How To Train At 50 And Dare To Bare Your Arms & Abs

How To Train At 50 And Dare To Bare Your Arms & Abs

Let’s face it…  We all want nice arms and a waistline we can show off to the world. Better yet, we all want to be fit no matter our age.

Women want Michelle Obama’s arms, Kelly Ripa’s abs, and Rachel Mclish full package.

Men want Arnold Schwarzenegger”s arms, Daniel Craig’s eight pack, and Sylvester Stallone’s physique.

And they want to have these at any age.

But why does aging past 50 years mean you can’t have a sexy waistline and strong arms?

Older and wiser does NOT have to mean fatter, weaker and jigglier.  

In this post, I will teach you a different way to approach your body training.  It is less conventional, yet very effective if you are over the age of 50.  Because training daily, as a habit to better your body, should be as natural as brushing your teeth.

The “rules” changed when you entered your 50’s. Do you change your approach to match the new rules?

In my experience, the most frustrating thing for my older clients is the realization that they are no longer 23 years old. But age is not the problem. It’s your body that changes.

What worked in your thirties no longer works in your fifties.

So how can you train now that you are in your 50’s?

Improvidus, apto quod victum

As most U.S. Marines will tell you, “Improvise, adapt, overcome.”

Age-related muscle loss and fat gain are not for YOU.

Most science suggests that as we age we have little to no control over these things.

We need to take action to overcome our own bodies.

Many age-related issues can be avoided with strength training and good nutrition. Aging does NOT mean more aches and pains, unless YOU allow them.

Yes, the “rules” did change somewhere along the way. But it is up to us, athletes, to challenge those “rules.”

[VERY IMPORTANT] If you are new to training, go easy, get guidance and be patient. If you ARE over 30, overweight and in chronic pain – visit your trusted medical professional before taking on any exercise program.

The biggest rule I suggest you break is your training frequency.

As we age, moving more often is really helpful. Training daily helps keep things going, and if done right, leads to less frustration and better results.

Are you ready for a paradigm shift?

A training session can be done in 5 minutes.

Read that again.

Five minutes to train? NO WAY.

Yes way.

5 minutes for A Training Session.

Here’s an example – Set a countdown timer for 5 minutes.

NO… Really.  Stop, grab your phone and set a countdown timer.  Do it now.  I’ll wait.

C’mon… Just do it.

OK. Start the timer.

Perform 21 “air” squats, followed by 8 straight bridges or wall walks.  Repeat this sequence as many times as the timer allows.  That’s One Training Session, done.

If you did it… Congratulations!

You could have done that session literally ANYWHERE and anytime.

Now do that 4 more times today.  Whenever you can.

NO gym required.  NO wasted/lost time.  Just 15 to 25 minutes of focused exercise for an entire day.

“But Steeeeve…  You said ARMS and ABS!?”

Yes, I did.  Fortunately, I am a “responsible” training specialist.

Deep squats DO work your abs, especially your lower belly and pelvic floor.  The straight bridge hit the back of your arms, didn’t it? There’s your arms.

Now, how’s your Plank?

Can you hold a Straight Arm (Push Up Position) Plank for 2 Minutes?

If NO, Start here.  It really is important for your shoulder health and core strength.

Clockwise from top:  Low Plank, Reverse Plank, Prone Back Extension, Side Plank, Front Plank

The basics of the plank must be practiced and developed.

plank positionHere’s your core training if the 2 minute plank eludes you:

Work on holding each of these for 20 seconds a few to several times per day.  Increase your time to build up toward 60 seconds each. Test your plank in 3 weeks and let me know where you’re at.

Clockwise from top:  Low Plank, Reverse Plank, Prone Back Extension, Side Plank, Front Plank

push up, bridge

If your plank is solid, try this:
  • Push Up  (pick the version that challenges you for 13 reps)
  • Straight Bridge

Stick to the 5-minute timer.  Alternate back and forth between exercises (8 reps each), resting as needed.

How do your arms feel?

