Tag Archives: pumping iron

You’re Going to Age (hopefully): Why Not Prepare for It?


Take your fingers out of your ears and listen to me! You. Are. Going. To. Get. Old. Unless you don’t. Get strong now and make it easier on yourself. “Nobody wants to think about fixing the roof while the sun is shining,” says actor Rob Lowe, in a recent SF Chronicle article, as keynote speaker for an event on aging, where he talked about donning a “suit” that stimulates being in an older body. The suit includes a helmet that stifles hearing and vision; heavy, imbalanced boots; restrictive fabric that gives the effect of arthritis in the knees, hands, spine and elbows; and sleeves weighed down to imitate muscle loss. The truth is that moving around, getting out of chairs or up off the floor is harder as you get older and more so if you are carrying extra weight. On top of that, as explained in a WebMD article, beginning“…in your 30s, you begin to lose muscle mass and function, a condition known as age-related sarcopenia.”. Being active helps counteract this ongoing muscle loss.

Rob Lowe credits his youthful looks to surfing, skiing, CrossFit, running, and swimming. He, along with many of us, hope to live our golden years with gusto. Many individuals in their 70’s, 80’s and 90’s are living full lives, while others are walker-users who can barely get out of a chair and ambulate. Some are active but have begun falling and, in some cases, have difficulty getting up. Falls are the leading cause of injury-related deaths in people over 65 according to the New York Times, Bracing for the Falls of an Aging Nation. To get up off the floor uses nearly every muscle in your body plus a fair amount of flexibility, not to mention putting a tremendous amount of weight on your wrists, and knees. To get up from a chair and stand takes strength in your chest, arms, gluteals, shoulders, legs, core, and ankles. The stronger you are, the less chance of these basic movements being a problem. Don’t wait until you have a crisis to start getting stronger.

How are you preparing for physically aging? I know, you’re not old yet and you’re in decent shape, lots of energy, walk on the treadmill, do Zumba, and garden. When was the last time you had a physical assessment to determine your strengths, weaknesses, and flexibility? Does your current exercise program strengthen ALL the muscles shown in this picture and include balance and flexibility exercises?

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Why not prepare to excel in aging, just as you have for other events in your life…running a marathon, getting a good grade in a class, planning a big work project, assuring your kids turn out okay. You plan ahead. You prepare. You put your heart into it. You practice. You get competitive. You envision the outcome you want. Do that now with your fitness. Make a Plan.

A personal trainer can help you. First, we will conduct a fitness assessment to find imbalances or weaknesses and then help you develop a program to address them. You can quickly begin to make changes in your strength and flexibility. Participants in my Gymformee-Introduction to the Gym class, an ongoing offering at Body Kinetics, where I work, demonstrated better balance and strength gains after just eight classes.

A testimony to the power of daily effort, this man improved his flexibility and was able to touch his toes after just 41 days of practice.Screen Shot 2014-11-10 at 10.06.22 PM




 Get Up Off the Floor Test

Simply lower down to the floor, sit, and stand back up. If you are able to do so without assistance from any limbs, you score 10 points, 5 for getting up and 5 for getting down.

10 Points Possible as pictured here


 Subtract 1 point each, both for standing up and sitting down, using assistance from a hand, knee, forearm, hand on knee, or side of leg.


 This test not only assesses flexibility, balance, strength, and mobility, but may also be a measure of your mortality according to a study conducted by Brazilian physician Claudio Gil Araujo. These two links (Simple Sitting Test Predicts How Long You’ll Live) and (RQOW: Getting Up From the Floor) further describe the study, the test, and provide a link to a YouTube video of the original test.

Stand up, Sit Down Test

Arms crossed, touching chest, rise to full stand, return to fully seated, as many times as possible in 30 seconds. Below is an excerpt from the Senior Fitness Test Manual table ranking you with individuals your age at 95 percentile ranking. If you’re younger than 60 you can still see how you compare.

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Practice getting off the floor daily.

Sit on the floor to do something (put on your socks, eat off the coffee table, etc.) so you have to get up. Or just practice – check out this link for a “how to” .

