How to build a fitness program that is right for you
Many people walk into the gym without an idea what they are there to do other than get a workout in. As a result, they don't see the results they want. On this episode, we discuss how you can build the right fitness program for yourself.
Let's Say Hello
[00:01:11.230] – Allan
Hello, Ras. How are things going?
[00:01:13.440] – Rachel
Good, Allan. How are you today?
[00:01:15.530] – Allan
Going well, just kind of busy, actually. Kind of funny. I was supposed to have a call and I completely lost track of days.
[00:01:23.780] – Rachel
[00:01:26.650] – Allan
I switched up my workouts and I did a weight lifting workout on a Sunday. And as a result, I woke up the next day thinking it was Tuesday and did a weight lifting workout and then woke up today thinking it was a Wednesday, when, in fact, we're recording this on a Tuesday. And so it's like I was completely backwards on my thinking, fell behind, thought I was way behind. And then even though everything being what it was, I should have known different. I didn't. And as a result, kind of miss some appointments and things I was supposed to do. So if I was supposed to be on a call with you on Monday night, I apologize. I thought it was Tuesday night. I just don't even know what was going on last night when I thought, okay, it's Tuesday night, tomorrow's Wednesday. What do I have going on? And okay, well, tomorrow is another weightlifting day, and it wasn't today was a cardio day. And we'll talk a little bit more in detail about that at the end. But it was just kind of one of those things of the weather here is the same every day.
[00:02:35.170] – Allan
There's not a lot of differences. I don't really have weekends the way a lot of people have weekends. Any day could be a weekend. Everybody's here on holidays. So it doesn't feel different one day to the next, for the most part, any day here. So, yeah, just kind of lost track of days.
[00:02:54.420] – Rachel
Oh, my goodness. How crazy is that? Do you keep a calendar? Do you have a paper or a digital calendar?
[00:03:00.430] – Allan
I have a digital calendar, but it's kind of one of those things where I'm trying to condition myself to not look at things unless I need to look at things. So social media maybe not look at it all the time. Log in and check in on my clients once a day or so where I need to and do what I need to do. And then it's the same thing with a calendar. It's typically just, okay, what do I know is going on today and on the Monday, but I knew I needed to record something so we could have this call because I failed to do it on what I thought was Monday. And then again, just like, complete confusion. Didn't do what I was supposed to do when I was supposed to do it and then didn't know what day of the week it was and did other things, failed to do other things I was supposed to do.
[00:03:56.110] – Allan
So it just kind of put me in. I'm in this kind of weird juxtaposition because my weekend and the first part of next week is going to be intense because we're moving all the gym equipment. We're moving in. So the paint is late, the light fixtures are late. So those are going to be like, I had to go actually buy replacement/alternate light fixtures, not the light fixtures I want to keep. I had to pay for those just to have light fixtures because you need light the building to do what you got to do sometimes. And then the paint is not in because we were put off the paint waiting on the light fixtures because it's coming from the same source. And I'm like, no, I got to have the paint because they're finishing up now and now I don't have paint. So I told the person we were telling them, okay, look, regardless of whether the lights are ready, bring the paint, because I've got a paint because we're moving all the equipment in on Sunday.
[00:04:51.080] – Allan
So I'm hopeful I'll get the paint on Thursday, Friday the latest, and then I'll start painting where I can paint. And then I'll start moving equipment in and continue to try to paint around the equipment. That's going to be harder, but it kind of is what it is. So a lot of moving parts in my life right now, and I just completely lost track of days. But I won't lose track of days those days because those are going to be four or five really hard days.
[00:05:18.510] – Rachel
That sounds like it. My gosh, no wonder you've lost track of days. There's a lot going on. A lot of things you're balancing right now.
[00:05:25.780] – Allan
Yeah. How about yourself?
[00:05:28.690] – Rachel
Good. I'm far less busy than you are, but things are going good. I mentioned I have a trainer and I'm working on my marathon program, and over the weekend I ran 16 miles on my treadmill, and it was hard. It was a challenge.
[00:05:51.190] – Allan
When you're training on the treadmill, do you use the distraction, like watching Netflix or something like that?
[00:05:58.820] – Rachel
I can't watch anything because I feel like I have lost balance and I don't want to accidentally trip. I think I was watching something like, I don't know, the Matrix or something ages ago, and I was trying to bob and weave along with Neo there, and I almost fell off the treadmill. I prefer to listen to podcasts or on certain days, music is actually easier to listen to. So that's about my limits of my distraction. But it was just a long day and I chose that over outside, we had single-digit temperatures and double-digit wind gusts, so I chose the safer route.
[00:06:41.130] – Allan
Yeah. And those are not the conditions that you're going to be running your race in. So there's no value to pushing yourself through something like that, other than just saying, I want to be uncomfortable for what was probably about two and a half hours.
[00:06:55.180] – Rachel
Yeah. It was definitely the right guess. Exactly like that. The snow and the ice is just too sketchy, and it would have impacted my gate so greatly that I probably would have put myself at more risk than I got off the treadmill. So at least on the treadmill, I had a consistent gate, which I think is far more beneficial for that long run.
[00:07:19.910] – Allan
Day treadmills were originally a punishment.
[00:07:24.730] – Rachel
I know, I know. I could tell you. Yeah. So things are good up here.
[00:07:32.220] – Allan
Good. So let's go ahead and get into today's episode where we talk about programming for yourself.
