T Nation

72 Year Old Making an Introduction

I’m happy to have the opportunity to share ideas, particularly the curse of sarcopenia (loss of muscle of aged people).
My name is Terry Brooks and have been lifting weights since January 1968. And have never given up the cause.
I competed in bodybuilding and powerlifting (some) fairly successfully over 3 decades.
Since I turned 60, I have experienced an ever so steady decrease in strength and muscle size. I would like some ideas of how to slow this process down, or even turn it around if possible.

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Terry… your name is ringing a bell.

Here is some info of how some might know me:
I competed in bodybuilding in Florida in the '70’s, '80’s, and '90’s.
I won my class at the 1979 Jr. USA (Memphis) and second in 1980 Jr. America (Albequerque, NM)
I was a National Judge and judged the Nationals that Tim Belknap won in Los Vegas, plus a couple other national level shows
My ex-wife Pam Brooks became quite famous and we did three different couples shows. Two were international. We were the fold out of the first Flex Magazine printed. We were on the cover of a 1980 Strength & Health magazine.

Glad you are here. I’ll be 55 in a month.
Anything working so far? I’m still holding on to some size, but my strength is dropping noticeably.

Yep… thats why your name rings a bell! Welcome aboard sir much respect.

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My first significant loss of strength didn’t start until my 60th birthday.
But I suppose everyone is different.

One particular thing that happened near the age of 45. I was training for the Masters Nationals and began to notice that the medial head of my gastrocnemius muscle was wasting from the ankle upward to the knee. It is now totally gone from sight. The lateral head is still there.

Bulldog, that brought back some very fond memories. Thank you so much!!

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Your welcomed sir.

For me, it seems like something changes every 4 years or so.

72 here. Gradual strength loss over last 4 years, and never ending gut weight gain fight (endocrinologist said yesterday just reduce calories by 200 or so since hormones are fine but for thyroid). Likely tried about every 70s/80s/90s lift routine, no steroids, disc surgery at 30, no lifting injuries. Got really strong with 3 great workout partners in commercial gyms after I sold my barn workout equipment. Present workouts are about 30 - 45 minutes max 3 or 4 times weekly, no preworkout supplement. 4 years ago we moved to urban area with great commercial gym that I plan to return to after Covid which forced me to get a garage gym. Solo workouts probably are best now, but I’d still sort of prefer a workout partner as a dependable spotter moreso than as a “pusher”.

You’re much more accomplished. Looking forward to your consistent posts. We’ll see who dies first. Ha.

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Welcome Terry. You will find there are some good people here and a ton of great information.

I’m pretty new here myself. I started browsing, and posting a bit when Dr. Darden closed his old web site and moved here. And like you, I’m also an older guy, having just turned 68.

Your post caught my attention, because I also started strength training in 1968. I know the year, because I got a set of weights for my 16th birthday, and dived right in. Around that time, I also read Ken Coopers book on Aerobics. So from the late 1960’s on, I was something of a fitness buff, and I have always managed to do some combination of strength training plus running or cardio my whole life. It has served me well.

I suppose the main difference between myself and some of the other old guys who post here is that I was never particularly hard core about lifting. I never got into body building or power lifting or anything like that. In fact, I was never particularly athletic. About the only sport I ever really got any good at was downhill skiing. As far as training goes, I just wanted to feel good, and be reasonably fit and healthy, without investing a huge amount of time in the process.

That’s just some background before I offer my own take on aging. Because I was never hard core about strength training, I don’t have a past version of myself that serves as a high benchmark. I was never particularly big and muscular, nor was I ever particularly strong. (And to honest, I probably never had the genetics to be either). But I will say that, sometime into my early 60’s, I started to become much more aware that it was becoming difficult or not possible to train back to the strength levels I used to have when I was younger. The decline probably started sooner than that, but it really didn’t strongly register with me until that age.