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Using a chair or other assistance can lessen pressure on joints. If you have back, hip, wrist, or knee issues, check with your doctor first for the safest way to get up off the floor.

04_d_woman getting off floor




Make a Habit of Getting Out of Your Chair Unassisted

Notice how you get out of your chairs during your day. Do you have the habit of using the arm rests? If so, change to standing up unassisted. Even better, do chair squats or regular squats everyday. (For knee safety, as you squat back it’s hips, not knees, first, then weight back on heels as you slowly lower; knees stay behind toes.)


Studies show any amount of regular exercise will benefit you! If you want to get amazing results and become functionally younger than you are today, take this advice from the authors of Younger Next Year, on the secret to great health, “You should exercise hard almost every day of your life – say six days a week. And do strength training…two of those six days. Exercise is the great key to aging.”

 Take Action Now! Make a plan yourself or enlist the help of a personal trainer, but get going. Plan for six days of exercise to include:

 Components of an Overall Fitness Program

  • Strength training: two times per week
  • Aerobic/“Cardio” activities: 150 minutes per week of moderate intensity (less minutes with high intensity workouts)
  • Flexibility (Yoga, Pilates) two times per week
  • Balance: daily

 The good news is that by working hard and getting strong, you can feel better immediately and benefit for the rest of your life.


Stephanie M. Lee,” Does this outfit make me feel old? It’s suppose to”, San Francisco Chronicle, Business Report, page 1, November 21, 2004  http://www.sfgate.com/health/article/Ageless-Rob-Lowe-promotes-suit-that-simulates-5907449.php
Reviewed by William Blahd, MD, “Sarcopenia with Aging”, WebMD, 50+: Live Better, Longer, August 3, 201  http://www.webmd.com/healthy-aging/sarcopenia-with-aging?page=2
Katie Hafner, “Bracing for the Falls of an Aging Nation”, New York Times, Health Section, Page 1, November 2, 2014  http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2014/11/03/health/bracing-for-the-falls-of-an-aging-nation.html?_r=0
Paige Waehner, “How to Safely Get Up and Down From the Floor”, About Health, May 1, 2004 http://exercise.about.com/od/exerciseforseniors/ss/Get-Up-And-Down-From-Floor.htm?utm_source=pinterest&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=shareurlbuttons_nip
Chair squat image: Arun Shanbhag, “Knee Exercises: Chair Squats”, Aches & Joints, April 27, 2008. http://achesandjoints.org/2008/04/27/chair-squats/
Getting off floor with chair image: Exercise & Physical Activity: Your Everyday Guide from the National Institute on Aging, Health and Aging, September 2, 2014   http://www.nia.nih.gov/health/publication/exercise-physical-activity/sample-exercises-flexibility
Body image from:   http://www.builtlean.com/2011/09/15/full-body-workout-vs-split-routine-which-is-better/
Chris Crowley & Henry S. Lodge, M.D., Younger Next Year, Workman Publishing Company, Inc., 2007, p. 14

Kettlebell Dead lifts Helped Her Ditch Her Walker – imagine what strength training can do for you

If there’s any chance you’re hesitating to begin strength training because of your age, your arthritis, or other maladies, think twice. Here, from today’s New York Times, article, “A Chiseled Bodybuilder, Frail Clients and a Fitness Story for the Ages”, meet trainer Martin Luther King Addo who opened a gym near senior housing and changed lives.

At 90 Shirley Friedman, new at working out, is doing squats and participating in boot camp classes.

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Mary Killoran, 86, does strength and balance exercises, like  kettlebell dead lifts, and has traded her walker for a cane and now takes long walks.

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Trainer Martin Luther King Addo is training for the National Amateur Bodybuilders Association’s Mr. Universe contest next year.

Where ever you are on the fitness spectrum, strength training can take you to your next level and open up worlds of new physical abilities.

Read the full New York Times article here:


Girl Goes from Scrawny to Muscular in 100 Days

The power of daily practice. Here’s another inspirational video from the Give It 100 (giveit100.com) website. This young woman started with a poor body image feeling week and ashamed of her scrawny body. Watch this time lapse video is see where she is a 100 days later.

