Sunday, August 17, 2008

My New Address

The Gray Iron Fitness blog has moved. Blogger has been great, and I appreciate the many friends who have written kind words and added me to their lists.

The move is a practical one because I have opened a new enlarged fitness web site ( My blog and the Gray Iron Fitness Newsletter are a part of the new web site.

Please take a look at the new blog site here. The orange XML/RSS sign-up button is in the left-hand column.

Best regards to all.


Gray Iron Fitness

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Good Questions from the UK

To: Gray Iron

Thanks for your latest newsletter - I always look forward to it.

Perhaps in a future issue you could consider recovery. I train Monday Wednesday Friday - why? Tradition. Occasionally I train Monday and Thursday having read about the importance of recovery, and some even recommend seven to ten days between training.
Any observations you may have would be interesting.

I see that Ellington Darden also recommends 15-20 reps for older trainers, but why?


Leo T.

LF: Thanks for the kind words.

There are successful coaches and trainers who advocate widely different approaches to training, including intensity and frequency. This probably sounds trite, but you have to experiment a bit to find what works best for you.

Personally, I like a six-days-per-week structure. On Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, I do 30 minutes of weights followed by 15 minutes of Graded Exercise Protocol (GXP) cardio on a stationary bike. On Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays, I walk 30 minutes or more in the hills. Since I never train to failure in any workout, and my workouts are brief, the short recovery time works for me. I have a simple rule about this: If I am still tired after having a good night's sleep, I'm probably doing too much. I'm 71 years old.

I think it is Clarence Bass (a senior and champion bodybuilder) who does a couple of days of hard training, and then waits a week before training again (Check his web site to be sure I have it right). On the other hand, Matt Furey, who uses body weight exercises exclusively, trains daily. But I think some days are light and others are intense.

I have to admit that I haven't read any of Ellington Darden's books, but I know he is a respected trainer. I'm not sure what ages he means when he refers to "older" trainees. Fifteen to 20 reps may sound high, but I would imagine he is telling seniors they are better off not making maximum efforts with heavy weights for low reps. If that is his reasoning, I agree. As you know, blood pressure goes sky-high during such all out efforts, which is probably not a good thing for us older folks.

Less is more -- except when it comes to reps.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

What is a Senior, Anyway?

Since my web site and newsletters are designed as services to people over age 50, the following “Dear Abby” item from today’s newspaper caught my eye.

A reader writes Abby: “Could you please tell me at what age can a person claim to be a senior citizen?”

(I’ve often wondered that, too. -LF)

Abby answers: “I have known some people in their 20s who were ‘older’ than many vibrant people in their 80s. Years ago, individuals were considered to be seniors at 65. But then AARP began soliciting people at age 50.

“The specific age to qualify for senior-hood isn’t carved in granite — as you will find in various restaurants and movie theaters.”


When I was in my 50s, I sure didn’t think of myself as a senior. Still, after age 50 it is time to recognize that some physical activities ought to be moderated, or there’s a price to be paid later. That doesn’t mean you should baby yourself. But it does mean that overuse injuries are more likely, and they won’t heal as fast as when you were younger.

As the saying goes, workouts should be “age appropriate.”

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

To Stretch or Not to Stretch . . .

The argument against stretching before training or a competition is that it may "dampen" muscle strength, and in some sports "loose joints" increase the risk of injuries.

A report in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, August 2008, says that a little easy stretching before training does not dampen muscle strength.

The Gray Iron interpretation is that you should save the more serious stretching for post-workout. That's when you should relax and take a little time to stretch out.

But before your training, it's best to warm up with movements that simulate your workout or competition. They should include enough range of motion movement to prepare your body and mind for what's to come.

Read more on the study here, and reach your own conclusions.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Big Bellies and Dementia

When I see fat people – and there are so many these days it’s hard not to see them – I often wonder what it would take to motivate them to lose weight. Does that sound condescending? Well, I’m a fitness advocate. It’s my job to wonder about these things.

I know that fat people really don’t want to be fat. I don’t think anybody does. But if personal pride in their appearance doesn’t motivate them, what does? I’m not a psychologist, but I know that fear can be a powerful motivator. Watch somebody trim down after surviving a life threatening event like a heart attack. They fear another one.

How about fear of dementia? People I talk to dread that condition about as much as any dark thought they can imagine. But the threat is real, and it doesn’t always happen to the “other guy.” Researchers at Kaiser Permanente suggest that big bellies increase the risk of dementia. And you don't have to be terribly overweight. The culprit is an accumulation of belly fat.

Add that to heart disease, diabetes, and certain cancers, and maybe those super-sized meals aren’t so attractive after all. Okay, I admit I’m in a blunt mood today. If you’re overweight, do something about it. It’s not like we haven’t been warned.

Read about big bellies and dementia risk here.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Only For The Bravest of Seniors

If you look only at the first part of this recent Washington Post article, you may want to write the editor and give him or her a piece of your mind, or cancel your subscription, if you are a subscriber. Just kidding.

But what is it that I’m talking about? Well, they get pretty graphic about the ravages of aging in an article titled, “How Our Bodies Age (And What You Can Do About It).”

Take a look. But don’t get discouraged and stop reading until after you have gotten through the “And What You Can Do About It” part. It really is solid information.

Read article here.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Too Much Good Cookin'?

Maybe the most effective weight loss program is to move out of the Southern United States. But the thing is the southern states are the nation’s fastest growing region.

I don't mean to pick on Southerners. Still, the fact is there’s a serious obesity problem down South, where more than 30 percent of adults in Mississippi, Alabama and Tennessee are considered obese.

This amounts to more than just a problem of esthetics. The South has had high death rates from heart disease, stroke and other diseases that have been linked to obesity.

Experts say at least part of the blame is on Southern eating habits. They say poverty is also a factor, and some demographic groups have higher obesity rates than others.

Colorado, by the way, is the least obese state, with about 19 percent of its citizens fitting that category, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Nineteen percent! And that's the lowest? Well, that may be the lowest, but it's still not much to brag about when about one out of every five residents is obese.

Get the full story here.