Steve Maxwell told me that he’s never met an older dude who said that he wished he had lifted heavier when he was younger. It’s not how much weight you can lift – it’s how effectively can you use your body. To cement this idea, I created this video about getting kick-ass strong with the 16 kg kettlebell a year ago or so.
I submit that you don’t need to do reps of any of the following exercises with any more than the weights I’ve suggested:
- Deadlift – 135 to 225 pounds
- Kettlebell swing – 36 to 105 pounds
- Single arm military press – 36 to 70 pounds
- Barbell squat – 135 to 225 pounds
- Goblet squat – 50 to 70 pounds
- Dip – 10 to 50 pounds
- Chin – 10 to 50 pounds
- Single arm row – 30 to 70 pounds
Details: Spend most of your training time in the lower end of those ranges. Perform the exercises as flawlessly as possible. Consistently work on your form and technique—get deeper into your body and learn your nervous system.
These are exercises that work a lot of muscles at one time. Once you develop skill at a powerful exercise, that in its own right is a form of strength. For example, most people can’t do a chin up, achieving the ability to do five in a row and then do 5 sets of 5 gives you a certain baseline of strength. Performing full squats gives you a new found freedom of mobility, and frees your nervous system.
I know younger dudes will want to exceed these weights. I certainly did. I wanted to explore the limits of my body. But there is a different way to consider it: developing the skill of using your body to handle whatever life throws at you and developing the deep skill.
Do these exercises over the course of two workout sessions per week and walk every day – vigorously. You don’t even have to do all the exercises. But ideally you’d pick 3-4 exercises per workout, do 2 workouts per week, and go easier every fourth week… It’s a solid program.