[00:07:38.550] – Rachel
Hello, and thank you for being a part of the 40+ Fitness Podcast. Today, I want to talk about a topic that is actually really important if you're looking to build your fitness and make it really matter. A lot of people approach fitness programs the wrong way. They try something that's generic. They don't get the results they really wanted. As a result, a lot of them give up. So today I want to discuss how to build a fitness program that's right for you. So first, let's define the problem. Now, the initial problem with a fitness program is that most people seem to have a singular view on fitness. So you either think that you need to build cardio or you think you need to build strength or you think you need to do this. And as a result, people get tied into one dimension of fitness. So they become runners or they go in and they start taking the classes. They really enjoy them. And so it's just basically you're doing classes. And then there's also things like people that just go in and do yoga and think that's sufficient for what they need, or people that actually just go in and do weightlifting and say, okay, that's all I need.
The reality is most of the time that's not enough. And when we do this, what happens is we tend to put the workouts first. So you enjoy the class. The class is what you do. You feel like you're getting what you need. And as a result, what we've done is we've effectively put the tactics in without really having a strategy for what we're trying to accomplish. So if you're going to work on your fitness, you need to ensure that the fitness is doing. The work you're doing for fitness is working for you. So why do we do some of these things? Well, the first one is if you enjoy doing something like you really enjoy running or you really enjoy your fitness classes, you tend to want to do it more. Or another thing that I've seen quite often is people are really good at one thing, so you're really good at running or you're really good at lifting. And as a result, that's why you want to do that one thing. But movement for the sake of movement is not necessarily always a good thing. Now I will be the first to tell you I'm not going to poopoo anyone who takes the time to do a workout.
If you're doing a workout, that's a thousand times better than not doing a workout. But there's a reason why the treadmills are at the front of the gym. And the reason the treadmills are at the front of the gym is because 99% of the time that's as far as most people are going to go, they're going to walk into the gym and they're going to get on the treadmill, they're going to do their time, literally, and then they're going to get off the treadmill, and that's their workout. Now, again, movement for the sake of movement, fine. But realize that won't necessarily get you where you want to be. You need to get a little deeper. You need to do a little bit more because you're not only missing modalities, you're missing key one of the ones you're doing. Okay. So it's great you're on the treadmill. It's great that you're lifting, but are you really pushing yourself? Are you really doing the things that are necessary to move the needle for your health and fitness? So how do we make this happen? Because it's so easy to get wrapped up into the I'm really good at lifting, and I really don't want to do these other things or I'm really good at running, and I don't want to do these other things or I really enjoy doing the elliptical or the treadmill.
And I'm really somewhat intimidated by doing anything further. So the first thing you want to do is you want to go all the way back to the beginning. I'm going to do this to you over and over again. You have to go back to the grounding that you did at the front of this whole process. And if you don't know what that means, I'd encourage you to go back and listen to any of the lessons I've talked about with regards to commitment. And so within commitment, we have this vision. Okay. And within the vision, there are multiple segments of fitness that you're going to need to have. I've never seen anyone who has this vision to be able to run 50 miles a day and that's their vision. That's not what people emotionally attached to. The vision is about enjoying your life. It's about being the person you're meant to be. It's about being able to do the things that you need to do, which is fit for task. So if you want to be fit for task, you've got to really pay attention to what that means. What does the future you what are they capable of doing?
Okay, so let's say, for example, you want to be able to travel and there are certain places you want to be able to go, like let's just say Europe and you want to be able to do the Mediterranean, you want to be able to arrive there and enjoy yourself and do the things that you want to do. Well, I can tell you one of the first challenges you're going to get when you get that trip going, because you're most likely going to have to get on an airplane or some kind of mode of transportation that's public and you're going to have to load your bag, you have to carry your bag, you're going to put it up over into the overhead bin. There's things you're going to have to be able to do that will require strength. If you're going to do something and go somewhere and you're going to be doing walking or anything like that, you're going to need some stamina. And if the roads are cobbled like they are in most of Europe, you're maybe going to need some balance and mobility is always a good test thing to have just to keep your body moving in the way that it's supposed to so you don't injure yourself.
So just in that one vision of being able to travel successfully, you're going to need strength, stamina, mobility and balance. Okay, so that's four different training modalities that you don't get if you're only doing one thing. Now, how much of each of these do you need? Again, we go back to the base. The base is your vision. Okay. If your overhead is not going to weigh over £30, then there's very little reason for you to train to be able to press over £30 over your head. Okay. If the most you feel like you're going to ever have to walk or run or do. If you're going to go do a tour or something would be about three or 4 miles, then maybe that's the stamina that you need to have. So if your vision is travel, then you need to be fit for that task. If your vision is to do something else, like be an awesome grandmother and keep up with your grandkid, maybe your stamina needs to be a little higher at certain points in time. You're picking up the child, maybe your strength needs to be a little higher at certain points in time.
And then the other thing is mobility and balance. Obviously if you live in locations where there is a potential for you to fall or slip, you need to have those skills too. So looking at your vision is really an independent topic, independent approach to you doing you to you being the fit that you need fit for task. So what you need to do, the work that you need to do is really should be driven by that vision. And if it is, that breaks down all the motivational problems that you would have. Yes, it can be intimidating to try something that you're not good at. I walk into a yoga class. I am like a bear in a Penguin shop. I don't belong there and I know I don't belong there. But if I need to work on mobility, that's a great place to do it. If I want to get into body weight strength, that's a great place to do it. Even if I'm uncomfortable, it's important for me to push myself through. And if my vision is a part of that, it makes it a lot easier to do. So how do we get started with all of this?
