columnist2Most don’t consider 43 old. I am not really old, but my body feels it. I used to be an athlete who powerlifted, and now I am neither athlete nor powerlifter. Since I have, for now, hung up my squat suit, I want to get back to being more athletic. Over 20 years of work to be the best powerlifter I could be has left me less mobile with feet and knees that hurt.  I don’t have delusions of running a 4.5 40-yard dash or being able to dunk a basketball, but that doesn’t mean I can’t move in that direction.

This program is for those of us who love to train but don’t compete, want to look better, maintain strength, and be able to show their kids who is boss when needed. Working 45 to 50 hours a week, standing all day, and having pushed my body since I was 12 years old, feeling better is a must. I am unable to devote the time I need to compete at the same level I did just a few years ago. This program is a jumpstart over the next ten weeks.  This should be fun as the body adapts to become more like a cat and less like a cow.

Two Birds GPP

If you are out of shape, you can’t train effectively.  Being a parent of teenagers and a one-year-old gets exhausting. Finding time for self-care and GPP work is difficult. The key is to kill two birds with one stone. The key is to find a place where you can do chores or something you already do double as extra general physical preparedness. I have a section listed as one stone in your program, but you need more. There should be extra work when possible.

RECENT: Foot Placement for the Sumo Deadlift

Some of my quality time with my wife and baby includes brisk walks a few times a week. Our route is about two miles. We get quality time to talk and enjoy a few minutes without the older kids asking for more food. A weight vest while cutting grass and kettlebell swings while grilling are just a few examples to get in some bonus work. Time is limited so double up where you can.  This doesn’t mean turning everything into exercise. You still need to enjoy some downtime.  You will also find chances in your workouts to kill two birds with that one stone.

Feel Better

Years of abuse playing football, wrestling, and powerlifting will take a toll on the body. Getting older and chronic stress is the other. Sitting is a problem for many people. I on the other hand have a standing problem. I stand all day, every day. So my feet take a huge beating with some days steps nearing 20K. Improving foot strength and mobility is another goal of this program. We all want to feel better and move better. As we all age we need to manage the parts that keep us moving.

Mobility, flexibility, and tissue quality should be addressed. There is no programming component but you will need to determine your needs. Start with a warm-up like the Parisi warm-up. A few weeks and you will feel immensely better. Foam rolling, massage, and rehab can be done in the down moments of the week.

Move Better

When trying to squat or deadlift big, nearly all of my training was done on both feet or with both legs working together.  In trying to move better this will transition to more unilateral work.  Split squats, single-leg RDLs, and med ball work will be included. Kettlebell clean and press, mace swings, and standing overhead work will provide different stimuli. Some exercises are chosen to follow the two birds' idea from above. Training time is limited so everything must be maximized. Cut back on rest periods and care more about how you move and feel rather than max strength.

Strength and Size

I love being strong but I can’t put in enough time to be as strong as I was. If I can hang onto some of it I will direct more work into looking like an athlete. Both of these are secondary goals to feeling and moving better. I know that hitting a body part once a week with the time allocated is not optimal.  Trying to keep the muscle and strength while pulling off some body fat is the new goal. Hold onto everything while cutting the unnecessary. This is a temporary phase of training, you can always go back and work more on size and strength.

Replacing Dynamic Effort

I have removed dynamic effort in place of jumps and repetition work. This starts with the lowest level of jumping. The jump rope is the first thing many of my general population clients learned, yes learned to do.  It is the lowest level of plyometrics and is a great warm-up. I also use this to strengthen the feet. As your feet adapt to the stress, they will feel better, but they may get sore. After a few weeks, box jumps are added. No maximal jumps will be done but learning to land and absorb force is important. "Be a cat, not a cow," as my wrestling coach would say.

Upper body repetition work is done every week with the type being changed weekly.  If you can’t do overhead work, modify the exercises to your specific needs.


This is the starting point. Much of what is written here can be progressive. The jumps can be modified and kept in long term. Without a good GPP base, your specific work can only go so far. Keep pushing for more work in the same amount of time.  After the 10 weeks are up, make adjustments, and keep going if that fits your goals. If in the end, you have achieved what you wanted with this program, then roll into something else.


Nutrition is a touchy subject.  I would love to be able to give you guidelines but there are many variables here. Eat more veggies and less processed food.  Drink more water and cut calories from beverages and even artificial sweeteners.  I have implemented intermittent fasting and it was worked well for me. I have also cut my carbs quite a bit. No specific diet plan is in place just eating better food and keeping track of how I feel. Fuel yourself with better food and see how much better you feel.

Heavy Lower


Rep Upper


Rep Lower


Heavy Upper


Download Excel File 

After you feel better, what comes next? Look at someone like Vincent Dizenzo who went from 300 pounds to a svelte 210. Running might be in your future—hill sprints or running a sub-eight-minute mile like Vincent. Set goals and go after them. Change your program to become an even better athlete.

This is a very simple program. Do things that make you feel better, move better, and look better.  Do things that an athlete might do—jumping, rotational work, GPP, and eating better. There is no science or magic here. Work hard a few hours a week and enjoy getting after it. This is chasing a feeling and no longer a number.

Remember, be a cat, not a cow.