/ Fitness tips for nearly fifty

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Firestarter on 19 Oct 2013
Very close (too close!) to 50. Any tips for climbing exercises/fitness hints that aren't going to leave me groaning every time I sit down?
Ron Walker - on 19 Oct 2013
In reply to Firestarter:

You can still do the same stuff but you take longer to recover so add another day or so for recovery!
Banana Cockroach - on 19 Oct 2013
In reply to Firestarter: it's never too late. I'm 47 started climbing with the family. 2 years ago. Oh what fun. Swanage. Llanberis, the lakes. Dropped 2 stone. Had to to improve my grade. Everything hurts after every session. But as long as I'm careful not to actually injur myself all is well. Power ball helps. Gentle pull ups plus good stretching. Lots of easy bouldering. The more I do the better I feel. I'm never goi ng to manage Malham or gogarth but there are loads of other great days out to be had. V
Minneconjou Sioux on 20 Oct 2013
In reply to Firestarter:

First thing to do is lose weight. Now I don't know if you are a fat knacker or not but the leaner you are the better. So this means some aerobic exercise. How you approach this will depend on what you are used to.
BnB - on 20 Oct 2013
In reply to Firestarter: I actually did start climbing at 50, six months ago. In terms of aerobic fitness I started from a pretty high initial level being an active sort, and thankfully I didn't need to lose any weight. On the other hand, climbing as regularly as possible without pushing too hard has produced notable improvements in flexibility. Where I have really had to get stronger has been in finger strength and the early months on the climbing wall had me crippled with finger stiffness for a couple of days after. The fingers still have much to improve, crimpy 6b (indoor) holds currently proving a challenge, so I guess more work is required in that department. But I've shied away from campus boards and finger exercises in case of injury.

So my recommendation would be to climb, rather than train, as often as you can, don't try to compete with the youngsters (too much) and focus on what makes your old bones feel good. Three months in I was wandering around with a permanent smile on my face from recovering long lost flexibility.

Unfortunately I'm still a very moderate climber but I look around me in daily life at most 50 year olds and definitely feel justified.
Mick Ward - on 20 Oct 2013
In reply to Firestarter:

a) Many people are in the habit of little/virtually no exercise.

b) Many people who 'discover'/get back into exercising, get such an obsessive habit that they get injured and revert to a)

Instead get into the habit of being in-between, i.e. regular exercise, the more varied (for general health) the better but not being obsessive about it, i.e. learning to listen to your body/rest/do nothing, as appropriate. This is easier said than done, because it's in-between.

Obviously this is for general fitness, not climbing. With climbing it depends on where you're at/want to be (e.g. VS, F7a, whatever).

Hope this helps.

Mick (60, been training for 39 years now)
Gav Parker - on 20 Oct 2013
In reply to Firestarter:

I was fifty this year and I would say listen to your body......and rest when it tells you to!! Apart from that I run, climb and hit the hills.....
john spence - on 20 Oct 2013
In reply to Firestarter: I was 64 on Friday, just returned from a week in El Chorro, only leading 6a but so grateful to be active. After years of persistant back problems I have started stretching twice daily and my flexibility and balance has improved a lot. I use a multi gym three times a week and have just got an exercise bike as knee pain makes running difficult. I manage one or two trips to an indoor wall weekly and climb outside about once a month. Keeping my weight to 60Kg helps, as does resting when injured. (Never had this routine when I was working and the kids were at home.)
johncook - on 20 Oct 2013
In reply to john spence: Will cheat and use half of your post!
During this year had 3 separate weeks in El Chorro, leading up to 6b. Three weeks in Alps, managed long Alpine routes with V+ pitches and a lot of walking height gain, as being a Yorkshireman on a pension the lifts cost too much. Climb outdoors as much as possible and indoors when weather is poor. Started climbing in 1967, had a long (23 years) break as a result of family/work.(that's my excuse sorted!)
Currantly I find that much of my exercise comes from actual climbing. I do work on flexibility, and this also has some quite strenuous aspects, like bending backwards as far as possible puts a huge load on abs, extended thrusts makes the thigh works hard etc. For fingers, my currant area for work, find a decent weight, (15kg for me) with lip you can get your finger tips into, hold it for as long as you can. Drop it before you start to hurt. Look at all the things you need to improve in your fitness and find a simple (inexpensive in time and money) way of doing it. Had a friend who lost 3inches from her waist by sitting at her desk and not putting her feet on the floor while at work. Her abs were a delight!
Good luck, 50 is nowhere near old. There is a group of over 70 still climbing hard round here!
mbh - on 20 Oct 2013
In reply to Firestarter:

I am 50 too, nearly 51, and have been running, off and on, for several years. For a couple of years I stopped and found that my weight climbed several kg until I was well overweight. Then I started running again, eighteen months ago, and have not stopped since.

The way I got going again was to set the barrier really low. No watches, no targets, no busy training schedules, they can come later. Just get out and plod, preferably somewhere nice. In fact, my mantra, in my head, as I went along was "just plod on", which is a habit I am trying to get out of now but which was useful then. Actually, there was one target, which was to keep it up for years. Mick is right about the danger of getting too obsessive too quickly and burning out. I wanted it to be for the long haul.

I also recorded what I did, because for me it helps to see the miles and the runs pile up. I mixed the running up with a lot of swimming and some cycling, all of which helped me to lose weight, which I did, dramatically for the first few months and have continued to do more slowly thereafter. I recorded my weight weekly. The graph that showed its decline was a strong motivator to continue. Another thing that helped was to make the running part of the day, rather than an onerous extra. So, I would run from work and meet my wife on her way home. That doesn't work so well now, but it was useful at the start.

It hasn't been too bad with injuries. Mixing the activities has probably helped, as has being careful about how many miles I run in each pair of shoes - although I run quite a lot, 800 or so before I change, which seems to be OK. But, it does hurt. My backside ached for months at the beginning, and I ached all over when I first combined the running and the swimming. But you learn to distinguish discomfort from injury, and live with it. It's better than being fat and unfit.

A further help once I had got going has been to set some targets. For me, these were not detailed, training plan type targets, but a few specific to-do list goals, which for me were the Welsh 3000s, or the Bob Graham Round, or an Ultra. Then I started posting on Fit Club, which helped me take things to another level amid an encouraging and tolerant group. Others might find an actual club more useful, but I don't want the time commitment in an already busy life, so haven't done that.

The other thing that has helped me is a mental outlook I have used in the past when I have learned languages. Nothing works without hard work, the rest is detail and cannot make much of a difference without the hours and hours of effort over a sustained time span. So, don't fret for too long about what to do, or worry about how you sound amid the bilingual types, just get out there, start gently, somehow, and keep going.

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