Age Is Irrelevant When It Comes to Fitness

Want to continue to crush it well into your 80s? Here’s how.

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How Old Are You?

I do a new jump-yoga interval training workout every morning at Lake Worth beach.  I am frequently approached with questions – the most common being “how old are you?”.  Even little kids ask me and when I tell them they say “WOW – you’re older than Grandpa”.

The subtext is clear – they simply can’t believe some of the moves I can do at age 54.  I can hardly believe it myself – I’m talking about moves like eagle handstand and lotus scorpion.

What’s Up With That?

The more challenging moves that I can now execute effortlessly are things that I couldn’t imagine my body doing 10, 20, or even 30 years ago.  What’s up with that?

Here’s an astonishing fact: you CAN defeat aging.  The effects of aging on your body are not inexorable – ALL of them can be halted or even reversed if you understand and properly apply a few well-researched concepts of exercise physiology.

The 4 Horsemen Of The Fitness Apocalypse

The simple formula for remaining a badass as you get older: focus on reversing each of these 4 effects of aging, what Joe Friel calls in his book Fast After 50“The 4 horsemen of the fitness apocalypse”.

  • Decreasing Aerobic Capacity
  • Shrinking Muscles
  • Increasing body fat
  • Reduced Mobility

The Fountain Of Youth

According to Friel, up to 70% of these processes are under your control,  Leaving only 30% to father time or the grim reaper.  What that means is that if you can increase your aerobic capacity and muscle mass, while improving mobility and burning fat, you will actually turn back the clock.  The fountain of youth isn’t a myth – it’s real.  It’s called exercise and you don’t have to spend hours at the gym or hire expensive trainers to reap its benefits.

The graphs in this post show that a regular exerciser at age 80 can have the strength, flexibility, and motor control of a non-exerciser at age 20.  Pause to think about that astonishing fact for a minute.  You can be in better shape, by all measures, at age 80 than you were at age 20 – WOW!

It’s clear that a lifelong habit of daily exercise is literally the fountain of youth.  If you are becoming stronger, more flexible, and more fit every day, in what sense are you actually aging?


What about reduced mobility?

The easiest way to start improving your mobility right away is to get out of the gym – stop “exercising” like a machine and start moving like a human.

If you are working out at a gym or with a trainer, you are most likely doing a low variety repetition of routine linear, mid-range isolation movements that were designed to bulk-up a specific bundle of muscle fibers while stabilizing the rest of your body.  You sit in a chair and work one muscle while the rest of your body literally shuts down.  The result is specifically strengthened tissues next to weak underdeveloped ones, leading to deformity and unhealthy loads, reducing overall strength, agility and mobility.  That’s right, those gym machines are weakening you and reducing your mobility.

That conventional model of fitness training deconstructs human movement into tiny one-dimensional slices. It reduces the broad range of human movement to a narrow type of ‘exercise’ that can be mechanized and marketed.  So stop exercising like a machine and start moving like a human.

But I don’t have time

Time is at the top of most lists of excuses for not starting an exercise habit.  You can cross it off your list right now because new studies show that you can get all the benefits of 45 minutes of exercise daily with as little as 1 minute of interval training.

According to Friel, Intensity is more important than exercise volume in battling the effects of aging.  This view is supported by  myriad scientific studies showing that you can get all the benefits of an hour of exercise in as little as one minute of intense intervals when combined with active rest phases.

The easiest way to start is to mix brief, intense bursts of fast-twitch plyo moves with active isometric rest intervals.

This combination of multi-contraction (concentric, eccentric, isometric), multi-dimensional (linear, curvilinear, twisting, rotatory), temporally varied (fast-twitch, slow-twitch) movements into each workout will markedly accentuate muscle fiber definition while minimizing exhaustion as you quickly shift from one movement to the next before you feel the burn of the explosive move – so your recovery is built into an active rest phase.  It will also keep your mind active and constantly challenged to adapt to and work with strange new alignments and demands,

There are no ‘leg days’, ‘back days’, ‘arm days’, or recovery days, there are only whole-body days. You’ve got a whole body, right? so why not use it? Instead of mechanistically bulking up the same tiny bundle of mid-range isolated muscle fibers every day, why not stimulate the maximum number of fibers over the entire range of temporal-spatial dimensions available to you?  Why not let everything get more defined, stronger and more agile in balance with everything else?

Why you don’t need to count calories or deprive yourself of delicious food to reduce body fat

Ignore the lies you’ve been told that body fat inexorably increases as you age.  Three simple changes that have nothing to do with calorie-counting, deprivation diets, or exercise, can start reducing your body fat immediately.

  • Prepare meals in advance
  • Portion snacks and store them in small zipper bags
  • Keep healthy snacks at eye-level in transparent containers covered by clear plastic wrap, store cookies and chips in opaque containers or wrapped in foil

Those simple acts of pre-planning have been shown to significantly reduce calorie intake, with no need to count calories or deprive yourself.

The bottom line is this: there is a magic pill, a wonder drug , a fountain of youth – it’s called exercise.  And it’s simpler than ever to get started, all you need is 1 minute.  You can reverse all of the effects of aging on fitness by forming a few simple habits.  Do you want to halt the aging process right now?  And even turn back the clock?  You can do it by putting these simple strategies to work for you today.




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