Packaged Fitness Programs? Why Guys Should Declare Independence.

Recently I’m swamped by ads for fitness programs promising unbelievable fast results, declaring themselves better than anything ever conceived before, or playing blatantly to a stereotype of male ego/insecurity.

I’ve done “programs.” The good ones are designed by smart people and will produce results if you’re diligent and intense in following them.

But what to do the day the program is over? Do it all over again?…For the rest of our lives?…Or go back to whatever our fitness regimens were before we started the program?

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Recently I’m swamped by ads for fitness programs promising unbelievable fast results, declaring themselves better than anything ever conceived before, or playing blatantly to a stereotype of male ego/insecurity.

These are real ad headlines and messages – not satire:

“Build Your Better Body in 28 Days…the sooner you get started, the sooner you’ll have a body so cut, you’ll belong in an underwear ad.”

“The Best New Fat-Blasting Workout on the Planet!”

“SEALFIT – Are You Man Enough?”

The Problem With Highly-Regimented “Programs”

I’ve done “programs.”  The good ones are designed by smart people and will produce results if you’re diligent and intense in following them.

But what to do the day the program is over?  Do it all over again?…For the rest of our lives?…Or go back to whatever our fitness regimens were before we started the program?

The “keep doing forever” option is not practical.  Even if it were, it wouldn’t be good, because these programs usually have you indoors watching or listening to someone else – not getting the full range of wellness benefits from an activity mix that includes solitude, time in nature, and diversity of activity.

On the other hand, for most of us the “go back to my approach from before” option isn’t great, either.  Unless you were already satisfied with your fitness and just doing the program as an enhancer…there’s a reason you wanted to jump start fitness, and you don’t want to go right back to the “before” version of you!

Alternative: Design Your Own Plan Based on Core Principles

So, with long-term thriving in mind, OlderBeast aims to inspire and support you to create your own vision for a “sustainable for decades” fitness approach.

Start with a small number of guiding principles, then translate them into your own flexible action plan on a week-by-week basis. I wrote about a “checklist” of fundamental principles here.

Here are two examples* of translating OlderBeast principles into a six- or four-day per week plan, plus simple suggestions for how to stick to and get the most out of plans you make.

* I say “examples” instead of “templates” because I hope you take personal responsibility for this. That’s what will make it decades-long sustainable, man.
Example #1: 6-days/week with cardio variety

Nothing magic about how I’ve planned this out by specific day of week.  I personally like to have Monday be my day off, so I have more time to start off the work week effectively (and to recover from weekend physical activity, which tends to be highest).

I also avoid clustering like activities, but rather spread them out (like having things in-between dedicated cardio or strength workouts).

Example #2: 4-days/week plan with cardio variety

A four-days-a-week plan (a good place to start if you haven’t been active recently) is basically an “every other day” thing, with one two-days-in-a-row thrown in.  For that, I think weekends are usually best.

Sticking To and Getting the Most Out of Your Plans

Once you have a weekly plan in mind…

⇒ Don’t treat each day as “all or nothing” or “Activity X or bust.” If you have a time crunch or  some logistical issue that makes a planned workout un-doable, do a shorter workout or a replacement one. At very least, get outside and take a walk. That’s always doable, no matter the time, place, or weather.

And if it’s a strength session you missed…isn’t it hard to explain to yourself why you can’t at least do a few push-ups and a little core work, dude?

⇒ Don’t let a missed day turn into two, then three, etc. If you miss a planned day, no big deal…just re-commit and resume the next day.  Don’t let it spiral into letting yourself down.  You wouldn’t consciously let down a loved one, a work colleague or a customer…so love and respect yourself here, too.  Don’t self-inflict.

⇒ Don’t give up on healthy eating if you miss a workout day or have a lighter-than-planned day. For me, the temptation is to correlate these.  If I “blow” a workout plan I often feel the urge to also act in “pig day” mode. Do yourself a big favor and stay strong on nutrition.

Of course, this is better for your body, but mentally it also keeps you readier to pick up on fitness the next day, and less feeling like “well, I’m failing at this…maybe I’ll just punt and try again next week/month/year.”

Keeping your morale up and your intentions strong (mental things) is vital to taking care of your physical body over time. Be your own coach and cheerleader. You deserve and need it.

Without always being “religious,” but hopefully always being resilient, you’ll start to string together some quality weeks, brother.

If you’re working out hard and 5-6 days a week, then every 4-6 weeks give yourself an easy week.  Maybe also change things up to do some physically-oriented recreation things instead of “workouts”…make sure you get outdoors…work more on flexibility.

You’ll come back physically rested and stronger, and mentally refreshed.  Both of these things are critical to keep this up long-term.

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And by the way, if you want to do a “get way stronger/fitter in X days” program, that’s awesome.  I salute you.  Then on Day X+1, please consider all this as a contribution to your “sustain and keep improving” game plan.

“Make a new plan, Stan.” (Paul Simon, 50 Ways to Leave Your Lover”)

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OlderBeast: Five Things to Know About It for 2017

Happy new year, brothers (and sorry for the “clickbait” title of this post – I hate these “X things” headlines, but in this case it feels authentic… though I still won’t do it again until 2018, promise).

Since OlderBeast.com just kicked off recently, this may be the first you’re hearing of it. So, this post is to introduce the concept and suggest a few articles on fitness, nutrition and wellness to help make 2017 your greatest year yet.

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Your Fitness Mix Beyond 40: Six Signs You May Need to Change It Up

To begin with, you DO need a well-balanced mix of fitness activities.

I don’t care if you can run far and fast, bike up steep hills, or lift impressive amounts. If any of those things is all you do, brother, you won’t have the best blend of endurance, strength, flexibility and balance to stay physically vital for your hopefully-many decades to come.

Past 40, God-given levels of these physical traits do start to erode. It’s only by our conscious and continuous effort, via a good fitness mix, that we maintain them. This foundational OlderBeast article talks more about this need to seek more diverse fitness.

OK, so what’s the best mix – what activities, how often? There’s no single “right” answer for everyone. Even your own personal mix will vary over the seasons and the years.

But there are clear signs you’ll see if your current mix isn’t working. Here are six I recognize. Any apply to you? If so, it might be time to mix things up more.

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Fitness Setbacks: You WILL Overcome! (Here are Suggestions to Help)

As 40+ guys living in the real world of work, family, and our own not-bulletproof anatomy, setbacks to fitness and nutrition plans are inevitable.

In the last decade, mine included plantar fasciitis (foot/heal pain), a strained rotator cuff, and sporadic right knee pain…not to mention crunch times at work that constrained exercise as effectively as any injury.

With “experience being the best teacher,” the OlderBeast tenets of fitness variety, workout/recovery sequencing, and personal time prioritization help minimize such setbacks. But still, they’ll happen – so here are a few suggestions for dealing with injuries and fitness interruptions in a way that minimizes impact, and even gets longer-term benefits from them.

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Work At Home? Avoid These Five Fitness & Health Pitfalls!

Guys who go to an office daily might think: “Please…cry me a river about your zero-minute commute. I’d love that time back.”

It’s counter-intuitive that working at home, with commute time avoided, has fitness- and health-related pitfalls. After all, the #1 reason for not exercising is “I don’t have time.”

But having worked at home about half the time over the last decade, I can tell you first-hand: here are five fitness/health challenges that arise (and tips for overcoming them).

2 Comments
  1. […] mini session or two, for ideas on how this concept might fit into an overall weekly plan, check out this OlderBeast […]

  2. […] are some example weekly plans based on this checklist of core principles. But as you’ve seen, the key idea is to have a […]

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