T Nation

46 YO, 2 Years Into Lifting

I’ve been lifting in my garage for going on 2 years now. Using an Olympic bar, cage and bench. After realizing that the 5x5 program I was on really wasn’t providing the gains that it should have I discovered that I was low T at 254 on 250-1100 range. I’ve been on HRT now for 2 months and feel great. My T is 1097 on the same range now.

My recovery is such that I am able to work out 6 days a week now and recently added metcon style workouts the 3 days I’m not lifting.

Since I began eating cleanly 2 years ago I’ve changed my body comp fairly substantially and have reaped many health benefits. Calipers say I’m in the 10% body fat range where I was 26% when I started. My blood pressure is great having been stage 3 hypertensive. I haven’t lost much weight, I’m 5’9" weighing in at 185 most days but my waist is smaller and I’m gaining definition.

I want to put on some muscle now that I can. I’ve been doing 5x5 SS workouts for 2 years now, with dumbbell work when I’m away from my oly weights, which is not often.

My goal is to look damn good in a bathing suit. I was broader shoulders, a classic V shape chest and larger arms and biceps and to have my legs be bigger.

Should I switch to a 3x10 at 85% of max? Or stick to 5x5 and continue adding plates as quickly as I can.

Any advice on a good program for maximum hypertrophy would be greatly appreciated.

I see that the mods banished your post to the old folk’s home. Welcome, sonny.

When you say you are “able to work out 6 days a week now and recently added metcon style workouts the 3 days I’m not lifting,” does that mean you are lifting 3 days and doing something else the other 3 days? (Or maybe it mean your weeks have 9 days in them?) ;^) Seriously though, what is a ‘metcon style workout’?

If your primary goal now is to focus on aesthetics, the surest way to do that is to structure your training (frequency, exercise selection, sets/reps, rest intervals, intensity techniques, etc) like us other aesthetics wannabe’s. In that regard, the first question I have concerns the equipment you will have available to use–is it going to be only a bar, cage and bench?

Banished, yep.

I have a set of dumbells, 45lbs oly bar, a curl bar, benches, dip station, cage (I can do pullups in too).

I guess I’m new enough at this I don’t know if my current regimen is going to continue to get me what I want or if I should mix it up. Any and all advice appreciated.

Why don’t you start by describing your current program–your split, the frequency with which each bodypart/movement is trained, what specific exercises you do, sets/reps, and rest intervals.

Current schedule with current lifting weights:

Monday
225lbs squats 5x5
120lbs bench 5x5
150lbs rows 5x5

Tuesday (everything about 4 sets of 20-25 or till failure)
Dumbell Hang Pull
Offset Dumbbell Reverse Lunge
Single-arm Dumbbell Swing
Thrusters
Single-leg, Single-arm Underhand-grip Dumbbell Row
Dumbbell Chop
Plank Walkup to Pushup
Rotational Dumbbell Straight-leg Deadlift
Squat Thrusts
Jump Squat

Wednesday
225lbs squats 5x5
120 overhead press 5x5
250lb deadlift 5x5

Thursday (everything about 4 sets of 20-25 or till failure)
Dumbell Hang Pull
Offset Dumbbell Reverse Lunge
Single-arm Dumbbell Swing
Thrusters
Single-leg, Single-arm Underhand-grip Dumbbell Row
Dumbbell Chop
Plank Walkup to Pushup
Rotational Dumbbell Straight-leg Deadlift
Squat Thrusts
Jump Squat

Friday
225lbs squats 5x5
120lbs bench 5x5
150lbs rows 5x5

Saturday(everything about 4 sets of 20-25 or till failure)
Dumbell Hang Pull
Offset Dumbbell Reverse Lunge
Single-arm Dumbbell Swing
Thrusters
Single-leg, Single-arm Underhand-grip Dumbbell Row
Dumbbell Chop
Plank Walkup to Pushup
Rotational Dumbbell Straight-leg Deadlift
Squat Thrusts
Jump Squat

Sunday Rest

Gotcha. That looks like an excellent program for promoting fitness, but one mediocre (at best) for developing the sort of hypertrophy you mentioned in the OP. If beach muscles are what you want, a radical revision of your training is needed. Briefly:

–The metcon workout has got to go. It’s great for fitness, but lousy for hypertrophy, and takes up far too much of your limited resources (ie, time and energy). Buh-bye. To burn calories, you can do some LISS cardio.

–Change your mindset. Remember, when training for hypertrophy, the goal is to force specific muscles to contract against resistance, not to lift weights per se. That is, instead of squatting, you will work Legs (more specifically, quads, hams and calves) rather than benching, you work Chest.

