Will Smith’s Empty Barbell Squat Contains a Valuable Lesson for Men Over 50

Will Smith committed on his Instagram to get in the “best shape of his life” and he’s doing it right. In a recent post, the 52-year-old actor shared that he is stepping up his health and fitness for a YouTube series. But you won’t see the star working out like Thor or Superman. Not yet, at least. Will Smith’s weight-loss journey is about taking small steps towards his goal, and building a foundation for strength and longevity.

In the post, Smith jokes with his trainer about weight training with an empty barbell. “Nobody’s going to have a video of me bench pressing with just a bar with no weights on it.” In a quick cut, that’s exactly what we see, except he’s squatting with an empty bar instead of benching it.

But while joking about the unentertaining method of losing weight, Will Smith demonstrates exactly what we all need to learn. Training movements without heavy weights helps prevent injuries and builds the skills necessary to achieve long-term goals. It’s not sexy, but it’s effective. (1)

Smart Strength-Training 

Of course, weight-training is important for people wanting to lose weight, especially those over 50. Lifting weights helps to maintain bone strength, which is important because our bones tend to weaken as we age. Adding strength training to your workout regimen also helps reduce muscle loss, and promotes healthy weight by increasing metabolism. (2,3)

If all this sounds great to you, take a page from Will Smith’s handbook: start slow. In the beginning, you don’t want to bust out the heavy weights… you aren’t just trying to see how much weight you can lift. Always remember, with strength training, a little work goes a long way. Experts agree that those starting out in any weight-loss or fitness program should focus on form rather than the amount of weight being lifted. Work toward getting the movements right, cement them into your muscle memory. Then when you add the weight, your body knows exactly how to perform the exercise, even under a heavier load. (4)

Strength-training is important for overall health in people over 50, true, but don’t panic if you don’t have easy access to weights. Experts agree that bodyweight training with no equipment can be just as effective as working out with weights and machines. (5)

Weight-Loss for Over 50

Though Will Smith is hitting the gym to lose weight, there are other ways to get fit over 50. It’s a likely bet that Smith’s weight-loss program includes new eating habits, ways to reduce stress, and improve mental health, along with the physical exercise. Fitness is more than working out. What you eat matters as well as how you take care of your mental health. (2)

Consuming high-quality proteins, limiting refined sugars, and cutting out processed foods can all help boost weight-loss. But just like jumping headfirst into lifting heavy weights, kicking all bad eating habits at once can sometimes be a setup for failure. Just like learning the movements with an empty barbell, start small with dietary changes… grow from a place of success. Gradually replace unhealthy foods with their healthier counterparts. Slowly incorporate more rest and sleep into your routine. Gently increase physical activity throughout the week. Take the time to learn the basics and ease into new behaviors so they become habits. This is an important aspect of making any new habit “stick”: creating the right conditions for success. (3)

Will Smith’s Weight-Loss Lesson to Us All

No question, Will Smith is a funny guy! But his commitment to his health and well-being is serious business. His journey— starting small, building a foundation, and continuously improving his life—  is one of life’s best lessons. We can laugh and play along with him, and find our own way to a healthy and happy life.

  1. https://www.wellandgood.com/empty-barbell-exercises/
  2. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/how-to-lose-weight-after-50#losing-weight-after-50
  3. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/how-to-lose-weight-after-50
  4. https://www.health.harvard.edu/exercise-and-fitness/7-tips-for-a-safe-and-successful-strength-training-program
  5. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/fitness/expert-answers/body-weight-training/faq-20147966

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