| From Dad Bod to Rad Bod

Author / Dave Shirley

5-7 minute read

“During the next few months he made three requests… For transfer to Airborne training, Fort Benning, GA… and was finally accepted.  Airborne? He was thirty-eight years old.  Why would he do that?… The next youngest guy in his class was half his age. They must’ve thought he was some far-out man humping it over the course. I did it when I was nineteen, it damn near wasted me.” – “Apocalypse Now”, CPT Willard (Martin Sheen) referring to COL Kurtz (Marlin Brando)

Throughout my teens and my twenties, I thought people in their forties were old.  Not just old, but ancient.  Done.  The best years of their lives behind them.  From then on, it was best to set them out to pasture and let them graze until it was time to cull them from the herd. As I’ve matured, I no longer see that as the case.  Not just for myself, but my friends and associates as well.  And it seems more and more professional athletes are competing well into their forties and fifties.  Just look at Tom Brady who just won another Super Bowl at 43, or UFC fighter Glover Teixeira who will soon be fighting for the light heavyweight championship at age 41.  Granted they’re outliers due to their profession and abilities, but more and more people are active into their middle age in all levels of competition [1].     

There are several reasons why we’re seeing greater athletic longevity these days, such as a better understanding of the importance of nutrition, recovery, and the long-term impacts of exercise on the aging process.  I’ve been active since first grade YMCA soccer, and as I rolled through my thirties and into my forties, I felt no reason why that should change.  But as I continued to spar with Old Man Time, I realized that what got me in shape wouldn’t keep me in shape.  My old habits and routines had to adjust in order to maintain the active lifestyle that I wanted, both to keep me healthy and to set the example for my family.   

The three biggest changes I realized I had to make were in my diet, sleep habits and becoming more focused in the gym.        

But Mr. Creosote, It’s Only Wafer Thin 

My wife has the metabolism of a hummingbird, while I gain weight just looking at what she eats.  As such, the hardest habit I had to change was my diet.  No longer am I able to eat anything with abandon and still burn it down in the weight room or pounding the pavement.  I’ve found success by addition through subtraction: limiting or outright removing processed foods, soda, sugar and alcohol – and adding meat, fowl, fish, seafood, eggs, vegetables, roots, tubers, bulbs, herbs and spices as well as animal fats, olives & olive oil, avocados, and dairy. This change has been the key to my long-term success [2].  And by making small adjustments over time instead of all at once, I ensured they became part of my lifestyle rather than a quick crash and burn fad.         

Mr. Sandman Brought Me A Dream 

We’ve all heard or even lived the same story: “In my twenties I lived like a rock star.  In my thirties I wanted to be home by 11pm.  In my forties I wanted to be asleep by 9.”  By now everyone knows the importance of sleep for recovery and peak performance, but more and more people are getting tuned into the benefits it brings for mental health.   In fact, multiple studies suggest cognitive decline and dementia in people who regularly sleep less than four hours a night [3].  Getting eight hours of sleep a night added up to big improvements in my mental and physical well being, body composition, and performance since I was no longer sleep walking through a workout and crashing hard by late afternoon.   

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Everyone Has A Plan…Until They Get Punched In The Face 

As any parent can tell you, having young children means you can pretty much take a schedule and throw it out the window.  If you don’t plan ahead you’ll inevitably be late, and being flexible in your planning is a must.  After my son was born, I realized I no longer had a set routine until he was able to sleep through the night.  The days going to the gym when I wanted and knocking down a two plus hours session were long gone.  The chaos of those first few years meant I had to get a pump session in when and where I had the chance – which wasn’t often, so I had to make every opportunity count.   

Now that he’s older, I’m able to maintain a steady routine but due to compounding obligations – work and life still get a vote in how I use my time – meaning I am still limited on free time.  Plus, I just don’t recover from heavy volume like I used to.  Evenings and weekends are for the family, and mornings before work are short.  Keeping this in mind, I began looking for a program that allowed me to get in and get out quickly while not losing my hard-won gains.  I needed something tailor made for a middle-aged dad with an active lifestyle.  Enter Grindstone.    

Minimum Investment, Maximum Returns

Grindstone is Power Athlete’s greatest program for busy people: everything you need and nothing you don’t, hitting the primal movement patterns with the right amount of volume, and training sessions that are able to be completed in an hour (give or take a few minutes).  The weekly workouts are all dropped into Mondays in the TrainHeroic app, giving athletes the ability to move these programmed days around their schedule as needed.  Only have thirty minutes on a particular day?  No problem.  Need to build or maintain endurance?  Easy-peasy.  Want to crank out some heavy squats for a triple?  Look no further.  Want to be the strongest mom or dad on the block?  Grindstone has you covered.      

Each week Grindstone gives you two mandatory days (one upper body and one lower body) with optional strength, endurance, and capacity workouts to supplement the overall cycle. But the best part? It’s not just for the busy parent trying to squeeze a workout in during naptime. The martial artist or in-season athlete who is looking to balance weight room time with practice/sparring sessions will find the flexibility in scheduling a welcome change from other rigid programs. And the over 40 garage gym hero who still wants to relive the glory days and Golden Era will find a welcome change from following the Dorian Yates Back Program For Folks Who Have Three Hours to Burn To Get Yolked.   

To (mis)quote Arnold: “Grindstone is Numero Uno.”    

If Grindstone sounds like the perfect fit for your busy life – (spoiler alert: it is), you can try it risk free for seven days.  What are you waiting for?  Join Team Grindstone today!    

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BMJ. "Keeping active or becoming more active in middle and older age linked to longer life: Meeting minimum guidelines could prevent nearly one in two deaths linked to physical inactivity." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 26 June 2019. . Welbourn, John. “Just Tell Me What To Eat… | It’s A Long Road.” It’s A Long Road | It’s A Long Road, Talk To Me Johnnie, 6 Oct. 2015, talktomejohnnie.com/what-should-i-eat. Wennberg, Alexandra M. V., et al. “Sleep Disturbance, Cognitive Decline, and Dementia: A Review.” NCBI, NCBI, 24 Aug. 2017, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5910033.


Dave Shirley

Dave grew up playing multiple sports and was introduced to weightlifting in high school. In the Army he developed a love for combat sports. Combining weightlifting and combat sports led him to Power Athlete and becoming a Block One coach in 2018. Dave is the strength and conditioning coach at Claymore Fighting and Fitness in Huntsville, AL, applying the Power Athlete Methodology to empower his combat athletes' performance in the weight room and the ring.


  1. […] Now: From Dad Bod to Rad Bod by Dave […]

  2. David Dack on July 22, 2021 at 8:44 am

    This is really inspiring. Thank you so much for sharing your struggles and story with us. Now I wanna work out some more

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