Who Says You Can’t Get After It at 80?
Back in April one of our long standing clients approached me and asked if I’d be willing to work with his dad who, the year prior, had some health issues go down and was looking to give this whole weight-training thing a try.
Greg (the son) had been trying to convince his dad for a while to come to the facility and check it out because he knew in the grand scheme of things it would be beneficial for him.
Finally, after enough convincing Bill relented and finally made a promise to stop by.
To his credit, Bill, was a whipper snapper from the start. It’s not as if he was one of those guys who sat at home and watched re-runs of John Wayne movies and peered out the window to make sure no medling kids were walking on his lawn
A bit of a cliche stereotype and makes Bill sound like he’s from an old Scooby-Doo cartoon, but I couldn’t resist.
Nope. When I first sat down to chat with him and discuss his goals and concerns he came across as someone who’s very active considering his health background. There was just a slight intimidation factor, and maybe a smidgeon of doubt that this whole “picking stuff up and putting it back down” rigamarole was a good fit for an 80 year old with absolutely no experience and background.
I’m not going sing about rainbows or gloss over the details. Upon starting Bill couldn’t perform much, and as I alluded to above he had a slight “say what now? You want me to do what?” attitude.
When I told him that soon he’d be crushing deadlifts and push-ups like no ones business he looked at me as if I just asked him to climb Mt. Everest. Blindfolded. In flip-flops.
I think his exact response was “MUhhaahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha. Yeah, right. And next I’m going to break Joe DiMaggio’s hitting streak record!”
It took us five months of hard work, progressions, and more importantly……consistency, but dammit, Bill’s come a long ways.
Here he is hitting up some kettlebell deadlifts with some elevated push-ups (from the 3rd pin) – With a bonus double-bicep pose at the end!
Mind you, when we first started he had issues simply hip hinging to a wall and performing push-ups from the 15th pin.
Now, I’m pretty sure he can arm wrestle a grizzly bear if I asked him to.
But in all seriousness, here are some points to consider:
1. At the start it was all about showing Bill success. I didn’t want him to feel overwhelmed or that I was throwing everything but the kitchen sink at him. To that end it was all about using the proper progressions with him. Take hip hinging for example:
We started with a simple glute bridge to get him to learn what it feels like to fire those bad boys, and to groove a proper hip hinge pattern.
From there we went as follows:
Bodyweight hip thrust (upper back on a bench, feet on the floor), wall taps (pushing hips back into the wall, increasing the distance between him and the wall as he progressed), Pull-Throughs, elevated KB Sumo deadlifts, and then working our way closer to the floor (which is what the video showed. And now, next week, he’ll be playing around with some trap bar deadlifts.
Progressions, Progressions, Progressions
And maybe to a broader point, by doing everything in that context, he didn’t feel like I was babying him. Each week (or month) I challenged him, but not to the point where he felt like he couldn’t do it.
2. To help ease the collective egos of the cardio crowd, yes, we did incorporate traditional cardio. But that was also because that was a goal of his.
Even still, I did convince him, when the time was right, that doing more circuit based or finisher type exercises would help too. In that sense it wasn’t long before he was doing circuits like this:
A1. 1-Arm DB Farmer Carry 30 yds/arm
A2. Prowler Push – on turf 30 yds
A3. Side Plank x15s/side
2-4 rounds, with 90-120s rest in between.
Heart rate was elevated and we were able to work on other “stuff” that he needed to work on; ie core stability, grip strength, single leg strength, conditioning, etc.
And wouldn’t you know it: he actually asks for the Prowler now! I’ve created a monster!
Basically we didn’t use his age as an excuse. He’s 80. No big deal…..;o)
I don’t know: I guess the only reason(s) I posted this today was because I felt it was pretty cool and that I hoped it serves as a little motivation for someone out there.
Don’t make excuses. Get it done.