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Let me introduce myself. My name is Mark Sisson. I’m 63 years young. I live and work in Malibu, California. In a past life I was a professional marathoner and triathlete. Now my life goal is to help 100 million people get healthy. I started this blog in 2006 to empower people to take full responsibility for their own health and enjoyment of life by investigating, discussing, and critically rethinking everything we’ve assumed to be true about health and wellness...

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August 05 2015

How Important Is Consistency in Fitness?

By Mark Sisson
64 Comments

Time to take an informal poll. Who here fits in two strength training sessions, 1-2 sprint/interval sessions and 3-5 hours of walking or low level cardio on top of ample play time – every single week? I’m betting there’s still a lot of hands raised in this crowd, but I’m going to wager I lost quite a number as the list went on. In an ideal world with a perfect schedule, we’d all consistently reach these goals. The best results come from this general protocol. That said, this level of regularity is probably the exception rather than the rule if you’re talking about the long-term – month after month, year after year. And, yet, plenty of us are in great shape – even if we didn’t always fit in the above full regimen. Hmm… Maybe the concept of consistency is more nuanced than we normally give it credit for.

The fact is, there are a lot of legitimate reasons to skip workouts now and then. You’re sick. Your kids are sick (and it’s the kind where there’s really no getting away). A minor catastrophe at work keeps you (long) after hours. You overdid it during your last workout or are paying for a weekend warrior stint that pushed you far beyond your comfort zone. You spent weeks dedicated to P90X or some other high octane routine, and now you’re totally burned out on it. You joined a gym and became a regular in a couple of classes, but now you’re not feeling it anymore. Maybe you tend to jump from thing to thing, experimenting with equipments and trends here and there. Like most people, you go through periods of consistency, even intense dedication, and then you settle out into phases of rest or even brief recess.

However erratic this might sound to some people, I’d venture to say our ancestors lived similarly changeable patterns of activity. There were in many regions, after all, seasons of migration for humans and for animals. With those migrations came hunting spurts as well as times of intense work on new shelters or winter preparations. A hundred different factors might have slanted Grok’s activity from one end of the spectrum to the other. Yet, it all evened out at some point.

Whatever the varied reasons behind our missed workouts in the present day, there’s this essential truth. The body requires adequate recovery from physical exertion to maximize its gains. Heavy exertion, after all, creates muscle damage, and the body then needs to repair that damage. Fitness, as it happens, accrues during recovery – not during the workout. Generally speaking, the harder you worked out, the longer you need to recover.

Working out manically – whether it’s spending hours every day on chronic cardio or not observing smart recovery time between lifting or other strength training sessions – won’t give you the results you deserve, and it’s frankly a waste of time and effort.

The fact is, life happens and sometimes the body is just tired. Pushing it isn’t going to help – especially if you’re low on mental or physical reserves.

If you’ve had poor sleep lately, for example, you’ll almost inevitably have a less productive workout. While light to moderate activity may help you modulate your energy and even support better sleep, intensive exercise probably won’t do you any favors. Not only are you more prone to injuries, but the added strain on an already off-kilter system may worsen the stress of sleep deprivation.

Even excessive mental stress can likewise alter your body’s response to exercise. Subjects in one study who were undergoing significant life stress events or perceived emotional stress showed impaired recovery following a heavy resistance training protocol. Their actual recovery of both muscular function as well as their recovery from fatigue and soreness took a hit for 96 hours (nearly 4 days) following their heavy exertion compared to those without measures of significant perceived or life stress events. This likely isn’t news to anyone who’s experience in the gym shifted in the face of personal crisis or even considerable work or family related stress.

Sure, the fitter you are, the more you have before you’re truly out of basic shape, but those working at a high maintenance performance level will see dips in those performance measures pretty quickly. For most people, however, two to four weeks is enough for losses to begin accumulating, and VO2 max (a key measure for cardiovascular fitness) tends to recede first with muscle mass losses on the heels. In one small study, non-exercising but otherwise “healthy” young men reduced activity from roughly 10,500 steps to around 1300. Two weeks later, their VO2 max had declined by 7% as did their insulin sensitivity and lean leg mass.

