T Nation

39, Changed Life About 3 Years Ago, Still Looking for Advice

I’m 39 year old, 59kg, 5/5.
Decided when I was 36 to quit smoking, cut down on alcohol ( the occasional whisky now ), quit smoking weed, narrowed junk food down to Saturday night/Sunday afternoon and of course started going to the gym.

Since I’ve been going to the gym I’ve been laid off twice due to motorcycle accidents but I’ve never had a gym injury.

When I started I was 64kg skinny with a beer belly. At my best on the first year of training I made it to 65kg with a strong figure.

I’ve been trying to go down the route of not gaining body fat while putting on muscle (extremely hard to do). Each time I’ve decided to bulk I’ve hated the belly fat that has come with it (Carrying quite a bit at the moment).

I’d love to reach 70, even 72/73kg but seems near impossible without getting really fat first or using steroids.

I’m afraid to run a course of steroids as I am extremely prone to cysts and acne (at this point in my life they only seem to return in the same places and I can control them after years of trying), I can only imagine if I ran a cycle I’d have a face like a cystic pizza.

I’ve done the 5/5 workout twice, 4 months first time and 5 the second. I never made it to the amazing lifts I see others do. Reached double my body weight on deadlifts but could have went on, never failed, 1 1/3 my body weight on squats, just over my body weight on rows and my bench and overhead press were both not worth talking about.

Bodybuilding though I seem to get really pumped up on lower weights pretty well.

Any tips would be apretiated, especially about running a cycle of something not liable to awaken my cysts.

First up, congrats on all the positive life changes you made and have stuck with!! You altered your entire lifestyle, and I think you’ll only benefit from those changes.

Second, in my opinion, steroids are simply not worth it. Some others on this site may disagree, but that’s my stance. That said, it appears your goal is primarily mass building and fat burning/weight management. Is that accurate? If so, how many days a week are you able to consistently train? Do you have a preferred method, or are you open to suggestions? In little while, I’ll post a workout recommendation or two, and hopefully others will advise you, too.

Welcome to the boards :slight_smile:


I second what Tried said, congrats on the progress you have made so far. As far as the help you’re asking for I’ll break it down into the three main areas it sounds like you are after answers for. As far as the steroids question you asked, I personally don’t think you need anything like that unless you are looking to compete on any level; HOWEVER, if you have not gotten your testosterone levels checked I would highly suggest exploring that and then getting testosterone injections administered by a medical professional. This will make a huge difference to your gains and strength as well as helping you to burn fat while increasing size. From a programming standpoint the 5x5’s which it sounds like what you have been doing can work well to get starting strength and ultimately any program works as long as you stick with it, but at this point I would suggest giving 5/3/1 a go, specifically 5/3/1 Big but boring. Finally, as far as diet/bulking goes, as long as you’re eating good foods for your calorie surplus you will be fine, and the TRT I mentioned earlier will help loads with it being a lean bulk. I’d recommend something like the following:

Breakfast: 5-6 eggs and a cup of oatmeal
Lunch 1: 2 boneless skinless chicken thighs, Spanish rice, a cup of vegetables
Lunch 2: same thing as lunch 1
Dinner: 2 boneless skinless chicken thighs, bowl of pasta

I personally would get the large packs of the chicken, set oven to 400, put all chicken in a rectangular glass bakeware, evenly distribute an entire bottle of BBQ sauce, cover with foil and bake for 35 minutes.

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Thank you both for the replies and reccomendations!

I would be extremely happy if I could gain another ten kilograms but I know that even another five while losing any body fat at all would great.

My diet is usually, breakfast: Two whole eggs ( I got heavier doing six before but I was told it was a crazy amount of fat so stopped it), a shake with a cup of oats, half an avocado or 1 small banana and a tablespoon of peanut butter followed by an apple or sometimes a pitaya.

