“Almost everything we have been taught about aging is wrong. We now know that a very fit body of 70 can be the same as a moderately fit body of 30.”
–Dr. Walter Bortz, MD
Do you use your age as an excuse for not feeling, or looking your best? For not being strong, fit, or flexible?
If you do, you need a wake-up call my friend! I’m hoping this article inspires you to reach your true potential to live a longer, fuller, happier life with the fit and strong body you deserve.
I remember my first year in the work force as a 23 year old, my friends would complain about back stiffness, or not being able to lift as much as we did in college. We all had become “has-beens” and in a way, we thought it was funny.
I don’t think it’s funny anymore. The idea that we cannot improve our physiques as we age is simply inaccurate. I’m going to make the bold claim that my body will look and perform better when I’m 50 years old than it does today at 29…as long as I don’t get hit by the proverbial bus and maintain good health.
Are you ready to make that commitment, that claim? If you’re already in your 50’s or older, can you commit to exercising at least 2x per week for the rest of your life?
I have below profiles of 5 men who can inspire you to believe in your own potential and believe that you CAN look and feel better as you age. Interestingly, all these men have different diets and training regimens, but there are two common themes:
1) Eat Real Food – Unprocessed, nutrient dense food
2) Strength Train – Use resistance training with one, or a combination of the following: dumbbells, barbells, or bodyweight exercises.
Herschel Walker at 48
Herschel Walker is a former professional football player and heisman trophy winner who as a child was “pudgy” with a stutter. In this photo at 48 years old, I’m sure you would agree he’s anything but pudgy. “Totally jacked” is a better description.
Herschel Walker’s daily workout routine is legendary; he claims he’s done 2000 situps and 1500 pushups a day for the last 30 years…and mostly at 5:30am.
Not only are his exercise habits atypical, but his nutrition habits are just bizarre. A vegetarian, Herschel doesn’t eat any red meat or fish and eats one meal a day. He claims he can run as fast now compared to his professional football days…but his guns are bigger.
Herschel Walker on Aging:
“Everybody talks about 48, but I think I’m in just as good a shape as at 20, or 30 years old. Somebody posted a tape on my Twitter of me working with some kids. I look exactly the same in 1983 as I look today. My guns got a little bit bigger, but I look the same.”
Herschel Walker On Exercise and Nutrition:
“I’m just not a guy that loves to eat. I love to work and love to work out. I think I go against all the nutritionists who say you need to do this, or need to do that so I’m one of the oddballs.”
Tony Horton at 51
Celebrity trainer and P90x creator Tony Horton has inspired millions of people around the world to improve their health and well-being. His initial desire to get into fitness stemmed from his ambitions to become an actor in LA. He was told getting in shape and getting a better body could land him some acting roles.
While his acting career didn’t quite pan out, he did become a very successful trainer and would later team up with fitness marketing company Beachbody to launch several fitness programs sold through infomercials.
Tony Horton on Nutrition
In his book “Bring It!”, Tony recommends eliminating sugar, processed foods, gluten, caffeine, and alcohol, and dairy consumption. Pretty hard not to get a lean body following that advice.
Tony Horton on Intensity:
“Intensity is finding your fire and working out as hard as you can, based on where you are today (now, here, in the moment), without sacrificing exercise form. Intensity is a moving target too. It changes from day to day, and there are so many variables outside your control. It’s your job to show up, and that’s within your control.”
Dave Draper at 54
Dave Draper (nicknamed the “Blonde Bomber”) is an accomplished bodybuilder who used to train with Arnold Schwarzenegger. As you can see from the photo of Dave at 54 compared to 25 years old (on right), the density of his muscles has increased and he is leaner.
The following quotes are from Dave’s book Brother Iron, Sister Steel, which is one of the most sensible, passionate, and well-written books on strength training and bodybuilding I’ve read:
Dave Draper on Fitness and Aging:
“Now I see that just as the mere awareness of age can affect your ego and attitude, so can a more confident and determined attitude awaken you to the fact that the other side of forty, and fifty, sixty and seventy holds a valid promise for improving your physique.”
Dave Draper on Lifting:
“Superset. Hit heavy workouts…Push it, blast it, no tiptoeing through the fields of metal. Train with confidence and enthusiasm – the only way to train. If you perceive exercise and hard work as dull and dubious, they will be. Fact is, they are fun, exciting and fulfilling. Your perception may be broken and your confidence not established. Tune them up. Pain, strain, gain.”
Is this guy awesome, or what?
Dave is now approaching 65 years old and is still hitting the iron hard!
Mark Sisson at 58
Mark Sisson is one of the pioneers of the “paleo” movement, defined by the desire to eat and exercise like our ancestors before the advent of agriculture 10,000 years ago. The motto of his very successful fitness blog Mark’s Daily Apple is “primal living in a modern world”.
In short, Mark avoid grains completely, eats low carb with a high fat diet. He also eats plenty of meat, vegetables, and fruits. Mark does strength training 2-3x per week, high intensity sprints “intermittently”, and moves slowly a lot.
Needless to say after I saw photos of him, I read his Primal Blueprint book (which I will review at a future date) and a large chunk of his blog.
Mark Sisson on American Lifestyle Trends
“Hectic schedules compromising quality family time, processed foods in place of natural foods, prescription drugs used in place of lifestyle change, digital entertainment replacing physical activity, and overly stressful exercise programs that cause even the most devoted to fail with weight loss and fitness goals.”
Mark Sisson on Exercise
“You can get healthy and fit on two hours a week of walking around, one mini-strength training workout a week lasting less than 10 minutes, one complete strength training workout lasting 30 minutes, and a sprint session every 7 to 10 days with perhaps 10 minutes of hard work (bookended by sufficient warm up and cool down).”
Jack Lalanne at 67
The late Jack Lalanne is a “fitness legend” who passed away last year at 96 years old. His spirit lives on, however, through his videos from the 1950’s “The Jack Lalanne Show”, which have amassed millions of views on Youtube. For my tribute to Jack and a bunch of facts about him, see: Jack Lalanne Tribute: Facts About Fitness Icon.
Jack Lalanne on the American Diet (my favorite):
“Would you get your dog up every day, give him a cup of coffee, a doughnut, and a cigarette? Hell, no. You’d kill the damn dog.”
Jack Lalanne on Aging:
“Your waistline is your lifeline. It should be the same as it was when you were a young person.”
Jack Lalanne on Looking More Manly (so to speak):
“If you lose a couple of inches off your stomach, your business down there will look an inch longer.”
So what do you think? Inspired?
I encourage you to get fired up about your health and commit to some long term goals – and I mean long term. What about 20 years from now, how are you going to look and feel?
I encourage you to share this article with your friends and take one step toward your long term fitness goals today.
About Marc Perry, CSCS, CPT
Marc is the Founder & CEO of BuiltLean. A former Finance Analyst who gained over 30 pounds from a sedentary lifestyle, Marc’s mission is to help busy professional men get lean & fit for life. Marc earned his B.A. from Yale University and holds numerous health certifications. Follow Marc on LinkedIn.