Today I did the second of my startup weight training routines. I hesitate to call what I am doing bodybuilding, because I'm not sure I am that committed at this point. However, last week I was reading through some of the posts on Trike Asylum, a recumbent trike website, and was reading about Steve Greene’s lifelong love affair with bodybuilding.
Although Steve (pictured here) is a dedicated long-distance trike rider - he does a lot of touring on the West Coast on his trike, his main love is bodybuilding. Steve tells about his 43 year history as a bodybuilder, including a long period of time in which he owned a health club somewhere in California. He talks about his clients and some of the bodybuilding mentors that he has worked with. I should probably say that Steve's love is even broader than bodybuilding. Steve has a philosophy of life which I really admire, and to some degree have emulated, called Maximum Functional Longevity. I have done a post on my lifestyle blog about Steve's philosophy.
Steve is 63 years old and we have talked through post on his website frequently about our mutual philosophy about staying as functional as we possibly can as we get older. Steve believes that the key to Maximum Functional Longevity is a vegan diet, vigorous exercise including resistance training and cardiovascular training, adequate sleep (8 to 10 hours per night), minimizing negative thinking, and managing stress. Steve and I both believe that reaching the age of 100 in relatively healthy and active condition is very achievable if we manage our lives correctly. To a very great degree, we are in charge of our own health and longevity.
At any rate, Steve is a big advocate of bodybuilding, especially as we get older. He not only believes that bodybuilding is a good longevity strategy, he also believes in the shorter term that it will enhance ability and enjoyment of trike riding.
Steve's latest writing on the subject has had a major influence on me. It is not that I am a stranger to bodybuilding. I have dabbled in weight training, including vigorous weight training, on and off throughout my life. Two years ago in 2012 I spent the better part of that year in a fairly intensive bodybuilding program, with Frank Zane as as my mentor. I absolutely loved my bodybuilding routines, but when I went back to Florida in 2013 I gravitated away from bodybuilding and more into long-distance cycling again. I also love cycling. When I'm at home in Sandy Springs I have a fully equipped gym in my basement and working out is fairly easy. While in Florida, although I joined the YMCA, which has an excellent workout facility, I found traveling to the YMCA several times a week to be too much of a hassle and I gradually gravitated away from bodybuilding and into a focus on full-time cycling.
However, Steve's approach to aging and his emphasis on bodybuilding as a key element to staying maximally functional has rekindled my interest in getting back into bodybuilding. The question is how can I do both? I still want to participate in long-distance recumbent cycling events and I'm not sure whether I can both focus on bodybuilding and stay fit enough on the bike to do the long-distance events. the reality is that I have a hard time focusing on two intense activities at one time.
So I'm struggling with the question of whether I should focus on one or the other, or whether I should try to do both. My current thinking is to train intensively three times per week in the gym. I am currently on session two of a full body workout which will get me back into more intensive split routines. My plan is to do full body workouts for a month to get my body back into bodybuilding and then go into a two-way split routine upper/lower body workout routine that I will do for a couple of months. After that depending on how I feel I may go into a three-way split routine of the type I was doing when I was guided by Frank Zane's books. That all remains to be seen, however, because I'm not sure how intensively I want to get into bodybuilding at this point.
I want to continue to do bike riding, but I think I will take a more relaxed attitude about mileage and distance. I will ride more leisurely on my days off from the gym. Whether or not I participate in century rides, and other organized cycling events remains to be seen.
One thing is for sure, I feel wonderful both physically and psychologically while I am doing bodybuilding. I have to admit, that I feel better with bodybuilding than I do with grinding out miles on the bike day after day. Riding can be a complement to my bodybuilding rather than my primary activity. I am not yet sure that I'm ready to do this, but I will give it a try for the next couple weeks to see how I react, particularly after move back down to Florida next weekend. When I'm in Florida I will again face the hassle of finding an adequate gym facility near my home on Longboat Key. That may be key to whether I can stay with a bodybuilding routine.
Some would argue that at age 72 I am a little bit crazy beginning a bodybuilding routine. I would argue that it possibly is the smartest thing I can do to pursue my goal of Maximum Functional Longevity.