On Thursday, Sept. 15, 2011, 53-year-old Walter Urban set a new Guinness World Record for the most amount of weight squat lifted in one hour -- 127,245 lbs. The prior record was set in 2009 by a man who was 32 at the time. Here, Urban tells us how to get back into a workout routine after months or even years off.
Of course we all want to be in the best shape our lives. That phrase -- "best shape of my life" -- is now a cliche, uttered on every fitness infomercial out there. We care about living longer, feeling better. We have the best of intentions.
Unfortunately for the overwhelming majority of us, that's where it stops. Work, family, kids and motivation creep into and out of our lives and 15 years later we're a few pounds overweight and we fall into the weekend warrior's category. But it doesn't have to be that way. For more than 15 years I have been an amateur powerlifter -- training three-to-four days a week, 50 weeks per year. And I just turned 54.
If you're trying to stay fit, or making your first move back into the gym and fitness, don't worry about your age. No one is born strong, fit, a fitness expert or a Guinness World Record holder. Everyone starts at the same place and base.
For those venturing into the gym for the first time in years, here are a few suggestions:
1. If you’ve been sedentary for some time, you need to visit your doctor for a checkup or physical to ensure there are no health risks. While 40 is still young by today’s aging standards, blood pressure, cholesterol medications and other elements can affect your new activity. There is no medal for the weekend warrior who brings on more harm than good with physical activity. Trust me, on the way to my next Guinness World Record I have been through a stress test, echo cardiogram, ECG and blood work. Better to be safe than sorry.
2. Don't set a weight target. Muscle weighs more than fat, so don't get bogged down with body weight; it's all about being fit and what body type you were born with.
3. If it's been years since you were in the gym, some things have changed. Hire a personal trainer for two or three sessions to become comfortable with the gym, the weights and the machines you are using. Trust me, it’s worth the investment. If you are comfortable and confident you will enjoy your time working out.
4. You will get sore and you will hurt; do not quit! It will become easier and your muscles and body will adapt. In fact, I can’t remember a week in the last 15 years I have not been sore. Remember pain is weakness leaving the body. (Unless it's sharp pain!)
5. Fitness is a personal choice and it’s all about personal goals. Don't compare yourself with the young guy next to you who looks huge, bulked out, popping veins, etc. He's probably got the wrong form anyway -- not to mention other issues!
And for those in the gym looking for help or taking their fitness to the next level:
1. No matter how long you have been in the gym, ensure you are using proper technique for all your exercises. And the only way to do that is hire a trainer for a session or two. Don't just assume you are doing it correctly. It's hard to judge your form with no feedback.
2. Change your routine every 10-to-12 weeks to keep things fresh and to shock your muscles. If it's getting easier, you aren't pushing enough.
3. Many guys hate cardio and just go to the weight room. This is not a good idea and can hold back your progression. If you really want to ramp up your progress, take a look at CrossFit training. It features high reps, lower weights, and very short rest periods. Trust me -- it's brutal and not something you want to do all the time, but adding this to your stable of gym activities will push you to the next level. As always, hire a professional to show you proper CrossFit activities, and make sure your body can handle it before you venture into this new area.
4. Lastly, sleeping, eating and recovery are paramount in advancing to the next level. Don’t take these for granted or underestimate the power or need for sleep and recovery. A day off is not a bad thing as long as it doesn't turn into a month off.
Remember, it's exercise and this is your personal time, you decide when, what, where and how long. The more you do it, the easier it will get ... if you are doing it right.
So get started and don't give up!
Walter Urban is an American born Powerlifter and Guinness World Record holder living in Canada. For more information on Walter, visit www.walterurban.com.
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