–Create a workout schedule based on bodyparts/muscles, not exercises. There are lots of ways to organize a bodypart split; all have their advantages and disadvantages. Because you’ve been lifting 3 days/week, you have a good base to build on. In my opinion, a 3-day split (with the 4th day off) provides a good balance between workout frequency and recovery time. A common way to organize a 3 day split is simply by Push/Legs/Pull/Off. My current split is Chest & Back/Legs/Shoulders & Arms/Off.

–Do most of your lifting at higher rep ranges. If you forced me to pick a single rep range that is best for hypertrophy, I would pick 8-15. However, there are certain exercises where I think the ideal rep range is 20-30 or even higher.

–Add some intensifiers to your lifting. These are techniques designed to promote hypertrophy by forcing the muscle to continue contracting when it is in a state of near-failure. My preferred technique these days is rest-pause; I also do a lot of drop sets.

Out of curiosity: Why is it your BP and OH press lifts are both 120#? Is one of those a typo?

Re: bp and ohp

Before discovering my low t situation and getting it treated I had to deload multiple times, just ended up there…

Is there a good article somewhere on a beginners hypertrophy program involving free weights only?

Check out the stickies in the Beginners section; they will point you to a number of articles in that regard. Another approach to consider is to run a program with one of the online trainers; eg, John Meadows. I did a 12 week program with John and learned a great deal. If you decide to go with an online trainer, be sure to tell him/her in advance about your equipment situation, as some programs rely heavily on machines. (For the record, I have no financial arrangement of any sort with John, and thus am not promoting him to my own benefit.)

[quote]EyeDentist wrote:
Check out the stickies in the Beginners section; they will point you to a number of articles in that regard. Another approach to consider is to run a program with one of the online trainers; eg, John Meadows. I did a 12 week program with John and learned a great deal. If you decide to go with an online trainer, be sure to tell him/her in advance about your equipment situation, as some programs rely heavily on machines. (For the record, I have no financial arrangement of any sort with John, and thus am not promoting him to my own benefit.)[/quote]

You look jackked if that’s you in your avatar. If you don’t have a log in here you should start one.

Thanks man. One of my New Year’s resolutions this year was to start a TN log; here’s hoping it doesn’t end up like all my other resolutions.

In the short term, while I get more organized by reading up on hypertrophy stuff, I think I’ll switch to Wendler’s 5 3 1, you do like 85% of max but increase volume and set sizes - I’ll see how that goes. And possibly drop the dumb bell work after I get a weebit leaner, figuring that it will be easier to build from there. I figure at 5’9" I should most likely be in the 175 range at 10-11% fat to be my best.

I think I have a bit of newbie style gains to achieve yet, now that my hormonal status is good, 2 years of lifting has gotten me used to the movements and definitely stronger, just not great gains in the shirt off department (at least not as much as I’d like) - certainly in much better shape than most of my peer group…

Well, having switched to 5-3-1 wendler I’m seeing some pretty serious pumps now. Like its noticeable. I’m moving more weight in total volume than I was on 5x5. I’m also dropping BMI at kind of an alarming rate, according to the scale I’ve dropped .7% in 7 days. I cannot necessarily attribute this to the workout, having JUST gotten my TRT dialed in, I’m bumping at the top of the “normal” range.

Whatever it is its fine by me!

Hi threepercenter, you sound like you are in exactly the same predicament as me (without the hormone issue however). I am 47 and although I have experimented with weight training since my teens, it has been on/off and never properly serious. The biggest mistake I made was when I was in my late 20s, and having bought some free-weights and equipment which I used for around 6-months, I then joined a local gym (which I went to 3 times a week for a number of years) but could never (or didn’t feel I could) get onto the muscle building machines. I thought I was an ectomorph and that there was no point in trying to get big because it was not going to happen.

I stopped weight training altogether in my mid-30s until decided 2-years ago that it was now or never - should I give it one final push to get the physique I had wanted since I was teen. I decided, yes - do it as an experiment if nothing else, keep a log and if it works pass on the knowledge, maybe even write a book! However, based on previous experience, a gym was not for me, too many posers, too many sweaty betties, and not enough equipment to allow me to do the workout I wanted, in the order I wanted, in the time I wanted. I went and bought a multi-gym, cage, leg press, bench and numerous free weights (over 500lbs), barbell and dumbell handles (all from ebay so not a huge cost). I started with whole body workouts, and then splits into upper/lower body, and now most weeks I do a 4-day split (legs/chest&back/shoulders/arms). I do abs and calves every workout (except leg day!). I do not do any real cardio. Over the 2-years I have definitely put on some muscle, lost some fat (mostly around the middle), but, now I want real mass!

