Tactical Fitness: Age, Injuries, and Calisthenics

Tactical Fitness: Retired veteran swimming.

Training throughout your life requires persistence and a true love for exercise. Often, after living life hard in the military, sports, and extracurricular fitness activities, your body bears the scars of a life well-lived. Here is a question from a veteran still seeking to keep moving as he enters his late 50s.


How many millions of guys 55 and up have asked you this? I have trained my whole life from school, through the military, and still going. I am frustrated that due to joint replacements and arthritis, I can no longer do pull-ups, burpees, bench etc. Experts say do cross fit, don't run distance, just sprint etc. I still run, do push-ups, and I want to stay lean without deadlifts, big lifts, and kettle bells. Can I stick with the old PT movements and succeed? What are your thoughts?

Respectfully, Paul

Paul –

I wish that many people asked me this question. I do not get many 55+ aged athletes looking for creative ways to keep moving.  Unfortunately, I get more 55+ year olds wanting to get back started after 20-30 years of inactivity, but that is another article.

But to answer your question – yes, absolutely!

I love calisthenics and spend more than half the year only running and doing calisthenics. I tend to do pretty high reps, so I like to cycle through that high volume cals and distance with heavier weights and non-impact options usually in the winter.

See how I cycle these things by using periodization.

I also like to spend a significant portion of the year not running and doing other non-impact cardio options like swimming, rowing, biking, and elliptical machines. I find that after a long cycle of running, the non-impact cardio still helps me stay lean without the aches and pains of running.

My recommendation is to try swimming and yoga. These are two great options for taking an aging athlete and keeping your joints mobile and your heart and lungs strong. Each decade, I find myself running less and swimming more and am pain free by doing so.

Other Resistance Options:

Now since you cannot do pullups, I would try using a TRX or rings to do suspension rows. See the video of how I mix them with squats:

TRX Squat / Rows – It is both an easier version of squat and pulling exercise that can replace the pullup.

I also do a lightweight shoulder workout that I love to do on upper body days.

Some more ideas on PT workouts arrangements if you like to mix in short runs with calisthenics arrangements: (see 5 part series of PT workouts)

I hope this series of ideas will help you further and keep you moving well into your 60’s. Thanks for your service and your inspiration for this article.

Stew Smith CSCS

Show Full Article