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Ok. The woman is YOUNG, but I’m not and I’ve experienced impressive changes to my strength. If you ask me, I’ll show you my muscles, too! Since Halloween, 2013, when I began a weight/strength training program, my body image has changed. Whether I’m at the ATM at twilight (better not mess with me!), lifting something at home, holding myself upright in better posture, I feel STRONG. This is just from a steady, progressive, weight training program practiced regularly twice a week in addition to my regular cardio or other gym workouts.  You can, too, in just 100 days!

Strength Training, How to Get Started

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Ok, you’re convinced you want to strength train, but need a nudge or ideas to update your gym routine? Begin by identifying WHY you want to get stronger. Do you want to enhance your performance in running, golf, tennis or turn back the clock, and get as fit as you were when you were an elite athlete? How about strength to perform everyday household activities, lifting kids, dancing all night, or taking a long hike with a friend? According to the IDEA Fitness Journal, we lose 5% of muscle mass every decade after 40 and it accelerates after age 65. Strength training can reverse the loss of muscle, help your body move more youthfully, help you stand up straighter, and increase the range of motion in joints. “Most of us can be functionally younger every year for the next five or even ten years”, says Chris Crowley in his and Dr. Lodge’s book, Younger Next Year, a book advocating exercise six days a week for the rest of your life. It is well documented that being strong and fit improves the quality of life as one ages and reduces the chance of chronic diseases and limiting disabilities.

Next, set a GOAL. “Without a goal, you’re going nowhere”, says Jordan D. Metzl, MD, a sports medicine physician at Hospital for Special Surgery, New York, in a video describing his strength training program for an 81-year-old marathoner. Watch this lady get strong!  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rNVFGKhvOFk  Choose an exercise that you’re unable to perform or an upcoming athletic event and set a safe and reasonable timeline for reaching it. Personally, In December I set a goal for ONE chin up by April 15th.  I’ve wanted to improve my posture and upper body strength, but the goal of a chin-up is a much better visual to motivate my weekly workouts.

STRUCTURE your workout. Have a plan before you enter the gym. Although weight training can be effectively performed in 30 or 40 minutes, allow a least an hour; commit to two times a week for good results and three times a week for fabulous results.

A good strength-building program includes:

  • Foam rolling (5 minutes)
  • Dynamic stretching and cardio warm up (10-15 minutes)
  • 4-8 strength exercises performed in sets (30-40 minutes)
  • Stretching/flexibility exercises (5-10 minutes)FITNESS_SMR

Here’s information on each program segment.

Foam Rolling (5 minutes)

“If you only buy one piece of exercise equipment for the rest of your life, make it a foam roller”, says Dr. Metzl in his book, The Exercise Cure.  Using a foam roller is a form of self-massage that will get your muscles ready to work, help prevent injury, and improve mobility. Five commonly tight muscle  to foam roll before you exercise include quadriceps, adductors, upper back, glutes, and calves. Spend about 30 seconds on each muscle group.

Dynamic Stretching/Cardio Warm Up (10-15 minutes)


3rdtri-warmupwallDynamic stretching at low to moderate intensity gently activates muscles and ideally includes movements similar to what you’ll be performing with weights. The pictured dynamic wall slide warms up for squats and overhead weight lifting. Other examples are walking knee ups, lunges, or an active glute bridge. Add in some balance exercises.

Advancing to more active movements will bring your heart rate up. Try marching/jogging in place, jumping jacks, side shuffles, burpees, step ups (onto a step, the red Step 360 or a Bosu), walking lunges, jump rope, etc.

Strength (Resistance) Training (30 to 40 minutes)

Start simple, not to be confused with easy; your program should be challenging and progressively harder. Textbooks have been written on designing a strength training programs (variables such as repetitions, single sets, supersets, split routines, etc.). The purpose of this article is to get you started with a basic program promised to get results with four exercises. These four exercises are well researched as effective for working major muscle groups, developing core stability, and elements of balance.

Perform 2-3 sets of all four exercises, 12-15 reps each exercise (for the plank begin by holding for a count of 5 or 10 each rep, and repeat). Progress by gradually adding more weight/challenge to each exercise; along the way you can add others for targeted areas. Do these exercises for a month or two and you’ll easily be cranking out push-ups or bench presses that will surprise you.

