T Nation

45 Year Old Complete Newb

Background: 45 yr old, 6’5", 240#, 30# overweight, severe rheumatoid arthritis, 35% mobility left in knees, (can only walk about 50 yds before pain stops me) losing mobility and strength daily (all areas), been a hardcore couch potato for 15 years, no knowledge of exercise physiology, basic understanding of nutrition

Goals: increase useable strength, increase flexability to increase mobility, lose a healthy amount of fat

I don’t ever expect to be Mr America, or even Mr. All-City. I just want to get stronger (useable strength), more flexible, and more mobile. Any suggestions on where to start?

I would say first and foremost ask your physician before starting anything.

As for Diet and training this thread here will help A LOT; Newbie thread

Come on back with any further questions so we can all help,

And good luck on the lifestyle change,


You have come to the right place. I’m a 43 yr old who, until March 2005 hadn’t worked out for 20 yrs, so you are in good company.

Take your time, learn, and apply what you learn. The advice here is good, and will help you alot.

With arthritis, you will want to pay special attention to diet and types of exercise.



Doctor is all for me getting more exercise of any sort and losing weight. He suggested it, but had no suggestion of what kind of exercise. I’m going to bike for cardio (I have a stationary and an old cruiser) as it’s easier on my knees than walking or runing. What I need is exercise ideas that will allow me to increase flexibilty and build me up enough that I can safely use weights later. I’m not looking to be a body building competitor or to be in the worlds strongest man series. I just want a better lifestyle, now and in my declining years (between 80-110 yrs old).

Bill_S, the info you are about to read has nothing to do with training and everything to do with your rheumatoid arthritis. I too, suffered from this affliction for 4 years (during which my strength plummeted) until I did some research and for the last 1 1/2 years have been free of this disease. The first thing I used was Eldepryl (deprenyl) which is an anti-Parkinson drug, but it does other things in the body with the most important being an immune system enhancer. What is rheumatoid arthritis? It is an auto-immune disease. In other words, your own immune system is attacking your joints due to changes in the immune system as we age. The eldepryl reversed this action for me within 31 days. Suddenly I had no pain, no flare-ups; it was and is amazing. What the eldepryl didn’t address was the joint laxity. I couldn’t hold weight bars without straps as the cartilage in my thumb joints was badly eaten away. More research, and I found that plain old gelatine that you can buy dirt cheap at any Bulk Barn rebuilds cartilage. I used it at 10 grams twice a day for 2 months and discovered that the joint laxity in my thumbs was disappearing. This has recently been confirmed on this site in Chris Shugart’s 2005 ACSM report.I have continued to take it and I am now able to pick up 260 lbs without my grip giving out. 260 lbs. is no great feat, but considering that I had to use wrist straps for anything over 70 lbs it’s definitely an improvement.
Bill, the reason that I am suggesting to follow this protocol prior to starting your strength training is simply due to the fact that the exercises that produce the greatest results, for your time in the gym, will cause your joints to scream in agony and you will have to do endless warm-up sets just to get the joints to handle a reasonable weight. If you are still sceptical of this approach I will PM you with a few of the studies.


Given the arthritis, I think I would be experimenting with getting my aerobic by swimming. Without the weight bearing, flexion at the knee might be more tolerable, after a while you might get some ROM back. There are exercises you can do in the water also, you might want to check out water resistance training equipment.

I would experiment with Pilates to strengthen the core and help maintain ROM all around.

For strengthening legs, you’re probably going to have to do stuff that works your quads from your hips rather than your knees. Deadllifts may be a good move for you to go heavy with, and hopefully you can find at least one machine that will let you blast your calves.

At age 48 I weighed 270, I was mostly sedentary. At age 53 for a while I weighed 185 at about 10%. From my experience, I strongly suggest that you take it easy to start with. Go at a pace your body and motivation can tolerate. The all important thing is to build the habit of working out, and torturing yourself with DOMS doesn’t help. Just make sure you’re working to schedule: give yourself a very hard time over any missed dates in the gym. After the habit is real solid, you can start flogging it. I managed mostly without workout partners, but I don’t recommend that at all, try hard to find a workout buddy, it makes it so much more fun, and you’re less likely to skip.

Your activity level will be lower, so you will especially need diet help. See www.physiquetransformation.com. This is a computer monitored fat removal program that teaches you how to eat clean and coordinate eating and exercise. this thing was designed by bodybuilders, uses principles which Berardi is just now talking about. The hardest part of the diet is eating more food than you want to, to raise your BMR. You will learn that hunger is a danger signal (your body is shifting into economy mode). Tracking your food is pain, but the good news is with this program you can approach very low body fat levels, even with very limited aerobic work.