T Nation

55 and Starting New


Hi all, looking for a simple way to start. I am 55 and in ok shape, meaning I can hike up and down the mountains here all day and have the 35 crowd tired before me. Always been active, boating, hiking, horseback, ranching life, etc.in general, everyone always said I was naturally strong, good genes, etc.

Currently, NO gym routine at all, just walking hiking and staying away from Junk food as much as I can.
Currently 6 ft 205 lbs. 15 years ago was REAL bad, 320 lbs, but got divorced and lost all of 125 lbs, just stopped binging all day on junk and carbs ( addicted to sweets ) and got back to hiking.

Work on a computer / phone all day in my condo/home office, so zero commute.
Have a basic "condo" gym in my building, with some weight machines.

I've decided to hit the weights and try to turn back the clock, I have seen others do it that are 10-15 years older then me, so know it can be done.

My problem is, I have no clue of what a REAL plan is for someone that is not in bad shape, but IS 55 and starting from scratch. I would be very happy with something that was designed by/for over 50's, with a very specific 6 day plan, what machines / what areas, how many reps, if that exists.

Is there a good way to go set a baseline, even if its embarrassing. Like what is my maximum weight for arms, legs, back, etc. What exersize to use to see the maximum safely for each body area? At least so I have a starting point

Never have taken a supplement or steroid of any kind.

Considering Doctor specified Bio-identical Hormone Replacement Therapy (BHRT) HGH , Testosterone , and Estradiol there are two clinics here that do that with the under the skin pellets

Thanks in advance for any pointers.



Welcome! I’m 44 and do Jim Wendler’s 5/3/1 program. It’s 4 days a week of lifting. Very simple, but versatile.

Good luck.


Welcome to the forum. If you have no injuries or other limitations i would consider a simple barbell program like starting strength. Im 49 and squat 3x a week, bench, press, and deadlift. Its made a tremendous difference in my daily life. Give this a watch:


I hope i am not breaking forum cool, posting pics n stuff, so let me know, happy to have everyones feed back and support and knowledge, great site.

Just went down and checked out the specifics of the condo/gym 2 min from my front door, here is a picture I found online of the exact same cable gym, 3 stations

Its this cable gym, 3 stations, max weight 200 lbs, ( two racks) plus a free bar and maybe 80 lbs of weights, and hand weights of 15 lbs each

Actually, the cable gym looks like it can do a lot, does anyone have a link to a step by step video of the right form when doing the different exercises on this kind of 3 station cable gym, like what to focus on what days and rotate, days off etc. I am mid 50s and want to do this but not do injury and get demotivated

Thanks in advance



Man, not so happy I posted that 1st pic of me at the top, fugly. But gives me a motivator I guess and a benchmark to measure going forward. But damn not good.


Welcome Ray,

doesn’t matter where you start its where you finish!

SenSey mentioned 5/3/1 great program simple to follow, there is also Starting Strength or even Eric Cressey’s Maximum Strength that you could adopt to your needs… To me, (54 yr old dope), the key is adoption…not much of value is written for 50 + yr old… ( just my opinion)…the target audience is usually much younger, but you tweak it and make it work for you…

I’m running 5/3/1 right now but stretching it out and lifting 3 instead 4 days per week with 2 additional condo/core days…

the key, again just my opinion, is consistency… if you put the effort in on a regular basis pretty much any program will help you.


[quote]OldGoat wrote:

the key, again just my opinion, is consistency… if you put the effort in on a regular basis pretty much any program will help you.


Agree with this, which is why I always say the best program to follow is the one you enjoy the most (because the more you enjoy running a program, the more likely you are to stick with it). So pick one of the programs mentioned above and give it a fair trial (at least a few months). If it’s not your cup of tea, don’t give up on weight training entirely; rather, pick a new program and give that one a whirl. Before long you’ll find the training program/style that’s right for you. Best of luck.


I was thinking about your situation today during my daily stomp around the lanes, just to add that i am just a year older, just 10 weeks into my own attempt at a reclamation of fitness and by the look of things have a similar background as a hiker and even looked pretty much the same 10 weeks ago !.

Right at the outset i want to stress that i am essentially a beginner (again) so nowhere near the experience and expertise of any of the members here, i am not a coach or trainer of any kind just somebody who has tried to get some knowledge about all of this lark.

I have worked my way around most of the literature and know of nothing that is really specific about training programmes for older lifters, when i first rejoined the site i was specifically looking for an article by coach Dan John about the specific muscle loss and weakness of old age because just one of my own principles is to train with that in mind, or at least to train partially with avoiding that in mind.
I don’t see why though a programme should be that different for us old folks !!, as others have said its much more about finding a way of training that you enjoy and stick with that.

My own set-up is completely different to yours ie i am not going to be using machines at all, at least not for now, my workouts are entirely based around the kit i have and then complementing that with body weight exercises where i haven’t got the kit, good example is that i don’t have a bench so can’t bench press but instead crank out a lot of simple press-ups and i can get a lot more value out of that simple exercise yet.

One thought that might be useful is to do something that i did myself when i started out a few years back and that was to buy 10 sessions with a good strength and conditioning coach who was really into teaching the big compound movements and working with free weights, that i believe set me up really well and was the best money i have ever spent in terms of training.

Whatever you come up with i wish you well.


I think everyone missed the part of the OP having access to machines.

If machines are your only option, here are my thoughts: A good, basic program to get started would be a knee dominant exercise (leg press for example), hip dominant exercise (e.g., back extensions), horizontal push (bench press), horizontal pull (row), vertical push (overhead press), and vertical pull (pulldowns). If you want to throw in some arm work you can as well.

Machines are a good start. They are better than doing nothing at all and will give you a good workout, but think about joining a gym at some point where you’ll have more options in regard to equipment.

3-4 sets of each exercise is a good start. Plenty of good e-books available to offer other programming ideas. The important thing (as someone mentioned) is finding a program that you like and will keep you working out.