When we’re talking about consistency, however, we’re not talking about long hiatuses. We’re talking days here and there – with more workouts made than missed. Sometimes, we curtail rather than abandon our efforts as we navigate a gap in motivation or look for a new interest that will renew our dedication. And yet we’re still soundly on the fitness path.

Perhaps the most illuminating point about consistency can be found in looking more closely at the word itself. Consistency doesn’t just suggest a regular frequency per se but a general steadiness, an unfluctuating focus.

Consistency is an aspect – and tool – of discipline, but it’s not the core feature. Some people can stick to a routine like nobody’s business. Others would be rebelling outright if told they had to “do” their fitness in any kind of uniform way – whether it be the schedule or type of exercise they pursue. Nonetheless, over the course of a given time, they end up exercising a lot – as much or maybe even more than someone who makes a formula out of it. One way isn’t necessarily better than another.

In keeping with that, let’s pull back in our wordsmithing for the day and look at the concept of “consistent with.” Synonymous with it are phrases like “compatible with,” “congruent with,” “in tune with.” Here’s where we get to the meat of the matter.

Commitment is the real center here. If we’re committed, we’ll do what’s necessary to maintain if not progress our fitness – however loosely (and sometimes inconsistently) that actually happens. The heart of commitment is a steady focus. Workout inconsistencies aren’t necessarily undermining to that principle – or how strongly it operates in our fitness.

How about leaving some room for recalibration as well as real life? What would happen if we give up the pursuit-withdrawal chase of perfection and settle into the experience of self-trust – a value put into practice with the likes of daily or weekly minimums, self-care, health integrity, etc.?

How many of us then would be raising our hands – and feeling better about our fitness commitment? Maybe the outcomes tell us more than our schedules ever could.

Thanks for reading, everyone. How does “consistency” operate in your fitness. Offer your thoughts, and have a great end to the week.

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64 thoughts on “How Important Is Consistency in Fitness?”

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  1. I’m 35 weeks pregnant and still doing 2-3 strength training sessions a week and walking 2-4 hours a week. No interval work currently, but can’t wait to get back to it post-babe!

  2. Love the placement of commitment and steady focus above ‘must-do-it-at-all-costs’ consistency. Also love the encouragement for truly listening to our bodies and recalibrating our actions in response. This sort of intuitive responsiveness–whether with movement or eating or anything else–is a powerful primal practice for healing and staying healthy.

  3. The real impact when I get inconsistent in my routine is as much mental as it is physical. I generally check out mentally if I miss a planned workout for a family function or late night at work. It also impacts that next workout… “Hit it harder since I missed yesterday.” I try to combat it all by planning on being inconsistent. When that change point comes up… Have a back up… If I don’t, everything suffers.

  4. close to two years ago, I was exercising every day, had a schedule and stuck with it. I worked out by myself. But it got lonely. I started going out more trying to meet people and got into theatre/improv. I enjoyed it and started going out drinking and eating out more. Trouble was, most of the people I’ve met aren’t very healthy and I felt like I backslid. And Ive started dating again after divorce. Well most people aren’t paleo and try to actively sabotage your fitness goals. I have regained some weight and become a total couch potato. Ive gone from a size 4 back to an 8. I hate this. I’ve recently recommitted to trying to just do a bare minimum every day. Like a walk, a set of pushups, eating well, staying away from the boredom/stress drinking. Starting to come back a bit. So trying to come up with a routine or schedule that works for the long term.