And I'll say the first step is always going to be a self assessment. Now the self assessment goes along with my GPS model, and the S is the self assessment. So how are we going to self assess? Well, the first is to look at our fitness and what our capabilities are. Okay, so what areas of fitness am I really good at? And I'll tell you generally strength. However, I did tear my rotator cuff a few years ago, and as a result, I am not as strong in my upper body from a pushing perspective as I was back then. So there are areas of fitness where I'm good, particularly leg strength and pulls with my back. But there are areas of strength that I'm not so good at. So kind of looking and saying, what are the areas of fitness I'm good at? I know that I'm good at strength. I know that I'm good at long, slow cardio. Where am I not good. I'm not good in balance, I'm not good at mobility. So those are areas that I may need to focus on. Okay, do I want to do more where I'm already strong?
And the short answer to that is it depends. If I need to be stronger, like I'm trying to work on building my pushing strength because I'm weaker, then that's something I need to consider. Okay, so what effort is now necessary for me to maintain or gain the fitness I need? For most of us over 40, that's going to require working each body part at least once per week. But probably just twice per week would be enough for most of us to maintain or gain some fitness at that level. Meaning if I want to get stronger at lifting weights, I'll probably need to do weight training for my whole body or for body parts at least twice a week. So what are some fitness areas that I'm not so good at? And I mentioned earlier, I'm not so good at balance. I'm not so good at mobility. So what effort is necessary for me to gain or maintain those? And that's some balance training that's putting myself in some positions where I might not be as comfortable. So instead of doing a two legged squat, maybe I'm going to do a one legged squat, or maybe I do some form where I'm moving side to side and then doing a squat.
So there's opportunities there for me to work on my balance. As for mobility, that's paying attention to where I'm tighter, where I'm not as mobile and working on stretching, working on some other efforts to make sure that I'm gaining that mobility. And for those types of modalities, for balance and for mobility, those are things that I could practically do every day. So if I'm lifting two times per week as a whole body workout, I now have five days left. I can focus on doing these other things and in some cases, maybe go ahead and double them up and I can do these others more often. So you kind of see how I'm beginning to do from this self assessment to build out the training things that I need to get in to build fitness, to maintain fitness based on where I currently am and based on where I want to go. So the first question is, is a predefined workout for you? Because they're everywhere. You can go on the Internet, you can do a quick search for anything you want to train on. And basically a workout is going to come in. So if you went on YouTube and you type, which is the second largest search engine in the world, and you Typed in mobility workout, you would be inundated by all kinds of videos that you could do as a predefined workout.
Now, I would say that for most of these, yes, for balance and mobility, a typical class or plan will work fine. So you can go in and say, okay, I'm going to do this basic stretching class or I'm going to work on this balance program. Those typically are fine for just about everybody. However, I'm going to say this, not all muscles need to be stretched. If you have good solid mobility in certain movement ranges, say you're almost double jointed in the upper body or in the lower body, you don't need to stretch those muscles. Those muscles are already long. They're already doing what they're supposed to do. Look for other muscles that are a little tighter and focus on those. So while basic plans and classes work, you just need to make sure that where you need to be focused, you are getting that focus. The next is stamina. Now, stamina is kind of one of these things that I think a lot of people struggle with particularly as we get older, and that's because we have physical limitations. Now, as we went through that self assessment, we talked about reasons why we were good or not so good at things.
I mentioned the shoulder problem, so you may have issues with your needs. There's a lot of different examples of where we have physical limitations that would prohibit us from doing certain activities where we're trying to build stamina. So at least knowing those ahead of time is really important. For most of us working on stamina, it's really good to try to get this done outside. Getting outside is going to be better for you. However, there are a lot of machines that can help you do this, particularly when the weather is not so nice. This episode is coming out in March, maybe it's in March, but as this episode comes out, you're going to see that the weather is starting to improve. This is a great opportunity to get outside, but in the event you can't, it's raining, the weather's not good. It just isn't conducive for you to be outside doing these things. Treadmills, elliptical rowers, bikes. There's all kinds of machines that can help you build different forms of stamina. Mixing them up, trying different things always a good thing. Get that variety in there where you can, particularly if you're trying to work around a problem like knees or shoulders or something like that.
All that said, like I said, outside is better. Outside is better. So if you can do these things outside, go ahead and do it. And then if you're going to do a program for stamina, I strongly encourage you to use one that has been proven to be effective. One of my favorites is Jeff Galloway's run walk run method. We interviewed him on episode 248, so you can go back and listen to that episode. I'll have a link in the show notes, but that's a great program about how to build your running stamina without injuring yourself. Other great programs. You can find a couch to five K program. It's going to be sort of a similar walk run kind of thing. So you can build up that stamina in a controlled perspective to try to get you ready for a five K, which is 5 km or basically 3.1 mile. So you're looking to do something specific, either just program or the five day programs. Both are great programs and it can help you start your spam in a process. And as you get a little bit more specialized or start building up to longer distances or longer periods of time, there are other things that you can use that are fixed and then always.
We had a conversation with Rachel not long ago. She has hired a running coach to help her improve her stamina even further so she can run faster and have better times on her run. So if you're looking for that, sometimes having a running coach can go a long way towards helping you build superior stamina. So now we'll talk about my favorite thing. Okay. As I mentioned earlier, it's really important for you to understand your limitations before you start a strength program. Some of those are physical limitations. As I mentioned, my shoulder, my ability to push, my ability to do shoulder exercises very much different than what it was just even five years ago. So I have to be aware of that. I have to address that as I put my training plan together, and then the other is knowledge gap. So one of the reasons that I work on getting my certified personal trainer and the different specializations that I did was just recognizing that I had a knowledge gap in what my body was capable of doing and what I need to do. I was building most of my programming for the first several years off of what I knew when I was in my 20s.
