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Lessons from My Strong 89 Year Old Grandfather

My grandfather, Albert Fagan, is going to celebrate his 90th birthday in less than a month. He’s pain free, mobile, and an extremely strong individual. He recently went through a small procedure, where the doctor had told my parents that my grandfather’s arteries are the same as a 25-year-old. Want to know his 'secrets'? keep on reading.. Watch him in action Watch his post workout high * * * Growing up, I always knew ‘Saba (grandfather in Hebrew) loves to lift weights’ and ‘Saba eats very healthy’. I remember going to my grandparents’ house, and looking at Joe Weider fitness magazines. He had piles upon piles of magazines which he’s been subscribed to, for years. Back in the day, the popular resources for strength training, health, and nutrition information were magazines. Today, we are more knowledgeable than ever, as more research is being conducted; and our understanding of the science behind nutrition, exercise, and longevity has been tremendously expanded. Yet, personal experience and empirical data are not to be discounted. As ‘the best results’ are the combination of the science and the ‘art’/individuality. Here’s what I learned from my grandfather’s 76 years of training for aesthetics, health, and longevity goals:

‘ I started strength training when I was 13 years old. My uncle bought me cables for my Bar Mitzvah, and it was love at first sight. In 1945, At 17 years old, I went to a gym for the first time. I noticed it made me feel great; I loved building up my body and strength. I became more and more confident, and I was always happy after I worked out because of the endorphins’. Watch his short explanation:

The takeaway: choose an activity that you love doing, chances are you’ll stick to it. You know I promote strength training because I truly believe it is the fountain of youth (; however, any form of exercise is better than no-exercise. So, if you love running, yoga, Zumba, walking, swimming -> make sure you practice it consistently to reap off the benefits. Daily routine: “Each morning, I perform a full body movement routine which includes basic stretches, and taking joints through their range of motion. My favorites are ‘deep knee bends” (squats) and “back arches” (glute bridges).” The takeaway: your body was meant to move; your body was meant to be mobile. If you do not move your body through full range of motion, you will lose some mobility as you age. Call it yoga, call it Pilates, or call it basic stretching and joint movement- this is all ‘joint lubrication’ that you need to do consistently in order to function optimally. Training philosophy: I strength train 2-3 times a week for 2 hours each time. I warm up with the stationary bike, and use light weights before my ‘working sets’. When I first started training, I used to do full body workouts, and along the years, depending on my availability, I progressed to doing body split workouts. I use a repetition range of 6-15 reps because I wanted to build muscle and avoid injuries. I was always in it for the long run”. The takeaway: my grandfather focused on injury prevention because he knew he wanted to keep lifting weights for years. He wasn’t in a rush to lift the heaviest weights, he enjoyed the process and looked at any workout as an opportunity to safely improve.

Specifics on training: *He said he never wrote down his program, and that he always knew what he wanted to do for each workout, he came mentally prepared.

*He also mentioned he goes a lot by ‘feel’ as far as workout intensity. This is what coaches call ‘biofeedback’, or ‘listening to your body’ when choosing a workout intensity. I think biofeedback training approach is one of the best things you can do to decrease risk of injury and promote a safe environment for growth.

*He emphasized the importance of doing different exercises per muscle group for a full muscular development & growth , injury prevention, and going past training plateau. *His guidelines:’ I choose weight that I can lift for 10 reps, then add a little more weight and do 8 reps, and add a little more weight and do 6 reps for a total of 3-4 sets.’ Favorite moves per body part: Back: wide bent over row bent over rear delt raise lat pulldown Butt & Legs: deep knee bents (squats) stiff leg deadlifts leg abduction Triceps ( his favorite muscle group to train): triceps extension Shoulders: side raises front raises bent over rear delt raise

wide bent over row Chest: flat db press incline press pushups Biceps: hammer curls regular curls curls with palms up Traps ( he mentioned it, as I didn’t really think about asking him): shrugs upright row Abs: hanging leg raises sit ups side bents Diet philosophy: *He eats very slowly, and takes time to enjoy and chew his food.

*He eats everything in moderation, and never deprives himself from foods he loves. *He never counted calories. *His diet consists of whole, minimally processed foods. Some of his staples are fruits (bananas are his favorite), veggies, chicken, fish, eggs, whole grain bread, peanut butter, and dark chocolate. *He eats until he’s satisfied, not stuffed.

*He also mentioned to 'watch your diet if you want a six-pack.'

“People have been asking me along the years how come I never competed in bodybuilding competitions, and this what I replied: “I do it for my own fulfillment and gratification”. The takeaway: improve your health for you. Get stronger for you, and do what makes you thrive. When I asked him about motivation to work out and if he ever thought about stop lifting, this was his golden answer: * * * None of the information presented is groundbreaking, though my Saba is a great testimonial to what we all know we should be doing if we want to age gracefully and happily. I hope reading this blog post and watching him articulating his philosophy and thoughts has sparked some interest in you to invest in yourself and your health. If health is a core value of yours, I encourage you to take control over your life and start acting for a better, healthier future.

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