Cable Row    BLOG_schuler_pull    


Cable Press Cable_Chest_Press



There are science-based progressions for strength building. A sequential training program begins with exercising on a stable surface with moderate weights. During this phase emphasis is on form and corrective exercises. Next, weights are gradually increased. Stability is decreased by executing movements with only one arm or one leg or on unstable surfaces like a foam pad, Step 360, or Bosu. The next level is heavier weights with stable surfaces (bench press with a barbell). Last, the power phase, involves weights and explosive movements. This high intensity training, traditionally used with elite athletes, has proven to be effective with all levels of exercisers according to an article in IDEA Fitness Journal, “Getting Intense with Older Clients”.

Boot camp type classes feature some power phase exercises and you may be fooled into thinking because you can “keep up” in a class you’re strong and have good form. First, we all think we have good form and we rarely look in the mirror enough. Second, we may think we’re performing an exercise properly but often we’re not. Our knees may be stressed in a squat or a lunge, shoulders may be too involved in a row or a push-up. You may not have the full range of motion (not squatting low enough) and you don’t know why. Also, classes aim more for variety rather than systematically strengthening specific body parts progressively so that maximum strength is developed. A progressive strength-building program designed for your particular body will whittle your waistline and build strength efficiently.

Stretching/Flexibility Exercises (5-10 minutes)

End by stretching muscles just worked. In addition, consider chest/shoulder openers to counteract daily “hunch” over computers, movements for back and neck flexibility, and stretches for hip flexors, quadriceps, and calves. hip_flexor_lunge

Initially, for people aiming to step up their workout program, it is advised to begin a daily stretching routine to improve flexibility and increase range of motion. Try it. You’ll be surprised at the tangible results in just a month or two. Watch this time-lapse video, How I Touched My Toes in 41 days, if you don’t believe in the power of daily practice. http://www.jasonbarron.com/how-i-touched-my-toes-in-41-days/

Remember, you have the opportunity to get younger and healthier this year!


This article first appeared as a Body Kinetics blog post (http://bodykineticsmarin.com/blog/)


Metzl, Dr. Jordan, The Exercise Cure: A Doctor’s All-Natural No-Pill Prescription for Better Health & Longer Life,  New York, New York, Rodale, 2013

Metzl, Dr. Jordan, Primary Care Sports Medicine, “Going the Distance: Dr. Jordan Metzl keeps 81-Year-Old Marathoner Elaine Breiger in theRace” , Hospital for Special Surgery, YouTube (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rNVFGKhvOFk)

Crowley, Chris and Henry S. Lodge, M.D., Younger Next Year, New York, Workman Publishing, 2007

Clark, Michael A., Scott C. Lucett, Brian G. Sutton, NASM Essentials of Personal Fitness Training, Baltimore, MD, Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2012.

McCall, MS,  Pete, “Getting Intense with Older Clients-Research shows that high-intensity training can improve the lives of senior exercisers”, IDEA Fitness Journal, February, 2014: p. 26-28

Photo Credits

Man foam rolling, (http://blog.nasm.org/training-benefits/foam-rolling-applying-the-technique-of-self-myofascial-release/)

Woman-wall slide, (http://www.womenshealthmag.com/fitness/third-trimester-warmup-exercises#)

Woman, Hip-Flexor stretch,         (http://www.stretching-exercises-guide.com/golfing-stretches.html)

Man standing on one leg, (http://www.bocatc.org/blog/category/boc-test-experience/)

Man, cable chest press (http://www.nationalfitnessequipments.com/imageresult.php?exname=Cable%20Chest%20Press)

Woman, cable row (http://www.livestrong.com/blog/never-grow-old/)

Man squatting (https://www.google.com/search?espv=210&es_sm=91&biw=1365&bih=862&tbm=isch&sa=1&q=standing+cable+row&btnG=#q=squat&tbm=isch)

Man doing plank (https://www.google.com/search?espv=210&es_sm=91&biw=1365&bih=862&tbm=isch&sa=1&q=standing+cable+row&btnG#q=seniors+exercise+plank&tbm=isch)

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