I was asked this yesterday by a neighbor and retired Army Master Sergeant who is also 53. He asked me, “How do you do it at our age? How do you keep up your energy, and the motivation to keep doing all that exercise day after day? How do you make the time?”
I told him about the supplements I take. These are supplements that work for me, and for my personal situation. I told him what each supplement was, and what I took it for, and how it helps me. Here’s the list (these are affiliate links to Amazon; you can always search on these products yourself, but any click on the links below doesn’t cost you any more but helps me maintain this site):
- Cissus Extract. This helps with my ligaments and tendons. I used to get a lot of pain in my knees and elbows before I started taking Cissus Extract. I notice a difference when I stop taking this for a few days (which happened on a recent vacation).
- Alpha Boost Testosterone Booster. This is a testosterone booster, not testosterone. As an older man, testosterone production is lower than it used to be, but the body is still capable of producing it; it just needs a nudge. This supplement gives the body that nudge to produce more. The beauty is that it’s all natural; the supplement, and the testosterone your own body is creating. It also makes it impossible to have too much testosterone; your body will only make as much as it needs and then stop. I notice a difference in my energy levels and my ability to push through workouts (which last around 2 hours for me).
- Turmeric Curcumin. This helps with inflammation. I don’t think it’s great for pain relief (as some people claim), but it does help with inflammation. I take this daily along with my other supplements to help with any aches and pains that pop up due to inflammation.
- Trust Your Gut Probiotic. The last supplement I take isn’t so much a performance supplement, but honestly, it’s been a life-changing item for me. It’s a probiotic that has made my life much easier and regular. I highly recommend this one as perhaps one of the most important discoveries I’ve made in the realm of supplements to-date. I take two every morning with breakfast and the rest of the day is regular and easy.
I used to take Creatine, but since I’m in Warrant Officer Candidate School right now and we’re not allowed to use Creatine while at the school, I stopped taking it. I was on Creatine for about four months, and while I did gain muscle mass, I also was having more water retention which has gone away now. I feel leaner and whatever benefit I got from Creatine in the past is not necessary right now as I move my weightlifting to a more maintenance mode while I finish WOCS. I don’t need or want any injuries due to lifting while I’m in a school that requires physical activity as a part of my grades and a condition of my graduation.
With those supplements, I feel I’m able to undertake my physical training with as little pain as possible, and my recovery is much better. As for my physical fitness program, it is as follows:
- StrongLifts 5×5 (Monday-Wednesday-Friday). I have been following this program for over a year and a half and I’ve made significant progress. I have recently hit some limits, though, and I’m moving into more of a maintenance mode after de-loading some of my exercises (reducing the max weights).
- Pull-Ups/Leg Tucks (Monday-Wednesday-Friday). I start each exercise session in my gym with pull-ups or leg tucks. I went from not being able to do any without a helper band to now doing 5 (almost 6). My goal is to be able to do 20 dead-lift pull-ups which will get me to over 20 leg tucks.
- Run (Monday-Wednesday-Friday). I run a minimum of 2 miles and up to 3 miles. I mostly don’t run further for a few reasons. First, I get very bored while running. I know some people love it, and there are times when a run is enjoyable and those are the days I’ll add a mile to my run, but most times, I’m bored to death and just want to be done with it. Second, although our road marches (with rucksacks) are up to 6.2 miles, our runs are typically in the 2-4 mile range. By running three times a week after weightlifting, I’m properly prepared for any runs the military throws at me.
I only do M-W-F workouts because as an older person, our bodies take more time to recover after a workout. I also learned something from a Chief Warrant Officer at Warrant Officer Candidate School that has really helped me: a banana. I cut a banana in half and eat half of it before my workout, and then I eat the other half after my workout. This helps keep my energy levels up during my workout, and afterwards, helps my body build muscle by feeding it afterward. I’ve noticed reduced muscle soreness and increased recovery as well as increased energy during my workouts. This has been a huge game changer and I wish I’d learned this sooner.
The overall time it takes for me to do my fitness program is around 2 hours (maximum). I’ve been able to finish everything with an hour and a half, but honestly, I take my time between sets (necessary when you’re lifting near your max weights to allow the mitochondria in your cells to regain 80% of their energy levels).
I know what a lot of people are thinking at this point: it’s hard to carve out two hours in a single day for exercise, and if you see it that way, you’re right. The way I have framed it is that the exercise is more important than anything else. I schedule things AROUND my exercise if I can. Without exercise, my health and fitness levels decline, which in turn affects every other aspect of my life. To be at my best, I have to take care of myself first. To be the best husband, father, Soldier, employee, etc, I need to make sure my body and mind are in the best shape possible. I can only make that happen with a good diet and exercise.
I read an article once where a CEO talked about putting exercise blocks into his schedule and not allowing anyone to bump his exercise appointments. He stated that he even declined business meetings with potential clients in favor of keeping his exercise appointments and said that he hasn’t lost a single business opportunity due to recommending a different time/date for a meeting. That really struck a chord with me. He said he was mentally sharper, and because his health is good, he’s able to work longer hours if necessary and recover more easily when pushed physically. He said he’s a better CEO because he is fit and healthy. He also said something that really made a lot of sense: you have to make your fitness and health a priority, because nobody else will make it their priority. I took on this mindset over a year ago, and it’s made a huge difference in my ability to keep exercising and to improve my fitness consistently and regularly.
Make exercise your priority. Nobody else will do it for you. It’s something you have to hold sacred and not waver on. Make your exercise times off-limits to all but the most urgent appointments and you will find it easier to build the good habit of regular exercise. If you’re older like me, supplements go a long way to making your body better able to withstand the rigors of exercise.