    1. In response to Julie….I feel like living in health and wellness and even positivity is hard because you are swimming upstream. It’s lonely because ultimately your social life will suffer. The fact is most people don’t train and eat the Standard American Diet. Donuts at work…..cake at a birthday party…..out for drinks……popcorn at a movie….Netflix binges which means sitting….desk job which means sitting all day. I took last week off because I was dealing with changing jobs and was in crisis mode but I’m back at the gym today so this article hit home. Basically it comes down to sacrifice…to eat real food and train your body you have to give up some elements of your social life….unless you are lucky enough to have friends who are on the same page. It’s worth it but the daily grind is rough. No one ever said “I wish I hadn’t gone to the gym today”

  5. I struggle with consistency in feeling like I have to pick ONE type of workout and stick with it if I’m EVER going to see results. And yet I always find myself in the mood to do something else whenever I’m ready to work out, sometimes it’s the primal essential movements, or the 7-min. workout Mark mentioned recently, kettle bells, I tried the isometrics from yesterday, etc.
    It’s good to know that as long as I’m feeling good & I’m ready to work out that I can make my picks freely & I’m still giving my body what it needs.

  6. Well, this wordsmith takes issue with your consistency/commitment difference. Consistency is vital in fitness, and it includes rest and recovery. In other words, I am consistent in my training which includes by turns swmming strength training yoga cycling jump rope/sprints tai chi walking rest and recovery and recognize that some days I have less energy and some days more energy and I tune in carefully to these internal messages.
    Same goes for eating healthfully, and ‘rest’ moments for that saturated fat coffee ice cream treat.
    One needs to be committed to this relative consistency, especially as we age, where it’s much more difficult to bounce back from inattention and laxness.
    It’s an interesting challenge!

  7. Now that I consider it, best shape I was ever in -and for the longest – was when I had a choice of possible workouts. I would check with myself, “would I jog 3 miles, swim a mile, walk 5 miles, or find someone to play tennis with?”
    Also my boyfriend lived 1200 miles away so I had a lot of excess energy!

  8. for me i will stick to my daily routines but i just change a new job so jobscopes wise will be much more than my previous so i will skip work out so do learn the rope. will return to my routine if possible. if not adjustment to it

  9. This was exactly what I needed to hear right now. I had a tooth and root removed on Monday. I worked out that day then went to the dentist. Then I went home and slept for two hours and have felt tired and not fully myself. I skipped my workout on Tuesday and am also skipping today– normally I would do a HIIT on Tues and a strength training TRX work out on Wed. But I am finding I need the rest and convincing myself that it’s okay to take some extra time off is really the challenge.
    This is a big change for me– my current routine is less than a year old and I’m motivated by the progress I make. For awhile the idea of going off my routine at all terrified me– I thought if I took a day off, it was the beginning of the end of my routine. I’m realizing that I can take some time off when I need to and it’s not the end of the world.

    1. I recognize myself in what you said, Patti! My routine is also less then a year old. I’m from couch potato, to enjoying to train. At first it was for fat loss, and getting healthy, but now I really enjoy it. I’ve learned so much in these past few month though.
      I’m exercising 6 days a week, and give myself a rest day, on which I still walk at least 10000 steps, play in the pool etc. Mostly it’s Sunday, but like last week, I had a really bad night, couldn’t sleep, so I took the next day as my rest day. Nothing is written in stone.
      Also I don’t trash my body with every exercise to 100% (I rarely do that), mostly it’s between 75% -90% depending on how I feel that day.
      I do kettlebell training, walking, swimming now that it’s the season.

      With the kb training one can do so much, either do lighter bells for more sets and reps, or heavier kb for strength. I’m seeing results, so I’m happy with what I’m doing, and feeling good as well.
      Hope your energy returns soon. Dentist appointments are always unpleasant!

      1. Monika,
        Congrats on your progress!
        Our routines are so similar. I’m also exercising 5- 6 days a week and aiming for 10,000 steps a day with one rest day (although I try to get over 5K steps on that day too)
        I’m in an organized training program which includes strength, cardio, plyo and stretching two days a week, HIIT one day, TRX one day, gentle yoga one day, and beginner yoga one day– optional.
        Thanks for the well wishes. The dental thing is a drag for sure.

      2. And it takes quite a while to get rid of all the toxic chemicals that get poured into your body at the dentist. We need to heal from that onslaught as well.

  10. Missed training days create deficits in your fitness. 1 day off is recovery, 2 days off is habit forming. If you want to reach a goal, whether it’s strength, aesthetics, or performance, you’ll need consistency. Now, let’s eat some red meat!

