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Strength gains in mid 40s (Read 13101 times)

Liamhutch89

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#25 Re: Strength gains in mid 40s
August 11, 2022, 03:24:30 pm
I am 42 now and I've started to struggle with my weight.
I've always been tall and thin with a constant body weight of 72kg but since turning forty I have ballooned up to 77kg.
My diet is good and I don't eat junk food or sugary drinks at all but I still like a few beers at the weekend.

I have to keep an eye on my weight now and try harder to maintain the activity levels of my younger days... My routine has changed and i need to shock myself and my body into changing out of my lazier habits.

You (and others) might be pleased to read that energy expenditure remains relatively stable between the ages of 20 and 60 according to a large study published in Science: https://www.science.org/doi/10.1126/science.abe5017?rss=1

You identified a couple of lifestyle factors that may be contributing and didn't blame a 'slowing metabolism', so i'm not calling you out at all, but plenty of other people do try that one to make themselves unaccountable  ;)


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#26 Re: Strength gains in mid 40s
August 11, 2022, 03:31:54 pm
I am 42 now and I've started to struggle with my weight.
I've always been tall and thin with a constant body weight of 72kg but since turning forty I have ballooned up to 77kg.
My diet is good and I don't eat junk food or sugary drinks at all but I still like a few beers at the weekend.

I have to keep an eye on my weight now and try harder to maintain the activity levels of my younger days... My routine has changed and i need to shock myself and my body into changing out of my lazier habits.

You (and others) might be pleased to read that energy expenditure remains relatively stable between the ages of 20 and 60 according to a large study published in Science: https://www.science.org/doi/10.1126/science.abe5017?rss=1

You identified a couple of lifestyle factors that may be contributing and didn't blame a 'slowing metabolism', so i'm not calling you out at all, but plenty of other people do try that one to make themselves unaccountable  ;)

I was going to mention this too, although being quite a few years under 40 my opinion is clearly invalid.

Dave Macleod however, who is quite a few years over 40, put it succinctly in one of his recent videos, describing something along the lines of "the changes in lifestyle which typically accompany getting older". I.e., in a nutshell not moving as much because you're working, looking after children, etc. is what actually causes the typical middle-aged spread, not a slowing metabolism.

Liamhutch89

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#27 Re: Strength gains in mid 40s
August 11, 2022, 04:50:33 pm
I am 42 now and I've started to struggle with my weight.
I've always been tall and thin with a constant body weight of 72kg but since turning forty I have ballooned up to 77kg.
My diet is good and I don't eat junk food or sugary drinks at all but I still like a few beers at the weekend.

I have to keep an eye on my weight now and try harder to maintain the activity levels of my younger days... My routine has changed and i need to shock myself and my body into changing out of my lazier habits.

You (and others) might be pleased to read that energy expenditure remains relatively stable between the ages of 20 and 60 according to a large study published in Science: https://www.science.org/doi/10.1126/science.abe5017?rss=1

You identified a couple of lifestyle factors that may be contributing and didn't blame a 'slowing metabolism', so i'm not calling you out at all, but plenty of other people do try that one to make themselves unaccountable  ;)

I was going to mention this too, although being quite a few years under 40 my opinion is clearly invalid.

Dave Macleod however, who is quite a few years over 40, put it succinctly in one of his recent videos, describing something along the lines of "the changes in lifestyle which typically accompany getting older". I.e., in a nutshell not moving as much because you're working, looking after children, etc. is what actually causes the typical middle-aged spread, not a slowing metabolism.

Another factor is that weight gain often takes time. A person might have been gaining weight from the age of 20, but a small positive energy balance netting half a kilogram per year is likely to go unnoticeable... Until they're 40 and somehow 10kg heavier!

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#28 Re: Strength gains in mid 40s
August 11, 2022, 09:38:23 pm
Loads of great comments here.  Lots of it should be possible, and no reason why not.. Interestingly only one response that actually said,  'yes, I made strength gains in my 40s' and that was Shark.

