T Nation

Best Workouts for Health and Longevity?


What workouts would you all recommend for those who are just looking to improve overall health and longevity?


Can you be more specific? “Longevity” is kinda vague and “healthy” is somewhat subjective.

Robby Robinson is nearly 70 and has been bodybuilding for 50 years. That’s longevity.

Svend Steensgard is 91 and pulling just under 300 pounds. That’s longevity.

Dan Takeuchi was 82 and set several Masters-class records in Olympic weightlifting. That’s longevity.

So you can train with pretty much any type of workout and have longevity in lifting. There’s no one single “best way” to train if you want to be training for the long haul, other than simply training smart with well-designed plans and good form.

As far as “healthy”, again, depends on what that means to you. Low triglycerides? Low resting heart rate? Weigh what you did in high school? 32-inch waist? Run a 5-minute mile or 18-minute 3 mile? Reach your palms to your shoelaces with straight legs?

Big picture: Lift weights 3-4 days a week, do 3-4 cardio sessions of some kind each week, do basic mobility and/or flexibility drills regularly and not as an afterthought. Avoid hitting muscular failure or testing 1 rep maxes. Monitor bodyweight and bodyfat. Eat whole food-based meals with healthy fats, quality protein, and plenty of fruits and vegetables every day. Don’t smoke.


Moderation in exercise, diet etc. Master bodyweight exercises first. I would avoid frequently overstressing my body with excessive heavy weights, too much volume, or frequent training to failure . Pretty much do the opposite of what todays bodybuilders and crossfitters do.
Much of what these guys do and how they do it is because of anabolics. They do what they need to do to be competitive, in a highly competitive environment but the risks of injury, illness etc are much higher.

Wished I had known more about moderation in my younger years of exercising. I also wish the guys in the magazines were honest about their drug use, instead of selling false hope to newbies.Too much balls to the wall style training has left me with lots of chronic joint pain.
Chris’s advice especially in his last paragraph is golden.


This is pretty shifty advise here. Lifting heavy weights has numerous health benefits. A lot of lifters will never get to a point to where they will be lifting excessively heavy weights. Obviously you should follow a smart program and not destroy your body while trying to become a big, strong, lean, healthy person. But, lifting heavy weights should, without a doubt, be a part of it.



(Really Gay)


mbdix, I don’t think anyone said to avoid training with heavy weights. More about the frequency and intensity, avoiding routines that are for people on PED’s. Trying for PB’s all the time or lifting for too long without cycling how much you lift will cause problems.
How old are you? I ask this because I most certainly had a different idea about heavy weights when I was in my teens and twenties, than I do today as a middle aged man with 25years of training under my belt. If you talk to anyone that has trained for a long time and is over 35, even if they are taking PED’s they can’t train with as much weight or use looser form as they did when they were younger, without injury.
OP asked about longevity and health, not about what it takes to become a pro bodybuilder, or powerlifting record holder. An extreme example is Ronnie Coleman who we all know and love, has lifted some incredibly heavy weights. He achieved joint record for # of Olympia wins, but his body has paid a heavy price, since retirement has had to undergo numerous surgeries for back and hip replacements, in his early fifties. I guess if you asked Ronnie if it was worth it, I bet he say it was, and probably wouldn’t do anything drastically different if he had the chance over again.
Dorian Yates another massively successful Mr Olympia tore numerous tendons, brought a premature end to his career. In hindsight he admitted that he would have avoided going really heavy when he was in a depleted state during contest prep, if he could do it again.
Francis Benfatto a late 80’s early 90’s BBerwho is renowned for having one of the most aesthetically pleasing physiques of all time, started training with Kevin Levrone, who used very heavy weights, lower reps. End result torn pec tendon for Francis, which he didn’t get surgically repaired, ended the perfection of his physique.

Tom Platz tore his biceps tendon same story again, never the same.
Lee Haney won as many Olympias as Ronnie, wasn’t anywhere near as strong as Ronnie, but had an ethos of “Stimulate, don’t annihilate”. Never suffered any major injuries, and is in has late fifties or early 60’s and says he doesn’t have any joint problems unlike so many of his contemporaries.

When I was young magazine articles used to regale tales of pro bodybuilders training to the point where they wouldn’t feel like they had a good leg workout unless they chundered, or couldn’t walk.

My point is you don’t really ever need to approach this intensity to increase your strength dramatically, or build lots of muscle, even if you are on PED’s.
Note if your a competitive powerlifter, professional bodybuilder, etc this attitude might sound gay, if you really are talented and genuinely are at a high level, then yes you are going to do whatever you think you need to be the best. That’s great but its not for the majority of guys that that want health and longevity as OP asked.