And guess what? It doesn't work and it breaks you time and time again. So I knew I had a knowledge gap. If you have a knowledge gap, you don't know the form of particular exercises. It's really important for you to get this right. Don't do an exercise right and you put load on yourself. Opportunities to hurt yourself is huge, so make sure you've bridged that knowledge gap before you leap into any kind of program. Now, when you're getting started for most lifters, as long as you do know the form and you find the right coach or you find the right website. Strong Lifts Five by Five is one of my favorites. They teach you basic workouts, basic programming, simple lifts, five sets of five reps. It's pretty straightforward and it will help you get stronger. It's a really good entry level basic workout that you can do for quite some time before you need to switch that up. And then most gyms will have a machine circuit. And while machines are not optimal from a form perspective, it's really hard to screw up. If you're sitting in the seat properly and you've got the right posture, a machine workout can be quite good.
You just have to make sure that your settings on the machine are appropriate so that it fits your body. Most machines can adjust seats up and down, back and forward. Just making sure you're in a good position to do that workout is really important. You go to most gyms, they're going to have people available to help you learn how to set up that machine and use that machine appropriately. Take advantage of that or as I mentioned earlier, hire a coach to walk you through it. But strength is probably the only fitness modality that I would say is non negotiable. You have to be training strength, and second behind that is stamina. You have to be training stamina. Mobility and balance are also important, but if you aren't building strength and you're really just focused on stamina, you're going to lose strength, you're going to lose muscle mass. And in the long run, as we age, that's not going to be a good thing. So strength has to be a part of your program. Stamina must be a part of your program. Mobility and balance will very likely need to be a part of your training.
It's just a function of how mobile and how much balance you have now and how much work you need to do to enhance that or at least maintain it, depending on where you stand. So those are the basic training modalities. Now I want to skip into something a little bit deeper about fitness that I think is probably some things that people really struggle with in the long run. First off, a lot of people will start a fitness program and then they'll get bored. And like I said, if you downloaded a program and you started it and it's not something that's progressive, then it can get kind of boring. So if your decision was that you were going to go out and run or walk the same path, and so you're going to walk around the field or you're going to walk through the neighborhood and you've got your horse, if you will, you've measured it out and you know the length and the distance that you're going, and you're maybe keeping up with your time. You know, this takes you a certain amount of time so you can get your workouts done before dinner or before you have to go to work.
So you know how much time it's going to take you to do this. But if you keep doing the same route week in and week out, other than changes of weather and other things that might be going on in that neighborhood or in that field, it could get pretty boring. So that's one thing to be very concerned about is if you get bored and you want to quit, it can be a problem. Likewise with lifting weights, you may go in and do the same basic five exercises. When I mentioned strong lifts and you do them and do them and do them, and then you kind of say, okay, I do these every two times a week, and then eventually kind of getting boring. I mean, okay, squats are great, bench press is great, pulls are great. But in the end, that can get a little boring when you're doing the same workout week in, week out. And yes, maybe you are seeing some progression on that, but it can get kind of just dry. And so don't make sure that what you're doing and the fitness routines that you're doing don't bore you. Some people are able to do the same thing over and over and over again, and they're fine with it.
Others do need some variety. So at least be aware of where you stand with some of those things. Next, some people will see diminishing returns or plateaus. Now, this is completely normal in all phases of training. Initially, you see some pretty good results because your body is not accustomed to what you're doing. Your brain and your muscles are having a conversation. It's a very easy conversation to have once they figure out the wiring, the very difficult conversation when you first get started. So you will see yourself from a strength perspective, potentially from a stamina perspective, from a balanced perspective, and even from a mobility perspective, actually sees some pretty good gains in returns when you first start. And then it kind of slows down and then it kind of Plateau. You've seen this with weight loss. You'll see it with fitness. So a lot of people get disgruntled or upset when they don't see that continued linear progression. And I'm going to tell you, you almost never see a linear progression over and over, because if you did, then the strongest people in the world would never stop getting stronger. So there's a natural limitation on what the brain muscle conversation can do.
And then there's a limited potential for when you're actually building muscle and building strength or building stamina that can continue. At some point, you will Plateau. Now, there are things we can do to break those plateaus, but just realize, don't get dismissive. Don't quit just because you're not seeing the return. And then the other thing is sometimes you're going to see unequal returns. And so maybe your stocks are not exactly what you wanted it to be. Whereas some individuals just really can't put on a lot of muscle mass, they're getting stronger, but they're not seeing their muscles get bigger. They're putting on all the stamina. They're capable of going further. Distances are going and or going faster, but they're not necessarily losing weight because they thought, okay, I'm burning all these calories, I should be losing weight. So just recognize that even though you're pushing yourself in a fitness direction, you won't always see equal gains going forward. And even within body parts, you might not see the same. So like for me, it always was the case. My legs get stronger. They get bigger very easily now. Probably not as easily now as they did before when I was younger.
But that said, I can get really strong with my legs. I'm not capable of getting that much stronger with my upper body the same way. So I see unequal returns. And I also see my legs getting bigger when I lift weights with my legs do leg strength stuff, my upper body doesn't respond quite as well. So recognizing that I'm going to have those biological limitations, I have to keep pushing through, I cannot let that break me mentally. So these are things that are really hard to get through mentally, as if your workout is boring. If you're not seeing the returns that you used to be seeing or you're seeing unequal returns a lot of times that makes it really difficult to stick with, but I want you to go back to what commitment your grounding. There's a reason why you're doing this. There's a vision of what you want to accomplish. If you want it bad enough and you know where you're going, you will still get there. It's never going to be a straight line, so you got to keep pushing through. And that takes a lot of guts, it takes a lot of mental fortitude.