But it only takes one to show its possible.  Shark were your gains as %bodyweight? Ie you didn't just lose a few kilos?

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#29 Re: Strength gains in mid 40s
August 11, 2022, 09:46:38 pm
Making finger strength gains totally doable, particularly if youíve never fingerboarded with any discipline. Whether this will actually translate to climbing the problems you want to will depend on what youíre actually lacking. Plenty of people get stronger fingers on paper (myself included) without seeing this translate to climbing the things they want to for a variety of reasons.

Making power gains may be a bit trickier.

Have you identified what it is you need to improve specifically to do these problems? Someone who has climbed at your level should have some inkling?

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#30 Re: Strength gains in mid 40s
August 11, 2022, 10:10:23 pm
Iíve made finger strength gainz in my 40s (44 currently) by starting fingerboarding as part of a coached training plan. This was after over 20 years of climbing, albeit at a very punterly level.

Perhaps similarly to others whoíve posted Iíve not notably climbed harder (7B+ just from outdoors climbing, 7B+ post trainingÖ.) but I feel more robust and able to tackle more fingery problems that canít be Ďcheatedí with technique and perseverance. Iím optimistic about climbing 7C once the Peak cools down a bit.

So, obviously my level is a lot lower than yours, but you seemed interested to hear examples of where itís workedÖ




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#31 Re: Strength gains in mid 40s
August 11, 2022, 10:30:44 pm
Loads of great comments here.  Lots of it should be possible, and no reason why not.. Interestingly only one response that actually said,  'yes, I made strength gains in my 40s' and that was Shark.

I made massive gains, but didn't bother mentioning it because the baseline I started from was so low. in my late 40s I went from only ever doing stamina routes at the wall, and trad up to E2 ish and long mountain routes, or bouldering easy circuits. With arrival of kids my time became limited and my usual climbing partner was often unavailable when I was (my wife) so bouldered down the wall (esp steep board which I usually avoided), started doing some fingerboarding and bouldered on the local crags whenever I could and went from punting in the low 6es to doing low 7s indoors and the occasional one outdoors. So massive relative gains, but not really comparable to what you are looking at.

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#32 Re: Strength gains in mid 40s
August 12, 2022, 09:40:34 am
Thanks Chris and Chris. That is encouraging.

There's not a particular problem that i'm desperate to climb. I've done a lot of development and FAs over the past few years but there's nothing else hard locally i'm especially psyched for (yes the Dan V one would be good - Wacke Races 7C+, but it's repelled several climbers operating at a much higher level than me!)

 I had a 3 day road trip around the highlands recently climbing a bunch of 7As and Bs from my Top 100 Scottish 7th Grade Problems list. I'd love to be able to knock off 7Cs in a session in the same way. With no particular project i'm focussed on, it feels like i have a bit of time to train rather than climb for the first time since i started! I'm not trying to improve my max grade (pretty sure I could knock-off Queen Kong ss in a session if i really wanted a soft 8A+ tick), but become a more well-rounded climber.

So, general rather than extremely specific climbing fitness. with the belief my finger strength is a weakness. Although that might just be because i'm a heavy lad. Going to try the lattice free finger assessment this weekend and try and assess it compared to bodyweight. This thread has encouraged me into looking into the possibility of some coaching though. Thanks all


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#33 Re: Strength gains in mid 40s
August 12, 2022, 09:46:49 am
I am 42 now and I've started to struggle with my weight.
I've always been tall and thin with a constant body weight of 72kg but since turning forty I have ballooned up to 77kg.
My diet is good and I don't eat junk food or sugary drinks at all but I still like a few beers at the weekend.

I have to keep an eye on my weight now and try harder to maintain the activity levels of my younger days... My routine has changed and i need to shock myself and my body into changing out of my lazier habits.

