T Nation

An Over 50 Lifter


[i]I'm 52. Wasn't that long ago that I was 265, 5'5" tall and had trouble moving 40 lbs on a weight machine. I was 188.8 this morning and by the end of the year I'll be ready to start moving to free weights from the machines.

Keep the faith, one day at a time.[/i]

update October 1, 2008 I was 172.0, but I spent almost two years around 189 or so until I finally started dropping again. I had good reasons for keeping it stable there for a while, even if my goal is 160

Someone asked how I did it. One rep at a time. I know the AA guys do it one day at a time, I'm afraid I have an even shorter "one at a time" deadline.

Really. About four and a half-five years ago we signed up with Bally Fitness (I know, I know, but they had a nursery). I'd done machines a long time ago in a Nautilus program, trained off of videos and with help from Bob Barrow, a great guy. Thought I'd get started on machines again.

A long time ago = early 1980s. I'd gone back to machines at a local YMCA in the 1990s. I had a few derailing moments. I gained about twenty pounds with each, then some more weight. I won't bore you with the reasons. As a friend told me, it isn't how you got there, it is how you are going to get out.

Anyway, when I was young, I was a lot stronger. I thought that a decade or so of sloth couldn't make that much difference. It did. Suddenly I'm lifting three times a week and with forty or so pounds on the machines I'm completely wiped after a work out.

But, one rep more, single sets approaching failure every time, 8-12 reps to a set, then moving up a weight. Time after time after time.

While I was at it I hurt my rotator cuffs doing bag work and so my work-out got a little skewed, but one day I'm working on the rotary torso machine, wondering if I'll ever get to being able to move half the weight stack and I realize that I'm 20 lbs short of the top.

Some more rotator cuff problems (my wife told me to lay off the martial arts until they were healed, I gave in) and the physical therapist told me to start losing weight.

Well, I'd lost a little, down to 245 or so. But about two and a half years ago I got serious. Lost a lot of weight until I was about 189. Been there about a year, now I'm moving on to lose some more weight.

But I'm amazed how things go just one more weight at a time.

Currently I work out at the local recreation center. My daughter is old enough she doesn't need the child care. No rotary torso machine, but they have cables and I can do wood chops (one of the guys who writes here wrote a book that really got me improved -- New Rules Lifting).

For $65 a year you can't beat the place I'm working out at, no lines, new equipment, plenty of plates and free weights too.

Oh, the rotator cuff problems? Lost weight, improved posture and they went away.

I'm doing better. www.pure-hit.com/viewtopic.php?f=4&t=111 is where I'm keeping my work-out logs on-line.

I know, but as long as it keeps working for me I'll keep up with this method. When it stops giving me progress, I'm going to change.

The avatar? A friend did it for me, back in the sixus1.com days.

Still can't do one armed push-ups or chin-ups like I used to, but in some ways I'm stronger than I've ever been. Now that I have my shoulders back, I'm sure the rest of me will catch up.

Once I can top out the machines I'll be ready for real weights.

Anyway, that's my story.


I've switched the avatar for a photograph of myself on vacation. The avatar is on my profile page. // More avatar switches, Skidmark has me realizing I need to embrace change from time to time.


You've been traveling down this road awhile. Great to hear your rotator cuff problems are over. I always get a kick out of people dissing the machines. For me, it's what ever works best for my needs.

Well you found our secret society. Over fifties are excepted without application. So welcome to the old farts club.


That's the other change, I never used to fart :wink:


And it's a good one. Very motivational. Thanks for sharing it. Keep it up!.

I still think you're ready for free weights now, though.


I'm actually doing curls for the first time in my life. At some point I need to change up my routine, when I do I'll be doing body weight + free weight dips and chin-ups, to go with the wood chops.

I just want to make a little more progress, lose another fifteen pounds first.

But thanks for the welcome!


Elaikases, good you have taken up with the geezer and Geritol crowd. As one of the "newbies" it's pretty cool here. You however are well established and I'm looking forward to learning from you.


Yeah, right.

