Old Spartan Fitness

If you don’t maintain your health and fitness, your life suffers. FICK's Method creates the coaching and training you need to thrive. Everyone deserves the chance to live an awesome and fulfilling life.

More @ https://markfickler.substack.com/ read more at https://markfickler.substack.com/
I help left-brained old dudes get lean, healthy and strong and stay that way forever.

Operating as usual


A simple plan for 2021

The Workout:

You gotta stick for at least 4 weeks. You'll see progress by 4 weeks and that will motivate you to keep going. So, come hell or high water, you gotta be in for 4 weeks.

Train 3 times a week. Walk on the other days.

The Diet:

Stop eating crap. You know what it is. Perfection is not required but you have to eat better quality foods. Your goal is to Increase Nutrient Density which means to get more nutrition on fewer calories.

Cut back on alcohol. Extra calories with no nutritional value. Drink less. It's obvious. You don't have to teetotal, just cut back.

That's it. Stick for 4 Weeks and you're on your way.
#over50 #strengthandconditioning #strengthtraining #goals2021


The Case Against Stretching

Pulling on a muscle for a long time doesn't make it longer, doesn't make it more pliable, and doesn't improve athletic performance. There's lots of scientific literature that shows that stretching before exercise increases the risk of injury, but still there's a lot of emphasis on it in common fitness literature.

It's similar to the demonization of saturated fats: once a meme gets firmly implanted in the culture, it's hard to eradicate it.

As always, your brain is in charge and doesn't want you to get injured.

Whenever your nervous system is unsure of whether it can support a load at the edge of your range of motion, it causes the muscle to spasm to protect itself. If you want to decrease muscle tightness and improve your range of motion, the thing to work on is improving the stability of the movement while breathing deeply and evenly, NOT pulling on the muscle harder.

The apprehensive reflex is inhibited when the body is convinced, by many repetitions, that the joint is still safe and stable even at the edge of the range of motion.

Stretching vs. warming up

While the evidence against stretching is mounting, the notion of movement to improve flexibility is gaining support. There’s a big difference between stretching and warming up prior to exercise. A proper warm-up and cool down are crucial to an effective workout whether it’s aerobic or strength training.
#over50 #stretching #mobility #strengthandconditioning



All I want for Christmas is …

What one thing, when accomplished, would solve your biggest pain and make everything else easier?

The focusing question. Do you know the answer?

And how can you achieve it in 2021?

First things first. Identify your needs or issues or pains or problems.

Call ‘em what you want. There are things that could be better in your life.

So think about your list of grievances, prioritize, take the top one and then ask “Why can’t I solve this problem?” or “Why haven’t I solved this problem so far?”

If it’s at the top of your list, it must be pretty important. But it’s still there, waiting to be solved.

What gives?

Here’s my achilles heel as an example

I look fit. Fairly low body fat, pretty good muscle mass and decent strength.

Most would call me healthy and fit without using “for an old guy” modifier.

But I have my issues.

Poor mobility in neck, thoracic spine, low back, hips, shoulders, etc.

Pinched nerves causing numbness in fingers and tingling down my neck and shoulders. This has been going on for years now.

Constrained movement and associated pain. Sometimes I’ll be getting up off the floor and suddenly feel like someone stuck a knife into my back. Damn!

The Back Story

With a time machine, you could retreat to a prior time where everything was pretty good. Your body was working as designed.

You might have to go back aways however.

Life happens. Injuries, too much career focus, not enough health focus, a lot of ass sitting, a lot of crap eating and you’ve created the new you.

What you may not realize is that each time you force your body to compensate for an issue, it figures out a new way and then installs that new way as your default pattern.

It’s kind of like a mini evolution. Except you’re going backwards.

You hurt your back and gimp around slightly bent to one side; your hips and pelvis adjust so you can stand up straight; and your gait changes a bit because your pelvis is tilted.

After a while, this is your new default walking pattern.

Then you do a lot of sitting in the office, your hamstrings tighten up, you get anterior pelvic tilt and your stride shortens up. Another new pattern installed on top of the last “less than optimum” pattern.

That office sitting also juts your head forward, rounds your shoulders and the constant mouse action with your right hand gives your torso a little twist.

You’re now a little crooked so things on the opposite side of your body tweak themselves to compensate.

This is your new, New Normal.

This goes on for decades

Now you’re all effed up. And it’s really hard to sort out.

The Left-Brained Approach

I’m a logical thinker. I know I need to “do the mobility work” to address my issues.

And there are many mobility experts I follow. I’ve bought their stuff. It hasn’t quite solved my issues though I’ve gotten better in some regards.