You (and others) might be pleased to read that energy expenditure remains relatively stable between the ages of 20 and 60 according to a large study published in Science: https://www.science.org/doi/10.1126/science.abe5017?rss=1

You identified a couple of lifestyle factors that may be contributing and didn't blame a 'slowing metabolism', so i'm not calling you out at all, but plenty of other people do try that one to make themselves unaccountable  ;)

I was going to mention this too, although being quite a few years under 40 my opinion is clearly invalid.

Dave Macleod however, who is quite a few years over 40, put it succinctly in one of his recent videos, describing something along the lines of "the changes in lifestyle which typically accompany getting older". I.e., in a nutshell not moving as much because you're working, looking after children, etc. is what actually causes the typical middle-aged spread, not a slowing metabolism.

I guess my metabolism may have slowed slightly, but im not sure that i can blame that as a simple comparison between my 11hrs of training per week +2 days climbing on rock in my 30's Vs 4/5hrs of training per week +1 climbing day max per week in my 40's highlights a glaring reduction in my activity levels. Im not married anymore and i dont have children... I just dont have the same energy levels, and i have other hobbies now... My life doesn't revolve around rock climbing anymore, and that's fine :)

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#34 Re: Strength gains in mid 40s
August 12, 2022, 10:24:27 am
I've gone from successfully projecting F7A - 7A+ when I was 40 - through to 7C - 7C+ now I'm 52. Just steady progression. Climbing/training 3-4 time a week on average. Occasionally periods of fingerboarding (max hangs) have upped my strength - and building a lockdown woody notably upticked my performance.

Sessions are usually short (training/board often an hour - rarely 90 min) outdoors similar (in terms of when I'm at the rock etc..). Basically I have got stronger - quite a bit stronger - but session endurance is low and I need time to recover. Still loving it though!

Keep at it - but be sensible and don't expect gains like when you were 20! (common sense stuff really..)

(I just boulder - none of that sport / rope malarkey :D )

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#35 Re: Strength gains in mid 40s
August 12, 2022, 10:51:04 am
I think the most important thing to be aware of as a climber is general fitness.

I know young climbers with very strong fingers and bags of power but poor overall fitness.
I know a climber in their late 40's who can come out of a full summer/spring of one repeaters session a week on top of lots of running and cycling to climb 8a routes and 7Bs in a session.
This is a crucial point. Look at any old boy performing well and they will almost always have a consistently good level of general fitness and relative leanness-per-height, do a lot of CV activity (running up the Ben for a "rest day", eh Dave Mac?), and have a background in athletic activity.

I've yet to see any evidence, anecdotes, or rationale to suggest it's possible to maintain physical climbing prowess without that fitness.



Another factor is that weight gain often takes time. A person might have been gaining weight from the age of 20, but a small positive energy balance netting half a kilogram per year is likely to go unnoticeable... Until they're 40 and somehow 10kg heavier!
Conversely it can be quite a shock to the system when that 10kg goes on in half a year...



I had a 3 day road trip around the highlands recently climbing a bunch of 7As and Bs from my Top 100 Scottish 7th Grade Problems list. I'd love to be able to knock off 7Cs in a session in the same way. With no particular project i'm focussed on, it feels like i have a bit of time to train rather than climb for the first time since i started! I'm not trying to improve my max grade (pretty sure I could knock-off Queen Kong ss in a session if i really wanted a soft 8A+ tick), but become a more well-rounded climber.

So, general rather than extremely specific climbing fitness. with the belief my finger strength is a weakness. Although that might just be because i'm a heavy lad. Going to try the lattice free finger assessment this weekend and try and assess it compared to bodyweight. This thread has encouraged me into looking into the possibility of some coaching though. Thanks all
The logic does seem to be there! You're not looking for massive and unfeasible jumps in standard, but to push your base level a bit so you can do what you're already physical capable of, but quicker, and maybe in some different styles?? And you've identified a possible weakness. Definitely seems worth a shot.


