Warning: Some deep fitness-nerd stuff here.
Every year, I re-evaluate what my body needs. A year seems like a good amount of time. Changing more frequently has more entertainment value, but is less impactful. Sometimes I’ll emphasize a different energy system — strength vs endurance. Other times it is a modification of whatever has been working well. It’s a good idea to do this sort of body review. Think of it as Marie Kondo for fitness.
Last year, aged 59, I was all about strength. I had been experiencing some joint issues and had moved from a 3 times/week 10-to-12-rep exercise to 2 times/week 5 reps at a heavier weight. I also brought my HIIT (High-intensity Interval Training) down from 2 times/week to 1 time/week as my body was getting over stressed.
Muscle Mass and Bone Density
Maintaining muscle mass and bone density seems critical, and this becomes a bit of a science project as one ages. To be effective it needs to be timed correctly, with the stress/load needing to be somewhat precise, and very much personalized. The idea is that the recovery time between days needs to be long enough for the body to completely re-build, but not so long that atrophy sets in. What really sucks is that as we age re-building takes longer, and atrophy happens sooner.
This year I still want to keep a level of strength, but I can live with something less than a personal best every week. The weights listed below are where I am today; I expect these to fluctuate 10 percent either way over the coming year.
Here is My 2019 Age 60 Fitness Routine:
Monday: Heavy Lift Day
Squat: 230 lbs, 3 sets of 8 reps. I am changing my form a bit, and reducing the load to get the leg fully 90 degrees without pushing the knees forward. Last year I was at 265 lbs, 3 sets of 5 reps, but not fully 90 degrees.
Bench Press: 198 lbs, 3 sets of 5. This is down a bit from last year’s 210 lbs, 3 sets of 5. I’m not exactly sure why, but I’ve been failing at 200 lbs, so I’ll keep working around this weight.
Dead Lift. Dropping the weight to 240 from 305. Now 1 set of 8 reps vs 1 set of 5 reps. My back strength was not keeping up with my glutes, and my form was collapsing. The dead is my favorite lift. But because it is so intense, I can only do 1 set once a week.
Pull Ups. Strict full-extension no-swings classic forward grip. I do 3 sets to failure, usually 15 reps, 12 reps, 10 reps. Last year I was using a parallel grip doing 3 sets of 5, but with 65 lbs of weight hanging on my belt.
Single-Arm Rows. A new addition this year to improve my back strength. 3 sets of 5 at 70 lbs.
Seated Row. Another new addition. This time the motion is slow, emphasis on the negative and correct posture. By this point in the workout I am toasted, so the weight isn’t heavy. 3 sets of 10.
Sleep. An essential part of the workout. Plan on 9 hours Monday night. Before sleep I will spend about 30 minutes stretching and foam rolling while watching TV.
Walking. My body is recovering from all the stress of Monday’s lifts. 8,000-12,000 steps depending on time. I usually do this between dinner and sleep. If I am feeling vigilant, more stretching, especially arms-overhead grok squats.
Pilates Mat Class. A new addition this year. I was finding my rotational mobility and some of my core strength needed a boost. It takes an hour, is very low stress, but seems to target all the weak spots.
HIIT training. 20 – 30 minutes. This needs to be done before 3pm otherwise it will affect my sleep. I use either a sled, elliptical, run on a treadmill, or my favorite, walk on an incline holding weights in a rotation of 3 positions: Overhead, shoulder height and farmer carry.
Walking. I’m tired from the week. Walking today about 10,000 steps.
Saturday: Moderate Lifting
Warm Up of Kettle Bell Swings. 65 lbs, 3 sets of 20 reps. Massive cardio element to these.
Standing Overhead Press 105 lbs, 3 sets of 5. This is the same as last year.
Squats. 3 sets of 10 at 185 lbs. These are intentionally less weight, more reps than the heavy lift day, but I try to go to my absolute deepest point without getting stuck.
Back Exercise Combo. Using the TRX, high rows, W shoulder rotations, and low rows. I do these 3 rounds of 10 reps each.
Ball Slams. Standing on a bench, I slam a medicine ball to the floor, 3 sets of 30 reps. Sometimes I’ll do these standing on one leg, which feels like a bit of a circus trick.
Rest day. Maybe a yoga class, but nothing stressful.
- This is just my program and not a recommendation for anyone else. Know your body, understand what you need.
- You should never be lifting any sort of heavy weight without someone around to spot you.
- Before you attempt any classic lifting, learn how to do it. If done correctly, these are all very safe. But holding a weighted bar overhead is not the same as working on a machine. It is a compound body exercise that needs to be done correctly or it can be dangerous.
What is your fitness routine? Let’s compare. Let’s discuss.
Gina jumps rope while standing on a BOSU ball.
John runs 3 miles a day
Kerri rides her horse 3 times per week.
Let’s let everyone know what you are working on, and how it is going.