Training for the status quo | fitness after 40

A couple of weeks ago a fellow gym-goer asked me what I was training for.

She’d noticed that I lift heavy, 3-4 days each week and that I’d been consistently upping my weights, in particular on my rows (not stalker-ish; she’s quite interested in developing her back, so she pays attention to these things).

Was I training for a weight lifting competition? Nope (this made me giggle)

To build bigger muscles? Not particularly (although that Tricep score my Skulpt Aim gave me is bugging me just a bit 😉 )


I could have sworn my triceps were stronger than this…

To lose weight or lean out? Nah, I’m pretty happy with my body the way it is (i.e., I’m not interested in doing what it takes to drop 3 or 4% more body fat…)

To improve my performance in another sport? Perhaps, if you consider life to be a sport (have you seen my new tag line?)

My lack of appropriate response clearly confused her, so I tried to explain that my primary reason for exercising consistently and progressively is to continue being able to perform all the activities I love, pain-free and for a long time to come.

That is, I train to stay pretty much the way I am. And when I look around at the mostly healthy-looking people in my gym, I don’t think that I’m alone.

I guess you could call it training for the status quo.

Note that this isn’t a case of simply running to stay in place (a la the Red Queen)…

Alice and the Red Queen

“It takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place”, said the Red Queen to Alice

It’s running to NOT end up in a worse place 🙂

Training for the status quo has myriad benefits (especially for those of us who aren’t 20 anymore…)

Why I train for the status quo

  • maintain or increase metabolism; As we get older, muscle mass is both harder to create and harder to maintain due in part to a reduction in the production of estrogen, progesterone and testosterone. With declining muscle mass comes a reduction in basal metabolic rate. Hence the increased challenge of keeping midlife pounds at bay. Progressive resistance strength training encourages muscle growth and allows me to continue eating (most of) the foods I enjoyed in my 20’s and 30’s without gaining (very much) weight.
  • health is more than how you look; It’s not just what you see that’s important; how things are working ‘under the hood’ is a strong predictor of future health and longevity. Training for the status quo can help improve many of the health markers your doctor is watching; cholesterol, blood pressure, lung capacity, heart rate and stroke volume, to name a few.

Like ‘eating for maintenance’, training for the status quo isn’t sexy.

But it’s a heck of a lot better than the alternative…

Does the phrase ‘training for the status quo’ make you think of a hamster wheel? Or do you see the benefits of exercising simply for the benefits of exercising?


training for the status quo




  1. Great post. Though it does sounds like an endless battle, it is an accurate description. I like “training for life” better 🙂 Or it more about lifestyle changes which isn’t sexy. But who cares if the technique is sexy, what matters is I feel sexy and plan to stay that way lol
    Stephanie Robbins recently posted…4 Questions A Content Affiliate Needs To Ask When Selecting a NetworkMy Profile

  2. I like this. As someone who is still battling with injuries and has lost a lot of my firtness because of that, I think training for my health and quite frankly my life is the best way to conquer my injuries, not to mention my mental health!

  3. Yes! I do some exercises to supposedly prevent running injuries, but mostly I’m motivated because I like being fit and I know I have to keep working out to stay that way — “use it or lose it” I guess!
    Coco recently posted…Shop Stella And Dot And Support The American Heart AssociationMy Profile

  4. PREACH. You know Im precisely the same way.
    I train so I can THROW my bag in the overhead bin 🙂
    CARLA recently posted…Lets get HORIZONTAL!My Profile

  5. I couldn’t agree more, Tamara. These are the main reasons I exercise too. Oh, and because it keeps me out of body-suffocating Spanx. 😉
    Carrie Rubin recently posted…The Bechdel Test: Does The Fiction You Read Or Watch Pass?My Profile

    • Carrie, thanks so much for your comments. I was just over on your site the other day; lurking of course 😉
      (And just say no to Spanx; do you know that I’ve never even tried them on???)

  6. Katie Hill says:

    Good timing on this post, Tamara. I used to be a fairly heavy duty, intense workout kind of gal. I fell away from it for the last five years with numerous attempts to get back at it. Now, I just finished my seventh week of being back at it consistently (although I don’t feel like I have to kill myself anymore). I feel better, and I know I have lost an inch or two/toned up. However, this morning I made the mistake of trying on a pair of jeans I wore just a few years ago (couldn’t even snap them) and it made me feel like it will take forever to get back there. It would be easy to let something like this keep me from heading back to the gym, but your post reminded me that I’m already doing something very good for myself and if (at age 47) it takes a bit longer to see more tangible results, then so be it.