Congratulations on your weight loss and getting fit. There is always a debate on machines vs free weights, and structural vs functional goals. Hey, I say do whatever works for you. But I will always recommend free weights. They can build stability and balance by engaging your muscles to a greater extent than machines. Except for cables, I find that the tract of movement on most machines cannot be adjusted to my natural tract of movement. Feels unnatural to me.

But I learned to lift with just a bar and a few plates at home, and finally went to a gym when my boys were no longer laughing at my bad form. Besides, I didn't have room for a squat rack at home.

So give the free weights a try. There's plenty of articles on this site so you can develop a workout. I used this site: http://www.exrx.net/ because it has videos of the correct form for just about any lift (PL and Olympic) there is. Good luck.

And will you guys stop referring to this forum as old farts, geezers..etc.? I'm 54 and I'm not ready for a wheelchair and Depends. yet.


Hey, skidmark. Your avatar is disturbing, but somehow, I can't stop looking at it.


It has the same effect on me. Made me laugh out loud when I first saw it and I don't like animated gifs, usually.


Elaikases- welcome to the over-50 crowd. it sounds like you have done a good job, and have the right attitude of looking at this for the long haul. I hope you will continue to progress, and hang in there!


Great job. Your post should be mandatory reading for initiation on to the "Over 35 Lifter" forum. Wait till you get hooked on PL or OL. There is no cure. Thank God.



Welcome Bro! I look forward to tracking your progress!


Welcome to the newly re-united over 35 forum. You've already made great progress an I'm really looking forward to watching your progress.


I have to confess I'm not much of a HIT jedi. My best gains I ever made were a month in the 80s when I was thinking about going into the Marines and needed to improve my chin-ups.

So I was doing three sets of them 3+ times a week. Put an inch on my arms that month (and the chin-ups were the only exercise I was doing). When I have the time, I've nothing against volume.

I'm also not wedded to machines -- so I appreciate the links and will check them out. Currently I'm doing only the wood chops and the biceps curls away from "typical" machines (though the wood chops, which I do high to low, require a cable to redirect the weight).

Machine curls never fit my arms right. Guess I'm just a little too short. I'm going to check out the links -- thanks!

The book that has helped me the most is The New Rules of Lifting, by Lou Schuler and Alwyn Cosgrove.

Anyway, I really appreciate feedback and suggestions.


I've got a long way to go until I look as good as you do.

Do you have a training log on the site?

Hey, thanks again for the link.

www.exrx.net/Questions/MuscleMass.html pretty much caught what I was looking for now.



hip abduction 310 pounds/20 reps (I know, it is my warm up, but I grabbed a 5 pound free weight and tacked it on the stack).
hip adduction 310/20 (had the weight out, figured I'd use it).
+5 lbs to both macines.

Lateral Raise 137.5/9 +2.5 lb
Seated Dip 212.5/12
Seated Row 255/9 +5 lb
Delt Fly 212.5/7 +1 rep
Leg press 240/9 +5 lb, darn, that one was hard
Curl 30 lb dumb bell/8 reps each arm. It is getting harder, I'm glad I've got the slanted support to keep my form. +5 lb, -1 rep
Abdominal 157.5 (someone added a 2.5lb weight to the machine), 8 reps.
Back Machine 305/11 +1 rep. I'm thinking about using that 5lb weight on that machine too, when I get back to 12-14 reps. I'm recovering from the car accident well.

I need to eventually kick over to free weights to improve my arms. My current work-out doesn't seem to be doing much for my biceps or triceps. Some day I want to be able to knock out multiple sets of one arm push-ups again.


Shoot - you already use dumbbells for curls. Why not just start doing DB bench presses>


Because I'm dense and didn't think of that?


So check out exrx.net for upper body exercises you can do with the equipment on hand. http://exrx.net/Workouts/Workout2UL.html
Go through the upperbody section looking specifically for exercises with DBs that appeal and enhance your progress. Have some fun with it!


Thanks, I'm there now.






That is interesting.

I'm going to be making an addition or two to my Saturday side of the split.