    1. yes that wat i am afraid of. u might lose strength, speed and stamina

    2. Well, I’m gonna disagree a bit here. I’ve been on a four year Primal Essential Movement program (2 body weight workouts a week) with 1 sprint session every 7-10 days and am solid as a rock and in great shape. That’s a bodyweight workout on Mon. and on Friday every week. Taking 2-4 days off is not a big deal at all. It actually makes it so that I’m raring to go instead of feeling like my body wants more rest.

  11. My girlfriend is. 50 yr old very fit woman. She works out 5 days a week and has for 30 years. She recently shared with me how she feels she has to work harder and her workouts take more time… And she feels she is losing ground, even though her workouts are as intense as ever.
    My theory is… She is lacking the necessary cardio as her focus is almost always on strength training. She is cardio “fit”, but not a regular runner/hiker/walker. She loosely follows the Paleo eating style. She is under a moderate to high level of stress.
    Thoughts or suggestions I could share would be much appreciated as I would hate for her to feel like decline is inevitable(and happening) at this stage.

    1. my two cents:
      first cent: less is more
      second cent: enroll in zumba classes 🙂

    2. It’s all about good programming……………..

      You don’t need to run for cardio. Have her try this:

      3 rounds for time:

      sumo deadlift high pull 20
      box jump 20
      burpee 20

      SDHP use a kettle bell…. maybe 35 lbs
      Box jump 18 inches
      burpee, chest to floor

      Rip through the workout with no rest break (unless you have to 🙂

      She’ll get cadio similar to interval sprinting. should take around 9-12 minutes depending on cardio capacity

    3. She needs to re-vamp her exercises. Sounds like her body has gotten used to what she is going combine that with hormonal changes and slower metabolism as one gets older. Time for some new exercises wither it is more cardio and endurance.. maybe something like zumba as mentioned below, or breaking her workouts up into 30 minute segments in different parts of the day. Also, stress hormones do make it harder to lose weight, perhaps meditation and deep breathing adding yoga would be beneficial for her.

    4. Is she do 5 days a week of strength training – as a rule of thumb you need 48 hours at least to recover from a strength session – and if you have really ripped the muscles, even 7 days. Also, as strength increases and you lift heavier weights you seem to not do as much “work”. i.e., you might have done 3 sets of 10 Chinups before, but now your only doing 3 sets of 5 muscle ups – you are doing way more work with the muscle ups though – the muscle ups require all the muscles in your body to co-ordinate, and it taxes the nervous system more as well, you need to output a lot of nerve “power” to tell the muscles to all be contracted.

      Its tempting to think that she may need more “cardio”, but the reality is that too much cardio is catabolic, and will tear down any strength gains you have won – the short intensity bursts give the biggest bang for the buck, and that has been proven over and over – better to do 3 sessions a week with an all out effort, then 5 half-baked ones because you feel you religiously need to follow a schedule.

      I don’t know if she already does a lot of “cardio”, maybe it could be that the chickens are coming home to roost from too much cardio/not enough recovery time, or maybe it could be natural slide due to age.

  12. In the world of health and fitness, you can feel like a real outlier if you aren’t on a strict schedule. I think that works great for some people and perhaps “they” have been the loudest voices in the health and fitness world. But as a person that has a tendency to rebel, the fastest way to get me to avoid working out is to make it rigid and scheduled. Add in that I’m managing a chronic auto-immune disease and have a “normal” life (with work that is passable but stressful at times, family and friendships to maintain, a house to care for, etc.), and I find that I do much better with a more flowing and changeable approach to my workouts. I think that this is a great article and an inclusive way of approaching fitness, one that recognizes there are other ways to get things done.

