T Nation

50 Before I'm 50


Hi all.

My aim in life, among a few others around job, life, etc, is to be able to skater squat, row, clean & push press and bench a pair of 50 kg (110lb) dumbbells, before I hit 50 years (I’m 46 and a fairly lean 200lbs).

I just want to pour a whiskey after dinner, put on some heavy rock, and work out with a pair of dumbbells…and if God is good to me, I intend to be able to achieve the above and hold onto that strength until its time to develop a ferocious hookers and coke habit (otherwise known as “going out with a bang”).

So, I’m going to leave this here as a log…

Current status:

The Good - I can row a pair of 50s like I’m ringin’ a bell. The skater squats are OK also, as I always did them for the bike. I can do a few sets of five reps.

The Bad - My bench is stuck at 45s, for the longest time.

The Ugly - Push press with 40s (88lbs) makes me want to pass out (I have low blood pressure, well, that’s my excuse anyway)

I might just have to settle for the skaters, row and bench, and leave the push press a bit lighter, but that’s loser talk, so for the time being I’ll keep the courage up. Given my OK rowing strength, I have left it on the back burner for a while, while I get that bench press moving…but man it’s hard. The advice from CT is to mix it up on reps and isos, pauses, etc.

I’ll let you know how I get on.


Skater squats?

Are these similar to Bulgarian split squats?

If so then they’re definitely one of the most uncomfortable lifts known to man.

Balance, flexibility and strength, all hit with one exercise.

Welcome aboard and look forward to reading your log mate!


Thanks for the welcome. Skater squats are simpler less uncomfortable and harder than Bulgarian. You rise straight off one knee using only the pushing leg, ideally without any contact with the non lifting leg until the knee lands back on the floor. In reality you usually need to at least touch the non lifting foot once for a bit of balance. Search Ben Brunos articles on Skaters. Cheers.


What does your routine look like now?


Go out back and carry in a pair of DBs into the house. On push day I start with skater squats with some cheat. I use same weight ladders a la Dan John, or maybe a few more reps depending on the DBs. I take big rests. I then do floor presses with the same DBs using pretty much the same ladder principle.

Pull day is either single DB rows or chest supported rows with lots of rest pauses and iso holds with the 50s. I do single leg hip thrusts with a dumbbell for posterior. I do a shed load of band face pulls and pull aparts during the long rest periods.

Depending on my mood Ill do clean and push presses with the same DBs.

Occasionally I compete with my sons to do pullups on the multi grip bar out back. I manage 17 or so but with around 80 percent ROM.

I do alternsting days of push, pull, rest, month after month, year after year…

Thats about it. Very basic but I find it covers most of the bases.

I just really want to bring the presses up to match the pulls.


Update for Mon 27 Nov.

Decided to use the Dan John / CT principles of taking a lower weight and just making it my biatch for floor presses…lots of slow reps with the 40kgs, iso holds at sticking points, partials around sticking points.

Did 20 skaters each side and 20 rows, since I’ve neglected these enough lately.


Update for 29 Nov.

Today I’m staying with the 40kgs for the floor press, but I’ve decided to add a bridge element to the press, raising my hips off the floor, as advised by Bret Contreras somewhere. REALLY like this press. The slightly extra ROM and the change in angle to a slight decline…it just felt great, and I can still vary the angle by dropping the hips whenever I want. I think this is now my go-to “bench” press.

Did same weight ladders 2 / 3 / 5 / 10 / 2 / 3 / 5 / 10. If I can get a set of 14 straight reps the next time, Ill move back to the 45s.



For the past several weeks I have been trying to bring up my bench press, by focussing almost entirely on that one lift, doing around five or six sessions a week with lots of iso holds and slow eccentics, and you know what, I think it might just be working.

Having been stuck at 45kgs for the longest time as the max weight DB I would even consider getting under, they now feel quite manageable. I got a good ramp of 2 / 3 / 5 / 9 reps last night. Obviously, lifting the hips into a slight bridge from the floor makes it a fair bit easier, but that’s fine by me, since its a lift I really like the feel of.

So, I’ll take a day off today to just eat, and tomorrow I’ll break out the 50kgs for a try out. Big day for the stooge!

And since this “program” worked so well for the bench, I will move on to the push press.


Same weight ladders floor press with hips lifted a few inches for a bit of bounce: 1/2/3/1/2/3/1/2/3 with a pair of 50s (110lbs) DBs.

I am so damn happy.


Last night. Skaters, as I like to call them, but I suppose they are reverse lunges, 50Kg DBs for 1/2/3/3/5 reps. really happy that strength in these is coming back after over a month with no heavy lifting for legs.

