Looking for a new workout routine? Fitness Over 50 expert Chris Zaremba shares how he stays in shape and gives some top training ideas.
My Workout Routine
People frequently ask me about my workout routine – often people in my own age group (over 50), and usually on the basis that if I have a found a routine that works for me at this age, then it could be of use to them.
So here it is. It’s an intensive workout routine that takes me to the gym ten times a week so I understand it’s not for everybody. I’m lucky that training is so important to me that I can allocate two hours per day (Mon-Fri) including travel to do it. I find it a much better use of those two hours than watching TV for that time.
This routine is working great for me, and also produces results for my relevant personal training clients.
Please feel free to use any or all of the ideas and principles below. However, always refer to a qualified Doctor if you have any concerns on whether any point below is suitable for you.
I go to the gym twice on most days as follows:
Morning Workout Routine:
This is the time for cardio, abs and stretching, and is usually at 6:30AM. It takes 40 minutes plus travel.
Firstly, cardio. The cardio sessions alternates between HIIT and MISS – that is High Intensity Interval Training and Medium Intensity Steady State. So in each week I will do either 3 HIIT and 2 MISS or (in the following week) the other way round.
1. HIIT is 20 minutes on the treadmill with 2 minutes at a fast pace (gradually growing but currently 15.3kph) followed by sufficient time at a slow walk (3kph) to reduce my heart rate to 110bpm. I then repeat the cycle until 20 minutes is up.
2. MISS is 40 minutes on the cross-trainer, keeping my heart rate at 130bp, plus or minus 5 bpm.
I follow the HIIT or MISS by 5-10 minutes of my ABS:100. This involves a total of 100 repetitions including:
- 30 repetitions (reps) of an exercise for upper abs
- 30 reps of one for lower abs
- 20 reps each side for obliques
And that is followed by 5-10 minutes upper and lower body stretching.
I eat nothing before these sessions apart from getting a significant caffeine hit with a couple of black coffees, plus water of course. Once the session is complete, I go home to an oats-based breakfast with fruit, nuts and protein shake on the side. A great way to break the fast!
Afternoon/Evening Workout Routine:
Depending on the day, this can start anytime between 12 and 9pm and takes between 50 and 60 minutes in-gym time, including some warm up time and rest between sets.
There is always a protein shake (with some fast carbs) to follow. I aim for around 40g-50g of protein and 20-30g of fast carbs within 15 minutes of ending the workout.
Related: New Leg Training Ideas
ABC7 Workout System
I call my system ABC7, as it’s based on both the alphabet and the number 7. It cycles around the following five bodypart-based workouts. Each workout has seven exercises, focussing on all angles and movements of the bodypart.
Elevators are Legs by the way – I just like the alphabet a lot!
Days of the week aren’t rigid. However, it’s important that I do one of each of ABCDE each day per week. I just cycle around the ABCDE sequence.
Sets & Reps
I perform 3 sets per exercise. So with 7 exercises per workout, there is a total of 21 sets in each of those workouts.
Each set, I do to 10 reps or failure, whichever comes first. I choose the weight based solely on previous performance:
First Set – completed at the weight used in the last set on the previous occasion I did that exercise and achieved 10 reps.
Second and Third Sets – I base this on the number of reps achieved in the previous set as follows:
- 10 achieved in the last set, then the weight goes up
- 6-9 achieved in the last set to reach failure, then the weight stays the same
- 5 or less achieved, then the weight comes down.
I try to vary the exercises as much as possible. For example, within workout C (Chest) – one of the exercises is a press (90 degrees to torso). But within that, I vary between dumbbells, Smith Machine, fixed-path machine and a barbell.
To make all this work it is important for me to record the date, exercise, weight and reps. This ensures I vary the exercises within my exercise alternatives. It also records the final set weight per exercise so I know what the weight is for the next time I perform that exercise.
Finally, I usually don’t visit the gym on Saturdays or Sundays – keeping those for ‘life balance’. But if I’ve missed a workout in the week – either cardio or resistance – then I’ll pop that into the weekend if I can. Or I may just throw in an extra workout E – it’s usually a couple of days since my last legs session by the weekend, so if there’s nothing happening socially, I may do that.
I’ll usually also do a 5k parkrun on Saturday mornings with my wife, the only exercise I really do outdoors, which is more social than training.
If you want to see the exact exercises involved, how the exercises are performed, or see some additional alternative exercises, I recommend looking at my YouTube Channel where I have all the exercises shown. Further descriptions and videos are on the ‘Workouts’ tab of my website, Fitness Over Fifty.
And for those who want to follow the full system, then I sell the workout system comprising all the spreadsheets, documentation, hundreds of photos and videos. It is available on my website – look for the ABC7 System on the ‘Shop’ tab of that site.
I hope that helps, and can guide you in the creation of your own workout routine – whether you are over 50 or not!
About Chris Zaremba
Chris qualified as a Gym Instructor and Personal Trainer in 2012. Since then he has obtained an International Diploma in Advanced Personal Training, and an Advanced Certification in Nutrition for Weight Loss and Nutrition for Physical Performance.
He has made many appearances in the media. Not only is he a regular author on fitness matters, he has also made several TV appearances. In 2013 the Community Channel made a documentary about his fitness journey, and more recently, he appeared in a TV series called ‘Fit Happens’ to give advice on techniques to maximise fitness levels.
Chris is also a Muscle and Fitness Model. The pinnacle of his competing career was winning the Miami Pro World Championships for both Fitness Models and Muscle Models for his age group in April 2014.
Chris has a specialist interest in clients who are looking to improve their level of fitness over 50. This interest led to the creation of his company Fitness Over Fifty.
More personal trainer fitness tips and information relating to all the above can be found on Chris’ website Fitness Over Fifty.
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