Posted: Tue, June 02, 2015 | By: Brain Health
I am 64 – an age considered “old” by many – but I recently “resurrected my strength” - in only 4 months I became stronger than I’ve ever been in my life. I want to share with other seniors how you can attain the youthful power that I reclaimed.
Weight-lifting - does it bore you? Make it Fun! Pumping Iron needs to activate your brain’s reward pathway /dopamine system. My “Victory-based” approach to workouts mimics the pleasure-seeking strategy attained in the best “Brain Games.”
Frequency - every other day for 35-45 minutes. You only need to do 12-15 sets but “Work till Failure” should be your goal. Each set should be no more than 10 repetitions - if you do more than that its time to increase your weight.
Schedule weight-lifting early in the day before other responsibilities derail you. I do my workout immediately after breakfast.
Plan your workouts so you can achieve 1-3 “Victories” (Personal Bests) every time. Weight-lifting is the perfect exercise to accomplish “personal bests” in because there are dozens of muscles to work out with various exercises. “Victories” will fill you with pride and optimism and enable you to look forward to workouts.
Here’s exercises I recommend:
Dumbbell Incline Press
Pulldowns (on weight machine)
Dumbbell Bicep Curls
Tricep Curls (on weight machine)
Dumbell Bench Press
* Rows (weight machine)
* Overhead Press (weight machine or dumbbells)
Its important to not get injured. That’s why I recommend dumbbells and weight machines over barbells, especially on bench press. I also put an asterisk by four exercises because I pulled muscles doing those exercises, and I put two asterisks by Dumbell Pullover because I dropped 70 pounds on my face once… scary. If you discover that you get hurt doing an exercise, just replace it with something safer.
I didn’t list leg weight-lifting exercises because I want you to develop lower body strength on the days-off from weightlifting.
Below I describe a workout I had so you’ll understand what I mean by “victories” – it’ll show you how to strategize every workout.
#1. Pullovers add muscular thickness to the upper torso. My personal best is 90 lbs. I decide to try 95 lbs. - for the first time ever. I try it, and succeed 10X ! Victory! After that I do two more sets at 85 lbs; I do the first set 10X and the second set 8X. Whew! I’m very tired already, but still – A New Personal Best in one of my favorite exercise.
#2. Can I also improve by Pulldown Personal Best..? Which is 190 10X, followed by 6X and 6X? It’s not an exercise I enjoy, because it hurts my hands and my thighs (braced against the pad). I’m also tired already… Nonetheless, I put the pin on the weight machine at 200 lbs. Can I do it 10X? Uhhhgghhh! Yikes! I can’t do it even once! I have totally failed to improve myself in this today.
#3. My latissimus dorsi are – obviously – totally wiped out by the pullovers, so I decide to exercise another muscle. Biceps. I’ve been doing Dumbbell Bicep Curls at 40 lbs. for a long time, decades really. I think I “plateau” at 40 lbs. But today… I’ll try 45 lbs. I start – it definitely feels heavier… but I do it! 10X each arm! A new personal best! I follow it up with 8X and 8X. Major Victory #2. Excellent.
#4. I’m really exhausted… but I’d like to at least be close to personal bests in other exercises. Next I do Incline Dumbbell Press. My Personal Best is 50 lbs. 10X, 10X, 10X. Today I do 10X, 8X, 7X. I strain really hard, but I’m pleased with the result… it’s acceptable considering how fatigued I am.
#5. Tricep Curl (weight machine). I’m stuck on this exercise – I can do 130 lbs. 10X rather easily, but I can barely do any reps at 140 lbs. I decide, for fun, to see how many times I can do 130 lbs. Essentially, I’m creating a new “victory” category. Ready, go… it hurts but I accomplish 15 tricep curls. Good.
#6. Dips. I know my muscles are completely fried but I still want to do some dips. My personal best at dips is 30, but today I can only do two sets of 15 and 12. Ouch! My triceps are shredded.
#7. I finish my workout today with more Pullovers, at a lower weight. 85 lbs. Straining hard, I do two sets, 7X and 6X.
Owwww…. that hurt. I did 16 sets, in 45 minutes. With two major victories – both “epic” in my semi-narcissistic world (see photos).
On your off-days you can exercise your cardiovascular system. I recommend swimming or running, but there are many other options – bicycling, rowing, a Stairmaster, or playing soccer, basketball, ultimate frisbee, etc. What’s important is that you exert yourself for 25-40 minutes. I also skip the cardio - quite frequently - if I’m sore from the weightlifting. Sometimes I do yoga instead, other times I don’t do anything, except eat a lot. The weightlifting speeds up my metabolism.
