T Nation

Hypertrophy for 50 YO

I have read alot of inspiring accounts on T-Nation of you guys still making good progress into your 40’s and 50’s. I have been reading up alot on T-Nation about the various programs EDT, OLAD, Staley, Dan John, Waterbury, etc, but on my slow dial-up connection sometimes it is tedious, at best, to download the various articles - so I would like to ask those of you in the 45-55 year bracket which program you might suggest - that you personally have experienced good results with - for hypertrophy. Either in your own words or provide links or articles you suggest.

That is not to say I don’t also want to be strong, but I am not interested in entering any PL, OL or StrongMan contests - just want to put more muscle on.

I am 50, 6’2", 215# with 40" waist (around the belly button) - obviously need to lose the middle and increase muscle mass with BW of around 225# or so. I have worked with weights since my early 20’s and I have been 'round the block so to speak; from HIT to Hardgainer routines - I have tried them all with varying degrees of success.

I focus my routines around squats, DL’s, MP’s, Chins, etc. No BB, bodyparts junk. I have to work (read eat alot) very very hard to keep weight on as I have a fast metabolism and have a tendency to over-do it even though I know better! (I weighed 154# when I first started lifting and have gotten up to a high of 240# many years ago.)

My extra-curricular activity (note the singular) is care-taking my 1.5 acres “estate” - and I walk around 5-10 miles at least 2 times per week as part of my job.

I have a nice home gym with power rack, oly bars and even a few kettlebells.

I thank you in advance for your suggestions!

I have tried lots and find at 46 years old that a 3x a week full body workout using different rep ranges works best for me. There has to be something to the hormonal (T and HGH) responses that your body produces when using total body work-outs as we age as everytime I stray from these type of work-outs my progress slows.

You will have to experiment yourself however the two “styles” of workouts that have worked great for me are the Waterbury Total Body Training
http://www.T-Nation.com/readTopic.do?id=508031 (I do 4 primary exercises using Waterbury’s rep ranges and then 2 accesory using EDT principles)and the old Bill Starr 5x5 programs
http://www.elitefitness.com/forum/showthread.php?t=375215 or
http://www.geocities.com/elitemadcow1/5x5_Program/Linear_5x5.htm.

I am older (61)than the highest age you listed for soliciting advice but I will through out a few comments that come with almost 50 years of lifting experience anyway:

  • It sounds like you have a big diet problem. Your weight is not high but your waist is on the large size. There is a site called body recomposition that is pretty good. It is run by Lyle McDonald. Check it out.

  • I am a fan of frequency being a key to growth as Bull also alluded to with the Waterbury programs. However, I find Waterbury’s programs to be too much volume for an old geezer like me so I cut back quite a bit.

  • I pretty much follow what Waterbury and Bryan Haycock suggest with some modifications to fit my particular need. Bryan has a prettty good website called Hypertrophy Specific Traning.

  • I am currently doing 13 exercises, one set of each exercise using giant sets within bodyparts. Working out 2 times per week for 15 reps (for 1 Week). 3 times per week for 10 reps (for 2 Weeks) and 4 times per week for 5 reps (for 3 Weeks). What changes is the total sets per week, not per day. My rationale (theory) is that frequency and total volume (work) per week are more imortant than the actual number of sets or reps per workout.

The exercises (grouped into giant sets) are:

Incline DB Bench Press
Dips
Flat Bench Flyes

DB Military Press
DB Shrugs
Close Grip Bench Press

Pull Ups
Chin Ups
Seated Rows
Barbell Curls

Squats
Deadlifts
Leg Extensions (Always high reps)

No rest within body part groupings. 3 Minutes rest between body parts. Where I have trouble making the rep count (such as in dips immediately after benches during the 15’s), I cluster the reps to get to 15 with as little “down” time as possible. Then immediately go into the flyes. Very intense as I am working close to my rep maxes most of the time. This will be followed by a two week vacation around the Christmas holidays.

  • Whatever you decide to do, consistency, rest and diet are as important, if not more so, than the actual exercise regime. Also, have your testosterone levels checked. They decline with age and hormone replacement therapy is now out of the closet and available. You can’t build much muscle if your cojones are doing their job.

Good luck.

[quote]Avoids Roids wrote:
I am older (61)than the highest age you listed for soliciting advice but I will through out a few comments that come with almost 50 years of lifting experience anyway:
[/quote]
Thank you for ignoring my age requirement ;-). I did not mean to specify any particular age.

Yes, I know, even though I have tried mightily over the past year to lose the belly fat it does not seem to come off without at least as much loss in muscle - very frustrating as I have tried quite a few different “diets”, etc! Will check out the LM website.

Thank you for the routine suggestions - will take it into account.

Yes I believe my test. is probably low - unfortunately at this time I have no health coverage and can not afford any…in the meantime I am trying to boost test. naturally with high volume, short rest between sets, diet, etc.

I have no problem with consistency as I love my training sessions - if anything my ambition overtakes my physical ability and I quickly overtrain or do too much - I am trying to discipline myself to shorten my sessions and get out of the gym.

Thanks - back at ya!

[quote]Bulldogge wrote:
I have tried lots and find at 46 years old that a 3x a week full body workout using different rep ranges works best for me. There has to be something to the hormonal (T and HGH) responses that your body produces when using total body work-outs as we age as everytime I stray from these type of work-outs my progress slows.
[/quote]
Thanks BD - yep, I also do “full body” workouts - that is I incorporate at least one compound push and pull exercise at each session - as much as I feel like I can (or should say “want”) still do more - but I am trying to discipline myself to stop after my prescribed exercises/reps/sets and avoid the temptation of “throwing in” a few more presses, dips, rows, whatevers. I need to learn moderation because as much as anything else I believe that is a big problem in why I am not progressing as I would like. Okay - 3 days/week I agree probably is best for me.

