40 Years Old Frenchie. Restart to Lift. Advice?

Hello everybody,

this is my first post on this forum even if i’ve been reading T-nation since a long time.

My name’s David, i’m 40 years old and i live in Paris, France.

Here’s my background in few words:

At the age of 20 i had an accident and i broke my left leg and ankle into many pieces then, at the hospital, i’ve got an infection.

It took me almost two years to recover and at some point, doctors wanted to cut off my leg. Finally they took some bone, skin and muscle on other part of my body to “rebuild” my leg. So here i am on my two legs but i can’t jump or run.

I trained at home for like 6-7 witg only a bench some barbell and dumbbell. i have some nice gains even if that wasn’t perfect. then i quit training and restarted recently (after (5-6 years off) when i suscribed to a gym.

i’m 5’7 (169 cm) and i weight about 150 lbs.

When i restarted to train, i ate like 3000 kcal a day but i quickly realize it was too much for my size. Actually, i decided to lose some fat before starting a clean bulk and i eat about 2100-2200 kcal a day.

i’m on a full body routine, 3 time a week with mainly basic exercice (except squat od deadlift that i can’t do because of my leg).

In fact, i’m a little bit lost because i’d like to get bigger but i also feel like i need to lose some fat. I know it is not really accurate but my Aria Fitbit Scale says i’m at 19 % bf.

i eat about 70 grs of fat, 180-200 grs of carb and 150-170 grs of protein everyday.

I’d like your opinion about what i should do and if you have some tips or advices. If necessary i can give more details about my diet and training.

Thanks you!

How long have you been back into lifting?


I restarted last year in april until august when I went on holidays. After that I had a dislocated disc in my neck and had to quit for months.

So I’ve really been back into lifting since last april with, one more time, few weeks of holidays during summer. Let’s say 4-5 months.

I don’t feel like you’re in really bad shape. One of the tricks to having a beach body is also having muscle to show off-- a lot of skinny guys come to the forums and in real life asking how to get ripped because they can’t see their abs. The truth is they’re not fat or out of shape, they just don’t have enough muscle to be noticeable when lean. This fits a lot of people, and they never want to believe it is them. I would put you in this category. I can tell in your back and arms you’ve lifted some, but as far as leanness I do not think you are badly out of shape. Just not enough muscle to show off.

I would say your overall approach is very good–big lifts, whole body, not wasting time with tons of isolation exercises. I have nothing against isolation exercises. However most people get distracted with them because they are easier and they feel good. These people neglect the hard work on the hard exercises that is both more rewarding and more likely to get you lots more muscle. Without knowing details it seems you are doing well on that front so far, so don’t fall into that trap. Use isolation exercises as a supplement to your big basic stuff, not as the foundation of your training.

Regarding squat and deadlift, can you do lunges, step ups, or kettlebell swings? If you can you should. If you can leg press, make lower body work with single leg exercises your priority. Things such as lunge, step ups… and fill in with leg press and kettlebell swing. Look to experiment and find leg exercises you can do.

Oh, and Fitbit scale measurement of bodyfat is not really accurate. bio-impedance is generally inaccurate in an absolute sense although it can be ok to see whether you are generally decreasing in fat or increasing in fat.

Hello Aragorn,

thank you for your answer.

i think you’re right: i should get bigger but to be honest i’m a little bit afraid of bulking and, maybe, gaining too much fat in the process. Then i’d have to cut for weeks or months and that would be difficult considering i can’t really do cardio (i could ride a bycicle but i live inner city with a lot of traffic).

Anyway what would be your advice? Should i eat a little bit more calories like 2300-2500 kcal a day ? Or can i continue to “only” eat 2100-2200 kcal ?

About my training program: I’m on a full body routine 3 times a week. Each workout doesn’t last more than 60mn.

I have an A,B and C workout, which mean i change exercices each session. For my legs i do some leg press, hack squat machine and another press called squat press machine.Lunges or exercices like that would be a little bit difficult because i don’t have a good “balance” on my left leg. Anyway i’ll check the excercices you talked about.

Here’s my last workout (i don’t count 2 warmup sets for my chest, back and legs):

Back: barbell row - 9-8-6 reps at 40 kg (88 lbs).

Chest: incline barbell press - 10 reps at 40 kg (88 lbs) then 5-5 reps at 50 kg (110 lbs)

Legs: leg press - 13 reps at 140 kg (308 lbs) then 10-10 reps at 170 kg (374 lbs)

Shoulders: upright barbell row - 10-8-7 reps at 35 kg (77 lbs)

Biceps: dumbell curl - 8 reps at 12 kg per dumbbell (26 lbs) then tried with 14 kg (31 lbs) and only did 3 reps (bad idea)

triceps pushdown: 10-8 reps at 27 kg (59,5 lbs)

calf: seated calf raises - 25-20 reps at 25 kg (55 lbs)

As i said, i change exercices at each workout so i also do flat barbell press, triceps press, barbell curl, seated cable row, military press, etc…

On days off, at home, i do the plank.

once again thank you for your reply and tell me what you think.

Honestly if you are CURRENTLY seeing gains in strength and maybe some slow gains in weight at 2100-2200 calories now, don’t change. If you are not, bump it up about 200 cal.

You should be afraid of bulking, you don’t need to. But then a lot of people don’t need to truly “bulk”. As long as you are content to take a SLOW and steady approach to the weight on the scale then you will save yourself a lot of dieting. It is the off and on nature of your training that bothers me as a potential problem. You mentioned it in your first posts. You can’t do that if you want to continue to see progress. You have to stay consistent daily for a LONG time.

When the 200 calorie bump finally stops yielding any increase in the scale for say 3 weeks in a row–assuming you have not missed meals or fallen off the wagon on training–bump the calories up another 200-300. And so on.

