The Workout Guide: For The Mature and Non-Athlete
This Workout Guide is the Complete Workout Regimen tailored specifically for the normal people – like you and me. It is not geared to turn you into Hulk Hogan, nor it is directed towards the younger athletic people.
There are virtually hundreds of workout tutorials on Youtube – some of them really good ones — for the very fit and agile! But, even if one could swing to the tune(!), following those instructions by the mere ‘commoner’ is simply the recipe for disaster that may necessitate a trip to the ER or your chiropractor.
Anyhow, there is not much for the normal people who have either succumbed to the lure of a sedentary lifestyle — thanks to the entertainment programs like the ‘Duck Dynasty’ and ‘Kim Kardashian’, or those who have crossed the ‘midlife crisis’ bridge.
If you are already on the fitness trail, and your program works for you, by all means, stick with it. As I mentioned, there is plenty of information and video clips on the Youtube to guide you. Those people have done a great job by putting a lot of useful information for the public good. Though, most of the information is geared towards the group that needs it the least – people who are already into athletics, and are in good physical shape — Caution is advised if you are not lean mean fit machine and just starting out.
The workouts and exercises outlined here are designed to help you put on track to health and fitness – and keep you there. Remember; start out slow and easy – I am showing the progressive stages of workouts. To begin with, it is advisable to keep the count and the stress both on the lower side.
We have to recognize the fact that as we mature, our needs, demands, and the intensity for physical workouts also change. Naturally, we must to listen to the demands of our body, and adjust accordingly. If you have been sedentary for a long time (more than a year), or if your workout is limited to lifting the remote control, please start slow and easy – give your heart and joints enough time to adjust to the stress. But, remain persistent — not be the Weekend Warrior.
The main idea here is to introduce you to the workout routines designed to keep you flexible, energetic, and vibrant – not to make a body-builder out of you. Exercises presented here have been thoughtfully tailored to serve the needs of our target group ̶ the Advanced Age group, and the people inflicted with the bug of a sedentary lifestyle.
Incorporating a simple regimen of a well-thought exercise is enough to maintain good health and to remain energized and vibrant. Even brief sessions of exercise, performed regularly, go a long way to promote general health and a feeling of well-being.
These workout routines are designed to fit the needs of both the male and female bodies.
So, let’s move it.
The Phase I: Handshake & Hug – Twice a Day!
One major effect (or outcome) of prolonged inactivity and the advanced age is the stiffening of ligaments, tendons, joints, and the spine. Keeping these musculoskeletal essentials flexible and strong is the priority one. Start your day – and end it, with a warm handshake and an effeminate hug — i.e., warm-ups and stretching exercises.
The process of handshake and hug is actually what it means; greet and reacquaint yourself upon getting up in the morning, and retire for the night with a warm hug – to yourself!
Follow on to master the techniques and etiquettes of the protocols.
Jog it up!:
Start with jogging in place for 5-7 minutes — keep your body relaxed, let your hands and hips swing freely. If you are indoor, make sure there is sufficient fresh air flowing in. Breath deep as if you intend to suck in all the air in the atmosphere. Smile (or grin!), and move on to the Knees and Pelvic Joints loosening exercises.
Knees and Pelvic Joints:
Stand with both knees touching each other and feet facing forward and a couple of inches (5 centimeter) apart. Cup your knees lightly with your hands and bend a bit from the knees (you will be bending a bit from the waist also). Swing your knees in as wide a circle as possible — 10-20 times in both the clockwise and anti-clockwise directions.
Now, swing the hips. Stand erect with open hands on your pelvic bones at the side. Make circular motions with your hips while keeping your body as straight as possible — 10-20 swings in both directions.
Stretch The Body — Standing:
Stand straight, feet shoulder length apart, hands up straight up above your head (not on your head), fingers interlocked and palms upward.
Stretch your hands all the way upward as if you were trying to lengthen your entire body. You must feel the stretch in you shoulder sockets and abdomen. Breath easy.
Now, while in this posture, bend backward as much as you can and hold for as long as you can – up to 30 seconds.
Return back to the erect and stretched position, and do the similar bends sideways – hands all the time up and stretched, fingers interlocked.
Return to the start position, and bend forward – try to touch the floor – back fully stretched and in a straight line – hold for 30 second count. Return back slowly. Unlock hands and relax.
Stretch The Mid Section — On Your Back:
Lie down on your back – bring your feet close to your buttocks – hands stretched to the sides – palms on the floor. Now, lift your buttock as high as you can – stretch and hold for 10 breath’s count.