From the reading I’ve done on the subject, I believe that the ability to produce power or explosive strength is the first thing that starts to go, and as that happens, some loss in the highest threshold fast twitch fibers also happens. Since fast twitch fibers are the ones that have the most size potential, that is when a body builder might start to suffer some size loss (though obviously one could still potentially offset that by continuing to make the remaining fast twitch fibers even bigger).

The current theory seems to be that the decline is neurological origin. As your CNS ages, it can’t supply as much neural drive, and therefore can no longer fire the highest threshold fibers. Once they stop getting stimulation, those fibers atrophy, and (probably) get repurposed as lower threshold or slow twitch fibers.

Because the process is neurological in nature, some exercise physiologists have investigated the use of explosive training or plyometrics as a way to slow down the decline. However, I don’t believe that kind of training has been demonstrated to be superior to traditional strength training for older folks. And because your tendons and ligaments get more brittle with age, it comes with additional risk. So, as far as I can tell, there is an inevitability to this. I just do what I can do, and hope for the best.

Allow me to add another aging experience in my weight training. As I think back it has been quite a few years since I have experienced a real “pump”.

I have a few injuries that hinder my weight training. My left shoulder needs replaced to function anything overhead and pressing, with the exception of dips. All pulls down and back function properly, but high pulls are out. So it seems a shoulder pump might be hard to get due to the injuries.

When I was 64 I needed both hips replaced. All is okay, but heavy leg training is out. I do 270lb (30 degree angle) leg presses of what I guess is about a 130lb carriage (about 400lb total with 30 degrees making the effective weight 200lbs). To make the exercise work I perform a quick press and 5 second eccentric decent, such that it takes 2 minutes to complete 20 reps (6 seconds per rep), which I immediately do an additional 10 to 20 quick reps, trying to get full range of motion getting into my hips and hams on all reps. In the initial minutes of the set my quads (what’s left of them; the vastus heads are barely there) begin the burn. At the end of the last fast reps my glutes start to burn. But I don’t get a “pump” in my quads.

I can work my upper back pretty well, but don’t get a pump there either. But I rarely ever got a back pump. I don’t get an arm pump; either triceps or biceps.

Have any of you had like experiences? Maybe as Al said it could be connected to the reduced CNS capability.

I feel positively young in here! 65. Can’t give you much advise on all the new lifting methods but if you need advice on throwing things, good cigars, good liquor and good (not good for you) cooking. I’m your man. I’ve had my left shoulder replaced twice and numerous tramatic injuries to various parts of the body. Also found my strength levels heading downhill in the last several years. So, welcome aboard.

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Several years ago a young med student U of Birmingham Med did a study of a large group of us competitve Master’s (50 to 60 years old) shot putters, discus and hammer throwers. We were asked to, honestly, list our best lifts when starting throwing and currently in several lifts and our best throws ever and currently. The results showed the distances of the throws had decreased significantly more than the lifts. Throwing distance being pretty much based on F=MA it was the explosiveness that had declined. Sorry to steal the thread.

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I had no idea this was a thing, but WOW, the video was fantastic. I’ve always liked watching ballet for its form and athleticism (the stories are lost on me), but this just blew ballet out of the water. Sexy! (No come-on intended, just a compliment.)

Welcome!

very happy for you. it gives me hope that one day I will persuade my father to come to the gym

Sorry to see that great video of you and your wife, and then learn about your replacement woes over the years. A result of heavy workouts? I’ve often wondered if lifting weights=heavy manual labor job which eventually breaks the body. Regardless I still enjoy the after effects of squatting and deadlifting though I’ll never see 400+ lifts again. I’ve joked that sandbag lifting produces a longshoreman, but I wonder about becoming a washed up former longshoreman.

I still get a pump in upper body workouts–noticeably arms–but not like in younger years. I moreso notice the hard feeling my muscles still get after workouts. I’ll take that as long as it’s available.

Interesting.

The study that caught my attention compared Olympic weight lifters to power lifters. The Master’s records for Olympic lifters declined more rapidly with age than the power lifting records, for the same reason. Old man strength is slow strength.

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