Metabolism slows down as you get older, but if you are trying to find out how to get fit in your 50s, then you have come to the right place. @jdw.nyc.fit talks to ODW about how he stays fit and shredded at 50.
Profession: Insurance Agent
Stats: 6ft2 (188cm) | 93kg (205 lbs)
Body Type: Ectomorph (Naturally lean, and have difficulty building muscle)
Why do you train?
Stress relief, but also because I get great satisfaction in seeing the changes in my body. It’s one of the few things we have control over.
How do you balance your life commitments with your training?
“If it’s important to you, you’ll find a way”.
For me, this means getting up at 5:20 am to get to the gym before work.
I’m big on using a calendar to track the days I worked out and also see the gaps.
Even if all I do is walk around the park for 20 minutes, I’ll put that down, because I believe doing something is better than nothing and put it down to show how much you’ve done (or not done) for that week to keep you motivated (I keep mine on my refrigerator – and no, it doesn’t deter me from eating junk…..wish it did!).
I’ve kept my calendars for the last 4 years and it’s interesting to see there were a lot more blank days a few years ago, vs today where I usually only have 2 off days for the week.
I correlate this also to how my body has changed for the better over the last year.
What are you most passionate about?
I’ve always been a coaching type, whether at work, in sports or at the gym. I love when people come up to me or send me emails asking me how to get fit in your 50s, what I’m doing that’s working or wanting to know about my routine.
At 50, its an honor when younger guys or girls come up and ask for help with their body.
What is your Favourite
“It’s the start that stops us”
When you think about it, how many times have we said, “I’m going to do that”…..but in reality, we never do “that” because the start is the hardest part, so we quit before we even get started!
Training – How to get fit in your 50s
What is your training philosophy and why?
I’m really into bodybuilding.
I was the skinny kid who never took off his shirt, so to be comfortable shirtless was a big win for me.
As a junior, I was a ranked tennis player, high school state champion and also went on to play college tennis.
I still love the sport, and try to play at least once a week.
But the game has changed so much over the last 10 years as it’s become much more physical and explosive.
Bodybuilding has helped build my strength, especially my core, which has helped me adapt to the modern game.
My training days are chest and biceps, back and triceps, shoulders and traps, legs (usually twice per week).
I also do lower abs one day, upper abs one day and side abs the other day.
Always do the thing you like least first!
For me, that would be abs.
I used to put them at the end, but would always come up with an excuse (I’m too tired, I’ve run out of time, etc) and they wouldn’t get done.
Now I put them first and I’ve seen a real change in my abs over the last few years.
What is your favourite body part to train?
Shoulders followed by chest. Both respond well to weights.
I’m all about the aesthetics of different body parts. And using this to make other body parts look better.
For instance, by focusing on the shoulder delts (especially the middle) your upper body looks wider, and if you weren’t blessed with a thin waist (like me) wider shoulders (and back too) give the illusion of a smaller waist. At my age, it’s all smoke and mirrors!
How do you prevent injury when you train?
Injury is a constant threat for the older athlete. In the last 4 years, I’ve torn my left meniscus, blown the arches in both feet, and torn my left bicep tendon – and this was all from tennis.
In the gym, form is so important because poor form causes injuries. I have to be careful with certain exercises like squats and tend to focus more on squat machines vs. free weight squats.
Also, when I’m trying out a new exercise, I always start with little to no weight and focus on getting the form down. Once that’s in place, I’m relatively comfortable with adding weight.
And before you start, a brisk 5-10 minute walk on the treadmill followed by some stretching. And stretch at the end too
What is your cardio like?
I don’t do cardio too much, only if i needed to really get shredded.
My favorite cardio to do is walk on a treadmill at the highest incline (usually 15%) at 2.5 mph for 45-50 minutes.
The mph is really slow, but don’t let that fool you because after 10 minutes, the sweat will be pouring off you.
I like this cardio for two reasons.