I am also 5’9" and weigh-in at around 154 at the moment - reasonable definition but no real size. Like you I think 170-175 would be an achievable target for some natural growth that we should still be capable of even at our age. I have read some of the posts made by other over 40s and they are quite simply inspiring and has made me more determined than ever.

I am new to this site having previously used workouts on bodybuilding.com and I must say the routines on here seem a mile (in a good way) from those on the aforementioned site, and appear to utilise the most modern training methods and thinking. Like you the one that caught my eye was 5-3-1, and I am just about set to spend my next few workouts dialing into my 1RM on the core lifts, and would be interested to get your update on how you are getting on with it. I know you only posted 5-days ago, but, are you still noticing real differences in your physique? Would you mind posting your routine on here? What are you doing as regards calorie intake and supplements?

Sorry for the long post, but, sometimes just simply putting it down on “paper” albeit virtual paper, makes it more real because you are sharing your thoughts/experiences with like minded people.

Happy lifting!

I just found this workout, I’ve been doing Wendler 5-3-1 for a couple of weeks now, but was thinking of doing this dumbell split, any opinions from the assembled would be greatly appreciated. Keep in mind I want to try to achieve my bodybuilding goals using free weights and no machines.

FREE WEIGHTS ONLY BODYBUILDING SHOULDERS/ARMS WORKOUT DAY 1
Dumbbell Shoulder Press 3 sets of 8-10 reps (Rest: 60 seconds)
Dumbbell Upright Rows 3 sets of 10-12 reps (Rest: 60 seconds)
Side Laterals (Rest: 60 seconds) 3 sets of 10-12 reps (Rest: 60 seconds)
Bent Over Lateral Raises 3 sets of 12-15 reps (Rest: 60 seconds)
Incline Curls 3 sets of 10-12 reps (Rest: 60 seconds)
Concentration Curls 3 sets of 10-12 reps (Rest: 60 seconds)
Hammer Curls 3 sets of 12-15 reps (Rest: 60 seconds)
Lying Dumbbell Triceps Extensions 3 sets of 10-12 reps (Rest: 60 seconds)
Overhead Dumbbell Triceps Extensions 3 sets of 12-15 reps (Rest: 60 seconds)
Triceps Dips (on parallel bars) 3 sets of 12-15 reps (Rest: 60 seconds)

FREE WEIGHTS ONLY BODYBUILDING LEG WORKOUT DAY 2
Wide Stance Squats 4 sets of 8 reps (90 sec rest)
Medium Stance Squats 4 sets of 8 reps (Rest: 60 seconds)
Lunges 3 sets of 12 reps (Rest: 90 seconds)
Dumbbell Stiff Legged Dead-lifts 4 sets of 12 reps (Rest: 60 seconds)
Hanging Dumbbell Leg Curls 4 sets of 8-10 reps (60 sec rest) Note: I performed this exercise with a dumbbell in between my ankles and hanging from the pull-up bar. (Rest: 60 seconds)
Walking Lunges (pressing with the heels in order to emphasize the glutes and the hams) 3 sets of 13-15 repetitions. (Rest: 90 seconds)
One Legged Dumbbell Calf Raises (using the doorstep to inside the house as my platform) 6 sets of 15-25 reps (Rest: alternate back and forth without resting)

FREE WEIGHTS ONLY BODYBUILDING CHEST/BACK/ABS WORKOUT DAY 3
Incline Bench Press 3 sets of 8-10 reps (Rest: 60 seconds)
Chest Dips 3 sets of 8-10 reps (Rest: 60 seconds)
Incline Flyes 3 sets of 12-15 reps (Rest: 60 seconds)
One Arm Dumbbell Rows 3 sets of 12-15 reps (Rest: 60 seconds)
Close Grip Chins (Reverse Grip) 3 sets of 8-10 reps (Rest: 60 seconds)
Wide Grip Pull-ups to Front 3 sets of 8-10 reps (Rest: 60 seconds)
Hanging Leg Raises 3 sets of 15-20 reps (Rest: 60 seconds)
Bicycle Crunches 3 sets of 20-25 reps (Rest: 60 seconds)
Weighted Crunches 3 sets of 12-15 reps (Rest: 60 seconds)

I plan on doing this 5 days a week with rest on Saturday and Sunday.

