The Man in His 50s: Stephen Lang
After he accepted the role as big bad Colonel Quaritch in Avatar, Stephen Lang spent months lifting weights, bulking up his 5'10" frame to 182 pounds. Now he's 20 pounds trimmer for a new show, Fox's Terra Nova, and a new movie, Conan the Barbarian. And you know what? Lang is far happier when he's around 155, because it gives him a better balance of strength and flexibility. "You have to listen to your body and continually reevaluate your routine, making adjustments," he says. But that's not his only peak-performance secret.
"At my age it's easier to keep weight off than it is to take it off," Lang says. That's why he avoids binges and wakes up early every morning—often at 4 a.m.—for coffee and a workout, setting his body up to burn calories all day.
SET NEW GOALS
Don't compete against personal records set by your younger self; that's just wasted energy. Lang's philosophy: "I'm not as strong as I was. And I accept that, and it's cool. But I want to be as strong as I can possibly be." That's why at the gym he pairs up with friends who are his age but who know more about fitness than he does. They can inspire him to be his best—today.
Lang played hoops with the same group of guys for years, but eventually it took days to recover from a game. That was frustrating. "A lot of guys in the game are older than me, and they're still playing," he says. But he realized that everyone ages differently; you have to play to your own body's strengths. So he quit and took up Bikram yoga, which is easier on his joints.
TAKE A REST
When he was younger, Lang thought he needed to work nonstop to look fit. "But now if I need a day off to recover, I take it," he says. And he sees no shame in naps. "In America we deride naps. We think it means we're lazy. But they're very revitalizing. Just let the engine cool off."