Tuesday, May 08, 2018

Training Over Fifty

As an older but active male I decided to re-evaluate my fitness goals considering my age, renewed commitment to a lower carb keto/paleo way of eating combined with an intermittent fasting protocol. My athletic goals have changed over the last several years moving away from competitive club road cycling and racing to a more balanced approach to fitness. My cycling has become mostly commuting with an occasional social club or solo road ride. More for fun and enjoying the freedom a bike can offer. I continue to play semi competitive ball hockey primarily as a goaltender and practice traditional archery. The main change in activity has been my return to the gym lifestyle.

I admit that my gym focus has mostly been on interval training using Les Mills RPM indoor cycling. The club cyclist in me likes the social and motivational aspect of indoor cycling sessions, the effectiveness of interval training and the time saving benefits of shorter yet more intense HIIT training. That said I have decided to temper my interval training with the addition of regular scheduled strength training as opposed to an ad hoc, “lift when I can” mentality.

I think it all began to change this past winter when I was having hip flexor and hamstring issues and discovered the benefits of glute activation, improved hip flexion and better core strength. Incorporating specific exercises to address lower body/glute/core strength made a definite difference in my interval training and goaltending. Not only was my endurance and flexibility improved but I was stronger on the bike and in the crease.

I now want to take that success and apply it to my upper body. Legs are strong, core is much improved but upper body had been pushed down the workout depth chart. I do some upper body strength training but usually it’s a few sets before a spin class with an occasional (unstructured) weight day thrown in for good measure.

Being 54 I needed to determine the best way to accomplish my goal and prevent injury. Result - consensus seems to indicate us older guys are better off performing full body exercises with a focus upon stretching regimes and the importance of recovery. Recovery may well be the hardest part of the equation. I like to keep active and taking days off always a challenge. Nutrition also plays a key role for us older fellas especially in regards to appropriate protein intake for either muscle maintenance or muscle growth.

Full Body

Keith Lazarus

“I would think of the body as a global entity,” says Lazarus. “There's nothing wrong with split sessions in principle, but you don’t want to overload too much of your muscle type at our age.” Even though you’re as quick as ever, one notable factor of age is the increased level of recovery time. “Practically, it’s more productive to train the body as a whole,” says Lazarus. Focusing on functional fitness instead of the constant arm-day, back-day, leg-day routine puts the emphasis on mobility, the quality that’s taken for granted by younger gym-goers. Granted, there’s space for a heavy lifting schedule in your sessions, but keep the activities varied and the focus on movement.”


Stuart Carter

“New research actually suggests that full body strength training sessions a few times per week are one of the big secrets to losing fat and building muscle for guys over 50. You will get the best results by training all muscle groups in a single workout. Full body strength training will help you maintain lean muscle and stay strong well into your 50s, 60s, and beyond.”


Chris Azzari

“The strength training for full body workout routine is best when you target various muscle groups of your body using weights. For example, you can do exercises like clean & press, squats, dead-lifts and other similar exercises that hit more than one muscle in your body….”



Linda Melone

“Taking a day off in between workouts gives muscles time to recover, but you may need more recovery time after age 50, says Dr. David W. Kruse, a sports medicine specialist with Hoag Orthopedic Institute. You need to focus more on recovery after 50. Tissue recovery takes more time and more effort to support that recovery. The exact amount of time depends on your baseline fitness level. How do you know when you’ve had enough rest? If you find soreness isn’t going away and is impacting your next workout this may indicate early signs of injury or not enough recovery time.”


“You will not be able to hammer out workouts quite as you did when you were younger, so space out your harder sessions well. Don’t feel guilty about taking time out to recover. “As you get older you lose water content from all the body’s structures, including cartilage, which protects the joints,” says Claire Small, from the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy. “Tissues become weaker and less compliant, all of which means that injuries happen more easily. Rest after exercise is essential.”



Courtenay Schurman

“Stretching can help you warm up before, and cool down after, your outdoor, endurance, and strength activities. Stretching is critical (for people of ALL ages) for restoring flexibility to worked muscles, improving your range of motion about a joint, and helping prevent injury. It also may help reduce muscle pain and stiffness as long as it is done properly.”


Jeremey DuVall

“When it comes to desired physical characteristics, flexibility falls down the priority list, as most guys would much rather have killer abs and ripped arms than be able to touch their toes with ease. However, a lack of focus on flexibility may be hindering results in the gym. Heavy workouts combined with the typical desk posture from the 9-to-5 grind can stifle strength gains and line you up for an injury down the road.”


Sunday, May 06, 2018

Under The Green

We are finally getting a some sunny Spring  weather so I opted to take a morning for some bow time. Awoke to a tender knee so opted out of riding either a spin or road bike giving the knee some down time which was the prudent choice.

