T Nation

Avoid Injuries After 40


Ten years ago in my early 40's I was getting a lot of injured joints, so I decided to change my training by pyramiding the weight upwards so that the last set for each exercise was the heaviest. This way I'm warming up for each exercise I do, and I don't need to do a general warmup at all before my workout.

I've had very little joint problems since doing this routine. An example exercise: Bench Press 120x8, 135x8, 150x8, 165x8, 180x8. This way you are increasing your weight used by 50% between your first & last set. I hope this helps some of you old guys like me.


I'm 44 and the best method I've found to avoid joint problems is to maintain a physical balance. I make sure I work my mid back equally on bench days. Lats equally with shoulders on Clean&Press days, etc. That and light supplementary work along with cardio and stretching seems to help as well.

Also, if your shoulders are a problem, don't disregard internal and external rotational exersizes. They may be boring but they keep the rotator cuff healthy. I found that one out the hard way.. After recommendations from my physical therapist.

I agree with your system too. I usually start with an empty bar and work up on Max Effort days. As an additional benefit, it provides more of an overall workload than jumping right up to the "show-off" loads.


I'm 44 and have trained for a long time, i do PL and i'm a firm believer in warming up and working up slowly as you stated. The only problems i really had were the shoulders and i just worked them out doing rotator work.

  1. Warm Up
  2. Lift slow, with control - Less weight lifted slow = more gains & less injury than more weight lifted fast.
  3. Stay focused on what you're doing.
  4. Pay attention to your body. If it hurts and feels wrong - STOP! Is one more rep or set worth an injury?
  5. Stay hydrated
  6. Stretch


I disagree with #2. Lift heavy and fast, but maintain good form.

Lighter weights lifted slower have been shown to be far less effective.

Of course I don't turn 40 until next year so maybe it all changes.


I agree with the lifting heavy.
I'm 42 and no it doesn't change after 40


I guess I was trying to say, if you can not lift the weight in a controlled manner and with good form you should use less weight to avoid injury.

Is there research that suggests that lifting fast is superior to lifting slowly?



I am an old guy who has been at it for a while. Not only do I pyramid up like you mentioned, I use a balm (Cramer red hot) before every workout on my shoulders, elbows and knees to get the joints warmed up. At 49.9 years old, I'm pain-free in all of my joints. All of them ! Keep warming up those joints, my friend. The only downside of the up-pyramiding is that you can get pretty gassed by the time you hit your last and highest-weight set.


I'm 42 and starting lifting seriously in my mid-30s. It was the best thing I've ever done. My recommendations:

  1. Warmup
    Start out w/lower weights and work up. My worst injuries have been when I tried to start heavy too quick.

  2. Listen to your body
    It's too easy to push to the point of injury on that "last lift". Better to listen to that twinge in your shoulder or lower back and stop. If you feel something beginning to go wrong, then stop immediately.

  3. Watch your form, especially on the heavy lifts (deadlifts, squats)
    Bad form will guarenteed cause problems over time.

  4. Variety, constantly cycle
    I like to constantly mix up my exercises, making small adjustments or changes to almost every workout.

  5. Vitamin C
    I found this out by accident while recovering from a sore back. I found that taking 500mg of C everyday made a huge difference in how my joints recovered from workouts.

None of this is new to anyone who reads this site regularly, but these issues become more and more important for the older lifter.


What I'm finding now the thing that injures me more than anything is when I change up to an excersize that I'm not used to doing, I pay for it big time and have to learn to go easy on these. My lastest demon is while doing TBT, I done a series of pullups.( I was amazed I could now do 3 sets of 5 because last time I tried I could only do a couple of one set so I was only working on chins) Now I've got this pain in my forearm for the past two weeks and can't do any pulling movement..



I think research shows that the slow motion method is not very beneficial.

You don't have to do your lifts at light speed but you shouldn't think about doing them slowly either.

Maintain good form and just lift. Let the bar go as fast as it wants to. Don't worry about it.

When I lift heavy the bar does not move nearly as fast as when I lift light (of course).


I agree with what was said about warming up by starting light and going to heavier poundages after some light reps. In addition to that I begin some exercises (the ones where I am naturally more tight) with less than full range of motion for several reps and gradually work into my full range of motion. For example when doing dips, I start with bodyweight only and maybe one-half of full motion, and after 6 - 8 reps am usually loosened up to the point that full range motion finally feels good. For the subsequent sets I add the appropriate amount of weight and go to work.


Pyramiding is a great way to go!

There are some great posts on this thread relative to how to stay healthy and keep lifting. Everyone has probably already read my views, but here they are again for those who try to avoid me (hey stop avoiding me):slight_smile:

  1. Proper sleep 8+ hrs.

  2. Proper nutrition meaning healthy natural food.

  3. Proper vitamin regime

  4. Active recovery: massage, ice, swimming etc.

  5. Warm the body up to a light sweat before lifting.

  6. Stretch after lifting.

  7. Focus on hitting it hard, but not long. If you go somewhere between 20 and 40 minutes you have had a great session and one you can revover from.