9 Out of 10 Fifty Year Olds Can’t Pass This Strength Challenge Are You One of Them?

Are you in your 40’s, 50’s or 60’s and want to enjoy the sports and activities you love for decades to come while reducing aches, pains and your risk of injury? Then this strength challenge is the perfect measuring stick see to what you’re doing well and what you need to work on.

Over the past 20 years I’ve worked with hundreds of middle aged clients who live very active lives and want to keep kickin’ ass for decades to come.

They see me because old injuries are accumulating, joints are starting to hurt and their strength, endurance and flexibility aren’t what they used to be.

They’ve identified certain things that make them feel worse, so there must be things that will make them feel better…but what are they?

That’s my specialty. I do this in 3 steps:

  1. Identify their weak spots.
  2. Figure out what’s holding them back.
  3. Create a training strategy that turns weaknesses into strengths.

Want to find out how you measure up on Step 1? Here’s your strength challenge!

overhaul protocol strength challenge

 

1. Single Arm Overhead Press 25% of Your Body Weight

Before you grab any weight, let’s make sure your range of motion and posture are good enough for you to do this exercise without injuring yourself. Ask someone to snap a full body photo of you from the side as you do this little test.

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Stand up with your feet hip width. Squeeze your butt tight, flex your abs hard and reach both arms straight overhead. Can you get your ankle, knee, hip, shoulder, ear and finger tips in a straight vertical line without pain?

If the answer is no, you’re at risk of injury if you do any overhead exercises and I recommend you skip this part of the challenge. Don’t be too bummed, I’ve got something for you at the end of this post.

If the answer is yes and you felt no pain, you can now try the press with 25% of your body weight.

Why this is important… Your ability to overhead press this weight without pain demonstrates several things…

  • Great shoulder/back posture and stability.
  • You have good shoulder function and probably low risk of shoulder impingement.
  • You’ve got a strong core that can protect your lower back from injury.
  • You’ve got nice upper body strength, and that’s pretty darn convenient for a number of sports, chores and everyday activities. You go!

2. Sit Down, Stand Back Up

Sounds too easy? Yea, I know. Let me give you the rest of the rules here…

Think of this one as a game. You start standing with 10 points. You need to sit on the floor and then stand back up but anytime you touch the floor with anything other than your butt or the bottoms of your feet, you lose a point.

Need to use a hand and then a knee to get down? You now have 8 points. Used a hand to rock back up to standing? Your score is now 7 points.

Your goal is to sit down and stand back up while keeping at least 9 points. It’s challenging but doable, I promise. 7 or 8 is ok. 6 or less and you have some work to do if you want to live a long healthy life…I’ll tell you why.

Why this is important… If you’re having trouble getting up and down now, there’s a few possible causes:

  • Poor joint mobility
  • Early arthritis
  • Poor strength levels
  • Lack of coordination
  • Obesity

If these issues aren’t addressed with an appropriate exercise program you are likely to get worse which makes being active tougher and tougher.

The less active you become, the worse these conditions spiral. Which robs you of your ability to do the activities you love far earlier in life than necessary.

Do you want an above average quality of life in your 60’s, 70’s and 80’s? You can have it! You just need to find the right training system for longevity.

3. Deadlift your Body Weight 

Before we touch any weight you need to be able to hip hinge properly. Too many people think they are hip hinging when they are really back bending…which is a great way to hurt your back.

This is what a hip hinge looks like:

See how the movement comes from the hips while my back remains stable.

The deadlift has been unfairly labeled as an unsafe exercise that can hurt your back, but the truth is that trying to deadlift without someone to teach safe technique is what’s unsafe. Picking things up is an unavoidable part of life. Learn how to do it safely, especially if you have a bad back already.

Why this is important…

  • By learning how to deadlift safely you’re essentially training your body how to pick things up off the floor without hurting your back. It’s injury prevention!
  • In nearly every sport, the glutes are crucial for power and speed. Get them strong.
  • You’ll have a nice ass!

4. Jump the Same Distance as Your Height

How many inches tall are you? Now take that number and measure it out on the floor with a tape measure. Can you jump the full distance and land without falling? Give yourself 3 warm-up jumps first with 50%, 70% and then 90% effort. You now have 3 attempts with 100% effort.