First, it keeps your heart rate in the fat burning zone which is very important when trying to lose weight.
Second, it’s slow enough that I can watch a 45-50 minute show on Netflix without my head bobbing all around (like what happens when running or doing the elliptical).
I need to be stimulated or I get bored, so this seems to work well for me.
Do you use any equipment/accessories that deserves a special mention and why?
In the last year (after my bicep tendon surgery) I’ve really been liking BFR bands (blood flow restriction) and use these for the first 10 minutes of biceps and quads/hamstrings to really force the blood into the veins – the pumps are insane.
I started using these because my left bicep had shrunk substantially when it was out of commission and while not quite back to how it was before, it’s pretty close. But follow the instructions because using them improperly can cause injury!!
What is your nutrition philosophy and why?
I’m pretty regimented and try to eat every 3 hours. Low carb doesn’t work too well for me because I tend to look flat, but at night I try to limit my carbs.
Before the gym, I’ll have a piece of toast with peanut butter to give me a little boost.
And a pre-workout energy drink with added BCAA’s.
When i get home from the gym (and i can’t stress enough the importance of your meal post workout if you’re trying to add muscle) I make a protein shake with orange juice as the base, 40-50 grams of protein powder, BCAA’s and a tablespoon of coconut oil, and frozen fruit.
For dinner, I’ll usually have a protein, green veggie and maybe a little carbs depending on my activity level that day.
What strategy/strategies do you use for your meal prep?
If you’re serious about changing your body, I can’t stress enough the importance of planning and prepping.
Before I prepped my meals for the week, I would leave my eating to chance, and would usually be so hungry that I’d run to the closest restaurant or grocery store and make bad choices.
We’ve all heard the phrase “never go grocery shopping when you’re hungry” and that’s so true when it comes to making good choices.
I’m big on making the bulk of my meals (for day time) on Sunday.
I bake about 4 lbs of chicken breast and cut up into little pieces, I mix up about 7-8 cans of tuna with non-fat mayo and celery and I brown about 3-4 lbs of lean ground turkey with seasoning from Flavor God.
I make a batch of white rice (I need the quick energy white rice gives vs, brown rice which burns slower) and I steam broccoli.
I’ve found that the time I put in on meal prep makes the week so much easier when it comes to eating healthy.
What are your top three cheat meals/foods?
Anything salty –
Do you use any cookbooks, or apps that you would recommend?
I’m an avid cook and I’ve collected hundreds of cookbooks over the years. The best cookbooks are from Cooks Illustrated – they also have a membership website with all the recipes.
They take a recipe, make it hundreds of times over to find what needs to be kept, changed or left out and write a good explanation of why the recipe works. Not necessarily healthy – but its a good mixture of healthy and not so healthy.
For healthy, I’ve been using The Shredded Chef by Michael Matthews. Lots of healthy and tasty recipes.
Do you use any equipment that deserves a special mention and why?
I can’t live without my Vitamix blender. Makes crushing ice or frozen fruits in my shakes effortless.
What is your supplementation like?
BCAA’s pre and post workout.
Whey protein, coconut oil, a multi-vitamin, and glucosamine for the joints.
Which brands do you use and why?
I like the BCAA’s and whey from Optimum Nutrition. For my pre-workout drink, I’ve been using Redline for that jolt I need.
Finally what advice would you give someone who is trying to start their fitness journey?
The fitness journey is a marathon and not a sprint.
You didn’t get out of shape in a month, and you’re not going to get back in shape in a month.
Celebrate the little wins – like seeing a particular muscle that’s been hidden for years!
Stay away from the scale – I only weigh once a month at most!
People obsessed with the scale peg their success or failure on their weight that day.
Instead of the scale, use the mirror and how your clothes fit.
Take selfies! Because one day you’ll be in much better shape and wouldn’t it be nice to see how far you’ve come?
I didn’t keep any of my early selfies out of sheer horror, but now I wish I had!
And lastly, be consistent! Plan and execute.