T Nation

I Just Turned 35


I really don't know how to start. because of acid reflux I've had all my life I cant eat much and cant really gain, iam very active and athletic but I really wont to gain get stronger and bulk up, I live very rural area and gym time is very hard to get, any help with a program would be very appreciated..
im 5'11 160lbs


get on an established program like madcow or 5/3/1 that focuses on big heavy barbell stuff (with a little vanity stuff thrown in) and sort out your diet.

Unfortunately you could be on the best program in the universe but if you can’t eat to gain then you won’t.


Well, you’ve already put up some obstacles by telling us off the bat that you can’t eat much and that you can’t go to the gym. So let’s get a few things straight. Yogi is absolutely right - but to tailor advice further…

  1. is it just HARD to go to the gym, or impossible?

  2. is a home gym an option? It doesn’t have to be a full setup - there are many ways to “work out” - but if you CANNOT go to a gym, let’s figure out what you have to work with.

(For what it’s worth: if it’s just HARD to go to the gym but you CAN go even 2 days a week, there are lifting templates written for that)

Thingies you can look into if a full home gym (power cage, squat rack, bench) is not an option:

  • pull-up bar
  • dumbbells
  • kettlebells
  • sandbags
  • wheelbarrows filled with rocks/dirt/sand

I am, of course, partial to the kettlebell and would tell most anyone that two good KB’s will get you much farther than no exercise equipment at all. If the choice is “no training” that’s certainly better than nothing. It depends how much mass you really expect to add, I guess, but I’ll assume you’re not expecting to turn into Hulk Hogan in 6 weeks.

Point is, if going to the gym is not an option for you, fucking figure out a way to do some work at home. Maybe that means loading your wheelbarrow with a bunch of rocks and pushing it around, then lifting the stones over your head.

  1. let’s talk about reflux and not eating very much. Details please. What you can eat, how much, etc. is this just “I can’t eat before I go to bed” (eating at least 2 hours before bed has helped my GF wean herself off reflux meds). Is there a way to cram in lots of calories at certain times during the day? Are certain foods a trigger? Have you done any kind of elimination diet to see?

Potentially unpopular opinion alert: going mostly Paleo (with judicious addition of clean carbs when needed) has done wonders for me in many ways, and there are many ANECDOTAL reports of folks that had things like reflux “clear up” when they stopped eating junk foods.

Also: is it just a problem with eating large “volumes” of food? Because there are ways around that. Calorie dense foods can be snuck into a lot of places. Heavy cream in your coffee or protein shake. Extra butter on your vegetables or baked potato. Olive oil on a salad. Just plain eating a spoonful of coconut oil. Stuff like that.

If you’re drinking skim milk and eating lowfat cereals and fat free yogurt, of course you’ll have to work harder to get calories in.


What do you eat and drink in a normal day?


[quote]tjc80 wrote:
I really don’t know how to start. because of acid reflux I’ve had all my life I cant eat much and cant really gain, iam very active and athletic but I really wont to gain get stronger and bulk up, I live very rural area and gym time is very hard to get, any help with a program would be very appreciated…
im 5’11 160lbs [/quote]

I’ll be 35 in August, and I came back to the iron in 2013 after an extensive layoff.

Have you been diagnosed with acid reflux and/or have you spoken to a physician on how to ameliorate or treat it so that it doesn’t pose a quality of life issue in terms of getting adequate calories? I know a few people that have been treated for acid reflux, and while I know nothing about it in particular, having never suffered from it, they are able to lead relatively normal lives with some medication and the avoidance of certain trigger foods.

I do personally believe that while bodyweight exercises have their place, you’re going to need to find time with barbells and dumbbells to pack on quality mass and make major strength gains, especially with programs that emphasize the core lifts. This leaves you with two choices: suck it up and commute to a gym, but try to find a 2-3 day/week template that minimizes time and cost constraints (there are templates that will suit your predicament), OR invest the money one time in some fundamental home gym equipment (e.g., bench, bar, plates, rack) - note: there are quite a few guys on this site who have equipment at home. It could be a new set, or you could find something used on Craigslist or a Facebook sales page that serves your area. It would be well worth the money, even if you buy new equipment, if you get a basic setup and you stick with this long-term.

I don’t subscribe to the philosophy that it’s ever too late to start incorporating weight training into your fitness goals. We may be well past some of the prime years for natural, anabolic muscle growth at its most rapid rate, but you can still get bigger and stronger if you commit to this long-term. I think you’ll find that it improves your quality of life, your appearance, helps to lower your stress levels, and even at our age, it actually gives you something else in life to work towards when you set goals and start to see new PRs when sticking with a proven program. I’ve been sticking with 5/3/1 since last spring and I enjoy it; check out some of the templates suggested above.