Continue to do this session throughout your day.

ADIT – What does it mean

You might be able to do 5, 8, or more 5-minute training sessions per day.  Each session “Hits” your metabolism pretty hard.

Each session makes a barely noticeable dent in your time.

I call this, All-Day Interval Training (ADIT).

Yes, I just made that up and I claim dibs for infinity!

Why wouldn’t ADIT be great for your fat reduction efforts??  Rhetorical. It will.

If body fat reduction is a priority – Prioritize 5 minutes (One “mini-session”) of exercise before any meal, snack, or beverage (other than water).

If muscle growth is a priority – Get a solid 10-12 minutes of targeted work 4 times per week.  Your targeted muscles should feel “Pumped Up” after these.

I’m gonna share with you another another secret.

Work your whole body, or most of it, all the time, with every exercise.

Sorry, machines really won’t cut it. Not most of the time. Or at all, in my world.

The first combo I shared worked your core hard.  Upper back and glutes…  so what  muscles are left?

More importantly (if you tried it), How Do YOUR Arms FEEL?

We targeted the arms and the back of the arms.

Tomorrow we target something else. Could be legs. But WHY?

calisthenics training over 50

It’s all about the arms and abs, right?

Top secret:  Do one session every day for legs, like the 5 minutes we did above.

Here’s for tomorrow:  grab a moderately heavy Dumbbell for Biceps Curls.  You only need one as you will be doing one arm at a time (more challenge for the core).

Alternate 8 or more

  • Dips (bench, chair, box, bars, etc.) with,

1-Arm Strict Biceps Curls for the same number of reps on each arm.  (Concentration Curl shown)

If it’s a busy day at work…  Every 30 minutes, do one round, more if you can.  Don’t forget 5 minutes for the legs.  You could do “double step stairs”, up and down in the stairwells before lunch.  In the picture, I did Picnic Bench Step Ups.

Hopefully by now you’ve picked up on my concept of increased training frequency and exercising as a habit.

The most important thing is to successfully turn exercise into habit

  • Train every day. Don’t kill yourself everyday.  Target the important areas (Arms & Abs) daily.
  • Accumulate 20 or more minutes of total training per day.
  • Focus on multi-jointed movements that require your core (not a bench) to support you.
  • You don’t need a gym or special clothing to be strong and sexy.
  • Mobility training is still training. Two 5-minute mobility sessions per day is a great idea.

If it’s important, DO it every day.

Train your arms and core daily.  You can find more training sessions on my Instagram.

One more secret

This is an “AB” or core training secret – Do NOT focus on crunching the “6-pack”.  Instead, imagine a ball inside the middle of your abdomen.  Crush down on the entire surface of that ball – Squeeze from all sides.  Doing a Kegel helps here.

Using calisthenics and bodyweight protocols/progressions can thoroughly train you for strength, fat loss, mobility, and power in for short sessions every day.

The key is to Do It Every Day.

This helps to solidify the HABIT of exercise.  How many days would you go without brushing your teeth?

It’s not some competitive gym thing.  It’s about YOU and YOUR body.

This is real world, common sense physical culture.

To learn more different techniques of weaving your “workouts” into your day, leave questions in the comments below.

Are you ready to Overcome your 50’s?

Improvise. Adapt. Overcome.

Trainer Steve

P.S. – Below are a list of trainings I did while writing this article:

  • Tactical Pull Ups
  • Ring Rows
  • Close Push Ups
  • Bridge Push Ups
  • Pike Push Ups

Each session provided a nice break from the keyboard and took me about 3-5 minutes.

Bonus Arms:  Halo Arms, Halo Tri-Extensions and Halo Curls

Halo Arms, Halo Tri-Extensions and Halo Curls

Bonus:  Whole Body Circuit

whole body circuit

calisthenics assessment

Calisthenics abs like an ice tray? Focus on these!

Calisthenics abs like an ice tray? Focus on these!