But if you have a good why and you have a good vision, that makes it a lot easier, stick with it and it'll pay off. Okay. So the whole reason we're on this podcast is to learn how to program for yourself. Okay, so first, let's get into the basics of all this. Now, the first thing is you have to know your muscle groups. You have to know what you're doing and why you're doing it. I'm going to talk about this predominantly from a lifting perspective, but a lot of this will fly across the board. Okay. So first, know your muscle groups. When you're doing a certain movement, what muscles are you supposed to be building? What muscles are you supposed to be using? For most exercises, there's going to be a pro mover, there's going to be a primate mover that's causing that exercise to move. Even if it's a compound style movement, there's a prime mover for parts of it and then potentially a different prime mover for other parts of it. So knowing which muscles you're trying to work for each exercise makes it easier for you to know that you're doing the exercise.
Right. So knowing the exercise. Okay, so what muscles am I going to work if I'm doing the deadlift? Well, the deadlift is a very complex work exercise. It is a compound movement, meaning multiple muscles are working. The deadlift happens to work the entire posterior chain. So you're working basically your back, your butt and you're working your hamstrings. So all the way from almost top to bottom, you are working the back of your body, the posterior part of your body. When you do squats, you initially start by using your quadriceps, which are the muscles in the front of your legs. And then as you get deeper into the squat, eventually your glutes are going to kick in and they're the braking mechanism at the bottom, and they're the muscles, the biggest muscle, they're going to start you moving back upwards. So knowing that a squat will require you to use both the front of your legs for a period of time and then the back your butt for the rest of the movement, and then reversing that going back up will help you make sure that you're keeping good form, working the muscles you're supposed to.
So understanding the work that you're doing is really important. That starts with understanding the muscles. Okay. Next is for every exercise you can do has a particular form to it. The form is important to making sure that, one, you avoid injury. But two, understanding that form also affects the angles on the muscles. And so a couple of examples would be whether you're doing something a pull from above your head, like a lap, pull down or pull up, whether you're doing a high row, a low row or a shrub. So what I just talked through were three different angles of rows that are all intended to work a different muscle group across, mostly your back. So the laps when you're pulling down the lats are the main mover, the prime mover. It's going to pull that bar down. If you're pulling the bar, the cable potentially to your upper chest, that's a high row.
So that's working more of the upper back, the rhomboids and the trapezes. And so there you go. There's a whole different set of muscles. When you're doing low rows, you're now working more of the middle back. And when you're doing shrugs, you're working most of the traps and larger traps there. So you can kind of see as you change the angle of something, it's a different exercise. Hand position can also be a very different thing. If your grip is wide. When you're doing something like a bench press or push up, you're really focusing on the chest. If you get your hands closer together now, your triceps are more involved in the movement and maybe less of the chest. And if you get your hands all the way together almost now you're doing well, you're doing a push up, push up. And at that point, now you're working mostly your triceps, the back of your arm. So where you put your hands also affects the movement you're doing. So as you're putting together exercises, again, knowing the muscle you want to do and understanding the form of the exercise, these are critically the next important phase of this, or at least understanding level, is to know your volume.
Now I'm not going to get into that on this episode because we're probably already going long. But on episode 506, we discussed how to increase volume and knowing what your volume is. And volume relates to the amount of weight, the amount of reps, amount of sets, and also how fast or slow you're moving the weight. And so all of those things add to your volume. And so knowing how to adjust those so that you're getting the most benefit out of the work for what your goals are is important. So you might want to go back after you get started here, go back and listen to episode 506 just to make sure you've got a grip on what your volume is as you're getting into work. Now if you're someone who's going to get bored and you start a program, the easiest way to change a program that you already have is to swap exercises. So I'll give you a couple of examples. Let's say you have a program like the five by five. And the back squat is the exercise that was in the book or on the website. You say, okay, I'm going to do this exercise.
And then you get kind of bored with your back squats or you've got toe and you want to try something different. Maybe you try a front squat. It's a very different exercise from the perspective of the angles with which the bar is going down, how your body structured. You're going to move that center of mass a little bit. That's going to change the exercise. So the front squat is a good exercise to go back to. Another one is a lot of people will work on a leg press. Leg press is a great way for you to build overall leg strength.
A lot of leg strength, actually.
You can get really strong in your legs using a leg press. But sometimes people get to a point where they're a little bit tired of the leg press. They've gotten up to a particular weight and they feel like, okay, they've done enough. They really want to change the structure of their work or they want to do something slightly different. Maybe you introduce a hip rust. So you're basically at this point, you're elevating your back maybe on the bench and you've got a weight on your lap and you're trying to do rust. So your feet are flat on the floor, your butt goes down your hips, and then your hips go up to basically try to thrust upwards against the weight. This is a great butt glute word, which again is similar to the leg press. So something you can swap. So basically, anytime you have an exercise, you get a little bored with it or you're not seeing the progress, you can swap out another exercise that works the same muscles or muscle and plug it into the work and use that as your exercise. So not the easiest thing, but every exercise that you do, particularly if one of them is bothering you, can be swapped with another exercise, typically works the same muscle groups and gives you the same effort or at least similar effort and results.
