T Nation

Advice for My Old Man?

Hi, I’m a long time lurker on these forums. Generally reading through articles answers my questions.

Until now,

My Dad, he’s 60, 5’10 about 210lbs. He’ s a stubborn old boy!

Recently his best friend of 40 years died of a heart attack and understandably its given him a kick.

He has recently had to stop road running on orders from the doctor. I had been telling him to quit for years!! Now he’s going to join a gym and his plan is to do machine circuits!!!

His hearts in the right place but i don’t want him to waste his time and risk an injury.

I have tried to tell get across the importance of squats, deads and mobility. He’s having none of it.

So i was hoping someone could post an article or articles that would convince him beyond doubt about: Mobility, Strength, muscle mass backed with some leymans terms science.

Any, help would really be appreciated.

Why did the doctor tell him to stop running? And why do you object so strenuously to the idea of machine-based circuit training?

Hello mate, thanks for reply.

He had been having trouble with his knees, predictably his knees have been fine since he stopped running.

Its not i have a strenuous problem with machines i just think he should prioritise getting strong and putting on some mass using free weight compound lifts and use machines as secondary assistance. Do you disagree?

I’m interested in your opinion having looked at your photos. Great shape!

Thanks. In my opinion, the key factors to consider re your dad’s exercise program are 1) safety and 2) whether he will actually do it. On both scores, it sounds like machines have the edge. As for safety, I am skeptical re the wisdom of encouraging a 60 y.o. weightlifting novice with bad knees to climb under a squat bar. (Likewise with deads, and to a lesser extent benching.) While machines are not risk-free, most would agree they carry less risk of catastrophic orthopedic injury than do free weights. And besides, there’s no reason Dad can’t get all the muscle stimulation he needs from a well-conceived machine-based program. Couple this with the fact that he WANTS to work on machines, and it becomes clear that this is the way to go.

As for his plan to do resistance work in a ‘circuit’ fashion, I infer from this that he is seeking to maintain the cardiovascular fitness he formerly achieved via running. That is, it sounds like his workout goal is not one of physique and/or strength enhancement, but rather to get his heart rate up for a period of time. On balance, this is probably a prudent goal for a 60 y.o. to have. I think it’s great your dad is so committed to maintaining his fitness that he didn’t use the doctor’s orders to stop running as an excuse to become a couch potato.

Respectfully, I would suggest you should support his plan wholeheartedly, and consider yourself lucky to have such a vigorous father. And besides, who knows what the future will hold, and what his circuit-style machine-based lifting might lead to? Maybe he’ll catch the ‘lifting bug’ and decide to switch at some point to a powerlifting-type workout. My best to you and your dad.

Has the doc looked at his knees and made a diagnosis? If there’s a problem, would rehab exercises be an option? I’ve had back problems myself, and about 10 years ago saw an ortho specialist who put me on 6 weeks of rehab. Even though I’d lifted for years before, it still wore me out, and gave me some badly needed strength back there.

Otherwise, I agree with EyeDentist.

[quote]alec321 wrote:

He had been having trouble with his knees, predictably his knees have been fine since he stopped running.
[/quote]

I’m surprised the Doc told him to quit running completely, seems he could have just cut down. Surely the benefits must have outweighed the harm. You don’t hear of too many deaths from knee pain.

Don’t get too caught up in the “must always squat and deadlift” dogma either. There’s more than one way to skin a cat.

Otherwise great advice from eyedentist.

[quote]FarmerBrett wrote:

Don’t get too caught up in the “must always squat and deadlift” dogma either. There’s more than one way to skin a cat.
[/quote]
I agree. I’m a believer that the best type of exercise is the one you’ll actually do. If machine circuits are his thing, there’s nothing wrong with that.

For what it’s worth, I am a trainer and work with a lot of older guys. Everyone I train pushes, pulls, squats, hinges and carries. Virtually everyone of them start with body weight and limited range of motion and progress from there and most will never get to things like back squats and conventional pulls from the floor. In my opinion “muscular stimulation” is secondary to movement, body control, coordination and strength, especially for older individuals. (Not meant as a swipe to anyone, just my standard opinion on the superiority of basic movement training over machine based training for general fitness and “function.”)

How do you think your father would feel about a trainer? If he won’t hire one perhaps you could for him? (Although if he doesn’t want one enough to hire one himself, he may not value them enough to get the most out of their services.)

If I were in your shoes I would do some research, find a smart, knowledgeable trainer in your area and see if you can connect the two. I personally do a free assessment/consultation, and something like that could give him the opportunity to talk with someone face to face.

That being said, if he insists on a machine circuit - it’s a lot better than nothing.