Here’s the deal in a nutshell.

It takes a lot of work. And dedication. And commitment. And time. It’s hard.

This might sound like your “Fat Loss” quandary. Or maybe why “Building Muscle” is so hard for you.

Mobility wise, I’m pretty jacked up top to bottom. My left brain thinking believes there is a lynchpin or key area of focus that, upon addressing it, will make everything else easier.

My burning question is: “What should I do first?” I’ve got all these interacting, moving parts in disarray, which one is the key to fix first?

Should I go top to bottom? Neck first, then shoulders, thoracic spine and down the chain?

Or maybe bottom to top makes sense. All forces on your body are directed down through your feet on the ground. Maybe start there - ankles, knees, hips, etc.

It could be the middle, the big X. Everything ties together in your core. So maybe it’s low back and hips first.

If a mobility gooroo stood up and shouted, “If you're all jacked up, here is the first thing you should fix”, I’d buy it in a heartbeat.

That'd be my holy grail.

That’s all I want for Christmas this year.

I want specific direction to solve my biggest pain.

So how about you?

What one thing, when accomplished, would solve your biggest pain and make everything else easier?

What’s missing in your opinion?

Why is it so hard for you to solve a serious issue that you really want to solve?

What would simplify it for you?

Please Comment, I want to know.
#strengthtraining #strengthandconditioning #fatloss #over50 #mobility #backpains #boomers


Repeat after me - 2021 WILL BE BETTER THAN 2020.

Make it happen.

What's your #1 health and/or fitness goal for next year?

Start thinking about it.
#goals #goalsetting #fatloss #strengthtraining #strengthandconditioning #over50


Winter Workouts

Don't get holed up this winter, especially with the Rona crap.

You gotta get outside. You need fresh air and some immersion in a natural setting.

Try this:

>> Get a backpack

>> Put some weight in the backpack

>> Put the backpack on your back

>> Walk your favorite course or trail

>> Do it over and over, at least twice a week.

>> When it gets too easy, add more weight in your backpack.

>> Do it all winter. Gain strength, aerobic conditioning and mental health.

Be Awesome.

#over50 #strengthtraining #strengthandconditioning #fatloss #rucksack #rucking


Do you bathe in the forest?

A healthy lifestyle isn’t fueled by esoteric juices and megadoses of vitamins. It includes a healthy diet, of course, but also time spent with family and loved ones, time spent moving your body, and time spent outside.

The fancy new term for quality time spent in contact with nature is “forest bathing”.

Reviews have found that forest bathing reduced blood pressure, heart rate, and physiological and psychological stress. It also improved blood markers of cardiovascular health and metabolism. Forest walking and forest therapy were found to be the most effective interventions.

Have you tried it?
#forestbathing #health #healthylifestyle #HealthyLiving #over50


Better Next Year

Well it can’t get worse… can it?

OK, no predictions about this Rona mess but I think it gradually peters out next year.

Here’s the thing, with or without it, you gotta take care of yourself. Your health and fitness is all on you.

And your big test is coming fast.

My gym has been closed since March and I’ve grown to really like my old-school, simple set up on my back patio. Thank god I lugged those weights around with me for the last 40 years.

I don’t need my gym to reopen for me to stay strong … UNLESS

I fall victim to the cold … I’m not tough enough to endure.

It’s a mental weakness really. You can dress for any weather … but your brain starts squawking ...

Right now it’s 34 degrees and snow is falling in my gym. Luckily I lifted yesterday so just have some push ups, pull ups, split squats and mobility work planned for today. All inside, no problem.

But tomorrow is a lifting day and the weather won’t be any better.

Who wins this battle?

How tough are you?

You’re more likely to get fat than fit over the winter (unless you live in a warm climate). Florida is awesome in the winter (but mid-summer is a bitch).

In the over 50 age bracket, you can’t afford to back-slip just because it's cold outside.

You gotta find a way. You want to have momentum coming into Spring, not just be peeking outside for the first time.

Fitness is a year round venture. You really gotta be all in if you’re serious.

Here’s a couple of ideas:

Warning - Resilience and Toughness Required

Last year I started Rucking in December and went right through into March as I was training for The Bataan Death March (which got canceled due to Covid). It provided a decent level of aerobic fitness AND strength coming into Spring.

What is Rucking?

It’s kinda like Farmers Walks or Loaded Carries but you add the load to a backpack (or rucksack) instead of carrying in your hands.

It’s awesome for winter training because your time outside wants to be short when it’s cold and blustery. So Rucking allows you to build intensity without increasing the time of your training.

You just gradually add more weight to your backpack to increase the difficulty of your workout.

