T Nation

I'm Broken


I lifted weights from 18-24 years old. During that time I gained 65 pounds and at my peak I weighed 225 with bf @ 10%. I looked great and was very proud of my accomplishments. Then "life" happened and I chose to focus my passion in other areas.

I decided to start back up lifting again about 2 years ago (at 32 years old). Muscle memory is a beautiful thing. I managed to get past what would normally be newbie gains in about 6 months. When I started back up I weighed 200 lbs and my bf was near 16%. I recently reached about 245 lbs with bf around 19%. I'd be happier if my bf were in the low teens so that's next on my list of goals (currently in progress).

However, my age is becoming an issue. My joints and tendons are constantly giving me trouble. In May of last year I blew out my right rotator cuff bench pressing and it took about 8-9 months before it was healed. A couple weeks ago I managed to injure my left shoulder -- extremely frustrating. I have tendinitis in my right elbow and my left knee.

My right hip feels like it is badly bruised when I squat. I managed to pull something in my right calf during seated calf raises and it is not healing very quickly. Luckily I have managed to avoid tearing muscles but my body is complaining rather loudly about lifting weights again. I'm getting to the point where I can't give it 100% on almost every movement because of some kind of injury.

I know there are guys like Dave Tate who can tear several muscles and just wrap them tightly and move on. I'm not Dave Tate. I feel like I'm just beating my body up just to keep the muscle I've gained (rather than actually gain). I know there's a turning point somewhere along the way. 34 years old seems a bit early to me but I can't continue if things don't change. It simply isn't worth it to me.

I know my test levels are getting lower because I'm experiencing the classic symptoms. I'm using Alpha Male and that seems to help but I know it is limited. Roids aren't an option for me. I'm 100% pro choice and have nothing against the guys that choose to go that route. They just aren't for me.

I'm curious what guys my age are going through. What kinds of changes did you notice during your transition from your 20's to your 30's (and beyond)? What did you do to respond to these changes?

The other point to this thread is to hopefully motivate you guys in your twenties to kick it into high gear if you aren't there already. The clock is ticking...


In my opinion you need to lift smarter when you get older. What doe you think about deloading once in a while? =)


The only time I deload is when I simply can't go to the gym (i.e. when I'm deathly sick).

Deloading is an option though. It might be time...


and here I thought this might be a thread about Pantera...the best band to listen to while training


I am 32 also and I swear by Flameout. I can't tell you how suprised i was how it took care of so many injuries of inflamation i was always getting in the joints/ tendons etc.

It never ceases to amaze me, how much diet plays into this.. you know since fish oil is really a food rather then a supplement.

Get involved. It is the only supplement I take nonstop. And if I'm feeling a little achy i double up the dose for a few days and all good.


Flameout (or fish oil in general) is good stuff according to the what science is telling us, but it is not going to help prevent blown rotators, torn muscles etc. It would seem some program design changes are in order.

If I had to make a guess the OP's program is based on heavy, low rep work most or all of the time. Is that the case?


Do you do any prehab work?

Here is a thread that lists some good prehab exercises that you might find useful


Epsom salt baths are good, up your good fats, get massages and good PWO nutrition and lots of good sleep


What you describe is 'status quo' for us over in the "Over 35" forum:


You're close enough :wink:

I haven't benched in well over a year because of rotator cuff issues which I'm working through. I just stopped benching and started using db's and more recently HS machines, particularly the flat bench. My strength is up, growing in size, and shoulder is holding (also do a lot of mobility work and had a few ART sessions).

You have to work smart, rest smart, and listen to your body.

My knees always ached when I was running. I stopped running and found other 'cardo'. I blew out my L5/S1 disc squatting and started over from BW, to BW with DB's (single and two legged) now back with PR's. Worked through shoulder pain.

You don't necessarily have to work lighter, just smarter for your body. That means listening to your body and being brutally honest. If it means doing another movement with lighter weight temporarily until you work back up, then do it.

After the back blowout, my doc told me I'd never squat again. I never went back and found someone who could work me through-- but it takes time.

I did (do) a lot of things I never used to that take time (mobility, lots of warmup, foam roll, tennis balls, stretch,etc. But it's a fact of life now and I'm stronger and smarter for it.

"T-Levels": Can't help you there, man. As you get older TRT/HRT is an option (heavily discussed in O-35), but if that's not your gig, then it's not your gig. Supplement, eat right, and hope for the best I guess-- there are a lot of folks on this board who have gone through it so they'd know best from experience.

I understand where you're coming from for sure. Frustrating, but not impossible to overcome. Just makes us older guys focus more on the simple and important stuff :wink:


Yeah I am 33 and any mis-fire on a lift twitches something on my frame. Knees and shoulders get mildly injured all the time wrist injuries are debilitating though. OG just mention some prehab work--I totally agree. Cressey's Magnificent Mobility helped me a lot, the DVD is kinda steep but he has a e-book version of it for $15.


If you are experiencing so much joint pain and tearing muscles, have you considered that your form may be off? Sometimes having a friend or personal trainer check out your form for a couple of workouts can help you target issues you aren't even aware of.

Or maybe you are using better form now, but did some damage to your body due to bad form back when you lifted at 18-24?

I say this because I'm 43 and haven't experienced anything like what you describe. I do get sore/fatigued, but am still able to workout with intensity 5x week.


I'm 39 and started back about 14 months ago. I was off the weights a long time but like you the gains came quicker then I thought they would. But I just partially tore my pec doing flat bench flys...I guess it's about 3 weeks ago now. I started doing real light ROM stuff 2 weeks ago. This week I've managed to train shoulders much heavier then I expected...close to preinjury weight...Did back real hard but vertical pulls cause some pain through left bicep and shoulder...hammered legs today...and I'm going to do real light chest and as heavy as I can arms tomorrow. Truth is, despite being black n blue for 2 weeks the pain has been very minimal...non existent when I'm not lifting.

I have some problems I just have to work around. My left elbow is pretty shot, barbell pressing movements kill it but the Hammer Strength stuff causes no pain. I'm a pussy for not squatting but it takes me like 10 minutes to loosen up shoulders...and after 15 years my stroke wasn't easy to find.

I made the same mistake in not deloading. I'm doing bb type of stuff but I'm going to do a light week every fifth week.

You caught my eye with the thread title...More of a Down CoC guy then Pantera though...Temptations Wings and Lifer on the way to the gym this morning. I don't let the age thing limit my intensity in the gym...but there an art to doing this and getting the most bang for you're buck and not getting injured. I'm reading as much as I can and learning...good luck.


This all sounds familiar :).

I'm 43 so I listen to my body more and try to be smart about training, nutrition, pre-hab, mobility, blah, blah.

For me, there is no reason that I can't do heavy singles, triples (except flat bench...don't do it anymore) but I'm am super strict with form.


I will be 46 this summer. SteelyD's post is perfect.....

For every issue he has a solution in the works. May not be the first thing a guy tries, but you find it eventually.
Stubborn is one thing-stupid is another.(I have been both at some point or another). When I was thirty I was a 'Butcher' at 46 I'm shooting for 'Surgeon'.

Extra warm-up made a big difference for me.......I laugh and tell people "one minute of general warm-up for each year of age.


i think everyone hits that point sooner or later, you should be thankful you were able to go that long!

hell, i'm not quite 22 yet and i've had to spend a shit tonne of time on flexability mobility activation all that shit for the past year or two already and i wont every be able to fully stop, unless i want to stop lifting and feel like shit all the time....but if you give it the attention, you really do find ways to work around injuries (while Hopefully simultaneously working to fix the actual problems)

i think if they're in it long enough, eventually just about everyone finds out they cant just beat on their body forever without warmups or anything till no end, -sad when you're pre/rehab takes as long as your weights almost


dude, you dont have to lift heavy- just intense and smart

sorry t-family but heavy w8 doesnt always mean heavy body


now im just a young kid so i dont know how an old timer's body works :wink:. just kiddin hehe. but maybe instead of working like lets say 4 or five days a week every week, maybe if you set up a plan for like one week working out 2-3 days a week and not benching that week, then the next week, hit a light er bench, and the same goes for the squat, also do shoudler rehab. im 16, and i do it cuz of football


1) Fish oil, glutamine, BCAA's, all that happy crappy. Get smart about your supplementation if you haven't already.

2)HS machines, dumbbells and wider exercise selection. You've obviously paid your dues. There's no reason to hurt yourself because you think you HAVE to bench heavy, you HAVE to squat heavy, you HAVE to deadlift heavy etc.

Some people have the joints to do this all their lives, but most will have to readjust their training sooner or later. Like I already said to heavythrower, you can be that creepy older guy who chains more plates to the machines :slight_smile:

3) Take some time off.

4) Foam roll the shit out of yourself, do some extensive prehab, buy some elbow & knee sleeves etc. Get a shoulder horn and strengthen those cuffs.


Omega 3 is especially good against inflamation. Fish oil should be a standard.


x2 and I am 10 years younger. There is a little more planning going on now than there was 10 years ago. Also, some days I can tell myself - "tomorrow will be better." Some days I am just going to miss. Getting older has helped me step back and realize it is not the end of the world. If it was a habit then I would be a pussy - when it is big enough to make me step back then it is something I should really be paying attention to.


I love that song.