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#36 Re: Strength gains in mid 40s
August 12, 2022, 11:22:31 am
I've gone from successfully projecting F7A - 7A+ when I was 40 - through to 7C - 7C+ now I'm 52. Just steady progression. Climbing/training 3-4 time a week on average. Occasionally periods of fingerboarding (max hangs) have upped my strength - and building a lockdown woody notably upticked my performance.

Sessions are usually short (training/board often an hour - rarely 90 min) outdoors similar (in terms of when I'm at the rock etc..). Basically I have got stronger - quite a bit stronger - but session endurance is low and I need time to recover. Still loving it though!

Keep at it - but be sensible and don't expect gains like when you were 20! (common sense stuff really..)

(I just boulder - none of that sport / rope malarkey :D )

That's really impressive progress and more inspiring to me than e.g. Dave Mac still being strong in his mid forties. Do you think session endurance could be improved if trained? Surely it's no surprise that you have little work capacity(?) if you only do 1 hour sessions? I hope I can recreate some of your success in years to come anyway!

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#37 Re: Strength gains in mid 40s
August 12, 2022, 11:39:19 am
This thread is really inspiring for a bloke who has turned 40 this year and had to essentially start my climbing fitness from scratch in my late 30s after a significant period of illness!

From my point of view consistency (across the spectrum of contributing factors such as diet, rest, sleep, training time), remembering to keep trying hard (including progressive overload) while still having fun and enjoying it all seem highly relevant. Recently I had lost some psych for indoor shouldering (my gym is full of comp style blobs that melt my finger tips and I don't find so much fun), so mixed my routine up a little. Still do max hangs once or twice a week and a boulder/board session a week but have started leading again which has been a lot of fun. I think it'll only add to my overall climbing fitness especially some of the complementary endurance work outs I've been incorporating.

So my advice would be: don't get stuck in a rut or let climbing/training feel like a chore.

Regarding the session endurance/tiredness I concur with what others have said. Personally I do feel my session endurance is worse than it used to be - especially my max 'try hard window'. Perhaps the endurance work will help with this. Also, I can feel more tired the day after a hard session. I think i put this down to getting older, slightly accelerated by the illness I had and a history of injuries slowly taking their toll... but nothing that can't be worked through!  :weakbench:



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#38 Re: Strength gains in mid 40s
August 12, 2022, 12:37:58 pm
But it only takes one to show its possible.  Shark were your gains as %bodyweight? Ie you didn't just lose a few kilos?

No - they were absolute gains ie combined bodyweight and added weight. I only consolidated at PB level this winter but my on-crag finger strength feels like it has improved. Iím 58.

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#39 Re: Strength gains in mid 40s
August 12, 2022, 03:26:08 pm
I think the most important thing to be aware of as a climber is general fitness.

I know young climbers with very strong fingers and bags of power but poor overall fitness.
I know a climber in their late 40's who can come out of a full summer/spring of one repeaters session a week on top of lots of running and cycling to climb 8a routes and 7Bs in a session.
This is a crucial point. Look at any old boy performing well and they will almost always have a consistently good level of general fitness and relative leanness-per-height, do a lot of CV activity (running up the Ben for a "rest day", eh Dave Mac?), and have a background in athletic activity.

I've yet to see any evidence, anecdotes, or rationale to suggest it's possible to maintain physical climbing prowess without that fitness.

Totally agree with this. It's one of those things that's easy to overlook when in your 20s, but thereafter general fitness gets more and more important alongside your overall activity levels.

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#40 Re: Strength gains in mid 40s
August 12, 2022, 03:40:48 pm

This is a crucial point. Look at any old boy performing well and they will almost always have a consistently good level of general fitness and relative leanness-per-height, do a lot of CV activity (running up the Ben for a "rest day", eh Dave Mac?), and have a background in athletic activity.

