This is the first of a two-part article outlining the key principles of an efficient, effective training program designed to promote robust longevity.
All training programs have guiding principles upon which they are designed. The same is true of the 45 & Thrive program focussed on efficient, effective training for those in mid-life and beyond. Today’s article is the first of a two-part series which describes the Guiding Principles of 45 & Thrive. Collectively these eight guiding principles are derived from and aimed at the unique lifestyle and physiological demands of mature adults. 45 & Thrive is not focused on yielding maximum strength gains; it is not focussed on body building; it is not focussed on sport-specific training. 45 & Thrive is focused on balancing the time commitments and lifestyle demands common at mid-life and beyond with an efficient, effective training and lifestyle regime for those seeking to set the foundation for life-long wellness.
#1: Wellness practices should be assimilated into daily behaviour such that they become seamless with one’s lifestyle and promote healthy, active and robust longevity.
One of the fundamental principles of the 45 & Thrive wellness initiative is that one’s time in the gym should be easy to fit into an otherwise full, active, interesting and meaningful life. You don’t need to ‘live at the gym’ in order to reap great benefits from regular workouts. Training at the gym should not be a chore or an inconvenience, but an efficient and enjoyable part of an active and purposeful day. The gym holds the tools for supporting physical development and we must be able to efficiently access these resources to become the crafters of our optimal wellbeing. I used to have a love/hate relationship to ‘The Gym.’ I loved the positive physical transformation and tangible mental health benefits available through dedication and hard work, but I resented the excessive time commitment required (per session and per week). However, I often had self-doubt regarding the training programs I was using. I tended to jump around a bit from program to program based upon the flavour of the week; “Bigger, Faster, Stronger,” “5X5 Strong Lifts,” “5-3-1,” “Cross-Fit,” “Kettlebell Programs,” etc. I’ve owned (and sold) home gyms, bikes, rowing ergometers, and various stretchy, medieval inspired, one-size-fits-all contraptions. And, to be sure, some of these are great for some individuals. But alas, not for me. None of these were awful, yet none felt natural, nor fit easily into my schedule or lifestyle. And that, for me, was the key. I’ve come to believe that the place of training in one’s life, for it to be truly meaningful, must be virtually seamless and effective. An efficient, focussed training session a few times per week should produce significant long-term benefits without encroaching upon other aspects of one’s life. This is why 45 & Thrive emphasizes the benefits of relatively short 45 minute training sessions, two to three times per week, which serve to augment an otherwise vigorous lifestyle. Becoming habituated to a regular, focused and efficient program makes each training session fit more easily into our regular routine, and serves as a boost for the rest of our day’s activities.
#2: Minimum Effective Dose (MED) – The smallest ‘dose’ that will produce the desired outcome. This pertains to dietary and activity practices, and anything beyond MED is wasteful, inefficient, and, in fact, is an overdose.
This principle is essential to getting the most out of the 45 & Thrive program. Let’s face it, our time after age 45 is both precious and limited, no matter how much time modern health care and wellness habits give us. Unlike our early years where we feel invincible and not subject to the vagaries of time, we intuitively know after mid-life our that the clock is ticking; we need to cherish and appreciate the time we have left and we need to maintain our health and well-being such that we can each maximize our participation in, and enjoyment of, all that life has to offer. Understanding and applying the principle of Minimum Effective Dose encourages and supports a robust, significant and engaged longevity. Too much time, effort or emphasis on any one facet of life simply takes away from something else. This should be a consideration when reflecting upon the place of one’s career in one’s life, time with hobbies, relationships and, yes, wellness practices. Be aware of best practices, be mindful of your experiences, and live life to the fullest across many parameters.
#3: Minimum Effective Dose is specific to each person; nevertheless, there are scientifically researched starting points and commonalities.
The training and dietary practices discussed in the 45 & Thrive series are meant to simply be guidelines. These are a set of guiding first principles or starting points meant to emphasize the most important elements of this program. However, it is important for each and every person actively engaged in personal health and wellness optimization to be the director, coach, or captain of their own destiny with respect to achieving and enjoying robust longevity. As such, it is important to attend to your own personal circumstances as you integrate these practices into your life. Once you are training regularly and have begun to get comfortable with the routines and exercises, don’t let yourself get complacent. Don’t train on auto-pilot! There are areas where you are quite competent and strong already, and other areas which require more attention in order to achieve some physical balance. So, despite there being some common starting points for training, and core fundamental and recommended exercises, one must stay attuned to one’s own body, be aware of any strength gains or challenges, and self-monitor progress in order to effectively and efficiently use your training sessions. Take these starting points, consider their effectiveness, tweak them to align with both goals and personal circumstance, and finally keep the training regime focused, intense and effective.
#4: Physical training intended to lead to robust longevity is optimized by a considered and effective approach to diet and nutrition.
As I’ve mentioned before, and will return to in future columns, dietary habits which simply consider calories in vs. calories out are too simplistic and, in my opinion, misguided with respect to the best practices to support wellness and activity in the second half of life. An effective physical training program must be supported by nutritional considerations proven to support long-term wellness and a vibrant, active lifestyle. So, do yourself a favour. Seek out and follow the best professional dietary expertise available which aligns with your own personal health and medical considerations, as well as the training and wellness goals you have. A physical training program, no matter how perfectly tailored to your physique and your training goals will never be as effective as one which combines a nutritional plan that reflects and supports these same goals.
In two weeks, I will outline four further Guiding Principles which support, enhance and help develop the foundation for robust longevity.
Michael Patterson, M.Ed.
Lift long and Prosper
Michael Patterson M.Ed, has spent 30+ years as a fitness and health professional. He holds degrees in Physical and Health Education, Psychology, and Education. Find out more about Michael and follow him on his website at www.45andthrive.com, and on Instagram @45andthrive. Questions and comments can be sent to [email protected].
*DISCLAIMER: The information provided and discussed in this column is based on my personal experience, studies of physical and health education and my expertise as a lifelong fitness and health professional. Any recommendations made about fitness, training, nutrition, supplements or lifestyle, or information provided through this column, should be discussed with your physician or other health-care professional.