A little over a year ago, just before my 60th birthday, my wife came into my home office looked me in the eye and said “John you are doing business development for health and fitness companies and you need to not only talk the talk you need to walk the walk.”
I had, over the years, slacked off in my training and especially my diet allowing my weight to creep up from around 180 lbs. to over 215 lbs. My original hard body had given away to a much softer and chubbier look. Not a great example of what I was preaching and certainly not ready to deliver Peak Performance!
I committed right then to lose weight and get back in shape. After doing some research I decided to abandon the conventional USDA dietary wisdom of eating a low fat diet with its recommended 6 servings of healthy grains and so called “healthy vegetable oils” and follow a Paleo or Primal Diet blueprint. I even started a Facebook page to document my journey and hopefully keep me on track.
I was stunned by the results. I focused on eating a high fat, medium protein and lower carb diet of organic and local (when possible) pastured meats, free range poultry and eggs, wild fish, vegetables and seasonal fruits. I used lots of butter and coconut oil to sauté and cook my foods and I eliminated grains, sugar, soy, transfats, processed vegetable oils and other processed foods containing chemicals that were hard to pronounce. In 4 months my weight dropped to 165 lbs.!
Understanding that you can’t outwork a bad diet I had decided to focus on locking in my new way of eating and only trained minimally. Even though I wasn’t training consistently, muscles that I had built up over the years gradually began to emerge as my body fat percentage dropped and I was inspired to get back into some serious training.
I decided to get back to basics. Back in the 70s I had done some body building with decent results and decided to revisit some good old school weight training. In my opinion the 70′s bodybuilders were the ideal physique of man – they had a classic V-taper, low body fat, but not so low they looked sick, they had small waists with abdominals clearly defined, big chests, wide lats, big shoulders, and big arms. I figured that at 60 I wasn’t going to look like a classic body builder but thought I could probably make some significant improvements and decided to give it a go and see what would happen.
Bodybuilding routines of bodybuilders during that Golden Era like Arnold Schwarzenegger, Dave Draper and Frank Zane were typically a 6 day split, working body parts twice a week. I adapted this formula and incorporated the following weight training schedule...
Monday and Thursday: Chest and Back
Tuesday and Friday: Shoulders and Arms
Wednesday and Saturday: Legs
Abdominals (Abs), Calves, Neck and Trapezius work was done 4-6 times per week or as needed.
The seventies bodybuilders would typically start their routine with abdominal or calf work (if needed).
After the abs and calves they would start with their hardest and heaviest exercise. The exercises they used were the most basic, multi-joint movements that build the most muscle. They would start with the hardest and heaviest and work towards the lightest exercises.
I also did lots of walking and some sprints at the track once or twice a week.
This is a sample workout that can be used to get started on the Old School 70′s Bodybuilding Routine (you can adjust the program to your current fitness level and build it up over time):
Monday and Thursday:
Flat Barbell Bench Press – 5 sets / 1-12 reps per set
Incline Bench Press – 5 Sets / 5-12 reps per set
Flat Bench Dumbbell Flyes – 5 Sets / 8-12 reps per set
Chin-ups – As many sets as it takes to complete 50 Chin-ups
Bent Rows – 5 Sets / 8-12 reps per set
T-Bar Rows – 5 Sets / 8-12 reps per set
Tuesday and Friday:
Behind the Neck Barbell Press – 5 sets / 5-12 reps per set
Arnold/Scott Press – 5 Sets / 8-12 reps per set
Lateral Dumbbell Raises – 5 sets / 8-12 reps per set
Barbell Curls – 5 sets / 8-12 reps per set
Incline Dumbbell Curls – 5 sets / 8-12 reps per set
Concentration Curls – 5 sets / 8-12 reps per set
Close Grip Bench Press – 5 sets / 8-12 reps per set
Standing French Press – 5 sets / 8-12 reps per set
Cable or Rope Pushdowns/Pull-down – 5 sets / 8-12 reps per set
Wednesday and Saturday:
Wednesday and Saturday
Squats – 5 sets / 5-20 reps per set
Hack Squats – 5 sets / 8-20 reps per set
Lying Leg Curls – 5 sets / 8-20 reps per set
Leg Extensions – 5 sets / 8-20 reps per set
During this last year on the Paleo/Primal diet I have continued to experiment and tweak my training programs getting great results. Here is what I've learned:
Lifting Weights is King - Lifting builds muscle, muscle burns fat, and muscle ups your metabolism, increases testosterone (yes this is also important for women) and HGH.
Nutrition is Queen - You all know this, you can't get into shape eating Twinkies, sodas, and McDonalds all day. Eating high fat, high-medium protein, and low carb is the best route. Fat is essential for building testosterone, testosterone is essential for building muscle. Eat organic, local, pastured and free range to avoid toxins as much as possible. Get your carbs from starchy tubers not grains. Also I suggest that you Intermittent fast (skip breakfast, eat your first meal at noon) 3 days a week.
Cardio is Prince - Avoid chronic cardio and focus on interval training twice a week - intense physical exertion with periods of rest. Endless miles of jogging is actually counterproductive to overall conditioning, lowers testosterone, causes continuous systemic inflammation, severely suppresses other parts of your immune system and the increased oxidative damage will slowly tear apart your precious muscle and joint tissue.
These rules worked for me and I believe they will work for most everyone. I am healthier, leaner and better overall conditioned at 61 than any time since my 30s. Try them for a couple of months and be amazed.
Here I am today after gaining a bit of muscle at 175 lbs. …