Getting Back in Shape in Your 40’s and Beyond (with kettlebells)

If you:

  • Wonder if your best years of being fit, feeling great, being strong, and looking good are behind you …
  • No longer see a lean physical specimen with muscle definition when you look in the mirror, but instead a doughy, middle-aged body that you feel disappointed in …
  • Feel sluggish, and no longer have the energy and vitality you used to …

Today’s post is for you.

Fellow KB fan David Lee from HumanNature @ Work shares with us his personal story of getting back into shape in his 50’s … and how kettlebells helped him do it.

– Forest

Getting Back in Shape in Your 40’s and Beyond

by David Lee of HumanNature @ Work

Along with a bunch of bodyweight exercises, this morning’s workout included:

1. Six chin-ups with a 24Kg (54lb) kettlebell on a weight belt
2. Two rest pause chin-ups with my 16kg and 24kg kettlebells (88lb) on a weight belt.
3. One arm push-ups, 4 per arm

I’m a 55 year old guy and could barely do a single chin-up four years ago.

If you’re above 40, I’m writing this post for you.

If any of the following sound familiar, I’m writing this for you:

1. You wonder if your best years of being fit, feeling great, being strong, and looking good are behind you.

2. When you look in the mirror, you no longer see a lean physical specimen with muscle definition.  Instead, you see is a doughy, middle-aged body that you feel disappointed in.

3. You no longer feel strong and sturdy. When you bend over, you brace your lower back with your hand. You hope doing this will keep you from “throwing out your back” or pulling a muscle.

4. You feel sluggish. You don’t have the energy and vitality you used to.

5. You “want to want to” work out. You wish you liked working out, but you don’t. You wish you could force yourself to go to the gym, but it bores the hell out of you. You wish you had the discipline to work out at home, but that just isn’t happening.

If any of the above rings true, I feel your pain.

I was there.

I also remember the day things turned around, the day I stopped feeling disappointed and became
determined to do something about it.

Here’s what happened….

I was slogging along on a treadmill in a hotel gym in Austin, Texas while on a business trip. Bored out of my mind, I kept punching up new channels on my TV, looking for something to help me escape the monotony.

That’s when I came across an infomercial with a bunch of people doing some kind of extreme fitness program with a really enthusiastic, humorous guy leading the pack. He was only a little younger than I and was in amazing shape. In case you can’t guess who it was, it was Tony Horton of P90X fame.

Even though I had never worked out at home and questioned whether I had the discipline to do so, I was sick of how I looked and felt. I wanted to look just half as fit and be half as fit as Tony. So when I got home, I bought the program.

I can remember my first time putting in one of the DVDs (it was Core Synergistics) and struggling through about half of it. For the chest and back workout, which included chin-ups and pull-ups, I ended up getting rubber bands because I couldn’t do reps of chin-ups or pull-ups. When I finally graduated to being strong enough to do them, I would max out on 4-5.

I have to confess, I’m not a real structured guy, so I never did the program in the systematic way they map out. I didn’t read the instructions and didn’t do the different cycles they recommended. I just varied the workouts.

But I could see the changes. I was losing flab and putting on muscle.

I can still remember the day when I looked in the mirror and—this feels a little strange to admit—I was startled by what I saw. It was actually like “Woah! Who’s this dude?”

Again, this feels strange to say, but maybe you can relate to that primitive reptilian brain response that gets triggered when you come across a guy who is much bigger and stronger looking. No matter how civilized you think you are, or how confident you feel, there’s this reflexive alertness that comes out of nowhere.

That’s kind of how I felt when I looked in the mirror. Now, it wasn’t like I looked like Arnold or Dorian Yates by any stretch. We’re talking 6’2” and about 180 lbs. But… where before there was no definition and only this doughy, tubular body, I saw decent sized delts with definition and more muscle mass than I could remember ever having.

It truly was a strange phenomenon, almost like I finally woke up to the fact that I had changed. It actually took a while for my self-image to catch up to this new reality. I was no longer the over-the-hill doughy middle-aged guy.

I continued on with P90X for about six months when one day I was talking with a friend about how much I loved my fitness program and the difference it made, when she shared how much she enjoyed using something called kettlebells.

She asked me if I had ever heard of them. I hadn’t.

Although I could see she was really into them, I wasn’t. I thought they were some kind of girly thing.  (Man, how wrong could I have been?).

The image I had was some little bell shaped weight thing that women swung around, one per hand, while they did some kind of aerobic dance workout. Again…how wrong could I have been about that?

I can’t remember what triggered me to finally go online and do some research, but after a little reading, I knew that kettlebells were going to become part of my program.

Once I started using them and learning about functional fitness and exercising movements and not individual muscles, I became even more of a hard core fitness fanatic.

So, now, almost four years later, I feel and look like a different person. Interestingly enough, what I used to find incomprehensible—working out in the morning—is now a habit. Now the following may sound weird, but sometimes if I wake up at say, 3 or 4 AM, I can’t get back to sleep because I’m so stoked about my upcoming morning workout. So I get up, and “bring it!”


About the Author:

David Lee is the founder of HumanNature @Work. He is a speaker, consultant, and writer in the areas of employee motivation; resilience; and storytelling for entrepreneurs, leaders, and coaches. He works with individuals and leadership teams interested in maximizing their effectiveness. His websites are:,, and

One thought on “Getting Back in Shape in Your 40’s and Beyond (with kettlebells)

  1. Pingback: Mindful Eating Workshop @ FVT (last chance to save) | Personal Training, Fitness Boot Camps and Kettlebell Instruction in Sacramento, CA

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