  13. I get 2-3 strength workouts in, and probably walk a good 10-15 hours a week if not more! Missing out on the sprints/interval training though…

    1. Have you tried integrating your sprints into your walks once a week? That’s worked for me.

  14. My question is how fit do you have to be in our present environment? At age 62, and having gone thru various levels of fitness throughout my life from being a competitive runner to a competitive powerlifter and doing several sports, to doing long stretches of almost nothing, I now feel that just being actively in motion, is the key. This is also in light of having quadruple bypass surgery last year, from which most people cant tell any difference at all in me now, other than I have lost weight. My diet is key now, and the exercise plays a distant backseat. But everyday I am in motion and periodically throw in some intensity. I want to be an
    urban bushman. This website is my ‘go to’ reference now as far as deciding what is important in my life now, as far as taking care of my body. If I read or hear about something, my research on it starts here….and sometimes ends here…

    1. Texman, I’m with you regarding diet being key. Regarding exercise routines, over the years I’ve cycled from being very dedicated to not being dedicated at all. These days I prefer to GET exercise, versus committing to DOING exercises, because I can no longer see the need to have my life revolve around a formal fitness program. I’d much rather get my exercise from fun things such as skiing, swimming, walking, gardening, etc.

      I really enjoyed yesterday’s isometrics article. I’m glad to see them making a comeback as they are quite effective without investing a great deal of time and effort. You can unobtrusively squeeze in a few isometrics any time it’s convenient since you don’t need a gym membership, special clothing, or any equipment other than your own body.

  15. I play with kettlebells, a punching bag, rings, pull up bar, calisthenics, sprinting and recreational biking. I usually keep up about 2 strength, hypertrophy workouts a week and then just keep to what my body feels like doing. Whether I’m forcing a routine or not, I don’t notice any large differences when I’m too tired to do more than 2 formal workouts a week or not. I’ve also learned from you Mark, to either not workout or cease working out when I’m not feeling it. Such as when I feel any sort of nervous system burnout and need rest, or to simply move in a lighter manner. The body truly knows best.

  16. Obviously rest and recovery are important. Additionally we do need to listen to our bodies. If something doesn’t feel right, then don’t do it. However, it needs to be a real message and not our own sense of laziness creeping in. Also, life happens and at times other priorities take up too much time.

    My second thought is that one needs to remember the difference between exercise and training. Exercise is activity done for the feeling it generates at the time. Training is progressive activity intended to reach a set and specific goal. I believe Mark had a post about the difference a while back. To me, if your goal is general health and fitness, then exercise is great. With that you will have more flexibility. If you have specific goals, deadlift 500 pounds, lose X amount of weight, fit in a certain size pants, run a 5K or 10K in a certain time, compete in a strongman contest, the list can go on, then you are training. In this case you will have less flexibility. However, you still have some flexibility.

  17. I think the only thing we should consistently keep in our fitness schedule is walking and stretching. We were designed to walk and without adequate stretching.. well we all know the consequences of neglecting stretching.

    Everything else at that point depends on the individual and goals. There are times when people just need to take a lot of time off, then there are others who feel the need to be up and moving almost constantly. Listening to the body is the most important thing, much more than trying to abide by a consistent exercise or workout schedule.

  18. Consistency is only important in that you do SOMETHING (other than chronic cardio of course) regularly. If you’re where I am which is just starting back after a long break. Take your time, be consistent, and have fun. Meaning don’t try to get it all back at once. Just keep going and try to not burn out.

  19. There is a big difference between training for a specific goal and being in maintenance mode. If I am training for an event, or building strength to be able to do something specific, consistency is important. If I don’t have a specific goal I’m working toward, the most important motivator is simply focusing on activities I enjoy. If that means all I do is goof around on the slackline for half hour, so be it. The most important thing is not to stress about the workout on any given day in the short term. I recently spent three weeks traveling in Europe, ate gluten and dairy, and did nothing more than walk 3-5 miles a day seeing the sights. When I picked up my 30kg kettlebell upon my return, I found I had no loss of strength or endurance, and if I had, I wouldn’t have cared, because I know it’s not a big deal to get it back.

    1. I agree, event training is a totally different ball game.

      If you are say, training to get a good time in a marathon, then its a given that you’ll be training a lot of cardio for long times, pounding and wearing your body away each day to reach that good marathon time – but then that is the price of “winning” – if you loose 10-20 years from your life to go good at such an event, then so be it, that’s the price you’ve agreed to pay.