You can easily walk 2 miles in 40 minutes so plan on Rucking twice a week for 40 minutes (or use distance like twice around the park, whatever). The point is that your time commitment is fixed but you gradually increase the intensity of your workout over the winter as you add more weight.

Maybe you start with 10 pounds in your pack and are carrying 40 or more by Spring. You’ll get aerobically fit AND strong doing this.

You Gotta Lift tho

Strength Solves All Problems

There is nothing more important than building or maintaining muscle for the over 50 group. Figure out how you’re gonna do it.

Lift Weights - my favorite or do BodyWeight Training, also awesome. I actually do both.

Resistance training is required. No way around it.

I lift 3 times a week. Twice a week is just fine though.

Do it. Be consistent. Be resilient.

The Back Up Plan

S**t Happens, Be Ready

Maintaining the habit of working out is more important than the workout itself.

Don’t Miss Twice. That’s a Rule.

A single missed workout has minimal effect on your habit of training but missing two in a row reduces your success rate by 50%. If you miss three times in a row, you’re back to ground zero.

Make it easy to be successful. Have a backup plan for when the s***e hits the fan (and it will). I can always do some pushups and pullups. That’s my backup plan. I never miss workouts.

Create a workout that can be done quickly and simply (minimal or no equipment) and know what it is in advance. It’s a no-brainer when your planned workout gets trashed.

Don’t miss workouts. Consistency is the key to training.

Natural Selection

Forest Bathing in Winter Silence

I truly believe that lack of immersion in nature is the bane of modern life. It’s the missing elixir for a healthy life in today’s hectic world. Even more so in winter, when Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is rampant, you gotta get outside.

Don’t think about it being cold. Focus on the quiet solitude you’ll experience in your local woods. Very few others will be there.

Take one of your weekend days and spend some time in a natural setting. Mental health drives physical health. Get some.

Bonus Ideas

Winter sports are awesome. Skiing, skating, snow shoeing, and sledding provide an ample dose of physical fitness mixed with natural beauty and pure joy. Total win-win.

It’s funny but sitting outside on the deck in the sun, having a beer, wayfarers on baby, catching rays on a brisk winter day feels just like summer sunning. It’s the same vibe. I love it.

So bonus points for winter sports. It’s a two-fer. Fitness and fun.

Your Winter Plan

2 Rucking Days (per week), increasing the load as you get fitter.

2 to 3 Lifting Days (per week), Strength Solves All Problems

1 Nature Immersion Day (per week), this is the missing link. This makes a huge difference in your mental game. Take advantage of it.

Have a backup plan so you don’t miss. Consistency Rules.

Winter sports days - as many as possible.

Be Awesome - Share This
#weightlossjourney #fatloss #over50 #strengthandconditioning #strengthtraining


A good weight loss protocol is basically about:

>> Starting. Yes you have to start and it’s best to start strong so you see some early results which will help to keep you going in the early, difficult days. Just start.

>> Systems. Yeah you need to develop some new systems and habits to make this work long term. Planning (knowing what you’re gonna eat ahead of time), Preparation (having it on hand and ready), Food Prep certainly can help, Recovery (How to get back on the program quickly after the unavoidable slip ups that will occur). Don’t go into it haphazardly. S**t happens. Be ready. Think about your systems.

>> Personalization. Eventually you gotta make it work in your life, with your unique circumstances. This takes some trial and error, give and take and really just being relentless and tough. You can do it.

It takes time. Stick with it. There are ,any benefits beyond looking good.

Read more https://markfickler.substack.com/p/you-are-on-your-own
#fatloss #over50 #weightloss #weightlossjourney #relentless


December is the beginning of Strength Season.

I’m starting with a new workout, not surprisingly it comes from Dan John. I’ve never done it before either.

It’s 8-6-4 (3 sets total, 8 reps, 6 reps and then 4 reps) of 4 exercises

>>Power Clean

>>Overhead Press

>>Front Squat and

>>Bench Press

Read about it here https://markfickler.substack.com/p/new-workout

#strengthandconditioning #strength #strengthtraining #over50


Top 5 Secrets to Building Muscle After 50

You can get strong and build muscle at any age. Building muscle after 50 may be a little harder than when you were younger but the principles still remain the same. Have a plan, be consistent, and work hard. A positive mental attitude can’t hurt either.

The first secret is to stop wasting so much time running.

Distance running does provide some aerobic benefit but overall, it is counterproductive for building muscle. The repetitive jarring to the joints creates an inflammatory response that requires healing time and energy consumption. Distance running can create micro injuries to the ligaments and tendons that take a few days to heal.

