Episode 38. Reasonable Expectations and Aesthetic Goals for Physique After 50
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Scott and Mike discuss balancing aesthetic goals with health goals for those folks in the Physique After 50 club. Sometimes fitness and so on isn’t about “health.” Sometimes you just want to look good naked. But obviously there is a balance. So: how do you achieve it? How does age come into play?
The discussion was prompted partly by listener questions and partly by Scott’s new book The Aging Proposition, which is now on Amazon, and is about changes in mindset after 50. (That said, the first book Physique After 50, was probably more relevant to this podcast.)
Age and Aesthetic Fitness Goals
Question 1. How relevant is age to obtaining aesthetic goals?
Question 2. Does age have as much impact on reaching aesthetic goals versus general health and fitness goals?
One way to avoid the problem of sacrificing health for looks is avoiding the “calorie burning” mindset. It’s not about burning X cals per hour. It’s about maintaining an optimized metabolism, which is in turn about maintaining muscle.
Scott thinks bodypart resistance training is much, much better for joint health. Strength training can be good (especially for sports goals), but after 50 your joints need to be considered.
How important is training history? What if someone is just getting started?
How realistic are aesthetic goals for the “beginner” club member vs. the one that is starting with a fair amount of muscle and experience built over a lifetime?
You need to be realistic of course, but there are always, always positive changes someone can make. Just because stepping on stage for the Olympia isn’t in the cards doesn’t mean you should just not go to the gym.
The “Compare, Contrast, Compete” game is an exercise
Scott really likes a graduation speech often referred to as “Wear Sunscreen.”
Here’s Baz Luhrmann’s performance of it:
What’s more “important”? Age or gender?
All things considered, men tend to have a metabolic advantage. It’s easier for them to put on muscle, maintain a healthy metabolism, things like that.
That said, it depends what your goals are and how you define your terms: sure, a woman has “more trouble” putting on muscle. Typically speaking, though, a woman doesn’t want to put on as much muscle as a man. There are TONNES of factors at play in trying to make a (useful) generalization here.
Mike: “Whatever your stubborn spots are at age 25, are going to be your ‘even more stubborn’ spots at 55.”
“Precision” is the solution…
For Scott, precision is about not having the person fit the program, but having the program fit the person.
He cited a popular sign up for an online challenge or something that was 100% the same for people age 25 to 55. That’s not precision. Get a program customized to you and your needs, lifestyle, goals, challenges, body type (etc etc ad infinitum).
This is more important after age 50, with its changes in hormones, metabolism, and everything.
For example, in his mid-fifties, Scott has to be very careful. He has a VERY developed work capacity. This means he is very “capable” of driving his body into the ground, because his recovery capacity has diminished much, much more than his work capacity has. By contrast, a total beginner at age 50 still needs to protect their joints and so on, but it’s really not the same situation.
Metabolism and Age
At the same time, stick to the basics. Nothing “-arian.” (Thanks James!). Or Michael Pollan’s advice: “Eat Food, Not Too Much, Mostly Plans.” Avoid trying to short-circuit your appetite with “craving crusher” whatever. Eat real food.
What about someone whose metabolism is not totally messed up, has never had a weight problem, but who now finds themselves gaining weight: if they eat to the level of satiety they’re used to, they gain weight. What should they do?
Scott: Look for individual things that might be off. Replace heavily processed sugars with real foods. Don’t eat crazy amounts of condiments. Avoid counting calories. You can usually switch out highly-processed, highly-palatable foods for real foods and keep sticking to hunger and your own assessment of biofeedback before you get into macros, tracking, and blah blah (which can take you further away from reading your own body).