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Let's be real: with every birthday, it gets easier to be discouraged and compare yourself—and more pointedly, your physique—to your younger self. And while you can make every excuse in the book as to why you don't look or feel like you used to, there's ample evidence that when it comes to fitness, age can just be another number if you're willing to put in the work.
We often highlight the training routines of notable guys here at MH for our Train Like videos series, and more often than you'd think, guys over 50 years of age show out even stronger than the celebs in their twenties.
"In your fifties, you think you should be slowing down. But I'm probably in the best shape of my life at 52," Frank Grillo previously told Men's Health.
We highlighted some of the most important lessons these experienced guys (including Lenny Kravitz, Christopher Meloni, Dave Bautista, and Lou Ferrigno) shared in their workout walkthroughs. They all serve as proof that it really is possible to be in your best shape even as you get older. Here are 8 of their best tips to stay jacked over 50.
Tip 1: Don't Skip Squats
While you might be tempted to put all your attention into your arms, chest, and shoulders as you slow down, you'd be selling yourself short if you skimp on your lower body training. Even when you're past 50, 'Don't skip leg day' still applies.
"I really love squatting. I'm one of those tall guys, for some reason I had this complex when I was younger, I never wanted to be the guy with skinny legs," says Dave Bautista. "I love squatting—love it."
But one of the benefits of age is that you can learn to love new things, like Lenny Kravitz. "I used to hate legs. I didn't like it—I wasn't into that," he says. "But now I am.
Chris Meloni, whose lower half is famous in its own right, also came around to squatting later in life.
"The squats were, I'm ashamed to say, kind of new to me. I've been working out many years and I always shied away. I always did the sleds... everything but squats. And the reason why is that they're really tough," says Meloni. "I now am a huge proponent of squats, and I love them."
Tip 2: Embrace Fight Training
Punching fires up your core muscles, shoulders, and back, and the style of training often associated with boxing is bound to whip you into great condition if you put your all into the intense workouts. But the sport can have more profound benefits, too.
"We do the same thing over and over and over again so that it's just a language. It's my therapy," Grillo says about his boxing regimen. "It keeps my brain moving, and where the head goes the body follows. So it keeps my brain healthy, my body moving, and keeps me healthy."
"Fight training is the hardest training I've ever done. I don't think people realize how grueling a five-minute round is," says Bautista, a former pro wrestler. "To watch these guys do a five-minute round, I know what they're going through, and it's just something you have to respect and admire. But I think fight training is just the hardest thing I've ever done in my life."
Tip 3: Don't Be Scared of Cardio
You might be a runner—but you don't have to be. Grillo uses shadowboxing to ramp up his heart rate.
Bautista does too, but he also uses machines to get moving. "It typically get my cardio in on an Assault bike, and with martial arts and boxing," he says.
Tip 4: Train Anywhere and Everywhere
With all your experience, you might get stuck in a habit of only associating workouts with the gym. Drop that line of thinking—you can get your training done anywhere if you're willing and able to adjust. If you don't have a bench, for instance, you can be like Lenny Kravitz and use a... tropical tree trunk (or more likely, an ottoman in your living room). You might even find that you prefer the change of scenery.
"This is where I workout. I can get an amazing workout here," Kravitz said of his tree trunk setup in the Bahamas. "This workout is amazing... I'd rather be outside in nature than being cooped up inside of a gym."
Tip 5: Mindset Is Everything
Many of these guys find that training helps them to feel happy with themselves. They wind up with more than just big muscles.
"If you can control your body and change your body, there's no reason you can't do anything beyond this, because people that aren't successful with their body are not very successful in their life," says Lou Ferrigno.
"There's no rules," says Grillo. "So don't think as you get older you get slower. You actually can increase the amount you work out, and feel great,"
"I hit my stride later in life, and I want to make the most of it to stay young and healthy and rejuvenated and everything that makes me feel good about myself, and also continues my career," says Bautista. "It's priceless to me."
Tip 6: Train for Body and Mind
"I work out five to six days a week," says Kravitz. "Exercise keeps my mind, body and spirit where I can be more creative."
"If I had my choice I would workout every day—sometimes I workout twice a day," says Bautista. "It's not something I have to do to stay in shape, it's something I need to do to keep my mind right."
"I probably train 4 hours a day. Again, in your 50s you think you should be slowing down...I've probably gotten in the best shape of my life at 52 years old," says Grillo.
"If I never bodybuilded, if I never weight trained, I wouldn't be where I am now because it kept me alive," says Ferrigno. "It kept a fire in me. It made me very passionate, very self-competitive."
Tip 7: Consider Making a Change to Your Diet
Fish and eggs are both great sources of essential nutrients.
Kravitz showed off a fridge full of nothing but vegetables, and he follows a mostly raw vegan diet.
Bautista isn't quite that strict, but he has mostly eliminated meat from his diet. "I cut out red meat. I cut out pork in 2010," he says. "And about six, seven months ago I completely cut meat out of my diet. I'm predominantly pant-based. But I do have fish a couple times a week. And I do eat eggs."
Tip 8: Never Forget Core Strength—and Dedication
You can train your abs every day. That takes more than just a passing commitment to your fitness plan—you have to buy in to make the progress you want, no matter how old you are.
"A lot of people say, 'You know when I'm your age, I want to be in that kind of shape', and I look at them (and some of them are in their 30s), and I go 'Well you're not in that shape now," says Grillo. "So what makes you think you're going to be in that kind of shape when you're 50?"
Want more celebrity workout routines? Check out all of our Train Like videos.
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