Over the winter I had found another location that would be suitable for archery practice that was somewhat easier to access. Decided today would be a good time to look at the potential sight lines. There are a fair amount of trees but little in the way of alders and other low shrubbery. Not only will it offer the chance for different shooting angles but it should remain relatively tick free.

Looking at the target from an elevated position.

Facing the target bag and back stop.

A view to the target through the trees from a slight rise on the right.

Took out the 55#@28 Hungarian composite horse bow. Its a real nice shooter. Nice morning under the green.

Thursday, May 03, 2018

Tick Hack #3 - Essential Oil Repellent

There are some interesting articles that are linking the explosion of insect borne diseases to climate change, that warming temperatures are expending the range of and prolonging the duration of potential exposures to ticks and mosquitos. Whether “vectors” will become the new pestilence of climate change is debatable but there is no doubt that diseases such a Zika, West Nile and Lyme are on the rise.

I have concerns with commercially produced bug repellents containing Deet and other insecticides so had to look at more natural substitutes based upon essential oils. I began experimenting with types of oils either alone or in blends and was happy with the results. Lemon grass, cedar and citronella seems very effective against our local mosquitos. Peppermint very effective against black flies. I`ve combined different oils into sprays mixing them with water and usually vodka or witch hazel. Placed in a glass spray bottle for ease of application the essential oil repellent is very effective. Like scents tend to blend together the best but the key is determining the appropriate strength of the repellent so it takes trial and error to find the right balance. It also needs to be reapplied frequently especially if you are perspiring from work or sport.

 “Mosquitoes are thought to be attracted to us by certain substances in our sweat as well as the carbon dioxide released in our breath and through the skin. The olfactory sensors of the insect pick up these cues from far away and swarm to us for a free meal.”


  You can also add the oils to a heavier carrier substance like sweet almond, coconut or jojoba oil or mix into a commercial skin cream for something that is both moisturizing and longer lasting.

Ticked Off!

Flies and mosquitos be damned but ticks are on the rise and more of a concern. Clothing helps keep the flying vectors at bay but ticks are crawlers. Once they attach to your exposed skin or clothing they climb till they find an optimum place to feed or a gap in your apparel. They often can crawl about unnoticed by the host and attach without a sensation of being bitten. Ticks add both an anticoagulant and antihistamine when feeding to keep the blood flowing without itching or swelling of the host. Impossible to kill them like swatting mosquitos you need to pick unattached ticks off or use tweezers if they have started to feed.


I have been using an essential oil tick repellent for the last few years while outside in rural Nova Scotia in both wood(dog) and black legged(deer) tick territory.  I apply it twofold; directly to my lower legs before dressing but also to my socks and trouser legs repeatedly throughout the time I am outside. My experience is that some ticks will initially attach to my trousers but tend not to move quickly. They do not like the rose geranium oil I use in my repellent. In testing I have sprayed a crawling tick placed on my forearm and it has either stopped or dropped off completely.

 This season I am using gaiters to seal the gap between boots, socks and pant hem to close the proverbial “front door” to your legs. Keeping ticks on the outside of your clothing is the first line of defense. Light colored clothes, specifically trousers, will let you see them easily so you can pick them off before they have a chance to climb.

Using a repellent to avoid, confuse or slow them down is your second line of defense. Regardless of your precautions you must ALWAYS do a full body tick check at the first available opportunity. That is the third and most important line of defense. The buggers are persistent and will find a chink in any armor.

” There are several studies that have examined the effects of essential oils when used as tick repellent, including this one that focuses on geranium oil, showing that it can have a positive effect, deterring ticks…”


“… Many compounds have been tested for their ability to ward off ticks and other insects. Recently, essential oils have been studied intensely for their promising repellent potential.”


In my opinion the essential oils seem to work in confusing the tick’s ability to quest, imparing their ability to “smell” the air looking for hosts. Studies indicate they can locate hosts through identifying a host`s odor of perspiration, exhalation and lactic acid. Attaching despite using a repellent could be attributed to their ability to identify body heat signatures using Haller`s organs, the infrared heat sensors in their front legs. Despite not liking your odor they may still attach to any passing heat signature opportunity. That is why it is important to be prepared when outside in tick country. Mask your odor, keep them outside/off your clothes and tick check when home.

Essential oils should be stored in glass jars or bottles as the concentration of the oil could break down plastics.

Most essential oils should be mixed with carriers. There are a few exceptions like tea tree and lavender. You can use them neat to dab exterior clothing but avoid applying to skin full strength.

Be careful with essential oils around children and pets. Rose Geranium is pet friendly.

Citrus essential oils are photosensitive so avoid using if exposed to direct sunshine.