T Nation

Best training/nutrition programs for t-maggers over 40

Hi all.
I’m hoping to get the opinions of my fellow 40+ t-maggers. I’m interested in learning which training programs those 40 and over are doing, and what their results and experiences are. I’m also interested in hearing which diet/nutrition programs y’all are working on, and which ones are producing the results you’re looking for.
Given our age and unique needs at this stage of life, I’ve been interested in knowing if some programs are better than others for us.
As for myself, 42 years old, 5’8" and 162 lb at about 12.5% BF. Currently, I’m doing HST (week 4) and making some good poundage gains, but the diet thing is a continuing challenge for me. I am one of those who has a hard time putting on weight/muscle mass. My goal would be to get to 170 if ever possible.
I look forward to your replies and to learning from each of you. Thanks.

Lorne, I work out like any 18-year-old, and I’m about your age. I subscribe to Riverman’s approach, lift heavy, with an emphasis on compound, multi-joint exercises. About the only two things you might look at would be a Tribex/M combo and Surge for post recovery.

Myself, I’ll be deadlifting, squatting, doing dips and pull-ups when I’m 60. Won’t that be a funny sight. (grin)

52 here and still gaining muscle. What a great lifestyle this is.

Hi, I’m 40 and am presently doing a mix of renegade training (rope work as warm up & gpp to finish) with one of Christian T’s programs for strength, sort of a renedog program.
As for diet I suggest you read the Coach Davies what do you eat thread on Renegade Forum, I am trying out the ‘eat when hungry diet’ as per Boxer Al and Coach D on day 3 and still experimenting.

I agree that there’s no special training that should necessarily be undertaken just because you’re 40. You do have to be more careful about warming up and recovery issues, but the programs themselves are just as available as they are to younger trainers. I just started incorporating O lifting into my routines on a regualr basis, and I’m having a lot of fun with it.

As most people know, I’m not a great advocate of HST. I especially don’t like it for dieting purposes because I just don’t think that it burns calories like a program like GBC or something else would. I also gained strength using HST, but gained fat at the same time. So if you’re looking to lose fat, I’d go with a different workout.

As for supps, I’ve mentioned before that I think Tribex is great. (Not so sure about M.) Surge should also be on your list, as it’s recovery enhancement is a must for anyone who’s a little older.

Hope this helps. (I had a better answer all written out, but the Forum ate it! Grr…)


David K from Atlanta to add my ditto to the earlier posters on routines for the over 40 crowd (currently 44). I’ve used Ian King programs, HST, EDT, most recently Christian T’s OVT phase I and am now doing Meltdown Training part I. In most of these routine’s I’ve always included bench, squat’s, deads, pullups and dips. It hasn’t been until recently that I’ve seen how diet can make a difference. I started lifting almost 2 years ago BFL style and until recently had always eaten at maintanance or lower to keep fat down. I went from 22% bf at 185 lbs to 13% bf at 170 (5’9").

Over the last 3 months I started eating according to JB’s Massive eating to see if I could increase LBM. I coupled this with EDT and OVT phase I. In that time I went from 170 lbs to 182 lbs while also increasing bf to 15%. I also noticed huge improvements in strength. For the first time in my life I’m benching and squating over 300 for 1rm. As a testimony to what you can accomplish over 40 I could not lift that heavy when I lifted in my 20’s (then again, I didn’t know then what I know now from reading T-Mag). By the way, if you haven’t tried OVT you need to. I had the best response both in size and strength to that program than any of the above.

Char and Tampa, quick questions concerning my current routine. My goal over the next 12 weeks is to drop my bf below 10%. I started Meltdown traing coupled with the TDawg 2 diet on Monday. I’ve never done anything, sprints, half marathon’s, lifting, etc that comes close to the Meltdown workout. It kicked my butt. I had a hard time finishing the deads while fighting for my breath. I found I had to lower the weights on Thursday and was able to complete all 4 sets of 10. Still the most difficult routine I’ve done. The second 4 weeks I’m going to go OVT phase 2 and the last 4 weeks Joel M’s 5X5. My question is should I use the TDawg diet for all 12 weeks. I’ve never eaten this low carbs before (100g work days, 70 g off days) and it feels almost like I’m fasting even though I’m still consuming 2,400 calories. Does the flat low energy state disapear over time as your body gets used to it? If not TDawg what would be a good meal plan for the last 8 weeks. I’ve already dropped 2.5 lbs since starting on Monday. Is that unusual in the first week or two with low carbs? Should I up calories not wanting to rob my LBM.

