fitness over 60

5 Functional Fitness Workouts for Tough Men Over 60 | Jan Libourel

April 06, 2020

Here's a new post from our friend Jan Libourel, a 78-year old unconventional fitness enthusiast. He goes over his current exercise schedule, which includes functional fitness equipment like macebells, kettlebells, and slam balls...But first, he takes us back in time to his earlier training days, then explaining some advantages of his newer unconventional training modality, like the ability for more frequent workout sessions as they are less taxing on the body. 

Although these types of functional workouts are great for fit men over 60, they will kick the ass of men some 20-30 years their junior. 

functional workouts for seniors


By Jan Libourel

Back when I got into "physical culture," as it was then often called, about 56 years ago, resistance exercise was almost entirely dominated by free weights--barbells and dumbbells. You lifted perfectly balanced loads vertically--up and down, workout after workout, year after year. There were, of course, things lat like pulleys at gyms and devices like the Universal machine, which most serious men regarded as sort of sissified (and I use the word "men" deliberately, women who engaged in serious resistance training being exotic rarities in that more sexist era). I was, of course, aware of old-time fitness tools like kettlebells, Indian clubs and medicine balls, but they seemed like relics of the dim bygone days of Eugene Sandow and his ilk. In fact, it was only late in life that I learned that the "Indian" in Indian clubs derived not from the Native Americans, who did frequently use war-clubs, but from the Indians proper in India.

Related: 20 Minute Follow Along Indian Club Workout

Training doctrine in my early days usually prescribed a full-body workout, followed by a day or two of rest for the body to recuperate. Recently, I read a description of the immortal Steve Reeves' regimen: three two-hour, full-body workouts a week. "Heavens," I ruefully thought, "that's just about how I trained." Well, I never looked remotely as good as Steve Reeves, but then very few, if any, men ever did! Split routines were coming into vogue, in which men trained varying body parts as much as six days a week. This was regarded as strictly a practice for advanced bodybuilders in the old days although it is much more widely used by the general public currently, perhaps ill-advisedly. Some of the articles in the muscle magazines advocated workouts featuring all sorts of "super sets" and "giant sets" that sounded pretty excessive. Arthur Jones, the inventor the Nautilus machines, observed that a lot of these workouts would kill an adult gorilla!

Training in the old "three days" a week mode certainly made me bigger and stronger than I would otherwise have been, but I was somewhat "beefy" looking (certainly no Steve Reeves) and lacking in endurance and flexibility. In fact, I was asked on occasion if I were a professional wrestler. When I took up running regularly on my "off" days, things improved, but eventually, the same old barbell-dumbbell exercises became stale and boring and remained so, sapping my enthusiasm for them.

Given the many unconventional or alternative fitness modalities available to today's trainee, I can only feel rueful that they were not available in my younger days. I am confident they would have made me a much better man physically. Back in the 1970s, I read a comment from one of the top physique men of the time to the effect that if you didn't dread your workout, you weren't training hard enough. I knew what he meant. Things are so different today! The wide variety of exercise tools currently available enables a trainee to exercise every day, working many body parts without much risk of over-taxing any. So far from dreading my daily workouts, I relish them!

5 Effective Functional Workouts

functional fitness equipment for men over 50

Here is a brief description of the five functional workouts--all with different--gear that make up my current exercise schedule:

Macebell: There was some initial skepticism on my part about the benefits of mace training, but today the mace (macebell, if you prefer) has become my favorite piece of workout equipment, and my "mace days" are my favorite workouts.

unconventional home workouts for seniors

I am able to use all four of my maces (10, 15, 20 and 25 pounders) for a variety of challenging exercises. I also hadn't realized how much plain, old fun mace training could be or what a great tool the mace is for full-body workouts. I also incorporate a good deal of tire pounding into my macebell routine.

What size macebell should I buy?

steel maces

Shop Steel Maces

Kettlebell and Dumbbell: Dumbbells for certain shoulder exercises, kettlebells for bent and upright rows, goblet squats and swings.

These above are my two "heavy" workouts. Both are preceded by about 10 minutes of Indian club swinging. The less demanding workouts that I usually intersperse between the heavies are:

Related: Kettlebells vs Dumbbells

Kettlebell Carries: This involves carrying a kettlebell of moderate weight (36, 40 or 45 pounds, depending on how energetic I feel) for a mile, varying between the "briefcase," "goblet" or "shoulder rack" positions.

What size kettlebell Should I Buy?

kettlebell set for set

Shop Kettlebells

fitness over 70

Slamball: As you might expect, mostly slamming a 40 pound slamball on grass in various ways. Picking it up and running with it will really hit the muscles of your thighs in a different way. It's very good for a quick and brutal total-body workout.

We use the TRX Training Slam Ball because off the textured shell that allows for better grip.

Medicine Ball: I have two, an 8- and an 18-pounder. Excellent low-stress workout tools that are especially good for floor exercises, working abs and other body parts in fast, high-repetition circuits.

Related: Medicine Ball vs Slam Ball, What's the Difference?

Related: What Weight Medicine Ball (or Slam Ball) Should I Buy?

We recommend the American made Dynamax 14lb Soft-Shell Medicine Ball due to the build quality and weight of 14lbs which is great size instead of purchasing two different sizes.

***These are affiliate ads above where we will get a small commission for any purchase you make. We only recommend products that we use!***

functional workouts for older men

They say that variety is the spice of life. Even now I am pondering other pieces of fitness gear for future acquisition...a clubbell or two, perhaps?

Jan Libourel's Fitness Story

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Advantages of Unconventional Fitness Training

Top 7 Unconventional Training Tools

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