I recently got a really interesting question from one of our readers and thought its worth a whole article. Getting a six pack, a really nice, visible, like an ice tray is not easy and there is a few things you need to get right, but before anything you need to know that it will take time, so be ready to put work into it for a long period of time.

[tweet_box design=”box_11″]Getting abs is a lot about diet, a little about exercise, and all about attitude.[/tweet_box]

Bruce Lee is rumored to have done over 1,000 ab workout repetitions per day. Everything from sit-ups, to leg raises and leaning twists. Based on this picture, there is no doubt Bruce’s core strength rivaled that of a great sequoia. But there’s much more to acquiring razor sharp calisthenic abs than just sit-ups.

1. Core Focused

Abdominals are only one of 4 muscles that make up your core. You have your right and left obliques, and your lower back muscles. Together, this group of muscles forms a sleeve around your midsection, and is imperative to preventing injury during exercise. When trying to strengthen one muscle group, it’s equally important to strengthen the surrounding and antagonist muscles. The muscles in your body are all dependent on each other and your body likes to keep things proportionate. Having massive quads is hard to do without building your hamstrings. Same with abdominals, if you truly want a strong core, you need to work all the above mentioned muscle groups. Here are a few exercises that will help:

  1. Swiss Ball Jackknife. 3×12

  1. Bosu Crunch 3×10

  1. Side plank 30 seconds (each side), 3X
calisthenics abs

calisthenics abs

Apart from those Leg Raises Progression Its a killer abs workout. You can use this basic leg raises progression from Convict Conditioning which is depicted here, or an extended one which I am using. There is actually a lot of really good and really advanced ab exercises like which you can check in our progression spreadsheet like Hanging V Raise Windshield Wipers

calisthenics abs

Your diet

Now that we’re sure you’re doing [tweet_box design=”box_03″]the proper exercise to get those ice tray calisthenics abs[/tweet_box], I’m going to let you in on a secret: well-defined abdominal muscles have little to do with exercise, and everything to do with body fat percentage. For those of you who workout regularly, chances are you already have a rockin 6-pack hidden under a thin layer of belly fat. The models who flash their stomachs on the covers of Men’s Health and Women’s Health magazines have body fat percentages in the low single digits.

How do you get that layer of belly fat to dissipate?
Through diet, particularly a high fat, moderate protein and low carbohydrate diet. Your daily intake of macronutrients should be broken down as follows:

  • Limit carbohydrates to 100 grams per day
  • 1-1.5 grams of protein for guys, per pound of bodyweight, per day / 0.7 grams of protein for girls,per pound of bodyweight, per day
  • The rest of your calories should come from healthy fat.
    • Nuts, nut butters
    • Eggs
    • Olive oil
    • Coconut oil
    • Butter from grass-fed cows
    • Avocados
  • Get enough green vegetables. Make a green smoothie making sure you are getting enough nutrients

To get more direction on a diet read this article on a Lean Mean Calisthenics Diet, but keep in mind, the diet is what will make it work.


The unfair truth is that genetics play a huge role in how much fat your body stores. Dropping down to 4%-5% body fat is not sustainable for most of us, even those magazine cover models who spend weeks cutting down to that size. There are the select few whose bodies are more comfortable with little body fat, but they’re the exception.

Having a 6-pack along with a well-defined muscular body; typically has more to do with being skinny than anything else. Remember Brad Pitt in fight club? While he had some serious muscle tone, he’s wasn’t that muscular, what made him look so cut-up was an extremely low body fat percentage. 80% of body composition is diet, so even though exercising plays an important role, what you eat is the ultimate determining factor.

If you really want a six pack you ve got to focus.

 If you are looking for a complete guide on what to eat while training calisthenics to get your abs ripped, Renegade Diet is the place to go. Check it out. 

calisthenics diet

It's TIME to get your DIET RIGHT!


Bodybuilding Calisthenics Routine


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“Would you rather have the ability to boast of bench pressing 300 pounds or to do a one-arm pull-up? To me, pulling my entire body up with one arm is much more impressive. – Michael – Calisthenics Academy User”

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