On June 26th six years ago, on my 57th birthday, I did 1007 pushups in 70 minutes. My wife Ana did 685 knee pushups in the same time frame. When I started training for that challenge six months prior I could only do 25 pushups in one shot. I know my body is an adaptive organism and so I trained it by slowly adding more pushups each week, then faster pushups, then slower pushups, then half-way pushups, and every other variation I could think of so my body would have to adapt by getting stronger and by gaining more endurance while needing less recovery time between sets of pushups. That is what our bodies do. Your body will adapt to whatever resistance, stress or influence you place upon it, no matter how old you are.
Most people reading that statement will strongly disagree, yet their objections won’t be based on research gained from credible sources, or the professional opinion of someone that studies and understands this area of human biology. Nope. In my experience, their resistance to believing exercise can make their life more vibrant and fulfilling will be grounded in myth and ignorance. Yet they will swear by their beliefs ignoring the opportunity to live a life doing more, hurting less, feeling better, and enjoying a much greater quality of life.
The human body is an adaptive organism. If you are used to getting up at 8am every day then decide getting up at 6m would be better, a short time after making the change you will start feeling less and less tired at 6am when the alarm goes off and soon it won’t feel any different than 8am used to feel. Your body adapts.
If you go to the gym for the first time in ten years and do 20 pushups, you might be sore for the next two days. But if you go to the gym 3 days a week and do 20 pushups each time, soon doing 20 pushups won’t make your muscles as sore and soon after that, not sore at all. You will need to do 30 to make your muscles sore. Your body is adapting to the workload, or stress, by getting stronger and most likely, after a month of doing pushups, the muscles will appear more shapely and larger. This is fact whether you are 20 years old or 70.
In other words, you are never too old or too out of shape to start doing some form of exercise.
The key is that you only have to do slightly more than you have been doing in order to see progress. Then every week or two, you increase the workload or change it in some way so your body has to adapt.
I have been an athlete my entire life, but there have been periods of injury, illness or just old-fashioned laziness that resulted in me not training for extended periods of time. When I come back to the gym, I don’t do the same amount of work or resistance that I did when I was in top shape, in fact, my workouts rarely last longer than about 10-15 minutes for the first week. I will go into specifics in another article, but I slowly work my way up by adding more resistance, more sets, more reps, faster reps, different exercises and so on, but that is done over a period of time.
I never want to be so sore that it’s painful to move. If I am, then I have done too much. It should just feel slightly tight, and you should be able to feel those muscles when you flex them.
Then if you rest, eat well and we will get into that in another article too, and stay well hydrated; you will recover and improve after that recovery period.
Take it slow but be consistent. Train three days a week at the start and make your workouts quick so your heart rate is elevated but you are not out of breath or uncomfortable.
And always check with your medical professional to get the ok for the exercise you plan to do before you embark on any exercise plan. And know that medical professionals are not necessarily fitness professionals also, in fact, most are not. Just ask for medical approval to do the kind of exercise you plan to do. Get your exercise and nutrition advice from someone that does that.