T Nation

Maybe You Can Teach An Old Dog New Tricks


I spent 30 years focused on the big three with perhaps power cleans thrown in for variety and along the way accumulated my personal set of overuse injuries, torn labrum in both shoulders, lower back that would spasm at the hint of heavy squats etc. Eventually, I moved from the power cage to the corporate fitness center and eventually to not working out at all.

I'm back in the gym and doing things differently this time. Taking a cue from something Dan John wrote, focusing on my weak points ala Westside, and taking the 25 reps thing from Waterbury, I've put together the following program and it's working damned well for me.

M - 2 sets of 12
W - 5 sets of 5
F - 8 sets of 3

Front squats
Overhead presses
Close-grip bench press superset with alternating pullups/chinups
Triceps pushdowns superset with facepulls

Front squats to protect my lower back and to work my abs harder. The other work to focus on my triceps which have always been a weakness, and the face pulls to balance out the shoulders/rhomboids.

In 3 months, I've added 100lbs to my front squat and doubled the number of pullups I can do and it's exciting to be in the gym again. The 1/2" on my arms is pretty cool as well. I feel like I should be changing things up, but things still feel fresh, so I think I'll continue like this for a while longer.

On the mobility front, since I work from home, I get up about every hour or so and lie face down on the ground and let my hip flexors relax, and I finally found a way to stretch my lower back in the L5/S1 region, by getting down like I'm praying to Mecca.



That sounds like its working great for you. You should log your work here so we can all follow along and see how things go.


Don't ever change your workout if its still working, milk it dry! Your basic plan looks sound although personally I'd drop the 2 x 12 reps bit, and I think front squats are the best ab workout you can do. 100lbs on your front squat is pretty good going.

Keep up the good work.


@jjackkrash, good idea. I'll post Monday's workout at the bottom of this post.

@FarmerBrett, I don't believe that I've ever done sets of more than 12 reps and that was 25 years ago. The 2x12 is actually quite difficult and I've been thinking about bumping them up to sets of 15. It's a rep range that I've never worked and for now, I see some value in it.


Front Squats - 45x5, 95x5, 135x12x2 The weight was just about right. I'm still working on getting my form perfect rep to rep.

Overhead Press - 45x5, 65x5, 95x6/6, 95x6/1 My shoulders got the bulk of the work this time.

Hyper/GHR - BWx12x2 The gym has a hyper bench where the padded part comes down to mid-thigh and there is a toe plate for the feet, so I come up to parallel and then start pulling with my hamstrings. It's not the real thing, but I get a little hamstring work.

Close-grip Bench Press - 45x5, 95x12x2 I'm not sure on this exercise whether to try and lay back my arms during the eccentric like a skull crusher, but still to the sternum, or straight up and down like a powerlifting style bench press. I usually do the latter because I can lift more that way and it bothers my elbows less.

Pullups - 6/1/1, Chinups 6/1 Bodyweight.

Triceps pushdowns/Facepulls 30x12, 35x12 I'm not real sure on the benefit of these. I think that the face pulls are useful in working the rear delts, rhomboids, and mid back, but it's hard to go heavy and I'm just not sure of their value. I've been thinking about putting in hang cleans instead.

Max on the main lifts is roughly:
FS - 225
OHP - 115
CGBP - 205


Welcome. Sounds like you're trying to be really smart this time around. Admirable.

Where in Colorado are you?


What sort of conditioning do you do?


@kpsnap - Yes, I'm certainly trying to be smarter about things now. Why couldn't I be smart when I was 18? Answer me that one.

@Joe, I'm not sure that I do much conditioning per se. I ride my exercise bike 4-6 times a week right after I get up for at least 30 minutes, sometimes for 60. I try and keep my heartrate above 130. I've been meaning to throw an eye bolt in that old tire and start dragging it up and down the highway out front, buy a tire for flipping, get in more sledgehammer work, and dust off the weighted vest. However, for now it's just the bike.


Old so soon. Smart so late.





Too Late! do 5/3/1 or we'll kill and eat you!


That is impressive.


Well, that old bugaboo work got in the way again and I couldn't get to the gym on Wed or Thu, so I substituted Wednesday's workout for today's.

FS - 45x5, 135x5, 185x5 (tweaked my lower back on this one), 185x5, 135x5x3 - instead of trying to finish the sets at 185, I dropped back to a more comfortable weight and focused on proper form. Far too late, I've learned that it's better to blow off a workout than to get injured.

OHP - 45x5, 115x5x5
Hyper/GHR - bw+25lb

CGBP - 45x5, 135x5x5
PU/CU 5/5/5/4

At that point, I called it a day and we will see what Monday brings.