T Nation

Guidelines for the New Lifter

First off, I’m definitely not over 35. However, my padre is considering taking up weightlifting. He’s never tried it before, but he runs and bikes competitively, and is in pretty good shape…other than the small spare tire.

So I’d like to know:

What are some of the most common things that old guys need to look out for when beginning weight training? (besides crappy form and all that young-blood stuff)

Is there a best program for 40+ guys just starting out, or are the guidelines pretty much the same as for younger athletes?

I’d like to give my dad the best advice I can, and hopefully not injure him in the process. Thanks for helpin out.

The “rules” depend on what kind of shape your dad is in and why he’s training.

If he wants to improve his times, then he needs to study how bicyclists and runners train and he should do the same sorts of workouts they do. That’s not necessarily a big weight training workout. It might be a relatively low weight, high rep type of workout.

He should be very careful to NOT follow the standard sorts of bodybuilding types of workouts that you see all over the place. His workout should probably be full body 2-3 times a week although he’ll have to be careful with volume because he’s doing other training.

Older lifters need to be more sensitive to their bodies’ recovery requirements.

Most of us here have been training for a while and we’re more sensitive to what our bodies are telling us. If you look at our workouts, you’ll see a pretty wide range of bizarre workouts that depend on what sport we’re training for and what we’ve learned about what our bodies like and respond to.

Alright- he’s not currently training for anything specific. Mostly to get ‘in shape’. I think the full body workout sounds like a pretty good idea, especially because of time restraints.

He’s not training for cycling or running currently, though he’ll periodically do a race just for fun, or to see where he’s at.

Many of his problems now have stemmed from being a little too sensitive to his bodies recovery. As in, “I trained a couple weeks ago, I need the rest time.”

Mostly, the weight training he would be doing would be to help stay in good enough shape to stave off too much body fat and all of the health problems that come with it.

He’s going to keep running and cycling, which he knows enough about to be as sensitive as you guys are about weight training, but thanks for the suggestion about full body workouts. I’ll suggest something really basic to him, and let him take it from there.

Mostly I was worried about things like “the over 35 lifter, if he’s just starting, should not try ‘x’ workout, because he’ll explode.” Something like that. If the rules aren’t hard and fast, and can be tailored to individual needs, then that rocks, and I guess he’ll learn as he goes along…with his ultra cool daughter to help, of course.


The basics are the same.

Lift something heavy, put it down, eat, sleep, repeat.

If you check around and read some of the threads on here, you’ll see all sorts of training programs. There’s really nothing an older guy can’t do as long as he doesn’t get silly.

Concentrate on multi-joint exercises like squats, deadlifts, power cleans, pullups, bench, things like that. Don’t do a lot of isolation exercises (curls, kickbacks, calves, etc.). Free weights are safer and healthier than machines (although a lot of people incorrectly believe that goes the other way around.)

Form is everything but you’ve also got to push your limits to really get a good training effect.

Another option is a body weight exercise program to start. If your father is way out of shape it might be a better starting place. Ross Enamait, John Berardi and Craig Ballantyne all have good body weight programs available (some at a cost). There probably is one or two kicking around here as well.