  20. I go to the gym 4 or 5x a week. I use machines a lot. I keep telling myself I am going to venture to the other side with all the cool kids BUT I don’t know where to begin and I don’t understand the lingo. I get confused and just stay on the machine side.

    The strength in my legs and arms have improved greatly from machines, but I am ready to move on.. just not sure how because I am clueless when it comes to free weights, dumbbells etc ect.

  21. I tend to get very consistently active for about 3-4 months and then go into my “dormant” state of leisure for a few years. Now after about 3 years from not having a fitness routine and sitting most of my day, I have begun to start movement again, albeit little steps since “waking” up the muscles and getting my heart on my side is a very slow process but it has begun. Since I am 44, I believe I may try to stay consistent this time since starting “anew” isn’t as easy as it has previously been.

  22. This has been front of mind for me lately. I have weeks with the ideal workout schedule, but weeks like the past two where I’m keeping up with the work and family load, but also remodeling my bathroom. With the combined physical/mental stress, not to mention time constraint, I’ve dropped the workouts but kept the play (tennis). I used to feel driven to try to do it all, but realized I was grinding myself down. Plus there’s the whole argument that physical work is the real ancestral workout!

  23. Ok, time for honesty…I’m 60 and retired so my exercise is only walking the dog, I do this every day in all weathers and it’s usually an hour or more. I don’t do anything else mainly because I want to enjoy it. Besides this I’m passionate about gardening and recently moved and I’m changing the garden so I’ve removed hedges and lugged binfuls of rubbish from the house and heaved into the back of the car. Plus digging, raking and weeding. (So I’m hoping that this counts for strength training!) Sprinting definitely none so far. Playing?? after housewwork, shopping and cooking, I like to sit down and read a good book.

    1. Hi Sally,

      What are movements you must do each day?
      Squat
      Push Up
      Pulling
      Deadlifiting (picking up things)
      pressing – putting things over head
      getting up off the ground
      getting down on the ground

      Agree that you do these movements? Want to be able to keep doing them for a loooooong time?

  24. Good timing with this. I took off from any kind of steady workout program since we have had my daughter (two months now). I was lifting with a friend for almost two years and didn’t want to leave my wife for 1.5 hours 3x a week. So I tightened up my diet and went super strick Paleo, almost whole30, cut down to some bw exercises and actually lost weight, perhaps some muscle. I fluctuate from 175-165 lbs at 5’11”. After 30 days of that, I went on a family vacation for 2 weeks and loosed up a little on the diet which means added some treats in and some alcohol most nights. But I did push-ups, bw squats and swam or some kind of activity every day. In two weeks, I became bloated and felt horrible. I am now home and back to Paleo. I just started lifting again and feel so much better now that I have a “routine” in place. I felt guilty because I couldn’t find anything to replace the fun of lifting with a friend but now things are back on track. I also started using the 12 minute athlete app for tabata workouts and can’t reccomend it enough.

  25. Consistency is “King” Mark. In life and in workouts half the battle is just showing up. I plan the week in advance as there just isn’t time to wing it. Typically its MWF strength train + 30 minutes on the stair master at the gym. TTH 1/2 Mile swim at the pool. SAT is Yoga. SUN is 20+ Mile road bike. Do it again the following week or some form of it. If the plan breaks down unexpectedly, I default to a long walk with my dogs and FITBIT in hand with a goal of 10,000 steps for the day. One area that I’m weak in is PLAY. I’d love an article dedicated to ideas on the same!

  26. Consistency is of prime importance if anyone wants to see positive results for fitness schedule. However, hardly people maintain it for longer time, and leave or procrastinate that makes them irritated when they see no effect.

  27. I’m with you Sally. Same age group and I’ve been Paleo/primal for about 15 months. I belong to a walking group and we are out twice a week for at least a 3-4k walk, sometimes up to 10k.
    I also do a group fitness class once a week with the ‘girls’ at my local gym and our trainer puts us through everything including balance, light weights, using a Thera-band, steppers, stretching etc and we do this routine for a good hour with short breaks. At the end you have had an excellent workout even though it doesn’t feel like you have worked that hard. I also do a routine in the gym with heavier weights, rowing and core exercises twice a week for no more than 45minutes in total. Now I can add in some isometrics for a few minutes a day and I find this routine works for me and fits in with my fairly busy lifestyle. No hard and fast rules, if I can’t do a class or go walking I don’t stress and pick it up the next day. It’s a good balance for me and I don’t get bored with the same old, same old!