If you are running on day 1 and lifting on day 2 or 3 of a given week, you are lifting with compromised or weakened ligaments. This can lead to injury. Running just breaks down muscle more than it builds it.

The leg moves through a very limited range of motion while running providing only minimal stimulus to build the leg muscle. Compare the running stride to performing a full squat to see the dramatic difference in total leg involvement. Don’t stop running altogether but running a little less may be beneficial.

Secret #2 is take some of your new-found time from minimizing long, boring, counterproductive endurance runs and start sprinting.

Sprinting is an explosive, strength building exercise. Look at the physiques of any high caliber sprinters. They are muscular from top to bottom. A hidden benefit of sprinting is the efficiency of the exercise. You can run six to eight 40 yard sprints in fifteen minutes or so. The equivalent endurance benefit from distance running would take about 45 minutes.

The muscular development you get from sprinting cannot be achieved from distance running at all. This is a no-brainer. You must start sprinting. If you are a runner who spends forty five minutes or so running three times a week, try this workout change:

Limit your distance running to once a week - 45 minutes as before
Add a sprint day to your work - 20 minutes
Add two lifting days separated by at least 24 hours - 30 minutes each

Secret #3 is eating well. Another way to describe this is to Increase Nutrient density in your diet.

Proper nutrition is really the foundation for any fitness program. It doesn’t matter if you run, lift, play tennis or hike in the mountains as your primary exercise, you will not achieve optimum results without good food.

For muscle building, you need good sources of protein for muscle repair and good sources of fuel to keep the body running. Aim for between a half gram to one gram of protein for each pound of lean mass. If you weigh 200 pounds at about 15% body fat, that’s 170 pounds of lean mass, try to eat 170 grams of good quality protein each day. That’s a lot, certainly more than you’re eating today. But for muscle building, more protein is better.

Most Americans are eating less than 15% of total calories per day from protein. You want to get this up towards 25 to 30%. Animal protein is superior to vegetable proteins but they both can work.

The key to building muscle after 50 (and not getting fat) is to eat more good fats to fuel the body. Transition from grain based carbohydrates to healthy fats for your energy sources. This ensures you are well fueled to build muscle and maintain energy levels without being primed to store fat as well.

High refined carbohydrate diets promote fat storage. High fat diets (good, healthy fats) promote an efficient, fat-burning, muscle building body. Good fats are from natural sources like meat, eggs, fish, fowls, nuts, seeds, avocado, coconut oil and olive oil.

Secret #4 is to lift heavy things.

Resistance training is the key to get your body to naturally release testosterone and human growth hormone (HGH). These are needed to optimize the condition needed for muscle growth. Lifting heavy is a relative term. When you are just starting out, a heavy lift is body weight training exercises. As you get fitter, start to use more weight or add more repetitions. The key is to load your muscles enough to cause minor muscle breakdown. Strength is gained and muscle mass is built when the muscle tissue is repaired during your rest days.

Remember, especially for the over-50 crowd, recovery is paramount. Get your rest or suffer the adverse effects of higher stress, chronically high cortisol and reduced muscle building.

Secret #5 is to get adequate rest.

Get a lot of sleep. Get 8-9 hours a night if you can. Not only does your body repair itself and build the muscle during sleep, good rest helps to mitigate cortisol levels. Cortisol is a hormone released in response to stress. It is a part of your fight or flight response mechanism but in today's chronically stressed environment, has become ever present in the body.

When cortisol levels rise, testosterone and HGH will fall. You cannot maintain a positive muscle building environment inside your body with high levels of cortisol. So manage your stress anyway you can. One sure way to help is getting adequate sleep.

Building muscle after 50 can certainly be done. If you are a distance runner, this may be a bit counterproductive. Trade in some run workouts for lifting and sprinting. Focus on a quality diet that provides protein for muscle repair and good fats for fueling the body. Control your stress with adequate sleep and you are on your way to a more muscular, fitter physique.

Read more https://markfickler.substack.com/p/strength-solves-all-problems
#strengthandconditioning #strength #over50 #fatloss

I help you transition from Weak & Flabby to Lean & Strong so you have more Energy & Confidence and Live an Awesome Life.

read more at http://oldspartanfitness.com

I work with Boomers on rebuilding muscle mass and getting lean and fit using my Spartan Method signature system. You lose fat permanently, your energy soars and you become a more active and fun guy.

Videos (show all)

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The KB Swing from the perspective of a very short guy
Swing, Clean, Front Squat, Press, Sn**ch Complex
Thruster-front squat/overhead press. Very efficient.
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I did 4 sets of this combo yesterday. The first two were back to back; then the last two with rest in between. If you ar...


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