Sunday, January 6, 2013

The 90-year plan

Maybe I should be grateful.  In fact, I am, really.  There is obviously a lot of crap out on the market today for fitness information (though there always has been), but I see through it.  Really, just about all of it.  It’s not an inherent talent or some sign of superior intelligence on my part; it’s about a difference in philosophy.  No one holds a philosophy that they think is likely to be wrong, but as I look around at some of the fitness products that people buy into, I can’t help but wonder if the makers of it have a philosophy at all. 

Think about it:

Turn on your TV late at night and flip the channels.  You’ll see 30-60-90 day programs promising to get you in shape and look great naked and make all your friends/family/neighbors hate themselves and you by extension because of how out-of-control hot you’ve become in the past 30-60-90 days, followed by tons upon tons of sweaty, greased up sexy dudes and chicks gushing over how people crawl over throngs of their newfound fans just to catch a fleeting glimpse at their six-pack abs and single-digit bodyfat, and how they have to fend off invading hordes of the opposite sex (or the same sex, for that matter) with a pointy stick.

For the record, I’m not knocking that (I mean c’mon, who secretly DOESN’T want that?), and I’m not even knocking any of these programs, most of which are perfectly good in the right context.  I have better things to do with my time than make veiled attacks at successful info-products on late-night TV. 

I don't care how stuffed you are, there's always room for tapeworms!

What I want to get at is, What do you do on day 31?  Or 61?  Or 91? 

Strength, fitness, and health are not things you just attain at some level and then just HAVE for the rest of your life like a college degree or a picture with a celebrity.  Your body isn’t going to maintain something just because – it’s going to take some outside influence on your part, namely focusing on a goal and then working toward it.

So in light of this philosophy – which I’d like to think everyone deep down inside them understands – I’m coming up with my own training plan.  It’s called the 90 Year Plan.  Why 90 years?  Because odds are you’re going to live for a very long time, particularly if you’re reading this in the Westernized world, thanks to advances in medicine.  You can either live it in agony and poor health, your entire existence scaffolded by medicine and outside assistance just to get by, or you can punch life in its uncaring face by consistently staving off the ravages of age and disease by being pro-active and taking care of yourself for more than 90 days at a time.  Thought of another way: 90 days (three months) is 1/360th of 90 years.  Ask yourself: if your only goal was to exercise one day per year and be relatively sedentary (as most of us are) apart from that, would that one day matter?  Don’t bother offering up some esoteric answer about how it would somehow add up in the long run.  The answer is no.  A 90-day program will only matter in the long run if it is built on a philosophy of consistently maintaining and improving your health, strength, and fitness. 

I’m gonna give you the base categories, you can fill in the details as you go along.  Take your time.  You’ve got 90 years to perfect this, so enjoy it along the way.

For the next 90 years, you’re going to eat, exercise, and show some gratitude.

What will you eat?  Something from the following categories.

Various herbs/spices

Again, the above gives you lots of options and opportunities for variety.  Be creative.  Drinking water, btw, is non-negotiable.  That should be your main beverage.

How will you exercise?  This is a two-part answer.  First, you should choose any activity that you enjoy doing (playing a sport, practicing a martial art, etc.) plus do the following:
Kettlebell exercises:
Turkish Get Up
Goblet Squat

Calisthenics exercises:


Other fun stuff to add icing to your exercise cake:
Carry heavy things

You don’t have to devote the same amount of time to them all at the same time, but you have to do all of them throughout a given year.

And show some gratitude.  Get a notebook, and every day write down at least 5 things you’re thankful for. Ruminate over them in your in-between time each day.  Within about a week, you’ll start looking at your world differently.  Imagine how much differently you’ll see the world in 90 years. 

That’s it.  There are millions of things you can come up with in any of those categories, so if you have exercise ADD, you’re in luck: you’re not likely to run through a million combos in your lifetime, let alone more than that.  Even with something like swings, get ups, and squats, you’ll find boatloads of combos.  So let your ADD shine and have fun.

If you wanna get better at something, ANYTHING, in the above categories, define “better” for your circumstance (lift heavier weight is always a good choice), have someone help you plan that out, and go for it.  Repeat.  You’ll have time, trust me.

I’m not bold enough to say I have all the answers, but I am pretty confident that, as Master SFG Mark Reifkind has pointed out time and time again, consistency trumps intensity.  Any intense 30-60-90 day program can help your fitness in the long run as long as it is held up and made strong by a vision beyond 1/360th of your life.

Get out there, enjoy moving, and have fun!  And naturally, if you think someone might benefit from reading this blog, please feel free to share it.  Let me know if you do and I’ll high-five you the next time I see you/when we meet.

StrongFirst.  Strong Always!

Aleks Salkin


  1. You, my friend, are wise beyond your years. I predict you will blow right past 90 still owning a one arm pushup!

  2. Wonderful article, thank you for the reminder.

  3. Gabby, *blush* thank you! That's my goal: one-arm pushups and one-arm chins past age 90 :)

    Denny, thank you! I'm glad you enjoyed it!

  4. great post, aleks! i really appreciated the part about grattitude. if we're not thankful for what we have we can't really reach what we want (our goals). grattitude is the starting point.


    jack x.

    1. Thank you, Jack! Being grateful every day is one thing we can never do enough of.