T Nation

38 Years Old and at a Crossroad


Hey Fellow Lifters,
I've come here looking for some advice because I am at a spot where I have a lot of freedom and resources but I'm lacking direction in my training. I've been lifting weights for 20+ years and haven't really been able to reach what I consider an acceptable level of strength and muscle (if that is even possible). My best lifts are 275 bench, 365 squat, 435 deadlift, 165 OHP.

I may get some flak for this but at this point in my life I'm more interested in a good physique and health than I am really pushing my maxes. My joints get sore when I lift really heavy (for me) too often.

The problem is I don't really know how to get where I want to go. I have hired trainers (some very expensive) who don't seem to have a clue. I'm not expert but I know enough to tell when someone is full of BS.

I know I don't ever want to stop lifting. I can't decide if I should just go and lift and enjoy it or if I should try to find a structured program that moves me toward specific goals. I thought I would come here and discuss with some other lifters who are also older and may have been at this point as well. I can provide a current pic if it helps.



No one here is going to give you static for pursuing your interests.

If you're dissatisfied with your physique, throw up a pic and tell us what it is you're unhappy about. Also, lay out your current training regimen and diet.


Thanks much.
I currently don't have a specific program. I was working with a trainer who mainly had me doing circuit type training and TRX work. I mainly can't seem to keep a decent amount of muscle and get lean. I'm following an IIFYM style diet with 2100 cals and 35 carb 35 protein 30 fat.

Currently 5'10" and 185.


Fair enough, but you're doing something, yes? How often are you lifting? Are you doing any cardio?


That's not many calories. Are you sure that number is accurate; ie, do you weigh/measure everything you eat? Assuming it is, how long have your calories been that low, and how much weight have you lost? How often do you refeed/cheat?


Lifting 4-5 days a week. Roughly an hour of walking a day at 15 minute pace.

Yes the cals are right. I've been eating that for a while. I've cut down from 215 so roughly 30 pounds lost.


You're a little light on details. What are you doing in the weight room? How long is "a while"? How often (if ever) do you have a refeed/cheat meal/day?

Also, how has your weight been recently--say, the last 2 weeks? That is, are you continuing to lose weight, or have you stalled?

Finally, what sort of work do you do (in terms of its physical strenuousness)?


Weight has been steady for a few weeks 1-3 pound fluctuations. I honestly don't remember how long I have been eating that calorie level. 6 Months at least. In the weight room was the trainer as I mentioned until about 2 weeks ago. Since then just a simple upper body lower body to failure. Working out 45 mins to an hour.



I don't remember how long I have been dieting. 6 months at least most likely longer. I've never had much of an appetite but the six months or so was how long I have been actually tracking. I don't really do refeeds.

Weight has been pretty stable for a couple of months.

Workout as I mentioned with the trainer until a couple of weeks ago. Since then I've just been doing a simple upper body lower body. Working till failure. Training 45-60 minutes.

I don't really work anymore. I'm for the most part retired but I run a business with some light computer work.


OK. The first thing that jumps out at me is how slow your metabolism is. Even if we assume that, other than 1 hr of walking @15 min/mile, all you're doing is sitting on the couch all day, your BMR should be ~2800 cals. The fact that you're not losing weight @2100 cal/d suggests either 1) significant metabolic damage from over-dieting, or 2) an endocrine disorder, most commonly hypothyroidism. In this regard, I would suggest you consider checking in with your doc to see whether you should be tested for hypothyroidism and/or other metabolic conditions.

Assuming your endocrine system is intact, I think the first order of business should be rehabilitating your metabolism. You've been dieting a long time, and doing so without periodic leptin-spiking refeeds. This has left you with the metabolism of a sloth. Rehab is achieved by s-l-o-w-l-y increasing cals while holding output constant. The goal is to get your caloric intake as high as possible without gaining weight. Once you have your BMR optimized, you can start dieting again--slowly, and with refeeds. If you want help designing and managing your rehab diet, I know a couple of good online diet coaches who can do so for you (no financial interest on my part).


so you have never done a structured program in all of your time lifting? Not even one of your own design?


No I have definitely done them. I am just trying to decide what I want to do now.


The main thing I would suggest is to find a regimen you can manage and will stick with for 3-6 months that you actually "enjoy" doing - don't get hung up with "analysis paralysis".

"Roughly an hour of walking a day at 15 minute pace."

Current thought is that Tabatha type protocol works best for fat loss and conditioning so you might research that and give it a try. For example when walking you walk at a regular pace for a few minutes and then you walk really really fast for a few minutes and repeat - the variety of exercises is endless.

If you want some variety check out kettlebell routines - nothing makes me lean out more than swinging the heavy kb's.

As for weight training I don't think I have found any book or training regiment more complete and with more variety than Jim Wendler's 5/3/1 books. Buy the e-book, study it, pick ONE program that you think you will ENJOY, and stick with it for 3-6 months. Then switch to another one.