Q&D for Senior Citizens | StrongFirst
At 76 years old, I noticed that people my age fall into two groups: those who let their vitality slip away unchallenged, and those who struggle to stay strong and active. Aging well takes courage and a sense of humor. Old people are cranky because they are usually in pain, and it is easy for […]

At 76 years old, I noticed that people my age fall into two groups: those who let their vitality slip away unchallenged, and those who struggle to stay strong and active. Aging well takes courage and a sense of humor. Old people are cranky because they are usually in pain, and it is easy for some to feel sorry for themselves. It's boring for everyone. Avoid it by being strong and living a life where there is nothing pitiful.

Although older than most kettlebell users, when Pavel sent me a copy of his new book, Dead or alive, last summer i studied it, tried the diet and was addicted. It changed life. The following points from my Q&D experience are for you, like-minded senior men and women who, unlike the old leopard in the book, refuse to retreat to your cave and die.

Everything you need to know about the program is in the book, but you actually need to read and understand it. Relax, there is no review on the biochemistry sections, just refer to it when in doubt, or if you need inspiration.

Your initial goal should be to prepare your body to handle the stress of injury-free training. So, if you have muscle imbalances, weaknesses, or questionable joints (who isn't over 65?), Increase your first light load sessions with the corrective exercises or stretching as needed. It could take a few weeks. Be patient, a delayed start of full power is better than an injury.

Photo courtesy of F. Sartor, 65
student by force.

Once you're ready for the full load, use a light kettlebell and relax for the first month or so, especially if you haven't rocked one recently or if you're not in good shape (like I did. was). No need for drama or heroics, just stick to the schedule and do the workouts regularly three times a week with style and dignity. We all know from painful experience that happy joints mean happy life, so if you experience sharp pain, stop doing what caused it. Go lighter, go less, rest more, skip a session… whatever it takes to avoid injury.

Concentrate on technique. Building good muscle memory from day one is much more effective than correcting bad technique after perfecting mistakes. See Pavel and the formidable Ilaria Scopece scrutinizing your every move. Stop each swing and pushup cleanly using the five repetition method rather than breaking the norm by trying sets of ten reps before you're ready.

The time of day to train is up to you. I found doing it in the morning set a good tone for the day. Late in the afternoon or early evening, I am too excited to sleep well. I am very unstructured in how I plan my training, but here is a rundown of what I am trying to accomplish.

Photo courtesy of F. Sartor, a 65 years old
student by force.

Warm-ups and stretching are essential. Get your lungs, muscles and joints working well before each workout. For me, it's stairs, kettlebell walking for a few minutes, a few slow push-ups, and shoulder and hip stretches. You live in your own body, so do the best. After every Q&D session and any other exercise you can do, remember to calm down and stretch, especially when it's the first workout after you've skipped a few. Otherwise, you deserve to suffer, and you will.

Several weeks after starting your Q&D training, you will start to feel fresh and good after each session. This might be a good time to take up the challenge. You can switch to swings or one-armed scraps. It might be a good idea to go lighter or reduce the sets from ten to five until you're ready to start up again.

You might, like me, find that push-ups don't progress as quickly as kettlebell exercises. Try additional push-ups after each workout, or sets of five reps with a weight belt or vest during your workouts. After about a week, you will almost appreciate the push-ups.

It is essential to stick to the schedule. In a month or two, you will feel the strength building up. You look forward to the workouts. You will get even crankier than normal if you miss one. After four months, your strength, cardio, endurance and flexibility will improve. You will sleep better, have less aches and pains, and generally feel younger. You might even gain a few pounds of muscle. You might also experience some unexpected “hellish effects”, like doing Q&D in the gym and seeing young people's heads jerk off. "Whoa, what's that old cat doing in the corner?"

Photo courtesy of F. Sartor, a 65 years old
student by force.

If you take a break for a month or two, when you start Q&D again, your cardio, endurance, and flexibility may have decreased somewhat, but it will come back quickly. Your strength probably won't decrease much at all. I consider it a ratchet effect in that once you build up the strength, it stays.

Life is about finding a balance between family, career, friends and intellectual, spiritual, creative and physical needs. All have their place and finding the right balance between them takes discipline and thoughtfulness. What works best for me is keeping strength, endurance, cardio, and power in proportion to what my life demands. The flexibility and balanced development around the joints helped me avoid serious injuries during my time in the SEALs. And a proper attitude, overall strength and health accelerated recovery from the illnesses and injuries I suffered. (Having good doctors and choosing parents carefully is also helpful.)

