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51 Y/O, Serious & Minor Health Problems, Starting Back - Advice?

Hello everybody, 51 yrs old, out of training for about four years, major genetic related open heart surgery, had several bouts of depression in the past, and plenty of joint pain and wear and tear. Starting back, general plan is one lift plus 20 min cardio and 20 min stretching, all thoughts welcome. I am initially work on the exercises that don’t hurt and just do one exercise per workout. others’ experiences welcome.Have a throwing (Hammer, shot, discus and highland games) history then a little weight lifting and powerlifting.I take lots of meds each day lol.

Your plan sounds fine to me. Best of luck.

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Like he said, your plan is good. But for discussion here are some thoughts, from a non-doctor;

For cardio, start slow. Walking is good. You can progress to faster walking or incline walking. Lots of guys have problems trying to get black into the weights plus jump hard into tough cardio. It’s hard to recover from and kills progress.

For lifting, make sure you don’t end up doing a bunch of similar moves for the same muscles or doing similar motions over and over because they don’t hurt. Remember to try to progress on the stuff that hurts during your “stretching” time. Here are articles from smarter guys.

Here’s a sample program for 1 lift a day, if you need inspiration.

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Thank you and good luck yourself!

Working very gingerly, have bad left ankle, bad right knee, bad lower back, mechanical heart valve and bad shoulders, but two sessions in with squat day and bench day behind me, sore but right type of sore and tired. Happy though to have started back!


So far, so good, this is what I have started on; Full back squats, stretching, cardio, then next session, Bench press, stretching cardio, same next two sessions, only with deadlift and barbell rows. Reps 1 x 12 warm up, 3 x 8 work sets, 1 x 10 warm down. a simple start, and I have made it in for four sessions, so I am making a positive habit, and no injuries yet, but wow the pain from muscles, these four exercises do hit a lot of different muscles!

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Simple plan and exercises working so far…

ok sticking at simple plan with careful progress so far…

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I’ve worked with many clients on various kinds of heart medication.

Two big themes I’ve routinely encountered:

  1. Be careful with any up and down motion of the head
  2. Difficulty breathing is expected

The nature of much heart medication is to dictate what the heart can and can’t do. Often this is blood pressure related.

Exercise necessitates increasing blood pressure. If the medication doesn’t let you meet these demands as much, you have to temper down expectations.

Same goes for blood flow to the head. When people get up and down off the ground I’m always sure to make them go slowly. If we do anything where we lean over and stand up, I tell them to keep their eyes up.

Light headedness is pretty common, and we try to avoid it as much as possible. Last thing I want is them falling! Heavy lifting falls in here too, but I’m not usually having 50+ year old clients do sets of 1-3 reps. That kind of lifting causes crazy spikes in blood pressure that I, nor the client, usually care to entertain.

Lastly, I often recommend they check to see if there is any cardiac rehab they could take part in. You might be past this point, but I’ve been surprised how many are not aware there are specific programs people can do, supervised, to help bring their heart back. My exercise science department had a whole section devoted to it in college. They’re out there, but for some reason the doctors and such don’t seem to think about it much. The heart can be rehabilitated much like the rest of the body.

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Thank you for your advice, I have been given the OK to train carefully, and I am on an anti-coagulant and a beta blocker which both bring their own challenges, again thanks!

You’re welcome. Best of luck!

Thanks OK for those interested, it is going fine, One lift a day, four days a week, 20 min stretching after lifting, 25min cardio, Squat, bench, deadlift, rows. two warm up sets, three work sets, one warm down set, usually 1 x 10, 1 x 8, 3 x 6, 1 x 10. Being very gentle, progressing gradually, feeling better. for us guys and gals, slow and steady wins the race, good luck all!

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Sounds exactly like my resume. I’m 63 now and compete in Master’s Track and Field (Athletics) still throwing the shot, disc and hammer. Don’t you guys throw a real shot in the HGs? We use 2 different stones here. Are you lifting for your throwing, for fitness, looks? The references you show look like they would work for all of the above. Not posting as much right now but I’ll be interested in following you. Welcome.

Health first, little injuries have stopped me throwing again alas, shoulder and knee, I probably need an operation but have been advised not to have surgery if I can avoid it after heart surgery. However healthiness is a good enough goal. The HG here in Ireland of which there are not many use a stone, but in Scotland they use a shot. I don’t know why, there is not much in terms of HG or strength sports as all our throwers emigrated to the US in the 1890s, such is life. Glad you are still throwing mate!!!

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Well I’m no doctor, but here’s what I’ve found;

On T-Nation here I -read- studied Serge Nubret’s routine. Many say it’s not optimal for hypertrophy, others say it’s great. That may depend on which muscle fiber type is dominant I suppose.

Anyway, it’s joint sparing. He was never injured and was jacked into his 60’s. His routine worked great for me. I still use a variation of it. I listen to my body and use the motocross racing saying;
“To finish first, you first have to finish”.

I get zero gains and lose ground fast if I have to sit home for weeks as some joint pain heals. I squat and bench less than I did now too.

There are movements I just try to avoid; Good Mornings, Deads (heavy), Olympic/Powerlifting/compounds… I cave in and do them sometimes but I try to NOT go there.

Take care, have fun leo_from_ireland

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Hi, Leo. You mentioned depression, so you need to be aware. Weight training can be really brutal on your confidence. The effort of working hard, the apparent lack of progress - all can exacerbate depression like crazy. I’ve had many workouts where I walked out of the gym feeling worse than when I walked in. Just something to watch out for. Don’t aim for too much and you should be fine.

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You’ve already accomplished so much just getting to this point, give yourself plenty of credit for that!

As for workouts, if you’re cleared by your surgeon and cardiologist, do just as you said; start slow and see where that leads you.

I’ve had 3 thoracotomy surgeries myself so I can relate to being over 35 and working out after having had the ribs split. You will progress faster than you think. As someone above mentioned, shortness of breath is almost unavoidable at first, just pace yourself. It really is a marathon.

Good luck with your journey and if you have any queations feel free to throw em my way, other than having multiple thoracic surgeries I’ve worked in cardiology and cardiothoracic surgery for coming up on 15 years…

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Thank you, and I hope you are in good health and enjoying the training and life!

OK all good, slow and steady training and progress, staying injury free! and making a little but continuous progress. The mental health benefits of weight training are yet to be accepted in the medical community but should not be underestimated. The gentle cardio effects of weight training are also under estimated, good luck all!

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OK update, no news, but sticking to simple program, I have avoided injury and have kept at it. Small but steady gains. I lost 5lbs and have put 5lbs back on and look the exact same but have become stronger in my four lifts at 3 x 5 once a week per exercise. Going to move to 5 x 5 as I feel ready. cheers, Leo

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