Athletic Versus Physically Fit (& Fitness Revisited)

16 May

It would be great if we could all be athletic, but many of us must settle for the goal of just being physically fit. What is athletic? When I think “athlete,” I imagine somebody who can sprint a short distance really fast. They can run a 40 yard dash impressively.

Athletes have powerful throwing arms. They can throw a baseball, a football, or just a blob of steel a substantial distance. They can propel their own bodies into the air. Long jumping, high jumping, or just jumping back and forth across a bar as this impressive fellow does:

Physical fitness is more about being able to run a mile in a good time or being able to do a lot of pushups. Many athletes are physically fit. Many physically fit people are impressive athletes. It’s possible to be physically fit and still suck as an athlete: Ask me how I know….

For older preppers, fitness is a more achievable goal than athletic-ness. It’s pretty well known among fitness people that inactivity associated with aging destroys fitness. This is the old “use it or lose it” concept.

It’s important to be respectful of our own limitations. It’s easy to overdo exercises. Doing 100 pushups every day will add up to over 36,000 pushups a year. That’s a lot of wear and tear on the shoulders. To minimize overuse injuries, it’s good to mix up your exercise routines.

In the day, doing different exercises and participating in different sports to improve your skills in your chosen sport was called “cross training.” Today we know cross training doesn’t have as much positive impact as was once thought. If you want to excel at one sport, devote time to it.

For those who want to mix up their exercise routine a bit, here are some ideas:

This simple workout routine has twelve basic exercises. Simple things you can do with no equipment, like pushups and crunches. The biceps appear neglected.

This neat workout challenge has 5 exercises of 50 reps, including the dreaded burpee. Just doing 50 burpees is a pretty complete workout!

I’m not a fan of paying a lot of money to get a cleverly marketed exercise routine. I follow the philosophy of Scooby1961 on Youtube.  He reviews p90x (, which was made famous by Paul Ryan.

One group that has had marketing success in taking a bunch of known exercises and lumping them together is CrossFit. Here are some basic “crossfit” routines.

Some people feel crossfit routines are likely to lead to injuries or see it as too “cult-like.” Crossfit names their workouts with names like “Fran,” which does seem a bit creepy.

If you do bodyweight exercises and need a challenge, visit which has tutorials for things like one-handed pushups. It has well-thought-out progressions to build up to your selected exercise. Pick one or two “beast” exercises to master. Even if you never achieve them, the journey will make you stronger.

If you prefer weights, one intense path is to pursue a power-lifting workout. This focuses on only three exercises: A deadlift, squat, and bench press.

To avoid injury, be sure you get your form perfected and start off with lighter weights.

The level of strength serious power lifters have is amazing. A 132 pound power lifter might be able to bench press 250 pounds and squat and deadlift over 400 pounds. A much  more modest goal is something like: Benching your body weight, and squatting and deadlifting 1.5 times your body weight.

Even for those amounts, you’ll want a squat rack cage for the squats. Have a spotter for the bench press, if you don’t have some sort of cage or self-spotting racks. If you weld, you could build your own self-spotting racks.

At the end of the day, we can’t all be great athletes, but we can find a level and type of exercise that suits us and work to become more physically fit.


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