Breaking News: This author is getting old. Okay, at least ‘older.’ No longer am I a spry, twenty-something Team Guy who can drink all night, then wake up in the morning and finish a grueling SEAL monster mash — including obstacle courses, running, and swimming — at a breakneck pace. These days, I would need a couple of weeks to train for such an event, and about seven hours of restful sleep the night before, not to mention a couple of days afterward to recover.
Even with all that, I would still probably not be all that fast, at least when compared to the younger guys. Hell, I am hardly even a mostly-spry thirty-something anymore. I have crested the hill. I am on the verge of starting the downward slide, as forty knocks on my door. As Donald Trump would say, “Sad!”
What that means, as far as my fitness goes, is that I have to be a little bit more careful. I have to tend to my body a bit more. I have to be more aware of potential injuries that can take longer to heal. I have to stretch and warm up and all that silly crap that I never worried about when I was twenty-two. Do not get me wrong, I still get a little crazy with workouts — I did a 20-mile trail race a few months back that kicked my ass — but they are fewer and farther between, and I am more choosy about what I will attempt.
This author also happens to be a professional firefighter, however, and that means that I have to stay physically fit. I need to be fit to fight fire, which means having some aerobic capacity, the strength to drag hose, victims, and my fellow firefighters into and out of burning structures. I also need the mobility to perform manual labor in those burning structures, while wearing heavy gear, an air mask, and a self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA).
So I cannot let myself go, is what I am saying. Nor do I really want to. After all, I might need to repel a communist invasion a la “Red Dawn,” or the zombie apocalypse might break out at any moment. I do not want to be eaten, for God’s sake, and I sure as hell do not want the Mexicans and Russians (or Chinese) swarming across the border and taking my country, right? Who’s with me!?
I digress. Back to fitness. There are of course, all the workout crazes out there, including CrossFit and its offshoots. The problem with those is, they cost a lot of money. I like some of their exercises though, so I steal from them when I feel like it. You should too. Find what works for you, what you can motivate yourself to do every day, and do that. Do not do nothing. Get out there and get fit.
To inspire you, or at least, to give you a workout from which to copy, steal, or improve upon; here is a typical workout week for an almost-40, former Navy SEAL, and current firefighter. I like to mix it up, so this is not standard. Think of it as a more-or-less typical week. It might change, depending on my mood, or on how busy I am. Life can get in the way, after all.
Monday: Run-Bike-Run or Run-Swim-Run
I started doing these workouts when I was in college, preparing for BUD/S. They are a great way to get an hour or longer aerobic workout in, without the drudgery of a long run, swim, or bike. Just mix them all together. I like to do a 1.5, 2, or 3-mile run, then an 8 or 10-mile bike, then another run of the same distance as the first. You can also do a swim instead of the bike. I like a mile or a half-mile swim. Nothing crazy these days. The distances are all up to you, of course. Start with short distances, and work up from there. Do what feels right and gets you some good cardio.
Tuesday: Short Run and Weights
I am a believer in strength training, as well as more “functional” training. Therefore I mix up sets of dead lifts, squats, and/or bench press, with exercises like “Thrusters” and box jumps (Google them!). Combining these types of exercises gives me a good mix of strength and functional fitness, and doing these after a run keeps me warmed up and loose for the weights. This total workout might last an hour or an hour and a half, and I do a mix of legs, arms, chest, and back on different days. I do weights that will not blow out my back or send a hernia bulging out of my abdomen. Don’t be stupid with your weight.
Wednesday: Pull-up/Push-up Day
I love pull-ups. They are my favorite exercise. I do not do the cheesy, kipping, CrossFit-style pull-up, either. I like strict, dead-hang, pull-ups. I might kip a little, every once in a while, but I try to avoid it if I can. That is cheating. Here is my pull-up workout:
20 air squats or lunges (alternate them each set).
Do 20 total sets, for a total of 160 pull-ups, 400 push-ups, and 400 leg reps. It takes me a little over an hour, and smokes my arms pretty good, but it feels great. Adjust the numbers up or down, as needed. You can also add weight to the pull-ups, by hanging plates from a belt.
Thursday: Longer Run
Do some distance here. I like a six or seven miler, just because I do not have the time (or inclination) to go much farther than that these days. Go far enough to get a good leg and lung pounding. Do ten or more miles if you are a distance runner, or training for a long race.
Friday: Weights and Functional Fitness Again
This is the day that I hit the body parts I did not get to on the last weights day. I like hanging cleans, bicep and tricep exercises with dumbbells, calf raises with weights, dips, leg presses, hamstring curls, knee-to-elbows and toe-to-bar abdominal exercises (Google them!), and other stuff. I try to mix it up, to work out my whole body. Nobody wants to be a gorilla up top, and a chicken leg on the bottom. That ain’t cool, and you need those leg, back, and butt muscles to lift heavy stuff. Do not neglect them.
Saturday: rest day.
Eat, drink, and be merry. Take a nap. Read a book. Watch a movie. Be lazy.
Sunday: swim, bike, or run
This should be another cardio day. Do whatever distance feels good. Go mountain biking, or take an open water swim in a lake or the ocean. Make it something fun and different so you do not get bored. Mix it up. Run a road race, or a trail race.
And that’s it. Do not go quietly into the night. Do not let your body waste away. Keep active, fit, and strong. You never know when the zombies or the Chinese might arrive, after all.