Floor press, with a few inches hip lift bridge, 1/2/3/3/2. OK, but Ill need to grind for a while to get to five reps. Tomorrow I’ll reintroduce the rows, and the blessed holy trinity will be together again…


Update: Between flu, colds and travel, haven’t been very consistent, but have settled into what I had always hoped would be a kind of symmetry between the skater squat, the floor press and the row. They are all converging for me into a 45KG dumbbells x 10 reps standard (100lbs). So, I can now do a full workout with one pair of DBs, at whatever weight suits me that day.

I like round numbers, and so my next target is 50KG (110lbs not so round for you guys) DBs x 10 reps in the skater, press, row.

I think, dare I say it, I might then be strong enough for my own humble purposes. I wonder what’s the best way to keep going: keep raising reps and then fight to hold onto the rep count for as long as possible, or keep buying heavier dumbbells. I think Ill try the reps approach.


Oh, forgot! On a diet for the last five weeks or so. Coffee and a few squares of chocolate for breakfast, and a high protein shake, then nothing until diner, with a high protein shake last thing also. Down to 91kg (200lbs) from about 96kg and I think I can see an ab sticking out (could be a hernia). That’s about 2lbs a week. Damn hungry all the time though. I find you have to keep telling yourself…hunger goooood…hunger goooood… Need to get a bit lean, with some visible muscle, and then keep it that way till I’m done…


More protein tends to kill my hunger. Lost 17 lbs in about 2 months while dieting about like you’ve written. And I can get REALLY HUNGRY without protein.


Yea, I think you either get spooked by hunger or you don’t. Like CT says, some people get a cortisol surge when they’re hungry. I think I might be OK in that regard. My current protein shake is beef based and is a pain to get into any kind of liquid shape you can drink without hurling. Strictly for home, not for work time.


It’s funny how dieting affects strength. The 50s (110lb) just feel so damned heavy now that I’m down to 89.9999Kgs (200lb), whereas I felt I was going to keep increasing reps with them while I was 96+Kg. I can lift them, just about for as many reps as at Christmas, but my nervous system feels like I’ve been punched hard afterwards.

Also, my weight loss was gradual and constant on the diet of no lunch, until it just stopped, I mean, even going really hungry for days on end, it just stopped. So, I switched to shake only breakfast and a big salad lunch, and zero snacks until a smallish dinner, and off we go again, gradual weight loss.

I think I need a week of good eating and get the floor press reps up a few, and then go back to CR diet while trying to maintain those reps.


I need to give a plug for Borge Fagerli’s MYO reps idea too. It fits perfectly with my lazy-minded-simplify-everything approach. Same weight, more reps, shorter workouts, better progress. CT includes them in his BDW2.

For the next decade I think I have settled on: DB floor presses, DB rows, DB skater squats, band face pull aparts, pull ups, DB farmer walks, and a few band tri-push downs and DB curls mixed in, except the curls do involve a change in DB weight, which goes against my laziness.


Feel weak with the 50s now. Not sure why. I need to go back to the 45s for a while. As P Carter says, why stop doing what got you strong in the first place?

Even putting back on a few pounds body weight, the 50s just feel intimidatingly heavy for the legs and the floor press. The rows are still fine. I think it shows that years of volume really pay off in the long run (I always loved to row).

There’s a idea though, that if you can lift 45s for ten, you should be able to lift 50s for 6 or 7. No?. But the highest I have managed is 5. I think its neurological or something. The 50s just intimidate my nervous system, whereas the 45s feel like I can push them about a bit. Nemesis 50s. Damn.


OK. Did a reset to the 40 kgs (88lbs). Felt much better. Did a fairly tidy twelve reps on the skater squats and the same, twelve reps on the floor press. I always liked the idea that those lifts would be equal. Intra workout nutrition of dark chocolate and whiskey (why change a winning formula?) I think I need to repeat how I was progressing well in the first place, by really “owning” the weights before progressing up the full 5kg (11lbs) from one set of DBs to the next. I’ll do another session with the 40s with a load of iso holds and pauses etc.,and then see how I get on with the 45s (100lbs).


Better again. A fairly tidy 15 reps day before yesterday with the skater squats and the same with the floor press, with the 40 kgs (88lbs) DBs.

I’ll move on to the 45s tonight. I’ll aim to get up to 15 reps with those in the coming weeks. I won’t go back to the nemesis 50s until then.


2/3/5 and then 13 good reps with 45s in the skater squats.

But….8/7/8 reps was all I could do in the floor press.

It seems the years of not benching has left my press a bit shaky once a bit of weight is added, so that the skaters and floor press are equal strength for reps up to a certain weight, but then the press falls behind. That’s OK though. I just need to give the floor press some love over the next few months……

I’ll stay with the 45s until I can really handle dem lil bishes, before I break out the fiddies again.