Review of Total Fitness After 40 by Nick Swettenham

Nick Swettenham reached out to me to check out his book, Total Fitness After 40, and after dicking around with PDFs, MOBI, and ePUB, I grabbed it as a KindleUnlimited.

So, I "bought" it myself. I wanted to have it registered with Goodreads and I wanted to be able to grab quotes that I can share. I like reviewing books more by showing and sharing instead of telling.

Total Fitness After 40 by Nick Swettenham is basically Ranger Athlete Warrior (RAW) PT 4.0 for we normals and olds. I had a sneaking suspicion that the training protocol that Nick Swettenham shares here is an adapted version of Ranger Training. Check for yourself (PDF). But, Ranger training is about being ready for anything. That said, Nick Swettenham is a Brit so maybe SAS or Royal Marines? Hua! Aroo!

In a nutshell, this is what the book is about:

Your fitness program will make you physically stronger. If you are new to resistance exercise, you should be able to improve your strength level by as much as 40 percent over a 12-month period. That will not only offset natural age-related strength decline, it will provide you with the power to accomplish the tasks that many people who age struggle with. At the same time, increased levels of physical strength add to the confidence that is the hallmark of a well-adjusted healthy individual.

I want to share some of my favorites bits of the book so I will quote liberally below, with my inline comments. If you have KindleUnlimited, you can read the book, for now, for free; otherwise, it's worth the cost. it's extremely motivating and accessible and it's tailored for us older guys and gals. 

Here's my official four-star Amazon Review of the book:

If you follow this book you will live a strong and fit long life. Extremely practical and useful and sustainable. It's like Ranger PT training adapted for us old guys. Full body workout for strength, agility, flexibility, endurance, and stamina. I'm 51 and morbidly obese and this can work for me.

Before I got forth, here are some useful links to get connected to Nick Swettenham:

Lots and Lots of Quotes from the Book

Total Fitness After 40: The 7 Life-Changing Foundations You Need for Strength, Health and Motivation in your 40s, 50s, 60s, and Beyond

It's really important to have a holistic approach:

A holistic approach means giving equal emphasis to each of the following 7 types of fitness: Strength, Flexibility, Mobility, Stability, Agility, Endurance, and Nutrition These 7 foundations of total fitness can be considered a pension for your body and future function. The more you put into it, the more you get back!

Working out, especially bodyweight calisthenics like push-ups, sit-ups, jumping jacks, etc, don't require anything, not even clothes or shoes if you do them in your own home. 

A trap that people often fall into is to put barriers in front of their ability to exercise. They do this by telling themselves that they must buy something before they can begin. It could be new shoes, gym clothes or a stopwatch that they have told themselves they need before they can start training. These are really just ways to procrastinate. The reality is that you don’t need any special equipment in order to get started on an exercise routine. Put the excuses aside, save your money, and just get started.

It's essential to warm up. To make sure you warm-up and recover. Even if you can jump right in the shower after working out a million times, don't do that to yourself. Act like an old car: start your engine a little while before driving. Warm-up your grease and oils, lube up your joints and heart. 

Begin each workout with 3- 5 minutes of light cardio. If you don’t have access to an exercise bike or treadmill, you can simply jog around your garden/ outdoor space. Or jog on the spot for 60 seconds, perform jumping jacks for 30 seconds, followed by high knees for another 30 seconds and repeat 2-3 times.

Everyone loves HIIT, high-intensity-interval-training. Don't do it. At least not right away. 

Beginner exercisers should not train in Zone 4 until they have built up their aerobic fitness level with around six months of training.

Getting older isn't easy. While we are capable of being strong, agile, flexible, and full of stamina, we actually are that old car. Stretching, warming up, and foal rolling are all essential.

Blood vessels lose their elasticity, making the heart work harder to pump blood around the body Muscles, joints and tendons lose strength and flexibility Testosterone production plummets The metabolism slows down

This is a great way to become stronger. If you learn anything, learn this when it comes to weight training.

Let’s say that you are doing the dumbbell curl with a weight that allows you to do 8 repetitions with good form. Each succeeding workout push yourself to perform an extra repetition without losing your good technique. When, after a period of weeks, you are able to do 12 reps with the weight that you started out doing 8 reps with, increase the weight slightly and drop back to 8 reps. You can continue progressing in this manner without limit.

