Learn From Your Fitness Elders

Today in the sauna, there was a man that was about to turn 71 chatting with his friend who I would guess was maybe 60 years old. They were both to my left. To my right was a bulky overweight man about 30 years old.

The 70-year old was in great shape. Easily the top 1% of men for his age. The 60-year old chatted with him on how great he looked and asked how he was staying in such great shape. Of course, I had to listen.

I agreed with half of his dietary advice (avoid alcohol and bread) and disagreed with the other half (avoid potatoes and eating 6 times a day). But if I were retired and motivated, then prepping 6 meals a day might not be that bad.

Then he started talking about young guys at the gym that focus on getting big muscles, but they also end up with big bellies. He stated it wasn’t healthy because breathing becomes labored and too shallow. He further went on to say these young guys would be better off being trim if they really cared about their health. Then he pointed at his own abs.

I slowly turned my head to the right to see the response from the bulky millennial.

He just sat there glued to his phone. Headphones in his ears, playing dance music. He didn’t hear a thing. Yet he could clearly see that a 70-year old Adonis was holding class just a few meters away. He couldn’t be bothered.

In this blog, I often warn about taking the advice of outliers, as we don’t know the risks they took to achieve their results. But when your outlier is also a survivor, you pay attention.

Soak up their wisdom. Your music can wait.

Photo by Denny Müller

9 Comments

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  1. Nice post @MAS.
    Sadly, I think the main thing I’ve learned from my elders is that those that stayed in shape throughout their whole life had by far the best results. See C. Bass, A. Devany, M. Sisson, etc. Those of us who let ourselves go during our twenties and early thirties (due to business and familes ramping up) will never get that time back. But, better late than never. 🙂

  2. @Jim good to see a mention of Clarence Bass. I’ve been following him since 1986 when I first read Ripped and his website introduced me to so many things from Tabata to DeVany.

  3. I’d like to know one thing. As HIT enthusiasts, the position is that “No activity burns enough calories to be worth doing for that purpose.” If you walk briskly for the sweet spot of 45 minutes daily, you burn the entire day worth of calories over the week. I wonder how and if this is mitigated by increased appetite (I suspect yes, but only partially.) Simon Shawcross does this (2×25 minutes daily ), Schoenfeld recommends 3-4x a week for 30-45 minutes (but his RT is very high volume and frequency), Tom Venuto 30-60 minutes 5-7 days a week for fat loss and 3-4 for maintenance. Even the old HIT-er Stuart McRobert recommends daily walking of 45-60 minutes if fat loss is the objective. I’d really like to evaluate whether this is good choice.
    1) Big time investment, but has other benefits – mental, sleep, dietary discipline…that are in fact huge.
    2) But you probably have to lift first in the day not to compromise a workout or have a big break (morning-evening) ((Schoenfeld))
    3) Theoretically this could diminish RT adaptation if we accept the signalling pathways are different and somewhat compete with each other.

    Let’s not forget that hours of walking are prescribed to morbidly obese for weight control. If it had such minuscule effect, they wouldn’t bother. Now it may be because it’s their only choice etc. And while HITers may be against formalisation of such activity, many if not most do something similar.
    Your thoughts?

  4. It is loosely tied to fitness elders and their wisdom:-) But frankly I just posted it under the latest post about physical activity/exercise, sorry.

  5. Ondřej Tureček

    Feb 16, 2019 — 1:16 am

    Thanks for pointing me towards Dr. Pontzer again. I knew about it back then and commented but more interviews and sources have appeared since then. It further solidifies the whole food diet and safe high effort resistance training combo in my opinion.

  6. There is certainly great value from listening to others who have gone before, and I have learnt much from the aforementioned Clarence Bass, and also others.lime Richard Winett and BillDeSimone. But one must also listen with a critical thinking mindset and not be sling to accept everything that is passed down as gospel. It’s worth remembering that many of the older crowd had their information passed down to them, and much of that is mired in traditional thinking (squats and copious amounts of milk anyone?). Some very useful information for all is also being given by young sports science researchers from around the world.
    We are all experiments of n=1 and we need to learn to cherry pick the stuff that works for us. Try things that sound reasonable, keep them if they work, but don’t be scared to drop stuff in an instant that does not work, or ends up being unsafe.
    Taking Clarence Bass as an example, he has always talked about using competition as a motivating force for his workouts, using the Concept 2 online rankings to fire him up for his weekly HIIT session. This is all well and good if you have a personality like Clarence that can keep these things in perspective but if you are an anal type, or someone trying to be an alpha ( yes, yes guilty as charged) then using this strategy might be counter productive, as once a week wouldn’t be enough, and before you know it, you are.into chronic over training territory trying to knock a fraction of a second off your PB. Take what is useful to you, but discard the rest, no matter who, or how many are telling you how good it is.

  7. Ondrej,
    Whether a walk should be viewed as a waste of time or not has to be put through your own personal filter. It may not be a great cardio exercise for many ( not raising the heart rate high enough). it may not burn as many calories as most would hope, and maybe the activity aspect of it may or may not be oversold. However for me. a good walk is valuable “me” time, where I can get lost in my own thoughts, and almost meditate. I find this extremely valuable. Some may not, and find other ways in which to relax, therefore making walking, for them a waste of their time. Personally I do think that we should be more active than two HIT sessions a week ( which some HIT “experts” suggest are all that may be needed) and walking can be a good way to get this activity in.

    Some HIT experts also suggest that cardio is not necessary, if weight sessions are undertaken. They are however in the minority. Is lots of cardio necessary? Probably not, and too much is likely detrimental. But once again this depends on our own personal circumstances and preferences, which ties in with my post above about being guarded as to who you listen to, and taking everything with a dose of critical thinking salt.

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