In the spring of 2018 at age 61, I decided that I was ready to start working out again after having major surgery the previous November. I had lost over 20 pounds and every muscle in my body had atrophied. I was as weak as I had ever been. Being over 50 and fit was always the goal, but I was far from it at this point.
I had worked out throughout my life, so I thought I knew how to get back in shape as well as anyone. I started lifting light weights focusing on specific muscle groups as I always had in the past. However, after a couple of weeks, the pain I was having in my lower back from the surgery was getting worse. I stopped working out and went to see my chiropractor. She suggested that I go see Dan Shipman from Full Torque Fitness in Largo, FL. Within days Dan had me out of pain and back on track to be over 50 and fit again.
Interview with Dan Shipman – Full Torque Fitness
The following is from an interview I did with Dan on February 6, 2020, to share with people how they can indeed be over 50 and fit. Basically, it’s all about the best way to start exercising again whether you’ve been an athlete in the past or never worked out before.
Dan shared that his unique approach to helping people comes from his interest in how athletes train to avoid injury as much as they do to build muscle. He starts working with people by making sure their body is moving correctly and they are pain-free. Then he begins to build strength and agility. This approach is perfect for those of us that want to be over 50 and fit which are the most of his clientele. This is exactly why I got such great results from working with Dan.
Starting with Resistance Bands
Dan’s approach with me, as it is with most of his clients, is to start with resistance bands. Resistance bands can be used at home as well which is a major benefit. Dan explained that resistance bands can be used in many more ways and for more areas of the body than weights. Therefore, they can be used for more specific issues people are dealing with whether it be pain or rehabbing from an injury. What I learned to love about resistance bands from Dan is that you can begin working out again after a long lay off and not have to be concerned with injury as much as with weight training.
Another benefit of resistance bands is that you don’t need barbells, dumbbells and weight plates and deal with storing them between workouts. You can also buy a good resistance band set for around $25 on Amazon and begin working out right away and get back to being over 50 and fit rather quickly.
First Things First
Dan recommends for anyone starting a workout program to check with your doctor first. Make sure you and especially your heart, are ready for exercise. Also, if you are concerned with a certain joint, such as knees, hips, shoulders, go see a specialist. Going to a local gym and getting evaluated by a personal trainer is also another great way to start getting back to being over 50 and fit. He also shared that using machines at a gym is a good place to start because you are only using one joint and muscle set at a time. With weight training, such as a movement like squat to press, you are incorporating and using multiple joints and muscles that your body may not yet be ready to do.
A great thing to incorporate into any workout program at any age is cardio training. Whether you start out by walking or jogging outdoors or on a treadmill. I asked Dan about having a heart rate monitor. He wouldn’t advise against it and recommended a heart rate monitor for anyone that has had heart issues. Even for people without specific heart issues, a heart rate monitor is great for documenting improvement such as increasing heart rate over time. And, for showing how your heart recovers after a workout. When you are first starting out you shouldn’t increase your heart rate too much, such as 90% of your maximum heart rate. That is why that even if you don’t have a heart rate monitor, you want to learn how to calculate your maximum heart rate and take your heart rate during and after exercise.
Warm-Up Before and Stretching After a Workout
Dan is a proponent, as any good personal trainer is, of warming up before a workout. In his gym, he uses rollers to loosen up muscles before a workout. In a traditional gym, you can use a bike or elliptical machine. If you’re at home, you can run a little bit or just do some calisthenics to get the body moving and blood flowing.
A cool down and stretch after a workout are vital to decompress muscles and keep tendons and ligaments loose. We have incorporated a warmup and stretch into every day of our 7-day Workout Program and one day is devoted to a Hip Stretch.
How Often Should We Workout?
Dan explains that the answer to this depends on the individual and their fitness level. If someone is obese and hasn’t worked out in a long time or ever, they may just want to go on short walks multiple times a day. For the average person, they may want to start with light workouts a few times a week. But the ultimate goal is to be consistent and eventually get to the point where you are doing some form of exercise and body movement every day for 30 minutes a day.
The Mind-Body Connection
Part of training the body is training the brain to move the body properly. By doing different forms of exercise you are incorporating your mind into your daily activities because you are exercising the connection between your brain and body movements. If you continually do the same workout over and over again, your body will rely on muscle memory and therefore, you are not producing any new connections or exercises between the brain and body.
By doing different types of exercises and movements you are keeping the mind sharp as you age. Take a Karate class, go to a yoga studio, try Pilates. These different activities will challenge your mind as well as your body.
The Difference Between Pain and Soreness
Exercise and working out will create soreness in muscles that haven’t been used in a while or that are developing. It comes from lactic acid build up in that area after a workout. Soreness of that type is normal and should be expected. However, pain in a joint or other area should not be ignored. Stop exercising that joint or body part and go see a chiropractor or specialist. However, because you have pain in one area doesn’t necessarily mean you have to stop working out altogether. You can exercise other healthy areas of your body while rehabbing the injured joint.
The Importance of Exercise for Building Muscle & Maintaining Bone Density
Exercise, working out, and moving the body on a regular basis is important to maintain the strength of our muscles to support our frame. We’ve also pointed out that it can help keep the mind sharp. But it also helps maintain bone density and strengthens joints. Dan talked about that the body will produce stronger bones and joints to support our activity. Bones will adapt to the stress placed on them. So, if we are consistently lifting weight as an example, the body will add to the density of the bones necessary to lift that weight. Conversely, if we are not lifting weight or moving our body regularly, the body will atrophy. Not only muscles but also bones and joints will become weaker and not support our ability for movement.
Keep It Movin’
Dan finished his visit with us by emphasizing the importance of exercise and movement as we age by saying, “Keep it Movin’”. Our heart, muscles, bones joints and major organs all benefit from exercise and will help us live our lives to the fullest. We appreciate the time Dan spent with us and we encourage you to visit www.FullTorqueFitness.com and the Full Torque Fitness YouTube Channel.