Does this sound like a good beginner plan for hypertrophy?

You have three workouts, but plan to lift on a 5 on/2 off schedule. How will you cycle the 3 workouts through the 5 days?

Re workout structure: As listed, for a given bodypart the workouts largely run compound exercise–>isolation exercise (eg, bench before flys; squats before leg curls; shoulder presses before laterals). I would suggest you consider reversing this relationship, at least on some occasions. Several benefits accrue (in terms of both workout effectiveness and safety) when you do isolation work before compound work.

Final, random thoughts:
–That’s a hella brutal leg workout if you stick to the proposed rest periods.
–Kudos if you can do wide-grip pullups for 3x10 as your third back exercise.
–You include dips in both the Chest and the Tris workouts. That’s a lot of accumulating shoulder stress.

I just did the 1st set of exercises, maybe I didn’t use enough weight but the workout seemed fairly easy. When trying out new exercises I usually go 60-75% of max for me to get used to the movements.

EyeDentist: as far as the pullups and dips - I do max effort on these, the sets I’ve designed would be me reaching goal. I can maybe do 8 max on each right now.

Other than your suggestions, would you do anything differently to set up the workout plan? As far as a 5 day schedule I would just rotate through I’d do Sunday and Monday as Thursday and Friday too. I’m new at this, does this violate some tenet of lifting?

Now that I can handle the recovery of 5-6 days of lifting per week with one day off I want to maximize everything. Is this silly? Should I go back to 3 on 4 off? I’ve read so much conflicting advice I don’t knwo what to do. I just want to gain lean muscle mass as quickly as I can - I can see a difference in my physique in just a couple of months of being on T replacement - just trying to make up for lost time here…

Any and all advice is appreciated.

I’m a little confused as to which days you’re going to work out; eg, you list Sunday as both a workout day AND a rest day.

Here’s the split as you’ve laid it out:

Workout 1: Shoulders & Arms
Workout 2: Legs
Workout 3: Chest, Back and Abs

Personally, I love this split, and used a very similar one for many years myself. The problem comes when you try and wedge a 3-way bodypart split into a 5-day work(out) schedule. For example: Note that, if you’re planning to rotate back to Workout 1 the day after Workout 3, you would be doing Shoulders/Arms the day after Chest/Back–a setup for muscle and/or tendon problems.

One easy solution is to do your workouts in a ‘3 on/1 off’ manner. That is, do the three workouts, then take the next day off, then do the three workouts, then take the next day off, ad infinitum. That way, your rest days always fall right where you need them. The only disadvantage is, your workout days-of-the-week are not the same from one week to the next. So if it’s the case that there are certain days of the week you absolutely can’t work out, a 3 on/1 off schedule wouldn’t work for you.

Oh I would be dropping my current regimen for this one. I recently switched from SS 5x5 to Wendler 5-3-1. Since my current goal is hypertrophy and both SS and Wendler are strength programs I thought i’d try some hypertrophy styled splits. The regimen I recently posted with the dumb bell work (that you’re commenting on) would be my only workout - I’d try it for 90 days to see if I gained anything.

That said is 90 days long enough to notice growth?

I appreciate your willingness to help me figure this out. I really need to get myself a coach - even the online dudes are pretty pricey for me at this juncture.

Definitely reasonable to expect to see some positive changes after 90 days.

Hello three, I just have to say that I am in the exact same boat you and davidp are. I am 42 and I was just put on T replacement about 6 weeks ago and the intensity that I am able to work out with now as compared to before is night and day. Prior to the T replacement my T level was 101, as of today I am sitting at 909. I’ve been working out for the past year or so without much change going on, but this past month my shirts have definitely started to get tighter! I’m 5’8 and weigh 197lbs, I could stand to lose a few pounds, but think my optimal weight should be somewhere around 175-180. Before I started my T replacement my arms were at 15.75", I measured them yesterday and now I’m at 16.25". I know what you mean about feeling like you are fully recovered by the next day, but in reality, you shouldn’t hit the weights more than a 4 day split, just to give your body time to grow. I’m currently doing Back/Chest, Legs, Shoulders/Arms and I am very pleased with my results. I’m not sure whether this is recommended or not, but on my last set of every exercise I go to failure. For instance, if I’m doing a bench press, I’ll do my first 3 sets of 8 reps, and on the 4th set I’ll do as many as I can. If I go over the 8 reps, I make note and next week, use a heavier weight. I am definitely going to be keeping an eye out for any more of your posts as well as davidp2909’s. Good luck you you both!