Super Fit and Athletic Over 60. At 62 years of age, I am still in good enough shape to score very high on military fitness tests – including the Marine Corps Physical Fitness Test (PFT), one of the toughest. These tests typically comprise a combination of running, pull ups or push ups and either planks or crunches to gauge the overall strength and endurance of the applicant.
As of November 2022, I can score a 261 (out of 300 possible), a designation of 1st Class, on this particular test. That score comprises a 3 mile run at 21 minutes flat, 10 pull ups and a 3:45 minute plank.
It has not always been this way! During my 40’s, raising two daughters through their high school years and eating three good meals per day while focusing on their schedules and not my own, put an extra 30 pounds on me and slowed me down. I ballooned from 158 up to 188 and lost my flexibility, strength and speed. As a result, I spent way too much time and money on chiropractic care and MRI’s and had to miss or give up on many golf rounds due to lower back problems.
After seeing myself in a picture with my wife in front of the Eifel Tower on a family trip to Europe in 2009, I realized that things needed to change. During my twenties I was a very good athlete, competing in running events, triathlons, and hitting the gym a couple times each week for some great strength training. I knew that I could get back in shape if I put in the effort.
In 2012, after three years of building a running base and getting back into decent shape at the age of 52, I started competing again in local 5K races. It felt good to race again. The more I trained and entered races, the more I started to get good results. Good results and lower weight along with a stronger body gave me a better strength to weight ratio and I started finishing in the top three in my age group quite often.
A major challenge in getting back in shape was the strength training, which was more difficult than rebuilding endurance. In my early 50’s I could not do a single pull up unless I used the “assisted pull up” machine at the gym. Over time, I graduated to non-assisted pull ups and have now worked up to being able to do ten good unassisted reps on a regular basis.
I typically do cardio, via running, about five days per week, while doing strength training at the gym two times per week along with my wife. We both go through the same circuit doing back, arms, shoulders, legs, lower back and core during a single workout. We use a mixture of free weights and machines, although most of the workout involves free weights including barbell squats, flat bench, curls and shoulders.
The most important takeaway that I have learned through this process is that the hardest part is the battle of the mind – fighting the urge to quit during a training run or a race or to skip the gym. I have friends my age that have pretty much given up on exercise altogether, and I understand why they have made that decision. It is because exercise and watching your diet is hard – and if it was not hard, then everyone could do it.
You can do it too!
Here is a link to a Marine Corps PFT calculator –