I may be something of an anomoly. OK, I guess I am for sure. I get credit for a lot of things that I’m not but I am doggedly persistent in the pursuit of good health.
I got an interesting question this week. It wasn’t a rhetorical question either. A fellow stopped me in our gym and asked me “when is enough enough?”
In the context of strength training, when do you quit adding weight? When do you stop aspiring to lift more and more weight? Do you exercise three days a week? Five days a week?
When is enough (weight, exercise, dieting, healthy living ... and on and on) enough? I’ll go ahead and tell you now that for me it is seven days a week. The pursuit of good health doesn’t take a rest day.
I eat smart. I ride my bike. I do yoga. I do strength training for my health and my performance (more on that in a minute). I lift weights because as we age, we lose muscle mass rapidly unless we do something about it.
I still live an active lifestyle. I hike, ride, paddle and work on my small farm. I work long hours and chase grandchildren around. I don’t see myself slowing down any time soon. The rocking chair is definitely not calling my name.
I am determined to stay active. 65? Yep, that’s my next one. Medicare eligible. Doesn’t mean a thing. 75? Surely I’ll still be riding my bike, maybe even whipping around these hills on my mountain bike.
I want to be one of those old guys that are described as “robust,” defying their age. I hope to prove that age is still just a number. So I do a lot of stuff now that helps me reach that goal. And I’ve been doing that stuff for most of my life.
So back to lifting weights.
Twice a week, as regular as rain, I’m in the gym. My particular choice of strength training is CrossFit, mostly because it works for me. It is also incredibly efficient so it fits my busy lifestyle. But CrossFit is just a form of High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) that has lots of names and faces. It works for me.
I do lifts now that at 40 I never thought I would do again. Like deadlifts. And squats. Lots of pushups and pullups. And that’s where this thing started. I simply do not aspire to lift heavier and heavier weights. On days that I’m feeling really good, I might add 10 or 20 pounds but my weight amounts stay essentially the same.
I’m not interested in building muscle mass. Because of my time on the bicycle, I have to be real concerned with strength-to-weight ratio. These little 120 pounders can zoom up hills while I drag 60 more pounds up the same hills, usually far behind. And there is no doubt that the fitness level that I get from CrossFit training helps me perform on the bike.
I’m pretty happy with where I am right now. Bigger biceps won’t do a thing for me. It’s not exactly a “maintenance” program. As I said before, age brings muscle loss. And yes, maybe you have to fight harder to keep what you have. But I’m a firm believer that persistence is the key.
You can’t see-saw up and down, exercising regularly for a few months then taking a few months off. That doesn’t work for anything — exercise, diet, health habits. Not if you want to live long and stay healthy.
As for me, I want to be healthy, happy, and riding my bicycle well into my 90s. Stay tuned.