I want to go through and point out everything I don’t agree with in this post. But, damn, that would be very time consuming.

I’m 41.


Please enlighten me mb, I don’t know everything, I’m willing to learn and I can at least respect that you did give your opinion to me and the OP, which though expressed differently the bones aren’t in any way different, that I can see.

Throw away lines can be pretty funny sometimes, but its pretty difficult to accept criticism from someone who’s handle is seraphim, your name sounds like a gay superhero.


i am 56
not all my issues come from lifting but some are
but that word moderation i think is a biggie
most things i did was in excess
as i get older the term train SMART is a biggie still train hard but smart
so yes i agree with beyond


I absolutely disagree with this.

Train hard. Train smart. Push the boundaries. You’ll feel better and be happier. That’s a massive boost to health and longevity right there. Sure, you don’t have to aim for an 800 lb squat. But you should definitely aim high enough. Start with a double bodyweight squat, one and quarter bodyweight bench and double bodyweight deadlift; and a bodyweight standing press. By the time you get there you’ll realise how much further you can go.

No, you don’t need PEDs to do that. You just need to train and eat well and sleep enough (hey, that’ll help health and longevity too!).

The moment you approach training with the attitude that you must not push, you might as well not bother. Respect the weights, acknowledge what they can do to you and get to work.


muscle mass is a pretty strong indicator of longevity


dont think any one said dont push
if you are training for health and longevity you should run very low risk of injury
if you are going to compete to be the best you can be you run very high risk of injury
if you have a meet coming up and develop pain in your knees or shoulder are you going to cut back and skip the meet?
if you are not competing and develop knee or shoulder pain you cut back till it heals


not sure I agree with this. After you’ve been training for even a short while, you are going to have to push yourself fairly hard in order to get a training effect good enough to result in positive adaptations. Injury prevention is more about technique, posture and exercise selection than effort, in my opinion.

So go hard or go home, bro. (obviously that’s just a joke)

EDIT: although I do agree with you that obviously you wouldn’t be pushing yourself as hard as if you’re trying to be competitive


Maybe BB didn’t say that, but it is the impression I got from his post


I believe if you are in it for health and longevity pushing yourself to new pr’s is very important. Lift heavy shit in a way to get your body to lift heavier shit. Obviously not every time you step into the gym.

Obviously, I would not assume that anyone would look at todays top level bodybuilders as an example of healthy and longevity approach to fitness.

Crossfit can be very beneficial to someone wanting to improve their quality of life.

If you need to loose weight, drop total daily calories while eating good nutritious foods. If you need to gain weight, increase calories with good nutritious food.

Challenge yourself in the gym. Push hard. Work hard. Train smart.

Be consistent. Make it a lifestyle that eventually becomes a habit.

If you go through life not ever seeing what your body is truly capable of, you fail at being the best man you can be.

Train and work to try and become the best you possible.


Couldn’t have put it better myself.


depends on your goals and definition of best man you can be
i have known many men who have never pushed their bodies in or out of the gym
but consistently provided for their famlies and in my mind were and are the best men they can be
lifting and training in or out of the gym is a small part of most peoples lives
and as far as lifting heavy goes ,odd haugen is a Genetic freak he dont count
so far from what i have read longevity comes down to “fitness” not gym strength
example the sit test has been proven to be a good indicator of longevity


“No man has the right to be an amateur in the matter of physical training. It is a shame for a man to grow old without seeing the beauty and strength of which the body is capable.” - Socrates

Not only is this one of my favorite quotes of all time, I believe it is could be a law of physics.


“With a strong body, a man has the proper foundation to build his other virtues to their highest potential” I agree with this. Do you not agree?

Therefore, without a strong body, man does not have the proper foundation.


Dave Tate says the average strength athlete’s career is 3.5 years.

The average NFL career is also like 3.5 seasons.

So I’m going to go out on a limb and say, unless you’re some kind of genetic super freak,(like Big Poppa Pump) you should be open to the idea of refining your approach every 3.5 years or so.

Additionally, you have got to listen to your body. If you continue to have problems with the “angle of death” over and over again, you need to learn to avoid it. If bench pressing always hurts you, just get on those dumbbells. If you don’t power lift, don’t feel obligated to push the power lifts.

It’s also “pushing yourself” to do all this stuff, all the time, too.