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45 Yrs Old, Training 3 Years. Feedback?

Hi, posting for the first time in T-Nation. Need feedback on my physique, what do I need to improve? The first pic is July 2018, the second is Oct 2019. I’m nearly 45 yrs old, 5’9’’, currently approx.154 lbs, roughly 13% BF. I feel am not big enough or do not have enough mass. Have been training for just about 3 years, never trained before that. Diet is mostly clean, don’t track macros, but do track daily calories. Every time I have tried to bulk up a bit (I’d prefer to be around 160-165 lbs), I have put on more fat and less muscle - probably because never measured macros. Suggestions/advise welcome.

This is highly subjective of course but yes that’s pretty small for 5’9". Based on your pics you are probably also carrying a little more fat than 13%. I’m guessing your legs are pretty skinny…? Obviously no pics of legs, but your upper body is decent so I would think absent skinny legs you would be more like 165-175lbs. What is your current training style and how often do you change things up? You said you track calories at least… how much do you eat?


Thanks for your response, let me answer your questions:

  1. You are right, legs are on the skinnier side, especially calves. Have been squatting and doing calf raise variations, with the latter being frequently. Legs were way worse to begin with, they have improved a bit now. Pic below.

  2. I currently train 4 days a week - on a upper/ lower mode with some accessory work every day. Training style is hypertrophy, with short rest of 60 - 90 secs depending on the lift with reps on the higher side (10-12). Right now, it’s based on compounds with some isolation work, I switched about 3 months back from doing back to back supersets (in upper lower split) for same muscle groups.

  3. I did a mini deficit coupe of months back because I was putting on way more fat. But now I try to eat a bit on surplus (200 - 500 cal/day over maintenance). I guess you are right about the BF - even I feel it’s more than 13%; I haven’t done dexa ever, the figure is from the scales available, so accuracy is questionable. If I start eating a lot, I put on fat in the mid-section.

Look forward to further suggestions. My goal is to be lean and athletic (not necessarily ripped) in the 10-11% BF zone which I can sustain year round. But I’m not big enough to lose further weight.!

Regarding the BF it’s hard to tell. Everybody carries it differently and you are certainly more lean than the average joe. On that note, don’t sweat your weight too much either. I’m a little younger than your age and most of my friends would be envious of your physique. You look very athletic and fit, but as you said not bulky which may be your goal.

Regarding weight gain the key is slow progression IMO. If you go too fast it ends up being of lesser quality unless you are genetically gifted. Also, make sure to change your routine every two months or so. Keep your body guessing. Have you ever tried a 5x5 powerlifting type routine?

Thanks again! Yes, I have tried 5x5 compounds only routine towards the beginning of the year. Bench, Deadlift, Squat, Overhead Press with long rest of 2-3 mins for every set. I was also eating in large surplus, and some of it wasn’t clean in the quest of calories and mass. But I put on more in my mid-section. That is when I moved to supersets after 3 months and did the mini cut.

But I will take heed of your suggestion and go slow. Maybe I’ll try 5×5 again soon and reduce the rest period and be on a small surplus. Let’s see where that gets me. Do you suggest any other program which I can try? There are many in T-Nation, but sometimes it becomes difficult to follow due to busy work life and busy gyms after work.

I’d request comments from other viewers of this post as well, I am open to feedback and suggestions.

Well what works for me may not work for you. I’m middle aged as well and 5x5 worked well for awhile especially with leg mass which is why I recommended it. However, I’ve found that I can’t run it as much as I used to when younger. I tend to do powerlifting 25% of the year and then rotate between body building routines and time under tension routines for the remainder.

One program that I really like is by Jim Stoppini and is called Short Cut to Size. If you google “Short Cut to Size PDF” you can still find it for free.

Thanks much! I’ll post here on my progress after I have tried some of your suggestions to see how I adapt.

I suggest to check Paul Carter’s style of workouts if your aim is hypertrophy. Then question about being more or less lean is just the question of manipulating your calories intake.
Workouts are short, low frequency but very effective and allow for the adequate recovery which is crucial for us folks over the 40s.
Also, as much as program and diet are important, one eelment that is equally important is rest. So it is to be treated just as workouts and food.

If your goal is not aesthetichs, then 5x5 or other strength oriented programs would be just as fine.

Thanks for the feedback. I would want both strength and aesthetics, but I understand the point. Maybe I can cycle between the two and see the results.If I have enough strength, I would be able to squat/bench as heavy as required for the hypertrophy am looking for.