The other thing to do when you feel you might be putting on a little more fat than necessary is to either

  1. keep total calories the same but drop carbohydrate amounts in meals that are not close to training (before and after). This keeps carbs around your workout but decreases it at other times of the day. OR…

  2. add some cardio and keep your diet the same. maybe 2 days of cardio on days you are not lifting.

Your workout plan isn’t bad. It is basic and hits the main lifts, and also works everything equally. Without going into a lot of other areas about total training changes and all that…it looks good.

Living in the inner city is not an excuse for not being able to do cardio however. You don’t really need to do a ton of cardio now with your focus on gaining muscle, but there are ways to get it done in the gym itself when you eventually decide to cut down a bit in the future. Or even running on the streets or at a park, or around a city block so you never have to cross traffic.

The concern with your bad leg for me would be restrictions in your range of motion and problems with joints. Balance is not generally an excuse. What having a balance problem usually means is that your muscles have not been trained to function and have ‘gone to sleep’ on you. They don’t fire the way they can and should, and your brain does not process that information. All those things are usually fixed by focusing on getting better at them. For example, there is a 55 year old lady I know personally–when she started training with weights she could not even do a bodyweight lunge on her own, without weight. She would fall over. She walked funny and was tight everywhere. Now she does lunges with the 40 lb dumbbells in each hand, and does them well.

If you’re healthy, balance is an excuse to avoid things you are bad at and should be improving on. If there are serious issues with your leg, then you are smart to avoid those exercises. I am not a medical doctor and cannot give you good advice on that. But provided the bones are healed and healthy, and you can move the leg adequately, you need to work on getting better at that.

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Glad to know that my training program makes sense. Now that i’m back in the gym, i don’t plan to quit! Next time i had to stop training it was for health reason, not really a choice. Now, whatever happens, i go to the gym 3 times a week.

About the cardio, i was thinking about buying a bicycle and riding two times a week. I’ll probably do it this weekend or during the next next week.

About my leg, it would to long and too difficult to explain into details, but there’s some movements that i can’t do with my ankle and feet. Considering i want to slowly gain muscle, i mainly do some press and hack squat machine. Anyway i could add some isolations one in a while if it is usefull (i haven’t had time to check the exercices you talked about but i will).

the last question i’d like to ask is about my macros. I don’t really feel good when i eat a lot of carbs (250-300 grs) so would it be ok to eat 100 grs of fats, 160 grs of carbs and 160-170 grs of protein on a daily basis (2200 kcal) ?

Or should i stick to 70 grs of fat and about 240 grs of carbs? (remember i weight about 150 lbs / 68 kg).

Thank a lot for your advices and your help, i really appreciate.

Sure, no problem there. If you don’t feel good eating a certain way, listen to your body. You’re not going to be a pro bodybuilder so there is no reason to force yourself to try to eat or behave like one. 240 g of carbs is good on weight training days, IF it does not make you feel sick. Other days you can stick with 160 g carbs no problem. Carbs help muscle growth but the bottom line is you don’t NEED 500 million carbs to grow. Also, total calories matter more than carb numbers for growth. As long as you are not really low carb it is ok.

Sorry for the late reply. Thanks a lot for your help and advices. I’ll follow them.

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You can add muscle without significant fat gain.

Hello, salut copain :slight_smile:

If you need a fullbody workout, don’t overthink, there are plenty of goods ones. Basically it’s often the same template, 2 workouts A & B, 3 times / week. So it’s week 1 ABA, week 2 BAB, etc…

A : Squat, bench, row + accessories (triceps, calves for example)
B : Deadlift, press, pullup + acc. (biceps, abs)

    • add some rotator cuff, rear delt work : face pull, prone trap raise for example.
  • 3-4x8-12, 3x10-15 for calves, abs and rear delt.

If you can’t squat and dl (I have this problem too) :

  • Squat : press, pistol (touch your hand on the wall for balance or hold a light dumbbell with straight arms)
  • DL : Hip trust, glute bridge + add shrug.There are machines too, ask your gym.

Or you can do a true fullbody with all exercises and less set :

  • Day A : leg press, bench, row, RDL substitution, press, chinup, calves, rear delt
  • Day B : another leg press or unilateral exercise, dips, another row variation, leg curl, db press, pullup, abs, shrug
  • 2x8-12 and 3x10-15 for calves, rear delt, abs and shrug.
  • I suggest you to begin this workout with 10 RM at 8 rep and you add 1 rep every 4 workouts. So you begin with A 8 reps, B 8 reps, A 8 reps, B 8 reps, A 9 reps, B 9 reps, A 9 reps, B 9 reps, etc…
  • When you are in your last 12 rep day, test your lifts, only 1 set this day. Add 2.5% in the weight for every rep > 12. If you hit 12 or less, keep the same weight for the next cycle.
  • When you have tested, start again at 8 reps with the new numbers.
  • If you want more volume and intensity : 3x6-10 with leg press, bench/dips and row exercises. Start with your 8RM at 6 reps and keep the same logic in progression.
  • This progression have a deload built-in so… Stick to the rep scheme ! Don’t go over 8 reps, even if you feel you can push more…

And finally, don’t trust the dogma “5 reps is better to get strong and big”… If you add weight, you become strong with 5 reps, 8 reps or 12 reps. If you add rep, you become strong. In particular with your injuries, don’t go on low rep. I speak with experience…

For your diet, don’t trust the overeating protein… 1.8g/kg it’s sufficient and the max. If someone tells you he eats 3 4 or 5 g/kgs, it’s not a drug free athlet… So for your weight, it’s 125g. Compensate with more fat, we need more fat especially when we becomes older, for hormones.

Have fun :slight_smile: