T Nation

Did You Start Lifting in Your 40s?

I’m someone who started lifting at 43 - first time ever, no previous workout experience other than the regular hiking, climbing type stuff. I’m looking for others in my age group with a similar experience to take inspiration from. I’ve made very serious progress in the past ~5 years - but I’m feeling dysmorphic and slightly discouraged.

I need an attitude check/adjustment, was hoping to get that here - heh.

196lbs @~9% (calipers) BF 5’9" 6-1 split on TRT currently blasting (4th cycle).

Yes, I am 48 and started about 3 years ago. Nobody talks too much about it but there are advantages to training when you are older. The biggest advantage is patience. The next is intelligence.

What inspires me the most is that, at this age, I can make my body grow. Nobody talks about this but it is a frikken miracle. All you hear from your peers is about how they are decaying and their bodies are breaking down. Meanwhile you are quietly and meticulously building and improving. You are growing muscle mass. Your bones are getting denser. The percentage of useless fat you are carrying around is decreasing.

When I was in my late 30’s early 40’s I used to have to get up in the middle of the night and go pee. Since I have been lifting, I never do that. I am hardly ever sick and when I am, it comes and goes quickly. I’m horny as a bastid and don’t even think of any supplements for that type of thing.

Get going. Don’t think of the weights your moving. Think of the muscles your using. Rebuild your body. Let go of this whole aging bullcrap…you are now in building mode.

Eat like you know how to eat. Just keep it basic Meat, veggies, and a judicious amount of carbs. Things that you and the whole world know that are not good to eat…Just stay the heck away from them. Soda, cake, beer…just don’t do it. Give you body what it needs and only what it needs.

Thanks for your note.

I sort of started in my 40’s. I started lifting when I was 12. Lifted all through HS and then quit when I was 20 or 21 years old. I started back right around 40. I have been at it now about 3 years and have made gains that I never was able to make when I was younger. I look better and feel better at 43 than I did at 30. I just started TRT a few months ago. So, now I feel even better.

I started at 40. Without lifting, I probably would have ended up like both of my grandmothers: petite and unable to carry a gallon of milk up a flight of steps. I’ll never be the strongest, but I sure have fun trying.

I started at 44 stalking…I mean chasing kpsnap…took up weights to gain her attention…no luck yet, but my big new boner stretching routine may yet yield results !

Almost…I was 37 (4.5 years ago). I have to agree with Roland2000…had I started lifting seriously in my teens or 20s, I would have probably hurt myself, or gotten fed up by now due to years of lifting stupid. It’s different in our 40s. We are much smarter now, and more patient. People also look at us differently and compare us to the average 40+. Simply put: we stand out, and as a result, we don’t feel rushed to get results. Slow and steady, and the gains follow.

As for motivation, and this is going to sound mean spirited (but isn’t meant to be), I often look at people in their 60s and beyond, and see what a mess most of them have made of their bodies…and I don’t necessarily mean the esthetics, I mean the functionality. If I can squat down to parallel and lower with hundreds of pounds on my back at 41, I sure as hell will be able to squat my body weight to sit on a toilet at 80.

Yes, I started late too. roland2000 said it for me.

I started when I was 40, and I’m coming up on 5 years of lifting.

I was looking at the Strength Standards for Women at 114 lbs the other day.

ExRx categories for judging strength:
Novice, Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced, and Elite.

I was really pleased to realize that I’ve been able to meet Advanced levels, despite starting so late and being mostly self taught.

I’m LIGHT YEARS from being an Elite lifter - where the competitive powerlifting chicks are - but we’re all supposed to be loosing muscle mass as we age, so I was really pleased to see that I’d been able to do so well in my 40’s, when compared to other women. Those strength standards aren’t ranked by age, just BW.

It would be interesting to see strength standards by age. I don’t know if they do that? For example, I have a close friend who is 50 and is a very fast competitive marathon runner. Her times put her in the top 15 or so in the US for women in her age group. Very cool. She’s built like a gazelle. I was telling her that there are A LOT of women in their 40’s who are MUCH stronger than me!

I’m 46 and started lifting about five years ago but only seriously for the past year or two. I love it. It’s my passion. But I’m learning my limitations. It took me a long while and many injuries to appreciate that not going to failure and rest days are important disciplines. So I program my weight lifting in advance and stick to the program. Squats hurt my lower back. Every time. The leg press doesn’t and I make good gains on the leg press. Figuring that out sooner (and ignoring the mantra that you must squat) would have saved me a lot of pain and frustration. At the moment my level of body fat (30% by DEXA) is concerning and I’m focussed on slow but steady weight loss (basically just by increasing my protein) to protect my musculature. This week I’ll start a few months of stronglifts 5x5. The lighter weights over the first month or so will give me a bit of a break.

I started when I was 42, I’ve been lifting for 5 years.

My first goal was to just keep at it for 1 month, and then re-evaluate.
At a month, I made my next goal to be 6 months. At 6 months, I figured I’d go for 1 year. Here it is at the end of year 5, and I can’t imagine quitting. It is just a part of me now.

My observations.

  1. I started as a fatty. 6 foot tall, 270 lbs. High blood pressure 190/95, high fasting blood sugar 110 mg/dL, high lipids, and obviously overweight (obese). I had “failed” these three tests, and was told to come back to the doctors off in 1 month to re-test. Assuming I’d fail again in 30 days, they were going to start BP and high blood sugar meds. The health markers improved dramatically the first 6 months. Blood pressure normal, fasting glucose is still borderline high, but regularly under 100, and lipids are “normal.”

  2. The weight came off pretty quickly. I hit about 230 after about 9 months. I’m still overweight, and struggle with diet go get down to 220. I’ve done it a couple of times, but I seem to hover between 230 and 240 without thinking about it. BF, no idea. Probably high 20%.

  3. At 5 years, I’m rather disappointed with my physique. I’ve tried some different programs, 5x5, max strength, lower weights, etc. I don’t like to program hop, but I do alternate between high weight/low reps, and lower weight, higher reps after a couple of months. I try to take a week or two off every 5 or 6 seeks. You’d think that regular trips to the gym (3-4 hours per week), no more than 1 hour of lifting per session, for 5 years would have me happily buff. No such luck. Diet is obviously a huge part. I’ve tried some different stuff: LCHF, LFHC, paleo, keto, fasting. But hey, I’m still working on it. I’ve never missed more than 3 weeks training in a row. Typically associated with travel, sickness or injury.

  4. I’m pretty happy with strength gains. I’m far from the strongest guy in the gym, but that’s not why I go. Here are some basic numbers for me:
    5 years ago, best weight: bench: 155 lbs X 10 reps, squat: 135X10 reps, deadlift: 135X10 reps, chinups: 0, body weight dips: 0, overhead press: 65X10

Today (no gear): bench: 235X6, squat: 375x6, deadlift: 375x6, chinups: 8, dips: 12, overhead press: 135x4 Overall, nice gains but I’m probably not enough of a “natural” to want to compete in power lifting. I tend to loose a little strength as my body weight goes down (but the relative strength stuff shoot up – chins, dips, etc.). I don’t have someone to workout with, so max efforts are rare – if ever.

  1. I could not be happier about health markers. I have friends and colleagues, my age that have: started blood pressure medication, started metaformin for type 2 diabetes, have bouts with gout (uric acid crystal buildup in joints). I’m pretty sure I would be there now, if I had not started lifting 5 years ago.

  2. I suspect my hearing is a little worse than it should be – too much music in the gym. Probably a good trade off.

  3. I’m mixed in more and more aeorbic and HIIT stuff: sprints, biking, swimming, mile runs for time, etc. Just to try different stuff.

  4. Future for me – keep lifting, but concentrate more on diet. I’ll probably just have to knuckle down, keep track of calories and macros for a couple of months, and dial it in.

Good luck.

The best motivation is progress and I suppose at times progress is slow and it can be frustrating. Your BF, weight etc makes it sound like you are in good shape for your age. Maybe you need a little push, maybe think about getting a personal trainer involved for a couple of months to boost your enthusiasm and mix things up a little.