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Rik Brown's 5 Tips for Unconventional Training in Middle Age

Top 5 Tips to Get Started with Unconventional Training in Middle Age

Written by
June 11, 2014
Updated April 12, 2018
Category: Fitness

What makes us do it? What is it that keeps us striving to improve our levels of strength and fitness at an age when all our peers have given in, given up, and retired to the sidelines (or worse, the couch)? Many console themselves with their memories of athletic vitality as each passing year brings them more degeneration and frustration and the sad thought of, “What did I USED to be?” It is never too late to start and always too soon to quit. Make it a goal to outlive your doctor and give your neighbors something to talk about as they watch with amazement each time you lift and swing kettlebells or pound tires with a steel mace. Below you will find the top tips for getting started with unconventional training in middle age.

Unconventional Training Tip 1: Make a Goal, but Make Sure It’s Reasonable

If you want to be stronger than you were in your twenties and also have lower body fat levels than you had in high school, you have been listening to too many late night television commercials .You can make improvements that will defy belief, you can change your life and your health and appearance incredibly, but you will NEVER be in your twenties again (sigh) and even though your friends and family will be amazed and proud of you, you MUST get used to hearing at the end of every compliment, “for your age.”

Hey, even Arnold Schwarzenegger kept his shirt on in movies as he got close to 50. Is your goal appearance, performance based, or both? Get excited, but be reasonable.

Unconventional Training Tip 2: Get a Good Teacher

A teacher does not necessarily mean a trainer (although that would be ideal). All of the tools for unconventional training have numerous books and dvd’s devoted to their use and are well worth the modest investment. If you are really serious about your training, I don’t see how you can gripe about $39.00 or so for a book or a dvd (your buddies that don’t workout spend more than that on their pain medication!).

Unconventional Training Tip 3: Get a Timer

Without a timer, you will always extend your rest periods thus diluting the training effect of your workout. You won’t even know why you aren’t making progress even if you do more sets with more reps and more weight. If you time both your work AND rest periods, it won’t even be necessary to count reps.

I can’t stress enough the value of manipulating your work and rest periods, but let me illustrate it this way so you will understand what direction you should go with your timer: a professional boxing match has work periods (called Rounds) that last three minutes and rest periods of one minute. Get a mental picture of a pro boxer; now imagine what he would look like if he trained for 15 minute rounds with 20 seconds rest. He would start to look like a marathon runner, right? Now imagine what he would look like if he trained for 20 second rounds with 15 minute rest periods. He would look like a sumo wrestler!

What is the time breakdown of most of your training? What direction should you be going in based on your goals? When would now be a good time to get an inexpensive timer? Now!

Unconventional Training Tip 4:  Do Not be Overly Concerned with the Efficacy of Your Workouts (For Now)

The FIRST thing you want to develop is not strength or endurance or speed or fat loss, it is the HABIT of regular training and the training lifestyle that you want. The best workout in the world won’t work unless it becomes REGULAR in your life. As you are developing the habit of training you should not concern yourself with the results until you also have become proficient in using your training tool(s) of choice.

You need to become skilled in using a hammer and saw before you worry about how many houses you can build. These unconventional training modalities are much harder to learn than using the seated chest machine at the strip-mall Mcgym.

Unconventional Training Tip 5: Compete with Nobody but Yourself

Remember, the number of people our age who train seriously is less than one in a thousand. When I hear about some guy in his sixties or seventies who trains regularly, do you think that I need to know how much weight is on the bar to be impressed? Man, you are a winner if you are in the gym or on the field or in your garage giving it your all and my hat is off to you!

When you feel that you and your training is not so rare, go to your local shopping mall and look at the average mall walker around your age and ask yourself if he could last through your warm up routine without blowing his breakfast. Even though this issue of My Mad Methods features longevity, we don’t train to be here when we are in our eighties just to be here (hey, any one of us could be hit by a bus tomorrow), we train so that each day we live we do so with vitality and energy and strength: strength of character, strength of mind, strength to protect ourselves and our loved ones and to help our friends. We seek to be a force for good and an example for the young ones.

It’s Time to Start Unconventional Training

Why is it that so few, so very few people living beyond the half century mark can remember the last time they felt the joy of working out with a purpose and actually IMPROVING their physical abilities? They have forgotten the struggle to reach a goal and the feeling of overcoming the pain and fatigue to master their bodies, something that they think only young people can achieve. Don’t be one of these people. Break free of the pack and release your primal self. Start unconventional training and get into the best shape of your life.

Rik is an Orange County based trainer who specializes in older warriors. His DVD, Kettlebell Basics, is available from Rik Brown can be contacted at his site,
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