Move on to Crunches:– hands forming a cross over the shoulders or under the head – legs bent a bit with knees up. Perform Crunches to 20 count – keep stomach muscles tight all the times and the buttocks + lower back flat on the floor. Over time, perform 3 sets with no more than 1 minute of rest time in between.
Lower Body-Shoulder Stretch:– while stretched on your back on the floor spread your hands to the sides – like in eagle stance – palms facing down. Keep the right hand in that position and bend the right leg slightly and bring it across the left leg – bring left hand over and across your head – over the right shoulder.
Now, working your left arm and right leg, stretch and contort your body – upper body twisting to the right and the lower half is twisting to the left. Hold it for as long as you can – up to 10-30 seconds. Reverse the sides, and repeat to the other side.
Stand with legs roughly 3 shoulder width apart – feet straight forward. Bend slightly forward to grasp your knees just above kneecaps – thumbs outward.
Now, keeping your right foot flat (the right leg will be spreading out) and keeping your torso as much upright as possible, bend your left leg and work to sit by on your left side – Stretching leg must remain straight and the foot flat on the floor all the time. When you sit as low as you can, your shin must be perpendicular to the floor – adjust your the spread of your legs to keep a shin-floor perpendicular stance.
Repeat by reversing the legs – perform a set of 20. After the set, if you can, sit on each side for up to 10 breath counts.
Now, perform the same stretches again, but, this time, you will keep the spreading foot making a vertical with the floor.
Swing the knees and hips a few times after the leg stretches.
As your ligaments and tendons adopt and become more flexible, you may perform a bit more strenuous leg stretches.
Kegels for Every Session:
Each session of workouts should end with this simple Kegel Exercise – these are one of the simplest and most straightforward exercises to perform.
Lie down flat on your back, with your legs folded and feet around 6 inches (15 cm) from your hips and around 12 inches (30 cm) apart. Bring your hands towards your feet – stretched on the floor – palms vertical with thumbs facing up and touching the feet.
Now, lift your hips straight up while squeezing you hip, pelvic and abdomen muscles altogether at the same time. (Imagine making a right triangle – with your head, shoulders, hands on the floor, and feet as the base, shins as the short perpendicular side, and your upper legs and torso the hypotenuse of the triangle.)
Hold this posture for 3-5 minutes – or as long as you can – all the pelvic and abdomen muscles remaining squeezed and taut. Shoot for three repetitions of 5 minutes duration each.
This exercise helps both men and women develop stronger internal muscles in the mid-section area that, in turn, enhances the performance and functionality of all the operations that relate to the mid-body section — Also, very effective in preventing and controlling the condition of ‘incontinence’.
Back Stretches – Yoga style:
☞ Note: These yoga type stretching exercises should be incorporated only after 3-4 weeks into the ‘Handshake & Hug’ workout routines.
There are a variety of yoga exercises that can be safely incorporated in your daily routine. The following are some modified poses that are excellent for stretching the back and the entire mid-section, and can be performed with relative ease. Just remember to be gentle on yourself – take it easy and move slow.
Modified Cobra: Lie down on the floor on your stomach – feet close together. Bring hands under your lower rib cage – palms down, fingers tips of both hands touch each other. Now, while keeping your buttock squeezed and firmly pressed down on the floor, lift your upper your torso up – as much as you can – head straight up. Hold on to this position for 20 breath counts – come down to the starting position – slow and easy.
Modified Reverse Table Stretch: Sit on the floor – bend knees, feet flat on the floor – shoulder width apart. Hands by your side – Palms flat on the floor – several inches behind your hips. Now, using your legs and buttock muscles, lift your hips high so that your hand are completely stretched and the shins and hands are perpendicular to the ground. hold on to 20 breath counts – come down slowly.
Modified Bridge Stretch: Lie down on the floor on your back – feet flat close to hips – shoulder width apart. Bringing the hands over your shoulders, place the palms flat on the floor under the shoulders – fingers in the direction of your hips. Now, using your hands, shoulder, and hips muscles lift your hips upward as high as you can – hold on to 10 breath counts – come down slowly.
☞ Note: During all the stretches and workouts, breath regularly – and, as you apply force to lift your body or work against a resistance, exhale.
Closing The Handshake and Hug Session!
It is prudent to perform the entire handshake and hug routine first thing in the morning, and again before hitting the bed at night.
If you are just adapting to the ‘active lifestyle’ following on the routine outlined here, this ‘Handshake and Hug’ exercises should be the enough workout for you for the first 2-3 weeks — In that time, you must train to reach the maximum level of intensity and the duration for each of these exercises.