I've yet to see any evidence, anecdotes, or rationale to suggest it's possible to maintain physical climbing prowess without that fitness

Totally disagree with this. I stopped running in my 40ís (was doing half marathons) and found it made no difference to my climbing which is not surprising as climbing is not a cardio vascular / VO2 max sport. Also my large legs became medium sized so sheíd a couple of kilos there. It is also difficult to maintain flexibility if you run regularly. I do think that general all round body strength (not endurance) is helpful especially in preventing injury and doing that sort of sort of training combats the loss of muscle mass that comes with aging.

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#41 Re: Strength gains in mid 40s
August 12, 2022, 03:43:42 pm
Can anyone explain why they think that the importance of general fitness increases with age? I can see a rationale for lifting more weights (reducing/limiting/reversing loss of muscle mass as you age; increased importance of avoiding injury, etc.), but I'm struggling more with the rationale of why, say, running would be more important for the 50yr old than the 20yr old? Or do you all just mean that 20 yr olds typically do a lot of "stuff" anyway (e.g. walking to the wall because they can't afford a car) whereas 50yr olds don't, so it's not necessarily more important per se, but that kind of activity is more likely to me missed out on?

[Shark beat me to a somewhat similar post, but I've left the above unedited]

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#42 Re: Strength gains in mid 40s
August 12, 2022, 03:46:01 pm
There will always be extremely rare exceptions, you are the only one I am aware of, and even then I don't know your base level CV fitness (maybe quite a lot left over from, errr, doing half marathons in your 40s hmmm) and I suspect your body fat proportion is relatively low....

Anecdotally I can confirm that all round body strength is not a guarantor of injury prevention.


Edit: Barrows - keeping weight down, burning off bodily fat, maintaining activity on rest days (esp since the 50 yr old can't train as much), encouraging blood flow for recovery. There might be more science than that or just ask the wizened old boys you see at the wall / down the cornice.

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#43 Re: Strength gains in mid 40s
August 12, 2022, 04:13:33 pm
Just looking at the fact that the old boys who are going ok are lean and do lots of general activity may just tell you that the type of person who still enjoys climbing aged 50 is also the type of person who often likes doing other activities (run, bike swim etc). It doesn't necessarily tell you anything about whether the running/swimming is helping them... although of course it may be.

Is there a reason why running is better for staying light than dieting when you're old? I've always thought it makes sense to plan activities and then manipulate weight around that if you wish using diet, rather than using activity to manipulate weight. IIRC there's some evidence to back that up too (i.e. dietary intervention being more successful than activity intervention for weight loss). Is there a reason for that to change when you get old?

Not sure there's any good evidence for any recovery interventions (other than sleep and diet) being particularly effective at any age, but it's a while since I looked. 

All sounds an awful lot like correlation and not that much like causation..?

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#44 Re: Strength gains in mid 40s
August 12, 2022, 04:19:38 pm
Can anyone explain why they think that the importance of general fitness increases with age? I can see a rationale for lifting more weights (reducing/limiting/reversing loss of muscle mass as you age; increased importance of avoiding injury, etc.), but I'm struggling more with the rationale of why, say, running would be more important for the 50yr old than the 20yr old? Or do you all just mean that 20 yr olds typically do a lot of "stuff" anyway (e.g. walking to the wall because they can't afford a car) whereas 50yr olds don't, so it's not necessarily more important per se, but that kind of activity is more likely to me missed out on?

[Shark beat me to a somewhat similar post, but I've left the above unedited]

You basically answered your question yourself there. Note that I didn't mention running; people always default to running when you mention general fitness but that type of leg based CV fitness is but a tiny component of the overall picture.

Maybe a better way of putting it would be to say that it's just as important, but more easily missed, hence requires more focus?

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#45 Re: Strength gains in mid 40s
August 12, 2022, 04:22:28 pm
Just looking at the fact that the old boys who are going ok are lean and do lots of general activity may just tell you that the type of person who still enjoys climbing aged 50 is also the type of person who often likes doing other activities (run, bike swim etc). It doesn't necessarily tell you anything about whether the running/swimming is helping them... although of course it may be.