Now, if you're going to make a change, if you're going to do something, I highly recommend that you stick with something for at least six to eight weeks before making a change. You're doing a different workout every day, every time. You're not really going to get the optimal benefit of what you're doing. For one, we talked about that brain muscle, the neuromuscular connection. That's really important. If you don't do an exercise enough, you're not going to get that your brain and your muscles are not going to talk as well as they could without that communication. You're not getting enough work. So you're not going to continue to see gains. If you're swapping exercises every week, you're not going to see those gains the way that you'd like. That will be. So you're going to want to make sure that you stick with something for a while. Six to eight weeks tends to be a really good time before we make a change. Next, you got to increase the load. If you stay with the same weights. And I see this all the time, people will go in and do a circuit. They'll set the machines on exactly the same weight and they go through them time and time again and then they don't really know or see that they're getting any stronger.
The fact that they try to raise it up one weight, they don't really feel like they're able to do it. And that's the struggle. They really haven't pushed themselves, they really haven't made it progressive. So adding a little bit of load when you're using good form creates the stimulus that causes the muscles to react and get stronger and get bigger in most cases. Okay. And then when you're doing this work and sticking with it for a while, you begin to see that strength starting to kick in. So last week you were doing the pulls and you were only pulling £20. This week you're pulling. You're now up to 22 or 25. So now you're seeing the weights get bigger as you learn the exercise, there's communication between the muscles in the brain and then actually, yes, your muscles are changing, they're adapting to the stimulus and they're getting stronger. That's a huge motivation. You start realizing that the work you're doing has a positive effect of actually seeing fitness improvement. That's a great way to know. That's a mile marker to know, hey, I am moving towards my vision. I see it, I see what I'm doing and that's important.
So make sure you stick with it at least long enough. Six to eight weeks to know what you're doing is working before you start trying to mix it up. I know, boredom, boredom, boredom, right, but that's important. So find that balance between switching things up and sticking with it long enough to know that it's working. Okay. So this is how most of us got our start. Most of us, back in the day, it was trial and error. We walked into a gym much like you might, and we had no idea what was going on. There was all this equipment, all these weights. Sometimes there were really big guys back in the back rowing around big dumbbells and big plates and all that. We see that. And I agree it can be a little intimidating for the trial and error part where we just really don't know what we're doing and we're approaching it. I hope today that I've given you some ideas of how you can approach this from a little bit more upscale. You have access to the Internet, you have access to a lot of information, you have access to me. So you won't have to go through trial and error.
Another thing that we did back in the day was we had fitness magazines, so Flex and Muslim Fitness. Those were the main magazines that came out. There were a lot of other bodybuilding magazines in the day. Those have pretty much been replaced by YouTube and different websites. But the concept is the same. There's stuff out there, some of it's good.
Some of it's really bad.
So just kind of knowing that, okay, I have to learn and I can't just try to apply this thing because I can tell you, I read magazine articles where guys were doing 100, which means they're doing 100 reps for a muscle group. A little muscle group at that. I tried it. It hurt. Did it give me additional muscle gain? No, not at all. It was probably a wasted workout because it was too much and it really wasn't set for what I was trying to accomplish at the time. But it looked cool, it sounded cool. And the bodybuilder that was touting it in the magazine was someone that I respected, but again, not necessarily the right thing to do. So take what you see online with a grain of salt, spend some time doing some research, asking questions, and put together a program that's going to get you to your vision. All things considered, being over 40 does add some challenges. Now, as I mentioned earlier, I went to NASM and got certified. And yes, there was a good bit of expense to that. I can't even tell you how much money I have spent on my education, my fitness education over the years.
And so there are ways for you to get around that. Hiring a trainer is a great way to do that. And along the way.
I've done the same.
I've hired coaches to program for me and to push me because when you have someone there, you work harder. So every time I've hired a coach, I've never regretted it. I've never regretted having someone there who wrote a program. I could look at the program and say, this is reasonable, this makes sense. And then I could push myself. And they were there to help. They were there to encourage, they were there to critique. And so my form was better, my work was better, I worked harder, I got more results, and it was well worth the investment. Now, if you want to fast track your fitness and weight loss, I'd encourage you to go to 40 Plusfitness.com. I have an application there had some problems with that website up until I today, but I will have a link to the application there. Go ahead and complete that form. And then we can go ahead and connect and see if 40 Plus Fitness Online training is for you. Programming is not rocket science, but it's also not something you can just pull something off the Internet and do and know that you're optimizing your health and fitness. So if you're still stuck and you need help or you want help or you really want to fast track what you're doing, go to 40 Plusfitness.com and there you'll see a link for an application.
Go to the application. It's not long. It won't take you long. But then we'll get on a call, I'll get on the call and we'll come up with a plan just for you. And it may not be 40 Plus Fitness online training. And that's cool. I really want to help you get where you want to go. And if this training program isn't the right thing, I will help you find the thing that is and get you started and get you moving in the right direction. So thank you so much again for being a part of 40+ Fitness.
[00:46:38.750] – Allan
Welcome back, Ras.
[00:46:40.290] – Rachel
Hey, Allan. What a really great and timely podcast. I think the tips that you've given about developing your own training program could not be more perfectly timed. I'm seeing a lot of questions on the Internet about why do we do this or how do we do that? And right now it seems to be revolving around strength training. That's an important modality that people just don't know how to fold into their current training programs. But I like what you set up here for the listeners because there's a good way to go about developing your own program.
[00:47:14.800] – Allan
Yeah, well, first it has to align with what you're trying to do. And that can be an event or that can just be a lifestyle you want to have or both and probably should be both. Me, I get highly motivated by having an event in front of me. I think I posted something this week in the group about how even the most elite athletes are not what they would call optimally fit all the time. They have their ebbs and flows, their seasons and off seasons. And so they're going through those things themselves.
