A quick look at books, articles, and websites shows there are thousands of plans available for one who wishes to begin a basic training program to improve appearance, health, mobility, flexibility, and endurance. I have distilled what I have learned in more than 50 years of training into two easy-to-remember formulas that will help aspiring trainees.
Fess Parker, of Davy Crockett and Daniel Boone TV and Hollywood fame, was my hero as a kid. I use his first name to help me remember some important principles in training and exercising.
F—Flexibility. Avoiding flexibility training in your exercise regimen is a huge mistake. Following a warm-up (a brief walk, some jumping jacks, or jumping rope), flexibility exercises are greatly beneficial for the subsequent workout and over the long haul. Find exercises on websites and in publications.
The positions need not be extreme. I have a motto regarding this: “No pain, no pain.” Pain, pure pain, means your body is in distress. There is no need to endure excruciating pain in any phase of your exercise program.
Flexibility training results in muscles that can better stand a sudden strain or twisting motion. Flexibility training helps lubricate one’s joints. Flexibility exercises help the body to stay younger than chronological age. Be certain your program includes flexibility work.
E—Endurance. Walking, jogging, lifting very light weights for high repetitions, jumping rope, swimming, bicycling, etc. are all good possibilities. Your doctor can give you a target heart rate you should strive to achieve (for a certain period of time, given a normal heart).
Heart rates must be elevated in order to train the heart. The heart is a muscle, after all, and must be used in order to gain strength and health. When beginning any exercise program, check with your doctor and be realistic. It would be very foolish to begin extreme flexibility and/or endurance work after years of inactivity. The body is wonderfully adaptive, however, and will respond, in most cases, in a very favorable way to stretching and movement.
S—Strength Training. In my Olympic weightlifting and power lifting careers, I was able, after many years of training, to lift some impressive poundage. I still lift weights regularly, but at age 65, I am lifting considerably less weight.
Weight lifting helps a person lose weight. Weight training thickens bones and helps with mobility, the ability to work, and so forth. The old beliefs that weight lifting would cause stiffness or heart problems are simply ridiculous, as is the notion that weight training makes ladies less feminine. If you, as a lifter, use common sense, you will see tremendous benefits in load-bearing exercise as a part of your overall health plan.
S—Speed Training. Speed is usually a by-product of normal training. When I was fighting, I needed speed. Olympic weightlifting demands speed. Muscle memory provides some speed. One can train for speed specifically through repetition of movement, running sprints, and increasing speed for short bursts when canoeing, biking, or jumping rope.
This topic is more complicated than can be thoroughly discussed in this article, but is worth exploring and incorporating into one’s routine.
Dale Holzbauer is a minister, adjunct professor, and church consultant living in Xenia, Ohio. He is a fourth-degree black belt, former pro fighter, and has a class one rating in Olympic lifting and power lifting.