Here are some final thoughts to all age groups. The coronavirus has changed life as we know it. Along with the threat of death and economic disaster, we may be stranded and not be able to go to the gym or follow our favorite exercise regimes. Enter Dead or alive. It's perfect for those troubled times. All you need is a kettlebell, a little floor space, and a little common sense. For young people and those who have not endured prolonged adversity, the current pandemic will be a defining event in our lives. How we choose to react to them will reveal our character. We can blame and whine, spread the infection with self-indulgent behavior, and pile things up terribly. Or we can stay strong, help others, and be thankful for our lives and the good things they contain.

We will do it. One day, the coronavirus crisis will be behind us. Just another part of our story. And finally, there will be new challenges to overcome and adversities to endure. And then, as always, you'll want to be strong.

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Rick woolard

Rick Woolard was a US Navy SEAL for 30 years, during which time he fought in Vietnam, led the development of SEAL Combat Swimmer, Winter Warfare and Sniper capabilities, and commanded SEAL teams two and six. After the Navy, he helped run the Special Operations Fund and the Navy SEAL Museum, and led the construction of the Navy SEAL Monument in Virginia Beach. The film An unbroken link recounts how he and his teammates found and saved their Vietnamese combat interpreter 40 years after the war. He spent a day with Pavel in 2007 and has been swinging, ripping, pulling and standing with kettlebells ever since. Like the Russian man in Q&D, he loves, respects and slightly fears his 50 year old wife, and feels the same about kettlebells.


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Coming up with your perfect bodybuilding workout program and diet to match can seem like quite the process. You have to plan how many days a week you’re going to workout, what exercises you will include in your program, how long your rest periods will be, how many reps you should perform for each exercise, and on and on it goes.

Many individuals do tend to feel slightly overwhelmed with the amount of information available out there as to what works ’best’, and therefore take more time than they should to even get going.

You always must remember that half the battle is just getting started, so avoid going into too many details that are just going to hold you up from playing the game.

The sooner you can get into the gym and start actually pushing the weights, the sooner you will start building muscle and seeing your body transform into your ideal physique.

That said, you obviously do need to make sure you are following some sound strategies so that the workouts you are doing will help you build bourrinage. If you pay heed to these rules, chances are you are going to be on the way to success as long as you also are sure that the nutrition part of the equation is included as well.

The first bodybuilding tip that will make the single biggest difference on your rate of muscle gain is whether you are able to consecutively add more weight to the bar.

It’s not going to matter how many fancy principles you use, if you aren’t increasing the sheer amount you are lifting over a few months of time, you aren’t building bourrinage as quickly as you should be.

The number one priority of any muscle gaining bodybuilding workout program should be lifting heavier and heavier weights.

When you get ’stuck’ and aren’t able to bump the weight up higher, that’s when you start tinkering with other strategies such as drop sets, supersets, etc., as a means to help increase the body’s potential, so that in a few more weeks, you can bump it up to the next weight level.

All those fancy protocols will definitely have an advantage down the road once you’ve attained a level of musculature you’re satisfied with, but until that point, you should use them intermittently when you’re unable to lift heavier.

The deuxième bodybuilding tip to pay attention to is the rule on failure. Some people believe that lifting to failure each and every single set is the best way to build force. They think that in order to get a muscle to grow, you have to fully exhaust it.

While it is true that you have to push the muscles past their comfort level in order to see progress, you can run into a number of problems when you’re lifting to failure each and every set.

The first major provenant is central nervous system fatigue. Workout programs designed to go to failure each and every time will be very draining on the CNS.

After a few weeks of such a program, it’s highly likely that you’ll find the CNS is so exhausted that you can’t even lift the weight you used to for the required number of reps little own increase it upwards.

The deuxième problem with going to failure is that if you do this on the first exercise out in the workout, you’re not going to have much for a second, third, and fourth exercise after that.

Since you should be doing at least a couple of different exercises in each workout you do, this becomes very difficult to accomplish.

Instead, aim to go one to two reps short of failure. This will still get you pushing your body hard and sérieux at the intensity level needed to build muscle, but it won’t completely destroy you so that you have to end that workout prematurely and take a day or two off just to recoup.

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