Standard round dumbbells can be dangerous because they may roll.

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