Why this is important… Your ability to jump this far and land safely demonstrates 2 things:

  • You have a great power base. Power is comprised of strength and speed…both very convenient for a number of sports.
  • Your soft landing shows you can absorb force well. This is huge when it comes to reducing impact on your joints and connective tissues. I’m sure you know why that’s good.

5. Hold A Plank for 2 Minutes

Yea, planks! Everybody loves planks, right?

I don’t. I find them to be like Chinese water torture. But they have real value if you can hold one for 2 solid minutes in good position with no pain. So if you love planks, then that’s great. Let’s see what you’ve got.

Why this is important… If you can hold a 2 minute plank I know 1 crucial thing:

  • You have the abdominal strength and endurance to protect your back from hyperextension in a number of other exercises and sports.

Back pain sucks! There are some simple exercises you can do to prevent it. Now you know two of them…the plank and the deadlift.

6. Squat with 50% of Your Body Weight

Your feet need to remain flat the whole time and I’d like your thighs to break parallel. Feet width can vary from person to person, so play with it and find the spot that feels most comfortable when you get low. How you hold the weight doesn’t matter, it can be a sandbag, dumbbell, barbell or human being.

Why this is important… Being able to go this low in a squat with your feet flat tells me:

  • You have good ankle mobility. And that means you’re less likely to get a knee injury because your lower legs are good shock absorbers and your knee isn’t compensating for poor ankle range of motion.
  • You have good posture if you can hold the weight with your upper body through the whole range of motion.
  • You’ve got great core strength! This will help protect your back from injury when lifting things.
  • You’ll be getting compliments on your great ass!

What to Do with this…

If you nailed all 6 parts of the strength challenge then I’d venture to say you’re following a pretty solid training program! You’ve got a great balance of strength, mobility and stability that will keep you doing all the activities you love for decades to come without injury.

If there’s a few things you still need to improve in order to pass this challenge but you’re not sure how to do it without risking an injury, I’ve got something for you.

It’s called The Overhaul Protocol Training Workshop and will be held the first week of April at my training facility in Kingston, NY.

At the beginning of this post I told you there were 3 steps I follow when helping new clients get the most from their bodies while minimizing their injury risk…

  1. Identify their weak spots.
  2. Figure out what’s holding them back.
  3. Create a training strategy that turns weaknesses into strengths.

You just completed step 1. In my workshop we’ll cover steps 2 and 3.

You’ll discover what’s causing your weak spots to be your weak spots and I’ll give you a strategy that addresses them while reducing your risk of injury at the same time.

Learn more about The Overhaul Protocol Training Workshop.

2 comments

  • Hi Jamie,
    I am so pleased to have found your site, it is fab! Down to business, I have numbness in both hands of my ring and pinkie fingers. Trapped Ulnar nerve right? Been doing your exercises for just over a week. Spasms have ceased and stretch in elbow area sensation has also abated so thank you. Can you possibly indicate to me how long roughly (I appreciate you haven’t been able to assess me personally) is it likely before the numbness stops. I try to always sleep keeping my arms down by my sides and often wake with their aching. I want to also say that having recently moved to Portugal to retire, and prior to this numbness, I was swimming mainly breaststroke three times a week and also doing some knitting, both of which I have stopped as I don’t know which activity caused this nerve problem, can you enlighten me? Obviously I am compensating by walking on the fab beaches here! I suppose I’d better tell you I’m 68 in case it’s relevant. I really would appreciate a reply. Also want to do your test for oldies but don’t want to put extra strain on my ulnar nerve at the mo!

    Kind regards,

    Gilly

  • Hi Gilly,

    First off, congrats on your move to Portugal! I could see the breast stroke causing some entrapment and depending on your posture when knitting, that too. Have you seen anyone to assess what is tight and causing the nerve issue? There could be numerous spots where the entrapment is occurring. One thing I’d have you add is a dead hang for as long as possible, provided it doesn’t cause any pain. It basically entrails finding something to hang from, hanging with your body relaxed and holding as long as possible. This can help stretch some of the tissues that are tight from all the pushing down you do with swimming. It would be great for you to find out what’s causing the issue and then come up with a maintenance program so you can enjoy those two activities for many more years.

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