After turning 40 last October, I went through a period of lifting where NOTHING seemed to go right. Injuries appeared out of nowhere (lower back, shoulder, "golfer's elbow") even though my training practices never changed. It was then that I realized that my youth was slowly slipping away. Well, I decided to replace it with a bit of wisdom and focus on strict form under a training routine I'd never tried.
Enter 5x5 and a little creatine.
Started at 5'10" and 174 pounds. Relatively lean with strength levels that prior to injury, were respectable.
Bench - 260
Squat - 315
Deadlifts - 335
First thing I did was let my injuries heal, did some rehabilitation exercises and got some sleep (tough to do with a 1-year old little girl who is teething). Took about 2-3 weeks.
Second thing I did was to research 5x5 and find a pre-written routine that had all the basic movements. Found a good one that put emphasis on back, shoulders and calves, (the 1st and 3rd being two of my perpetual weak points). Started with some basic weight that I knew I could do for 5x5 (checked my ego at the door) and focused on strict form. Increased the weight 5 pounds a week for a month and found my youthful strength returning. My weighted pull-ups went up to my bodyweight with 60 pounds suspended from a dipping belt for 5x5. Shoulders went to 165 pounds for 5x5. Calves went to 3 plates on the seated calf machine for 5x5.
Third thing I did was to retool the routine to put emphasis on chest, biceps and traps to see if I could finally develop them into the size and shape I'd always wanted. I'm on week 4 of my second run through the routine, and so far so good. Bench is now at a respectable 240 at 5x5 (with the weight feeling "light"). Biceps are at 110 at 5x5. Traps are 225 at 5x5.
Weight has gone from 174 to 188 in 7.5 weeks. Some fat, as I'm now wearing size 33" pants from size 31"/32" (depending on the brand). However, my shirts are MUCH tighter across the chest, back, shoulders and arms - it's a wonderful feeling. I'm going to continue until I hit somewhere around 194-195 (probably another month or so, based on the previous growth trend), then start to cut. Hope to lose around a pound a week over a 10 week period, leaving me somewhere around 184-185 by spring.