    1. Hi Pauline,
      interested to find you’ve been primal for 15 months. Basically I started a Low carb high fat eating plan in April as my husband is a diabetic and as he changed to this it was easier for me to do the same. I love walking and I’m thinking of increasing by joining the Ramblers..I’m resistant to the gym as I get bored. But I’m thinking of pilates in September and possibly swimming…again because I enjoy it. Meanwhile when I’ve got the garden in order for winter, I’ve two rooms to decorate so I’m counting that as exercise!

      1. Hi Sally,

        What you are doing sounds very good following Mark’s principle of moving naturally to keep fit. Walking your dog every day, gardening, housework, and shopping all adds up to more than you may think and if you want to add a little more, swimming is one of the best exercises you can do. Mark’s main message is you can be very fit without killing yourself or going overboard in the gym. I like that principle for us older folk who want to keep fit, moving and healthy as long as we can. I’m one of the lucky one’s as I don’t take any medications and so far have no medical issues at all.

        I got onto paleo/primal by a random search on Amazon (for a weight loss diet that might actually work) and I found Wheat Belly, lose the wheat, lose the weight by Dr. William Davis. What an eye opener that was so I decided to try it, the exact opposite of what I had been told to eat for the last 30 or so years. It was a short hop from there to more research on the net to find MDA, Kris Kresser and more. I’ve lost 3 dress sizes and gone down half a shoe size as well and because I was feeling so well physically after going Paleo/primal I decided to get some more structured exercise for my age group. My local council (I’m in Australia) runs fitness classes for over 60’s at a low cost and they are well patronised. They have clients in their 80’s that are going strong which is fantastic to see and proves that some consistency in physical activity to keep your bones strong and muscles toned does pay off in the long run.
        I wouldn’t go back to a SAD diet again for anything.

        1. Wow, 3 dress sizes you must feel great. Like you I’m not on any medication and that has been my main motivation to lose weight…so I can stay healthy. Pretty good that councils in Australia run low cost classes for 60+ the UK would definitely benefit from this, especially with baby boomer generation now needing more and more from NHS.
          I can get low cost swimming classes (one reason for taking them up) Meanwhile I’ve booked for pilates next Tuesday & my first lesson is free (great being retired I can go to the daytime classes)
          I’m not sure if I’m primal just LCHF but very similar as I’ve completely cut out grains and below ground veg. As well as MDA the other site I use is Diet Doctor, he has some great recipes.

  28. Blueprints are for a purpose. The (original) primal one is the one that we were given to follow by God. Mark’s modern one is the most thorough I’ve seen so far for modern man. Follow the blueprint and you’ll achieve results in the safest way. PBF will help you LGN! That’s all most of us want anyway, And you’ll be in good shape too!

  29. I’m doing 4 heavy strength sessions per week & lots of walking. The only thing I find difficult is being consistent with my interval sprint sessions. It’s hit & miss with me.

  30. Me. I do a lot more easy cardio than that, though. Plus lift a lot of heavy things on the farm as well as two gym sessions. I’ve got a couple of years on you Mark.

    I’d actually like to hear more about keeping us sexagenaraians fit and healthy.

  31. I approach exercise the same as diet – i.e., the 80/20 rule. I set a schedule (pretty much Marks recommended weekly 3 strength days, 1 sprint session, 1 WOW), and loosely stick to it about 80% of the time. The reality is that injury, sickness, and life will always prevent you hitting that 100%, the key is not to worry about it – it doesn’t matter – There is diet, exercise, and the 3rd important factor is “Mindfulness” which is just as important.

    I contend that we should redefine the “lifestyle” mix as 60/20/20:

    60% Diet
    20% Exercise
    20% Mindfulness

    Stick to the above 80% of the time.