Thanks so much for supplying the links - that really helps. I used Starr routine back in the early 80’s and I made great gains on it - then I strayed and made things way too complicated for way too many years (read Arnold’s “Education” book and got “un-Educated”!) - wasted tons of time and energy for sure! Now, at 50 I am finding that I can’t afford to keep making the same mistakes - because it is harder to recover from them.

I’ll be 48 in a week. I’ve been training seriously for 18 months and I’ve put on about 20 pounds of muscle using a full body routine three days a week. I stick with the basic squat, deadlift, bench type moves and, most importantly, get plenty of rest after workouts. Simple but very effective.

[quote]SamsonsSon wrote:
Bulldogge wrote:
I have tried lots and find at 46 years old that a 3x a week full body workout using different rep ranges works best for me. There has to be something to the hormonal (T and HGH) responses that your body produces when using total body work-outs as we age as everytime I stray from these type of work-outs my progress slows.

Thanks BD - yep, I also do “full body” workouts - that is I incorporate at least one compound push and pull exercise at each session - as much as I feel like I can (or should say “want”) still do more - but I am trying to discipline myself to stop after my prescribed exercises/reps/sets and avoid the temptation of “throwing in” a few more presses, dips, rows, whatevers. I need to learn moderation because as much as anything else I believe that is a big problem in why I am not progressing as I would like. Okay - 3 days/week I agree probably is best for me.

You will have to experiment yourself however the two “styles” of workouts that have worked great for me are the Waterbury Total Body Training
http://www.T-Nation.com/readTopic.do?id=508031 (I do 4 primary exercises using Waterbury’s rep ranges and then 2 accesory using EDT principles)and the old Bill Starr 5x5 programs
http://www.elitefitness.com/forum/showthread.php?t=375215 or
http://www.geocities.com/elitemadcow1/5x5_Program/Linear_5x5.htm.

Thanks so much for supplying the links - that really helps. I used Starr routine back in the early 80’s and I made great gains on it - then I strayed and made things way too complicated for way too many years (read Arnold’s “Education” book and got “un-Educated”!) - wasted tons of time and energy for sure! Now, at 50 I am finding that I can’t afford to keep making the same mistakes - because it is harder to recover from them.

[/quote]
All great ideas Been lifting 39yrs. The Waterbury/EDT combo does work well
I agree diet does need work :slight_smile:

While I’m only 20 myself, my father is 54 and also lifts weights.

He was a powerlifter in his 30’s, also focussing on building muscle.
In his late 40’s he started to train lee intensive and less frequent. now I’m lifting heavier weights and approaching his current lifts he started to take training a little more seriously to.

He trains only 2-3 times a week, with te following split:
Day 1: shoulders, chest, biceps, triceps

Day 2: legs and back.

He does one (compound)excersise per bodypart, about 4-5 sets working up to a heavy weight(mostly a double or triple, sometimes a single)

He says he’s getting a lot stronger again and he’s growing more then when he trained 5 times a week in his 30’s

If this sounds like I’m bragging about my dad, well maybe a little, he’s the one who got me into lifting in the first place.

This is just what works for him. Do with it what you want.

Good luck with finding a program and keep lifting hard and eating right.
I hope to still be doing that at your age

Thomas

[quote]the thomanator wrote:
While I’m only 20 myself, my father is 54 and also lifts weights.
[/quote]
Well, whippersnapper - thanks for your input :wink:

Great common sense routine - thanks for sharing it - and the fact that is working is significant. It sounds like your dad is able to listen to his body much better than me as I seem to always want to overwork myself.

Yeah, well, us Dads love it when our kids brag about us…makes us think that maybe we did something right after all :wink: - that is great that you two have such a positive activity to do together!

[quote]
Good luck with finding a program and keep lifting hard and eating right.
I hope to still be doing that at your age

Thomas[/quote]
Thanks Thomas and same to you - pay attention to what us “old” guys have to say about our experiences with overtraining and don’t mess up with trying to do too much - keep your training simple and consistent and most of all keep it in perspective…ah, if I could only go back in time and knew what I know now…blah, blah, snooze, snip.

Seems that I am storing visceral fat as it is mostly in the belly - although I have gotten it down from around 43" to 40" in the past year. The rest of me has very little fat and I have pretty good muscularity.

Still, that belly has got to go as the more I read, the more I am hearing that this type of fat storage leads to lots of health issues - its a real battle and I have cut out all processed foods and sugars. Obviously I still need to find the right balance or maybe it will just take some time.

[quote]tomsutton58 wrote:
I’ll be 48 in a week. I’ve been training seriously for 18 months and I’ve put on about 20 pounds of muscle using a full body routine three days a week. I stick with the basic squat, deadlift, bench type moves and, most importantly, get plenty of rest after workouts. Simple but very effective.[/quote]

Awesome gains and good on ya for getting on the weights! I have always read that beginners can make good progress and gain muscle/strength even getting started well into the later years. Good to hear you are sticking with the basic lifts.

Plenty of rest - yeah, I am trying to do more of that - problem for me is that I get started on a project and I can work hard for 3-4 hours without wanting to pause for food - and I can lose up to 3-5 pounds in that time. I am a classic “hyper” type person - always with something to do, never wanting to slow down, etc. Need to work on that for sure!

I think you already know the answers. Most people fail when they don’t apply all the pieces of the puzzle together. You seem to think, and I agree, that losing the gut is a priority because of the health issues that it is a reflection of and that it can predispose you to.

Cosgrove mentioned something that I thought was very important. Yes you have been lifting in some capacity for a long time. If you are just beginning to focus on fat loss, then you are a fat loss beginner. When I read this, the bells started ringing. Good luck to you in applying what you already know.