[quote]Waylon wrote:
For what it’s worth, I am a trainer and work with a lot of older guys. Everyone I train pushes, pulls, squats, hinges and carries. Virtually everyone of them start with body weight and limited range of motion and progress from there and most will never get to things like back squats and conventional pulls from the floor. In my opinion “muscular stimulation” is secondary to movement, body control, coordination and strength, especially for older individuals. (Not meant as a swipe to anyone, just my standard opinion on the superiority of basic movement training over machine based training for general fitness and “function.”)

How do you think your father would feel about a trainer? If he won’t hire one perhaps you could for him? (Although if he doesn’t want one enough to hire one himself, he may not value them enough to get the most out of their services.)

If I were in your shoes I would do some research, find a smart, knowledgeable trainer in your area and see if you can connect the two. I personally do a free assessment/consultation, and something like that could give him the opportunity to talk with someone face to face.

That being said, if he insists on a machine circuit - it’s a lot better than nothing.[/quote]

I’m 57 and have been lifting for almost 40 years. I made the mistake, IMO, of doing too much machine stuff when I was younger. The last 15-20 years has been mainly free weights. At this point, I agree 100% with Waylon, movement, body control, etc is much more important than muscle stimulation. I would try to get him to find a trainer that is certified for the Functional Movement Screen to get a baseline of how he moves and work from there. Look at the websites of some of the functional training guys like Mike Boyle, Mike Robertson, Eric Cressey, etc. They don’t have a real high opinion of machines. As has been mentioned, if that is all he will do, better than nothing, but I would nudge toward bodyweight work until movement patterns are straightened out, then smart free weight work. Good luck.

I agrree with Waylon as I am myself a trainer with men in advanced age.

At least he is willing to start in the gym somewhere. Encourage him don’t argue or tell him you know better.

Waylon

Thanks for your reply pal. You’ve hit the nail on the head. I think my Dad should prioritise functional strength, mobility and body control above all else.

Its a coincidence you mentioned finding him a trainer as i spoke to a PT on the weekend who i know to be very good. I had a brief chat with him and was he was completely on side with your/our way of thinking.

If i can’t get him to commit to a trainer, do you think it would be advantageous to for me to buy some kettlebells and train him myself focusing on hinging, pressing, pulling (partials to begin) and squatting variations(bodyweight to begin)? In my initial post, i may have been a bit hasty and saying squats and deads as i wouldn’t have just stuck him under a bar!! Thanks for taking the time, i really appreciate it. We seem to be singing off the same page.

john2009

Thanks for your input mate. It has been reassuring to hear from someone who is currently of similar age(albeit 40 years of lifting between you!) who’ s heart is in free weights. Thanks for the referrals to authors on functional training, i’ll be sure to read through them ASAP.

Thanks again for your time.

I read a couple of articles a couple of years ago which inspired me. Reading about old guys who are really fit always inspire me, especially when they are fitter or stronger than most people half their age.

I like your dad’s attitude.

This isn’t free weight specifically, but inspiring all the same:

NY Times: An Enduring Measure of Fitness: The Simple Push-Up

[quote]alec321 wrote:

john2009

Thanks for your input mate. It has been reassuring to hear from someone who is currently of similar age(albeit 40 years of lifting between you!) who’ s heart is in free weights. Thanks for the referrals to authors on functional training, i’ll be sure to read through them ASAP.

Thanks again for your time.

[/quote]

Are you familiar with “The New Rules of Lifting” series of books by Lou Schuler and Alwyn Cosgrove? They recently put out one called “The New Rules of Lifting for Life” which is geared toward people in mid-life. It shows 3-4 progressions of various exercises that have been mentioned above like the squat, row lunge, etc. Also has some good mobility work.

Might be a good read for your dad and you if you want to train him.

Alec, if a trainer isn’t an option, your father is open to the idea and you are comfortable with progressions and coaching, then there shouldn’t be a massive problem with you helping out your dad. The only problems here are “proximity bias”, where those close to you have trouble veiwing you as an authority on a subject, the potential difficulty of your father accepting you pushing him and the fact that the act of paying for training seems to automatically increase the compliance/perceived value.

There may also be intermediate options, perhaps working with a trainer for a few weeks may change his perception of your information and his general outlook on the subject. I would just be supportive, gently let him know your concerned with both potential benefits and managing the risks involved, but let him make an actual decision how he would like to proceed.

Good luck to you both, I hope some of my rambling was helpful. :slight_smile:

Sorry for the slow response,

Magma, thanks mate, he’s got a great attitude. Cheers for the input.

john2009

I hadn’t heard of “The new rules of lifting” series but i might get a copy of each! . The “For Life” Looks like great information that majority of guys could implement into their schedule especially my dad and me in a few years. Thanks for your time.

Waylon.

You’ve cracked it again, i wasn’t aware of the “proximity bias” but its totally applicable to my situation as my dad is also my boss so turning the table is tricky to say the least!! You’re a really helpful guy and make all your points clearly. Its a shame you’re not based in London as i know my dad would listen to you! Genuinely appreciate your time. Thanks.