    80% is also a popular Fibonacci number, as if it was hard-coded into the very nature of the universe – don’t fight it.

  32. I teach Jazzercise 5-6 times a week. Jazzercise is a total body workout with cardio and strength routines to current music. It’s been around for 46 years, the longest of any cardio program. It’s never boring and very fun, it’s current and keeps up with the times. I’m 53 and in the best shape of my life thanks to Jazzercise.

  33. Training is important and so is consistency, but you can’t make your whole life about working out. Sometimes picking up a hobby like gardening or even just having good family socialization is important; like board games and movie night. The expectation people put on themselves to do HIIT cardio, weight training, or x amount of steady state cardio sessions is STRESSFUL in itself. Being active is great but not at the expense of missing out on family affairs, relaxing(recovery), or life in general.

  34. I’m 63 and gave the gym away after 20 years( 5 years with a personal trainer, 5 years of gym classes, 10 years of individual programmed 12 week cycle workouts). 3 years ago I started Mark’s exercise workouts. I start the day with qi gong.Every 2-3 days 20 pushups, 50 squats, 2 minute plank and 5 very weak hold, jerky chin ups. I sprint every 7-10 days barefoot…love the 10 jog, 15 run and 25 flat out.
    I love doing handstands on the beach. I paddle board as often as I can and body surf most days 9 months of the year. I play golf usually twice a week and practise a couple of times. I walk and bike ride most days. I love being active. I’m so fortunate that I have the time and live on the beach with a bike track nearby. Playing with the grandkids is fun.
    I love the freedom of Mark’s exercise workouts. I no longer have aches and pains from gym workouts.

  35. I have the healthy eating in check and am not over weight but do lack consistency / commitment to a exercise regime. I can vouch for the fact (like the study Mark referenced) that with less exercise per day that muscle mass declines particularly in the legs…..desk job. Some days it is difficult to be motivated to walk when it is cold wet and raining and have never been a gym person. Keep up the great blogs to keep us thinking Mark

  36. Well great post as usual. Anybody else read this then promptly skip your workout? I sure did!

    1. LOL!! I giggled out loud when I read your post. Thanks for the chuckle!

  37. I’m 61 and have done weight training for 47 years and walking/ hiking with dogs for 40 years. The weight training hasn’t always been consistent and I change up the workout as I learn new exercises. Like dropping the leg extension and leg curl machines for barbell squats and lunges and now my legs are stronger and there’s no pain. For years I added yoga into my week and lessened the weights. So I guess I’m consistent at getting to the gym at least 3x a week but also changing the routine up to keep it interesting and just improving to the results I get.

  38. I really appreciate this article. I do a little of everything… from light cardio to strength training, different Tabata routines, yoga, etc. I am a perfectionist, so I tend to be a little harsh on myself. This was a great encouragement to give me permission to “chill”, too! Thanks, Mark, for all you do!

  39. I find that off days are equally important to work days. Often I have had great increases in performance after a few days off, or at least changing up my program for a bit. A good program should account for both!
    Another conversation is the difference between health and performance. An elite athlete needs to be much more conscious of when they take off days than the rest of us!

  40. I sometimes struggle with this…mostly with the words commitment and consistency. I’m not saying I lack either. When I commit to something, especially fitness related, I want to be all in 100%! I sometimes have to tell myself “Hey dummy, it’s okay to miss a workout here and there, life happens sometimes. You’re not training for the Olympics. Your’e training for a happy, healthy and BALANCED life.”
    Great read Mark. Have a good weekend.

  41. Great post, Mark! 🙂

    I’m a 100% rebel, when it comes to ‘do exactly this, on this exact time’, so I can’t follow any kind of set-in-stone fitness program, without rebelling against it like a 2-year-old 😀

    When I think about the periods of my life, where I was in my best shape, it was when I ‘did what I wanted to do, when I wanted to do it’. I especially enjoyed biking, hiking and lifting weights, and I was in great shape, without following any sort of program.

  42. I appreciate your post. I read your blog often and you always post excellent content. Thanks for writing this!