July 15, 2015
In this newsletter . . .
Someone asked how I chose the exercises and training in my beginners’ book for seniors.
(Note: You don’t have to buy the book to see the first month’s program. It’s right here on the Senior Exercise Central website, and absolutely free.)
Back to the question about how I selected the exercises: With just a few tweaks, it’s about the same routine as the beginners’ program at Ed Yarick’s gym, from way back in the 1950s. That was my first gym membership.
Why Yarick’s? Superstars like Steve Reeves trained there. And some of the storngest men in the world lifted there. You couldn’t ask for a better trainer/coach than Ed Yarick.
workout at this iconic gym was an orientation while doing one set of about 12 reps of two exercises per body part. You learned to exhale on the push or pull (the concentric contraction) of a movement; you inhaled on the return (the eccentric contraction). 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 more than half-century since Yarick’s, I’ve never discovered a better way to introduce beginners to weight training. Some call it “Old School.” And Old School is the opposite of efforts to be cutting edge, which can get a little cute and gimmicky. Old school is pretty basic.
So if the old ways were so darned good, why did I bother to tweak them at all? There are a couple of reasons.
In the old days, cardio usually wasn’t a part of the
training. Sixty years ago, most new gym members were guys on the skinny side who just wanted to put on muscle. So you pumped iron and ate like a horse. Pure and simple.
Times have changed
Sure there are still skinny guys today wanting to add bulk. But these days many more beginners have the opposite problem: They’re too fat. The sedentary life has taken its toll. Reasonable cardio, when 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, but 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 the first workout was one set per exercise. The second workout, it was two sets. And 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 an 18-year old is foolish. 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.
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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.
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