Lunch or post workout as I usually go to the gym in the morning: whatever meat my wife’s made, sometimes grilled beef, chicken or mixed seafood with rice and vegetables or potatoes and vegetables. A couple of small plain yogurts and a pice of fruit. Sometimes a protein shake if I think I haven’t eaten enough food.

I usually have another meal before I leave for work at 3pm: usually something like a couple of tins of mackerel and a piece of fruit or similar stuff to what I had for lunch or breakfast, again a protein shake ( or protein and oat shake if I think I haven’t eaten enough).

I often take a protein shake to work if I think I can stomach it after all the food of the day.

When I get home at 8:30 I usually have a small meal, again usually meat and boiled rice or meat and potatoes.

I try to stay away from food with empty carbohydrates and processed meats and stuff, fried food. If I do have anything like that it’s Saturday night to Sunday afternoon only.

I actually stopped doing strength training round about last Christmas time. I never failed on the deadlift and row but started dreading squat, overhead press and benching as they had become such a struggle.
I went onto doing my top half one day, bottom half the next then day off. I did that until I got bored really about a month ago.

Now I am doing whatever I feel needs it the most, for example last Monday I did legs and abs, Tuesday I did chest shoulders and arms, Wednesday I did my back, traps and abs again, Thursday I rested, Friday I did my legs legs and back again ( plus ten short sprints after my workout) with a plan to rest Saturday but I ended up resting Sunday too. Back today and did my shoulders and chest, I didn’t feel like doing anything else by the time I finished that.

I usually train five days a week ( Monday to Friday) but sometimes do a bit at home on a Sunday as I have a bar and dumbels ( no squat wrack yet unfortunately).

I suppose I should bin the steroid idea. I am really prone to cysts and acne. I struggle to eat more than I do now. I I ate some of the foods I consider junk food like bread for example I could probably fit more in. It’s strange how it’s harder to fit more healthy foods on yet easy to consume high calorie-empty carb nonsense.

I’m totally open to advice in any shape or form, work out plams, food suggestions, anything.

By the way, another reason I quit stronglifs was because the squat wrack where I train has no safety bars and I’m the only person in the gym when I train. I used to fear I was going to break my neck.

Until you become more knowledgeable about training and diet. Don’t even consider going on gear at this stage…If ever.


Quitting strong lodts for safety reasons was smart! There are many ways to get big and strong, and you don’t need to compromise your safety.

Here is one program you should consider: https://www.t-nation.com/training/guaranteed-muscle-mass

The training days are an upper-lower split, three times each week. You work the upper body an lower body each three times in two weeks. It’s a moderate lifting schedule but very feasible. On the other two days, you could do conditioning work while taking off the weekends.

I’ll look for other workouts and post them as well. Perhaps you’d enjoy a standard bodybuilding split; maybe you’d like a 4 days per week split. Read through workouts on this site and let us know what appeals to you.

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It sounds like you have a pretty good nutrition layout so far. What will help I think (at least initially) is eating the exact same thing every meal so that you can then see if you need to add or subtract anything.

I’m glad you are binning the gear idea, but at 39 I promise you that you will see a huge increase in not only your gains and metabolism but also just how you feel and your energy if you explore testosterone replacement.

And as far as programs go I’d say choose one based on your goals and what drives you. I personally am driven by strength so that’s what my focus has been but if a bodybuilding approach is more what drives you then by all means find a program you can passionately follow

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Thanks for the advise! And I think you’re right, it’s not for me.

That’s a great help man, thanks a lot. I had a read through and actually like the sound of it, it seems totally different from everything else I’ve tried and that could be just what I’m looking for.
I’m just going to go over it again in the morning and check it out properly but I think I will probably go with this. I definitely need to change something and I like the idea of doing higher reps while trying to gain strength.

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I do intend to go for testosterone replacement if I find out I really need it but I hope that won’t come until later.
I will definitely get back to an all out strength training workout at some point but not until I can train in another gym. The gym I’m in now is a danger zone. It was really knocking my confidence the last time I did it.
Thanks for all your input, it really means a lot.