You input is appreciated.

Hi, there, David. You’re making some nice progress, there.

Well, let’s see. I’m going to let Char-Dawg comment on your routines because he’s really a lot more knowledgeable in that area than I am. But re the diet, you only need to drop about 10 pounds of BF to hit that coveted sub-10 percent number. I’ve done Meltdown on about 100g of carbs, and it kicked my butt, too! It’s not the kind of program that lends itself to building strength so don’t worry about the fact that you had to drop weight on your DLs. When I switched out to Joel’s 5x5 program, I swore I’d never go back. (grin)

A strength program is highly complementary to any hypocaloric fat loss diet. Just add in four 30-minute sessions of HIIT cardio. I like to do my cardio in the AM in a fasted state.

You’re asking about energy levels on T-Dawg. Yes, your body does become accustomed to the lower intake of carbs and you do make a metabolic shift of sorts. Brain fog/lethargy should disappear after a week or two.

Additionally, don’t forget to take advantage of the once or twice weekly carb ups. There’s been much discussion here on the forum about strategic carb refeeds (“strategic” in the respect that they’re done scientifically to speed up/enhance weight loss and improve performance in the gym).

The only reason to raise your calories is if you are losing weight faster than 1 pound per week. I’d actually like to see you losing LESS THAN 1 pound per week the closer you get to 10%.

I hope that helps. With any luck Char-Dawg or someone else will be by to comment on your choice of routines. Good luck to you, and if you have any other questions, don’t hesitate to ask.


Thanks for chiming in with your thoughts. Am I to conclude from your comments on diet and weight loss that I can use the TDawg for the 12 week period? If so, is it ok that I’ve lost 2.5-3lbs this week? I know from reading articles on low carb diets that in the first week or two you see rapid weight loss. I assume I should see what next week brings before adjusting the calories up.

Another thought. By lowering calories below maintance to burn fat, coupled with low carbs, what happens when I go back to eating with higher carbs and the maintanance calories I consumed when just maintaining my current weight? In other words, will my metabolism be slower so I’ll have to eat fewer calories to keep the single digit BF?

Yeah, Meltdown’s fun, eh? Heh heh…

I think that your workout plan looks fine. You may or may not experience the gains/losses that you want due to individual reaction, but it’s a good solid plan. It should do the job for you, and even if it doesn’t you’ll learn something from your experience.

Yes, T-Dawg should get you through the entire 12 weeks. Remember the refeeds! As for introducing carbs back into your diet when you’re done, you should go very slowly. Berardi has written about this for T-mag, so if you do a search you should be able to come up with his detailed instructions for dealing with this situation.

The reason you’re feeling like you’re starving even though you’re eating a lot is because your body hasn’t yet shifted into a mode where it burns fat rather than carbs as its energy source. This usually takes about three or four days. But after that you should actually experience a steadier energy flow because of the lack of carb spikes in your daily routine.

And yes, the iniital weight loss is usually water when you go on one of these diets. So your actual fat burning probably hasn’t started quite yet.

I think that about covers it… :slight_smile: Good luck, and let us know how everything turns out.

Tampa and Char,

Since both of you have experienced Meltdown Training. Can you explain why I feel so drained after just 20-25 minutes of lifting? I know it’s intense but I really wasn’t expecting to be so wiped. Is it the lactic acid build up? It takes me a good 15-30 minutes to recover to where I feel like doing something other than just sitting down.

Also, the carb refeeds. I’ve chosen not to eat good carbs all day saturday but to instead eat whatever I feel like saturday night. Is one refeed a week enough? Would I get any benefit from a refeed in the middle of the week like on Wednesday night? Do you two experience better results with a clean refeed all day?

Char Dawg, yes I started to feel better later in the week. Also, I’ve found any cravings I used to have for sugar/carbs in the evening have pretty much vanished.

Refeeds are an individual thing, and you’ll just have to experiment with them to see how your body reacts. Sorry, but that’s the best I can tell you.

I would, however, eat clean foods rather than pig out if you’re trying to diet. That’s just common sense. (I know that Joel has some different ideas over in the DP, but we’re talking about someone who’s older here, right? Right.)

As for being wiped out, yes, the amounts of lactic acid generated by Meltdown will destroy you (as you’ve already found). I’ve watched prime athletes in their mid-20s try this routine and be totally blown by the end of the third set. So there’s no way around it, and it doesn’t really get much better with time. Just suck it up and stick it out for the prescribed time. :slight_smile: