Go Down Fighting!

How in the heck can anyone in their 40s to 60s+ keep a positive attitude in training? What's the point when injuries are commonplace, hormones are at new lows making fat harder to lose and muscle harder to maintain let alone gain?

Go Down Fighting!

Diane and I receive many emails from baby boomers about motivation. Many boomers have more time than they did in their 20s and 30s because their families are raised, and they are successful in their careers.

Although they have more time than ever to train, the problem that often haunts them is the realization that they will NEVER look as good as they did in their youth. Bodies age no matter what we do.

How in the heck can anyone in their 40s to 60s+ keep a positive attitude in training? What's the point when injuries are commonplace, hormones are at new lows making fat harder to lose and muscle harder to maintain let alone gain?

Diane and I often identify with sentiments of those readers who email us. I began weight training as a teenager with the specific goal of looking great when I was in middle and old age.

Yes, even that young I was aware of my own mortality and intended to train with weights until they put the lid on my coffin.

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"We [baby boomers] are not going to go away and we are going down fighting, I expect to be looking as good if not better than I was in my 20s. I certainly feel intellectually and psychologically better rounded than then."

- Babyboomer Reader Alan Spakman
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My conversations with bodybuilders of the golden age and my reading of their Web sites encourage me in my fight against the debilitation of old age. They also inspire me to enjoy my training like a bright-eyed teenager.

For instance, in a recent newsletter to his Web site members, Dave Draper's description of his stubborn insistence to go down fighting made Diane laugh her head off! She came running in to me exclaiming that I just had to read Draper's latest newsletter because he and I were so much alike.

Draper and I just can't give in to the grim reaper without fighting all the way down. We both love training as much as we did when we were teenagers, yet because of injuries and daily pains in our old carcasses we are forced against our wills to concede some ground in this epic fight. These lines from Dave's column had Diane howling with laughter as she recognized her significant other (me):


#1 - "Now that I am no longer the gym's owner, 'not exactly social' describes my nature rather accurately," states Draper.

Before Diane moved here to Panama City, Florida, she would get upset with me when I didn't answer my phone for a whole weekend. When she got to know me better, she realized I wasn't trying to avoid her, I was attempting to avoid the world.

I talk for a living. All week long I'm lecturing in college classes about history, religion, and philosophy or meeting with students in my office for help on term papers or discussing how they can do better on exams or just sharing ideas and/or books with the best and brightest.

By Friday afternoon, I want PEACE AND QUIET! I've been known not to answer the doorbell as well as the phone on a weekend from time to time. I really love training alone in total silence because that's when I get my best workouts.

At present Diane and I train at Gold's Gym in Panama City, a gym full of wonderful, serious weight trainers. The only problem is that my workouts sometimes consist of as much conversation as hard training.

One of these days Diane and I may add an addition onto our new home and make it a commercial quality home gym. (Diane's note: While the convenience factor of a home gym would be great for time crunched schedules like mine, we both enjoy the camaraderie among the group of serious lifters we've found at Gold's far too much to give it up.)


#2 - "The older you get, the more you change and the less of what you know applies to who you are. Thus, I'm still trying to figure this stuff out."

That's part of the excitement, as well as the frustration, of training for a lifetime. The body's metabolism, hormone levels, and susceptibility to injury all change as we age and make it ever more challenging to get the great workouts we so easily enjoy in our 20s and 30s.

Diane diplomatically attempts to advise me to use less weight (she cringes when she sees over 400 lbs. on my squats or 185 on military presses, or 315 on dead lifts). I just can't seem to get the same feeling in my back or my quads with less than 400 lbs.


#3 - "I use wraps and belts and straps, tape, paperclips, glue, gum and spit to keep myself together while shoulder pressing. Though resourceful, is that unwise? My insurer wants to know."

I use none of these things, but Dave's insistence on doing exercises he probably shouldn't reflect my own practice, to Diane's trepidation.


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#4 - "Hey, I don't care. Ask me. I don't care. How else am I going to get the job done? Yoga and yogurt?"

Oh, it's at this point that Diane came running in the kitchen where I was sitting grading papers saying, "You and Draper are twins!" Diane loves yoga and yogurt and tries to encourage both of them in my life.

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My response is usually something like, "Yoga and yogurt? Are you kidding? That's for sissies and grass-eaters (translation=vegetarians)!
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Yoga won't build any muscle and dairy products keep me from being cut!" Can you teach an old dog like me new tricks? Yeah, as long as they make me leaner and bigger!


#5 - "I wish I could sleep better. No comments from the peanut gallery, please."

How many times has Diane gotten up at 3:00 in the morning and heard me watching TV or reading a book and gotten up in the morning at 6:00 or 7:00 AM and there I am still up. "Did you sleep at all?" "Yeah, I got frustrated at 3:00 and took a sleeping pill, but woke up after only 4 hours. Old age sucks!


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#6 - "It's gonna be tough to change my ways. But, do I have to? I don't think so. That is, my ways are ways that continuously evolve; thus, they change regularly. Each workout takes on its own form to meet the shape before it, me. From one workout to the next, my body's capability, distribution of injuries and soreness, level of muscle fatigue, strength, energy and endurance vary and demand special consideration."

I like the first three sentences. They so well reflect that rebellious and cantankerous refusal to go down without fighting!


#7 - "Pain is no friend; I don't boast of my relationship with it and I am not alone in enduring it day by day in the gym."

How true is this! It's not whether I am going to have to endure pain in this joint or that one, but how much pain. Pain is no longer the friendly pain in a muscle taken to its max that I eagerly chased in every workout. At my age pain is that ache in the joints that I attempt to avoid and hide from.

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"If I can just find the right exercise and grove of that exercise to avoid pain in that knee or elbow or shoulder and still hit that muscle enough to ensure a good workout."
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This is my constant thought now instead of how much more weight or less rest time between sets I can do as I attempt to chase and crash through that pain barrier that separates champions from also-rans.

The bottom line is that baby boomers comprise the first generation that refuses to go out quietly. We refuse to let old age define us. Instead, we are redefining old age. That is what our companies Legendary Fitness, LLC, and Legendary Physique, LLC, are all about.

If you are new to our family of fitness, join us by reading all our articles on bodybuilding.com as well as frequenting our site at legendaryfitness.com. You'll be glad you did!

Special thoughts from Diane Many of our readers sent in photos after our last article was completed. I am holding all photos and stories for consideration the next time we feature our readers and their legendary physiques. Thanks for sending so much inspiration our way!

Coming Soon! Couples training. Send us your thoughts on the pros and cons of male/female training partners.

Be sure to check out Diane and Richards site www.legendaryfitness.com.

Train hard, train smart and make it a legendary week!
Diane Fields, Member. Legendary Fitness, LLC.
Richard Baldwin, Member. Legendary Physique, LLC.

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All submitted photos become property of Legendary Fitness, LLC; submission shall constitute a grant to the use of your photos and information as we deem appropriate.

Copyright 2004. Diane Fields, Member. Legendary Fitness, LLC. All rights reserved.

The advice given in this column should not be viewed as a substitute for professional medical services. Before undertaking any exercise or nutrition program, Legendary Fitness, LLC advises all to undergo a thorough medical examination and get permission from their personal physician.