[00:47:48.480] – Allan
But that said, they're hiring the professionals. They're doing little things that they're supposed to do. And yes, you can do those things yourself. And when I work with clients, I think the thing that sometimes just it kind of frustrates me a little bit is to have a client that really just wants to work out in front of them. They don't want to think about it. They don't want to learn anything about what they're doing. It's just like make me skinny is sort of the mantra. And I'm like, well, okay, skinny doesn't mean healthy. Lifting weights will get you stronger.
[00:48:24.560] – Allan
If they're asking questions. Well, how strong do I need to be? And I'm like, I don't know, what do you want to do? And so they're not able to answer that question because they haven't really done the initial homework. So to them, it's the workout is. And I hate to say this, as we said earlier, the punishment for being unfit. I'm not healthy and fit. I'm not the weight I'm supposed to be. So I have to effectively punish myself. So I've got to do this running. I've got to get on the treadmill or elliptical and they're not really planning out what they're doing. And then even if they do pick up a program, they don't know why they're doing the exercises they're doing. Other than that's what the program says. So they're following a program.
[00:49:05.880] – Allan
And while I said in my talk, that can be great. But at the same time, it's really hard to stay motivated. When you get to the end of that program, it's like, okay, well, I just do it again. Is there something else? And a lot of people get stuck at that. And so I'll work with someone for a number of months, maybe even a couple of years, and at the end they're like, okay, I'll see you. And I'm like, okay, cool. And then they just keep doing what I gave them until they stopped because they get bored or something gets in the way, and then they just don't know where to start back. They're like, well, I was doing this weight and doing that exercise, and now I don't know, should I lower it this amount do that, or should I just go back in and do what I was doing?
[00:49:51.610] – Allan
And that fear keeps them from starting again. And then they're out. And so I talked to him a couple of months after that, and they're like, how's it going? It's like, well, kind of fell off with the exercise. I still run and they still do the thing they enjoy doing. So they're still doing the cardio stuff, if that's what they enjoyed, or the hiking or whatever, the biking. They're still doing some of that stuff. Not all the time, but some.
[00:50:17.030] – Allan
But their eating completely falls off because again, the exercise kind of drives eating. And I don't mean that you can exercise out of bad diet, but what I found is almost implicitly 100%, someone who works out, puts time in in the gym, pays the trainer, starts eating better, and when they stop paying the trainer and then they stop working out, they go back to their old habits. So just realize that there's more there than just doing a workout.
[00:50:49.390] – Rachel
Well, I think you mentioned the very first place to start is to have your vision, to have your long term goals. And it's not necessarily like for me right now, I'm training for a marathon in April or the ultra, maybe I'll do in the fall, but I've got good role models in my life. My great grandparents didn't leave their farm property until they were in their 90s, their late 90s at that.
[00:51:14.080] – Rachel
So I'm looking that far forward. I want to be active and able to live independently well into my 70s, 80s or 90s if I'm so allowed to do so. So lucky. But that's the thing is that I've got these long-term goals and then in the medium, I've got these short-term goals about running, and I think that's what people might forget about. Sure, you can do a couch to 5K program. That's a great place to start. Absolutely. But what are you going to do after that? What is going to keep you motivated to stay active and to stay healthy and fit for the long-term? And some of these tips, like having a vision is a good place to start.
[00:51:56.800] – Allan
Yeah. When you have that vision, then everything seems to make a little bit more sense. You know, that okay, I could have all the stamina on the world, but if my grandchild comes running up to me and I can't pick them up or I have to sit in a chair because I can't kneel down and tie their shoe, those are things that are going to emotionally affect me in a way that I don't want to experience. I want to be able to get down on the floor and tie their shoe and roll around with them in the grass and not feel like, okay, now someone has to come help me up. I want to be able to do all this stuff. And so, yeah, there's this long-range plan.
[00:52:34.090] – Allan
And then for me, the short run is okay, I'm doing another Tough Mudder. And what I found is these particular obstacle course races are requiring me to be more fit in more direct ways, meaning I have to have more stamina than I think I would ever need with a grandchild.
[00:52:54.290] – Rachel
[00:52:56.810] – Allan
Grandchild is not going to make me do 15K running in addition to 25 obstacles in a given day. Now over the course of a month, maybe. And then the other side of it is just the physical strength and being able to do the things that I'm going to have to be able to do without knowing what some of those things are because they don't broadcast all of their obstacles. You know, some of them, but you don't know all of them unless you've already done a race that season. And then generally maybe you do. But for most of us going into the race, they don't broadcast and tell you what all the obstacles are. So I know I'm going to need strength, I need grip strength, and then I'm just going to need grit.
[00:53:38.570] – Rachel
[00:53:41.730] – Allan
One of the things I can say my training is that my cardio came back really quickly. I've taken a break I've taken a break from training and everything to kind of just say, okay, I'm off. I'm going to take an off-season. Good long off-season. And then I said, okay, now I'm back in and I'm going to work really hard all the way up until the race. But my cardio was right back there. I'm hitting anywhere from ten to twelve and a half miles easy. I'm not doing the run the way you are. I'm literally just doing a good Huff walk. But doing that today, I think I did a little over 7 miles, but the terrain was hilly so some of the grades were up to I would probably say somewhere around 15% in places that I was going so…
[00:54:29.380] – Rachel
[00:54:31.170] – Allan
It was a good walk, particularly considering it was just the 7 miles. And I know I say just the 7 miles. Oh my God, 7 miles. I'm like, I didn't start with 7 miles, I didn't start with 7 miles. It was a progression that I did over time and then your body has some memory to it and you're able to take a break and get back at it at some level and work your way back up. And that's part of fitness. It's the ebbs and flows of working your way through.