No matter what you think, you do need to accept heavy weights into your life. It's not optional. While I mostly use heavy kettlebells, I am going to start up with Starting Strength: Basic Barbell Training by Mark Rippetoe which will make me lift heavier and heavier barbells full of plates.

No matter your age or ability now, you NEED to take up strength training and perform it consistently over the course of the rest of your life. It is never too late to start and, as soon as you do, your body and your mind will start to reap immediate benefits.

Strength training has been shown to improve emotional makeup and to promote better sleep. It also builds self-esteem and self-efficacy. Researchers are still trying to determine the reasons why strength training has such a positive powerful effect on the mind yet are unanimous that it is as effective as medication at relieving depression.

Strength training workouts will usually last between 30 and 60 minutes, depending on whether you are training designated body parts or your whole body.

I, Chris Abraham, am morbidly obese; and, here's why I really should not be:

Obesity is a major risk factor for the loss of mobility. An obese person puts far greater demands on his skeletal muscles than a healthy weight person does. High levels of adipose tissue (fat) have also been associated with reduced functional muscle ability and strength. Lack of flexibility and control over muscles is also more readily seen among overweight individuals.

We all adapt to our zones. What might be Zone 2 now might be Zone 1 6 months from now. It's like The Maffetone Method: The Holistic, Low-Stress, No-Pain Way to Exceptional Fitness by Philip Maffetone: as you become more fit, you will perform at a higher level with a lower heart rate. That's why one needs to adapt as one improves. Always be increasing intensity.

Over time, as you train more, your exercise intensity may have to change for each of the zones. For example, beginner exercisers who go for a light jog may be in Zone 3. But, as they continue to work out, their body will adapt and their fitness improves, so that in three to five weeks that same jog will only put them in Zone 2. That means that you have significantly improved your aerobic fitness level. Using a heart rate monitor is an easy way to track the heart rate zone you are working in, and your improvements in aerobic fitness over time.

Building more muscle crowds out more fat. Muscle is always more metabolically hungry than fat.

The more muscle you carry on your body, the less likely you will be to carry excess body fat. That’s because muscle is very energy dependent. It takes about five times more energy to preserve an ounce of muscle than it does an ounce of fat. So, putting on muscle will speed up your metabolism, countering yet another of the natural effects of aging.

Take your training regimen easy but also be persistent. Training is a life sentence

The starting point to constructing your workout program is deciding how often you will exercise. The current general recommendations for physical activity are 150 minutes of aerobic activity week at moderate-intensity exercise. That equates to about half an hour a day, five days a week. That activity should include doing a range of physical activities that incorporate fitness, strength, balance and flexibility. 

But, don't forget to include cardiovascular exercise. Remember: Rangers lift, side-straddle-hop, and run, run, run. Remember, Zombieland Rules"#1: Cardio - When the virus struck, for obvious reasons, the first ones to go were the fatties."

When it comes to cardiovascular exercise, the general guidelines recommend doing between 20 and 60 minutes. However, this will depend on the intensity of the exercise you are doing. Steady state low intensity cardio, such as walking on a treadmill, can be done for up to an hour at a time. In contrast, high intensity interval training (HIIT), which involves short sprints followed by even shorter rest intervals, should only last for a maximum of 20 minutes.

As Pavel Tsatsouline recommends"always leave a few reps in the tank." Don't exhaust yourself.

When you first start working out, don’t go full out straight away. If you exhaust yourself straight off the bat, you’ll be adding fuel to the idea that you don’t like exercising. Take it steady and build up gradually, enjoying the training along the way. Exercise is movement. It’s not confined to the gym or a set block of workout time. It could be walking, swimming, playing basketball or any other activity that you enjoy that will get your heart rate up for 30 minutes.

I don't think I ruined the book for you. You should still enjoy it because there's the entire workout in there, from soup to nuts. It's a comprehensive guide while also not being wimpy. You will become tough if you stick with this. And strong, and flexible, agile, and mobile. You should check it out!