As your system adopts to this ‘morning & night’ handshake and hug routine and your joints and connective tissues become flexible and strong you can move on to the Phase II of the workout routine.
The Phase II — The Intermediate Level:
Whatever the age be, the Heart – the entire Cardiovascular system, must be the prime focus of all the workout routines. Aerobic exercises – Jogging, Skating, Swimming, Tennis, Squash, or any fast paced and high intensity game — extending to a minimum of 30-45 minutes duration, take care of conditioning the cardiovascular system—and the entire body.
Make sure to warm-up and perform body stretches and joint loosening exercises (as explained in the earlier part) both prior to and after your aerobic bouts.
At the mature age, and also in case where the body is not well conditioned to cope with the demands of the regular bouts of intense workouts, we need more time for the muscles to recover, replenish, and rebuild at the cellular level. The best approach – to start with, is to do the Aerobic/Cardio and Resistance workouts on alternate days — For example:
- Mondays & Thursdays . . . . . . Aerobic/Cardio Workouts.
- Tuesdays & Fridays . . . . . . . Resistance Workouts.
Wednesdays, Saturdays, and Sundays enjoys long walks – breath in the fresh air – enjoy it while the “joy” is still tax free.
Start with the warmup workouts as outlined in the ‘Handshake and Hug’ section.
You can adopt/do any of the following workouts – The idea is to make your Lungs and Heart work hard:
- Strenuous Biking / Stationary Bike
- Elliptical Machine
- Stepmill / Stair Climbers
- Or, A Combination of These Exercises
Aerobic workouts are fun – For extra fun, I prefer jogging outside (provided there is no ice on the ground). A few thousand deep breaths in the fresh air just do wonder — The feeling of exhilaration after a good jog cannot be described in words – it just feels Great! Aerobics also help the body prepare for the resistance workouts.
☞ Remember, always start with the warmup exercises as outlined above.
After the warmup and stretching routine, start with the push-ups. Push-ups are the sort of resistance workouts where you work against your own body weight – little chance of a body injury or over stretching yourself. Do the push-ups for a strong and supportive mid-section.
Push-ups provide workout to several muscle groups in one shot — It causes the core muscles that stabilize the trunk to get conditioned, flexible, and strong. It challenges the abdominal muscle group, the entire leg muscle groups – both the front and rear, the arms, and the back. These are the muscles that are used in the real life situations.
There are many different forms of push-up, but I found the two most effective and time efficient to provide the best bang for the time — The Knuckle Push-Ups and Fingertip Push-Ups.
But, these motion are more strenuous and are NOT recommended for the beginners. After working on your forearm and other related muscles for 6-8 weeks, you may embark upon the Knuckles and Fingertips.
To start with, shoot for the straight vanilla of the push-ups – Flat Palm Push-ups – palms flat on the floor and shoulder width apart. Place palms a bit forward on the floor to make the motion easier (the finger tips are inline with the shoulder line). Keeps your back straight during the entire motion. Aim for 3 sets of 20 repetitions.
☞ Remember, Inhale as you go down and Exhale as you push up.
As you advanced, start gradually placing your palms, knuckles, or fingers lower such that when you go down, your wrists are inline with your lower ribs – This causes your hand and torso muscles to go under maximum stress.
After 6-8 weeks doing the Flat Palm Push-ups, if you like, you may move to Knuckles and Fingertips push-ups.
After the push-ups walk around for 2-3 minute – keep breathing deep. Move on to squats. Squats are one of the most natural workouts. It prepares your body to perform the chores of daily life.
In the beginning – for 3-4 weeks, do squats without weights. Keep your posture erect, stomach muscles tight and shoulders in a straight line. Your feet and knees should be straight – perpendicular to your shoulder line — Keep your back as straight (perpendicular) as possible when you dip to do squats.
☞ For the first five squats, do partials dips only – dip down just a few inches – increasing the dips gradually.
Shoot for 2 sets of 30 squats with 1-2 minute rest in between. You may Start adding weights after 4-6 weeks of doing weightless squats – dumbbells or bars.
Abs & Mid-Section:
Note that both your upper body and legs are connected to your mid-section. You need a strong, muscular, and flexible mid-section. Mid-section muscles, as a group, protect and support your spine and the spinal cord. This entire muscle-group must be exercised together, and not in isolation. Isolation workouts like Sit-Ups and some styles of Crunches must be a NO-NO, as these movements put the most vulnerable section of the spine in danger of getting injured.
