T Nation

Help Me Reach My Goals


Hello -

I am 45 years old. 6’ 2" at 188 pounds. 19% bodyfat (seems high, but that is what the electric device said).

Health issues: High blood pressure/marfans (treated via a beta blocker). It does mean i should lift very heavy weights. Cardiologist told me it was fine to gt in shape. I may/may not have low T. Waiting on test results. if I do, i think I’ll try and raise my levels naturally. Craig Cooper’s book “New Prime” insists it can be done.

So…I joined Crossfit (I am not one to go halfway. i’d rather play offense than defense, you know? I went from 145 to 175 pounds ina year) a few years back. Saw great gains and good conditioning. Broke my collarbone and it set badly. Dropped Crossfit and did nothing until last year. Then took up kettlebells. Loved Skogg Sysytem, but after 6 months i got bored. I now use Joe Mangianello’s book “Evolution” with a few tweaks (my company gym frowns on deadlifts and heavy squats.

Here it is:
Leg Raise 4x15
Superset 1: Bench press (35 lb dumbbells)/Lat Pulldown (100 pounds): 20, 15, 12,10,5, 8, 16
Superset 2: incline press (80 pounds)/Low row machie (100 pounds) 4x10
Superset 3: Chest fly (35 lb dumbels) one arm row (35 pound dumbbells)

Yoga for 1 hour.

Leg Raise 4x15
Superset 1: Leg Press (230 lbs)/Skull buster (35 lb dumbbell): 20,15,12.10,5,8,16
Superset 2: Goblet Squat (50 lb kettlebell)/Straight bar press down (50 lbs) 4x10
Superset 3: Leg Extension (100 lbs)/ rope press (triceps) (45 lbs) 4x10

Leg Raise 4x15
Superset 1: Seated Curl (20 pound dumbbells)/Overhead press machine (70 lbs): 20,15, 12,10,5,8,16
Superset 2: Plate Raise with a twist ((AKA: “Bus Drivers” 25 lb plate)/Curl (25 lb dumbbells ) 4x10
1 hour yoga

Leg Raise 4x15
Superset 1: Chest fly (30 lb dumbbells)/One arm row (35 lbs dumbbell): 20,15,12,10,5,8,16
Superset 2: Bench Press (40 lb dumbbells)/Lat Pull down (100 lbs) 4x10
1 hour yoga

Leg Raise: 4x15
Superset 1: Lunge w/ dumbbells in each hand 925 lbs)/Straight bar pushdown (45 lbs): 15,12,10,10,10
Superset 2: Leg Extension (100 lbs)/Skull buster (35 lbs) 4x10
Superset 3 Lef Press (230 lbs) Rope triceps push down (40 lbs)

Weekends: mountain biking (12 miles) or a road rde (20-30 miles)

My diet: Recently improved:

Breakfast: Bowl of all natural cereal with some lactose-free milk

Lunch: Soup and a salad. i have started addign apacket of flavored tuna 918 g protein) and hard boiled eggs. Light vinaigrette dressing

Snack: Icelandic yogurt

Dinner: Lots of chicken and fish: I like to cook. Red meat 1x per week
Supplements: Multivitamin and a flax seed capsule.


By August 1:

  1. I will weigh 200 pounds at >10% bodyfat
  2. Bench my own weight (stop laughing, this would feel really good. i grew up SUPER thin and not at all athletic)
  3. Still be able to ride my bike fast and smooth. I don’t race, but I do like being fast. If I add too much bulk, I think I might lose some speed, especially on hills
  4. I would love to try and do the bodyweight workouts in Jailhouse Strong, but I simply can’t do more than about 3 pullups.

Why? Like I said, I grew up painfully thin and not athletic. My gains pver the years with crossfit and kettlebells simply make me happy. I log everything. It simply feels great to be strong.

So, now that you guys have my workout, diet, goals. What are your thoughts? Doable?


Writing your goals down makes them 10 times more likely to happen.

Losing 18 pounds of fat and gaining 32 pounds of muscle by August will impress a lot of people.