[00:55:01.490] – Allan
Now, same way with strength. I'm back in the gym, I'm working with weights that are in my opinion pathetically low. But at the same time I know for other people I'd be like, oh my God, if I could actually do that, I would be really happy. So this is not about evaluating where you are relative to other people, it's about evaluating yourself relative to those vision. What do I need to be successful for this Tough Mudder/ and a couple of things we've talked about is I've got to lose body weight. I talked about that, what is it, two or three weeks ago? Okay, well, I've already shed 12 pounds.
[00:55:40.760] – Rachel
Good for you.
[00:55:41.600] – Allan
Okay, great. And that was again, I got into ketosis and one of the cool things is a good long walk really strikes up your ketosis levels. It's kind of insane. A good long walk for you and I that's two to 3 hours or so. And so I tell you, if you check your ketones before and after doing one of your events, one of the things your trainings, particularly the longer trainings, you'll be surprised at the change in your ketones. Now if you do a weight lifting, it's actually going to increase your blood sugar and you might not see that. So just kind of knowing that and knowing where I'm going and having the experience, which is great, but you don't get the experience without the experience.
[00:56:31.020] – Allan
So if you're going to put something together, know why you're doing what you're doing, have a plan, pay attention, do some research. And above all, if you're going to hire a coach, which I encourage a lot of people to do like you've done like I do, is ask why. Have those conversations learn from it. Because that's your ability in the future be able to do some of those things for yourself.
[00:56:58.750] – Allan
I just wish I had a coach on this island that could be in there for my workouts because I know physically if they were there, I would work a lot harder. Other than the fact that I have my way of eating and my way of doing things, I don't know of another coach for people over 40 that would know how to treat me like I was 20 when I needed to be 20, because there's things I can do that I was doing when I was in my 20s.
[00:57:28.610] – Rachel
[00:57:28.910] – Allan
Some people in their 40s can't. Okay. But also know when to treat me like I'm in my 40s and be cool with the fact that I have a way of eating that is different than what they would encourage people to typically eat. You got to have your carbs before you work out. And I'm like, well, no, if I had carbs, I just go to sleep. I'd be in a coma. So no, I don't need the carbs before and I don't even need them during literally I can take a liter of water and I'm good. That's my 3 hours of go, go, go. A liter of water.
[00:58:07.190] – Rachel
[00:58:08.630] – Allan
And I do hydrate a lot after, and I've hydrated a bit before. But all I need to have with me as I go is that liter of water and I don't bonk. There's no bonk if there's anything that's going to stop me, it's just the fatigue and the legs.
[00:58:27.630] – Rachel
[00:58:28.510] – Allan
At that point where, OK, you push yourself to the line, which is where you need to be for this training session. Good. But I know that again, from experience, from being a coach and coaching myself. So as you're putting your programs together, I think it's just really important for you to take those lessons. Realize you're also you're bio-unique. So downloading a program off the Internet works for 80% of the people. That Bell curve. But if you're an outlier, you're out of luck. You're going to have to figure something else out. And that takes experience and time and effort and paying attention to your body and doing those things.
[00:59:09.000] – Allan
And so I just encourage people, if you don't know what you're doing, ask for help. It's not that hard. And I am opening up five slots in my training. And for these five slots, I'm particularly looking for people that want to up their fitness game. So in the past, I've really focused on the weight loss. I think I've gotten those clients in that want to really work on weight loss. And if you still want to work on weight loss, you can reach out to me.
[00:59:37.960] – Allan
But right now, for at least the next six months or so because of what I'm doing for myself, my brain has really turned on to the fitness aspects of it. So if you're looking to up your game in fitness, and that can mean starting from zero and wanting to get to level one or that can be being at level five and wanting to be level seven wherever you are, I'm able to meet you there. And we can put together training programs. You can learn why we're doing what we're doing, and we can help you get that fitness together. So if that's what you want, go to 40plusfitness.com, not 40plusfitnesspodcast.com, but 40plusfitness.com and I'll have an application link there. You can fill out the application. We'll get on the phone and we'll figure out what you need. If it's my training program to get you there, it's not a fixed program. It's custom. So like I said, if you're starting from zero and just want to get to one, we can do that. If you want to ratchet it up a little bit more, we can do that too. So do reach out if you're interested in that.
[01:00:42.330] – Rachel
And then of course if it's running that you're interested in really getting good at then Rachel?
[01:00:49.940] – Rachel
I'm here. Just ask me any questions.
[01:00:52.500] – Allan
Where should they go? You've got a website, too.
Strong-souls.com. You can just reach out for me there or even on my socials. I'm on Facebook and Instagram. Just shoot me a message and I'll be happy to help you out.
[01:01:05.730] – Allan
All right. And we'll have the links in the show notes for this one so if you have any questions, please do reach out to us.
[01:01:12.440] – Allan
Also, again, we're trying to put together a Q&A episode. So if some of these questions you would rather just ask and have answered on a podcast then I do want you to reach out Allan@40plusfitnesspodcast.com and just email me there. Allan@40plusfitnesspodcast.com. We'll take those questions. I may reach out and see if you want to record and ask your question vocally and be on the podcast that way. Or I can just read your question from your email on the podcast. But if you have a question you'd like for us to answer on an episode, we do want to try to accumulate some of those so we can get those questions together and have a duo episode with Rachel and I answering your health and fitness questions.
[01:01:58.420] – Rachel
Sweet. That would be fun.
[01:02:00.320] – Allan
Great. Rachel, anything else you want to get into?
[01:02:02.910] – Rachel
No, this is great.
[01:02:04.460] – Allan
All right guys, have a great week and we'll talk to you next week.
[01:02:08.080] – Rachel
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