Whatever you do, keep track of your distance and time so that you can also accomplish personal bests in this category. When I started swimming regularly, 2 months ago, it took me about 41 minutes to swim a mile. Now I can do it in 36 minutes and 40 seconds. Excellent! But…
I don’t want you to obsess about setting a personal best run or swim time every time… Theoretically, this is your “off day.” Weight-training is hard enough, and I really want you to push yourself when you do that.
3. Stretching & Abdominal Exercises
Your muscles will get quite sore and your body quite stiff due to the exercising – especially the weightlifting. Keep yourself limber by stretching regularly or practicing yoga. You can incorporate abdominal exercises at the same time.
If you don’t keep yourself limber — you’re going to get clumsy!
Here’s one of my secrets (actually, its been extremely well-known and enjoyed for over a decade). After I finish my weight-training or swim, I drink a large glass of a soylent-like beverage that I’ve laced with Creatine. The benefits (and liabilities) of creatine are discussed online. The most reliable place to investigate its effects is at pubmed.gov – the archive of US National Library of Medicine and National Institutes of Health.
Here’s one research report that concludes:
“in older adults, concurrent creatine supplementation and resistance training increase lean body mass, enhance fatigue resistance, increase muscle strength, and improve performance of activities of daily living… creatine supplementation plus resistance training results in a greater increase in bone mineral density than resistance training alone. .. Creatine is an inexpensive and safe dietary supplement that has both peripheral and central effects. The benefits afforded to older adults through creatine ingestion are substantial, can improve quality of life, and ultimately may reduce the disease burden..”
Here’s another study supporting the combination of weight-training and creatine:
“This study confirms that supervised heavy resistance exercise training can safely increase muscle strength and functional capacity in older adults. The addition of CrM supplementation to the exercise stimulus enhanced the increase in total and fat-free mass, and gains in several indices of isometric muscle strength.”
This 11-year-old study reports that weightlifters who used creatine enjoyed a 14% greater average increase than those who did not. I buy my creatine online here but I am sure many other brands are just as effective.
Do I take any supplements besides Creatine? Yes. I take Probiotics every day, to “promote healthy digestion and support immunity.” The product I swallow is here but there are numerous other probiotics that are just as effective.
The primary reason I take probiotics is to Keep Me From Getting Sick, and it’s very effective at that. I am rarely ill. Here’s a report that substantiates the preventative power of probiotics:
Getting sick will prevent you from doing your workout – or from doing it so effectively that you’ll achieve any “victories.”
“single and combination probiotics reduced fever incidence by 53.0%…and 72.7%… coughing incidence by 41.4%… and 62.1%…, and rhinorrhea incidence by 28.2%… and 58.8%…, respectively.”
Magnesium – I added this supplement for “brain health” but magnesium provides dozens of benefits, it is “needed for more than 300 biochemical reactions in the body.”
Melatonin – I regularly take this supplement to improve my sleeping.
Nootropics: Research these if you’re eager to further elevate your brain power: I have taken Piracetem, and two NaturalStacks products: CILTEP, and SmartCaffeine.
Human Growth Hormone—This is complicated. Email me for precise information.
Weight-training is great for your brain - a recent study claims it enhances memory by 10%.
If you want to really exercise your noggin, try a regular brain-training regimen – I recommend PositScience[TM]. Its “brain-games” are fun; I encourage you to approach them with the same determined competitive spirit that you use to tackle physical exercises.
Go to BrainHQ and sign up — it’s very affordable – especially if you take advantage of AARP’s 35% senior discount. PositScience / BrainHQ offers games in Attention, Brain Speed, Memory, People Skills, Intelligence, and Navigation. Try doing the games for 45-60 minutes a week – they require concentration, but the motivation is provided by PositScience’s data… Do you want to be “below average” in Social Skills? Of course not! Do you want to have faster brain speed than 99% of the other competitors? Of course you do!
I am one of those lucky people who weighs what I weighed in college. Most people aren’t like me. They need to lose weight. Here’s my advice: 1) Increase your Exercise Level. 2) Reduce Sugar Intake: Only eat 1-2 pieces of fruit per day. Stop eating or drastically reduce your intake of desserts. Eliminate fruit drinks, sodas, etc. Reduce your intake of all high-carb foodstuffs like break, all wheat products, pasta, pizza, potatoes.
BOOK TO READ
The 4-Hour Body by Tim Ferris. Packed with amusingly-related advice, and I love that he’s always looking for efficiency - how to get the best results with the least amount of time.
I hope everyone who is out-of-shape – especially people 55+ who “gave up” on physical fitness – I hope you get motivated to achieve their own peak personal physical fitness.
PS: Do you have a Transhumanist Health Tip you’d like to share? Let me and the readers know in the comments below.
Also, send me your own flexed senior “Selfie.” I am producing a conference on July 12 called “Transhuman Superpowers and Longevity” - I am lecturing on Senior Fitness and I am looking for 60+ photos for my slide presentation.