I think you’ll need to find a better, more hardcore gym, filled with serious lifters. You will learn about training and goal setting watching bigger dudes.

Check out “Convict Conditioning.” It’s like Jailhouse, but with more regressions of the bodyweight moves. You can use easier stuff to build to handstand pushups.


Yikes. I never thought of the lose x fat means you have to gain it all as muscle. I had thought of it in terms of “gain 12 pounds”) which seems realistic. Maybe some recalibration is in order…


I struggle with statistics, so I could be off.

Train hard, bench 200, and do a bunch of chinups. Save the math for the nerds.


There is actually a really good powerlifting gym down the street (literally less then 10 minutes from my front door) called “Iron Pit.” It has some seriously huge guys. Some are pro football players or kids looking to get an edge in college. they also have powerlifters - surprisingly quite a few. Some MMA guys as well. They are very cool, use Westside Method. I actually went for a while, maybe a year ago. The downside is that I looked like a walking “before” picture.


Everyone starts somewhere you’re just doing it later in life. Don’t let it bother you some may laugh most will help if you ask


I just googled Iron Pit Gym.

Please Excuse My Language. I don’t want to disrespect you.

Only a total a clown would lift in the company gym with that place down the street.


That place is somebody’s total passion. Whoever that guy is wants you to reach your goals more than you do.


Like I said, I didn’t think I quite fit in. When we did deadlifts, they had to essentially take all the weight off, add my light weight on, then repeat the process in reverse. I did not want to waste their time.

It WAS a blast, and it made Crossfit look like school recess.


Did your cardiologist specify what “getting in shape” meant? What activities are okay and what might be more risky? Did your doc specifically address lifting?

Hypertension + Weak connective tissue in CVS from Marfan’s + even higher BP from high level of exertion = high risk of aortic aneurysm, or worse, dissection

Can’t say that I feel comfortable recommending anything that could potentially cause life-threatening complications based on a vaguely described stamp of approval from your cardiologist. Your goals are realistic, but I don’t know if they are safe.


He did not specify. I told him I was going to do Crossfit and he said “Okay.”

Working out has dropped my BP enough so that I am now on pretty much a small dose of the beta blocker.

They do a echo on me 1x a year and, while my aorta was described as 'plump", he said I was nowhere near needing surgery. They’ll do an MRI this year.

As far as protecting my joints goes, I don’t run - I ride a bike and sometimes swim.

I am nowhere near strong enough to do any damage via weightlifting. My arms/legs/core are going to say “no” long before anything else does.


They let you lift the same bar they were lifting, during their own workouts?

Then they watched you, and helped you do your lifts correctly? As they encouraged you?

Then you got to watch them execute the lifts? And see them coach eachother?

And you’re trying to wave around the 25 pound dumbbells with Phyllis from accounting during your lunch break?


Hmmm… I’d talk to him and try and make his activity recommendations a little more clear. Also, make sure he knows what CF is because it seems like a pretty high intensity activity for someone with Marfan’s syndrome.

The thing is that lifting increases your BP a lot for short periods of time, which may not be a good thing if the walls of your CV system are weak by nature. It’s not my place to say whether it’s safe or not for you to lift now, but if you’re going to lift regardless, I’d at least say that it’s probably a good idea to avoid things that could make that worse (stimulants, belting up, Valsalva). So if you choose to lift with the PLers, take their advice with a grain of salt. I say that as a guy who has done some PLing and who has gotten bloody noses and burst capillaries in my eyeballs from increased BP while lifting. Getting big and strong is awesome, but it’s not worth risking everything over.


Good point. I will shoot him a note via MyCharts. He was actually really impressed when I showed up in his office last item having added about 25 pounds.

I am trying to picture anything as ridiculous as my beanpole self wearing a leather lifting belt or snorting ammonia…

I know I am never going to be a big guy, but I really like the idea of being the best me I an be. Stupid and slightly corny, but there it is.

I used to read read on the Marfans message boards that has all these people bemoaning their fate. They focus entirely (and in a weird way reveling in) what they cannot do. But not one ever says “But I know I can do this. So this is what I am going to do.”