Is there a reason why running is better for staying light than dieting when you're old? I've always thought it makes sense to plan activities and then manipulate weight around that if you wish using diet, rather than using activity to manipulate weight. IIRC there's some evidence to back that up too (i.e. dietary intervention being more successful than activity intervention for weight loss). Is there a reason for that to change when you get old?

Not sure there's any good evidence for any recovery interventions (other than sleep and diet) being particularly effective at any age, but it's a while since I looked. 

All sounds an awful lot like correlation and not that much like causation..?

The bold bit is exactly my understanding of dieting too.

Regarding sleep there is evidence that sleep quantity and quality decline with age (from being a teenager!) and the consequences of insufficient sleep (less than 7-8 hours) are greater than most people are aware. Basically every aspect of brain and body function is negatively impacted and your brain even tricks you into not noticing it until sleep is drastically impaired. I don't have individual sources to hand but my knowledge of this all comes from the book 'Why We Sleep' by Matthew Walker (neuroscientist specialising in sleep). Very good book.

Edit: I am under 40 but anecdotally I've had colossal improvements in mood, energy, recovery and more by prioritising sleep quantity and quality. I am now very tuned into when my sleep quality has been reduced by things such as not sleeping in pitch black room, too much light exposure at night time, not enough in the morning, altered sleeping time, temperature and so on. Of course, having 3 kids makes this challenging to get right!
« Last Edit: August 12, 2022, 04:28:51 pm by Liamhutch89 »

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#46 Re: Strength gains in mid 40s
August 12, 2022, 04:26:03 pm
Just looking at the fact that the old boys who are going ok are lean and do lots of general activity may just tell you that the type of person who still enjoys climbing aged 50 is also the type of person who often likes doing other activities (run, bike swim etc). It doesn't necessarily tell you anything about whether the running/swimming is helping them... although of course it may be.


There is also the unobserved counter-factual, ie that we donít know how hard the lean mean old boys would be climbing if they didnít run or cycle loads. They might be better, assuming that their stopping cycling was to improve climbing rather than as a result of declining health or psyche. I guess we ought to look at the very outliers who are clearly close to the absolute limit for older people, like Lee Sheftel or Bill Ramsey, Iím sure there are loads across Europe but I donít know about them. What are those guys doing?

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#47 Re: Strength gains in mid 40s
August 12, 2022, 04:55:09 pm
Anecdata: never trained properly and peaked around 7A+, kids and 10-12 years off, restarting in 50s. Back to occasional 7A and feels more to come, still don't really train 'properly'. Bonus of never training properly means there's more to explore because you were never close to realising natural potential (whatever that is). 58 yesterday. OK 'general fitness' from running, biking, swimming but that HAS had a definite drop off in last couple of years.

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#48 Re: Strength gains in mid 40s
August 12, 2022, 04:58:33 pm
Iíve done no CV fitness stuff since doing a bit of five a side back in 2005!

Canít stand running (itís nearly as bad as golf 😂)

I have started skateboarding recently 🤟

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#49 Re: Strength gains in mid 40s
August 12, 2022, 05:32:44 pm
You basically answered your question yourself there.
Makes sense, I just wasn't quite sure what people were saying. Lifting weights definitely seems to have logic behind it for the older folks, and it's harder not to be lazy with general activity at 35 than 25, so I can imagine by 45 or 55 it's much harder still!

I guess we ought to look at the very outliers who are clearly close to the absolute limit for older people, like Lee Sheftel or Bill Ramsey, Iím sure there are loads across Europe but I donít know about them. What are those guys doing?

Would be interesting to know. At least some of them seem - from the outside - to go climbing lots and lots with bits of fairly "normal" training in between, but I don't know any of them well enough to know the bits you don't see in the background... I met Bill in Rifle 6 years ago and he was quite conscientious about keeping some strength training going every week while he was on a long trip.

 

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