I recommend exercises that are natural to our body that keep the spine straight and taut during the entire motion sequences. Remember, in real life, your ab muscles work in tandem with all the other mid-section muscles – your back and the gluteal muscles, in order to keep your spine stabilized and well guarded. Therefore, it makes sense to train all the mid-section muscles together as a group.
The Leg Lifts-ups: Leg lift-ups are great for a strong mid-section and flat abs. Lie flat on your back, with your hands at the base of your spine for added support. Raise your legs up to a 90 degree angle to your upper body, then very slowly lower them until they’re only a couple of inches from the floor. Hold the legs in this position for a count of 5, then lift the legs up again – very slow. Shoot for the 3 sets of 20 repetitions each.
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It concludes The Phase II of the workout routine — It is advisable to limit your workouts to this level for the first six months. Take it easy! Give your body ample time to get ready for more rigorous workouts.
You may want to move on to the next level after this time.
The Phase III — The Advanced Stage:
As your body has adopted and got conditioned, you may want to be a bit more athletic. If so, move on to the next phase — Remember to keep the handshake & hug routine as always.
Follow on with the Push-Ups and Leg Lifts-ups, and then move on to the weighted squats:
To do the squats you will need a 5 ft straight weight bar and some weight plates for it. Start with the weight bar alone – with out any weights. As you develop muscles, stamina, and the balance, start adding weight plates to the bar – reaching to 100 lbs (50 Kg) ̬ Dumbbells on the shoulders can be used instead of a bar.
The weight bar, held tight in your hands – palms facing forward, is resting on your shoulders. Keep your torso straight all the times, and the feet flat (wearing sneakers). Inhale as you go down, and exhale as you come up. Start with the one set of ten. Increase gradually to 5 sets of 20 each.
No need to take the weights off your shoulders – you can walk easy with the weights on while in between the sets. Men can put weights up to 100 lbs. The superior gender (Ladies), though, should limit the weights to no more than 50 lbs.
Follow up with 20 leg stretches as explained earlier.
The Bench Press:
Bench Press is the simplest and the easiest of all the weight exercises. Weight should be just enough for you to feel the stress while lifting up. Make sure to go very slow – hold at the max lift position for a count of 5. Shoot for 3 sets of 10 each.
Shoulder Exercises, like the Military Press, are the most effective exercises to build strong upper body. For the balance and agility’s sake, I recommend doing standing presses. Use a 5 ft weight bar OR the dumbbells with weights appropriate to your capabilities – always start with lighter weights. Bend with your knees to lift the weights – remember; lift with the legs, not with your back. Keep your torso and legs tense and stretched when lifting the weights. Do 3 sets of 10 lifts behind the head, and 2 sets front of your head.
I suggest only the men to indulge in it. Do 3 sets of 10 each (20 counting both hands) with the appropriate weights. Keep your upper arm stationary and close to your ribs during the entire motion. Lift with slow and smooth motion using the force of your arms.
Dumbbell Arm Lifts:
Dumbbell Arm Lifts is for the men and women both. Hold the dumbbells in your hands, with the palms facing your thighs. Now lift the both dumbbells simultaneously – with both hands extending out to the sides, in a slow motion. Return slowly. 3 sets of 5-10 each.
The Chin Bars:
After 3-4 weeks into the Phase III, you may want to include the Chin-Bar exercise in your routine. Do them the last.
[You can install a chin bar in the door frame – make sure that the frame can support it, and it is properly anchored. Apply screws rather than relying on the ‘suction’ devices.]
Chin Bar exercises are fantastic. They stretch your entire body and strengthen the lean muscles that are useful in real life. Do 2 sets of 10 each of the four types of chin-ups: Extra wide grip – palms-in and palm-out. Narrow grip – palms-in and palms-out. As always- plan to progress slowly.
And, The Winding Down:
At the end of the workout, make sure to perform the stretching exercises as explained under the “Handshake & Hug” section. Pay special attention to “rotating the knees and hips”. If you have embarked on the phase III workouts, give your body some some time to rest and recover.
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☞ Caution and Notes:
- If you have a medical condition, follow the advice of your health care professional.
- If you have been sedentary for a long time, start slowly and give your body plenty of time to adapt.
- If you feel overly exhausted, or out of breath, seek medical advice.
- Have a medical check up done prior to starting any physical activity after a long period of inactivity.
- Wear good sneakers or gym shoes for traction and ankle support.
- Always give yourself some time to rest and relax after each workout session.
Above all, relax and enjoy the beauty of life.
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