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My 50 Y/O Log: Splits, Reps, Sets, Theories and Thoughts, Reasons, Analysis

Hi, This is the start of my new training log.

I just turned 50 last month, and I returned to the gym in earnest this past summer after an extended break to heal from a minor injury, so getting back into it has been fun and exciting as well as a royal pain in the arse.

A little about me:

  • I’m an engineer and systems analyst by training and trade, science heavy and a statistical nerd. Sorry in advance.
  • I swam as a kid up through college and was pretty good, always ripped, always super-cardio capable, and super skinny, 155 lbs at <10%bf at 19. Hard gainer was a fact, a consequence of both genetics and my chosen sport.
  • 11 years US Army, running 5 miles 4x/week on pavement didn’t do my knees any good, but I’m not as bad as some. Always fit, always maxed it, remained <12%bf at a high of 195 lbs.
  • Started serious weight training as a newb at 25 during my 1 year Korea tour, went from 155 to 185 and around 12%, continued to train to reach my 195@<12% best shape of my life at 29 y/o, which I continued until about 2000 when I got out, started a family, started civilian life, and started getting out of shape.
  • At 36 went back to college, took a weightlifting class just to get back into the gym after a 6 year break. went from 215 at about 27% to 205 at about 17% over 18 months, almost like newb gains again. Coach/trainer/instructor measured with pincers.
  • At 42 suffered minor back pull and near simultaneous ab strain. No real damage, but as I was approaching burnout already, that was all I needed to “take a break” that basically lasted 7 1/2 years. Went back to the gym occasionally since then, never really serious, consistent, or dedicated.
  • At 49 was 242 @ 34%bf. Saw my own picture and decided I needed a change. New Year’s resolution didn’t go well. Luckily I got the flu, lasted 6 weeks, couldn’t eat much, lost 15 lbs.
  • May 2019 started walking after work. June started walking early instead, made time for the gym after work. Now up to a 5 miler at a 14:30 pace. Was doing very beginner gym time, 45-60 minutes, medium/light weights, 10-15 reps, 3-4 sets, whole body 3x/week.
  • October 2019. Now. Started my “Phase 3” training. 217 lbs at 25%bf. This is the start of my log.
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Some of my training split is based on experience, some on science, maybe bro science if I’m honest, some on “professional recommendation” in articles and the “YouTube Fitness Experts.” Anyway, I started this last week after “getting back in shape” for the last few months and it’s kicking my arse, and letting me know I’m now over 50.

Legend:

  • RP is “Rest-Pause,” but I guess it’s not strict. It’s the last set, last two sets at most, of the total exercise group. RP sets are my heaviest sets at 3-4 reps and 3-4 sets. I do no more than 4 reps per set, and if I can do all 4x4 I up the weight next time to target 3x3 as a new base. After warm-up I do these first. 90-120 seconds rest.
  • GVT is “German Volume Training,” or 10x10. The goal is to start feeling it around set 5 or 6, and starting at set 8 or 9 have to RP the last few reps to get 10. 10th set is as many as I can do with no more than 3 RP to finish. If I get to 10 I bump the weight next time. That’s how I judge my progression.I do these next to grind the volume out. Pace is 1-1-2-0 90% ROM, -5% at the top and bottom to get constant time under tension. The struggle comes from fatigue not total weight. Strict 30 seconds rest on a timer.
  • Met is “Metabolic set,” which in my translation means higher reps to lactic burn and beyond. I do these last with 20-30 seconds rest.
  • RPE is “Rating of Perceived Effort,” and in my translation it’s how many reps I have left in the tank, so an RPE 8 would mean to me I have 12 reps in me if I were doing a set of 10 when I stopped, or 27 if I stopped at 25. RPE 8 works for me most of the time, except for RP. “Stimulate not annihilate.”

I intermittent fast because it fits my schedule and I know I can limit my total calorie count easier, 2pm to 8pm. Once I start eating it’s hard to stop and I can graze like a cow so I have to artificially limit it this way. I’m on 2400-2700 cals a day on training days and 3000-3500 on non-training days to recover. I’m still on the cutting phase, so I know those are low. I’m roughly 40% pro, 30% carb and 30% fat. I eat food, no supps. Sandwiches, soups, salads, roasts, and Mexican food are my thing. I also eat a LOT of low fat cottage cheese because I like it.

Current: 217@25% (Navy tape method: 71.5" tall, neck 17.5", waist 41.0")
Goal 1: 200@18% (whatever that measures to).

I use the Navy tape method because it’s free and easy, and it’s a number to measure against despite its lack of accuracy or precision.

My theoretical is a 6-day Push/Pull/Push/Pull/Legs/Arms. I say “theoretical” because in these 1st 2 weeks life happens and I’ve only made half the days, and no leg days at all. We all have our excuses but I’m determined to get in more, so despite missing yesterday due to the GI’s I still want to hit the remaining 4 days this week.

My quads are my best and well out in front of the rest of me. Hams are a little behind them so when I do legs I focus on them more than quads, and glutes are the worst of my lower so they get the most work out of the limited leg work I do.

My arms are easily my worst feature so they get the most focus, thus their own day in addition to the push/pull. Arm day is also 75-80% occlusion training since I lift heavier things during the regular week and don’t want to overdo it. LOL

Chest and back are just “normal” and it doesn’t look like I lift, so they get the majority of the work to fix that. I love lifting. I want to look like I love lifting.

I realize this is a ton of volume, but I’m able to get this done in about 90 minutes. It’s important to me to hit all the rep ranges with intensity and not do more empty sets than necessary. This cycle is very different from my lightweight easy “get-back-into-shape” routine I did since June. After New Years it’ll change again and go heavier, more RP and lower volume, and more calories to go with. Spring will be more GVT-focus and summer will be right back to something like this again. Rinse, repeat.

Forgot to add to the legend “Occ” for occlusion training (blood flow restriction bands) at about 35-40% 1RM for 3x30.

Push days:
BB Flat Bench (RP)
1x12
1x8
3x3-4x4

Overhead Smith Press (RP)
1x12
1x8
3x3-4x4

Superset: Incline DB Bench/Urlachers (GVT)
2x10x10

Decline DB Bench (GVT)
10x10

Cable Crossover Flyes (Met)
3x15

Superset: Lateral Raises/Face Pulls (Met)
2x3x15

Superset: Tricep pulldowns/extensions (Met)
2x3x15

Pull days:
Deadlift (RP)
1x12
1x8
3x3-4x4

Seated Row (RP)
1x12
1x8
3x3-4x4

Superset: Narrow/Wide Pulldowns (GVT)
2x10x10

DB Pullovers (GVT)
10x10

Superset: Single Arm Rows/Face Pulls (Met)
3x3x15

Incline Curls w/Raise (Met)
3x15

Preacher Curls (Met)
3x15

Reverse Preacher Curls (Met)
3x15

Leg day:
Low Back Squats (RP)
1x12
1x8
3x3-4x4

Stiff Legged Deadlift (GVT)
10x10

Hamstring Curls (GVT)
10x10

BB Hip Raises (GVT)
10x10

Seated Calf Raises (Met)
3x15

DB Lunges (Met)
3x15

Ham/Glute Ball Curls (Met)
3x15

Cable Hamstring Kickback (Met)
3x15

Arm day:
Superset: Barbell Curls/Skull Cruushers (Occ)
2x3x30

Superset: DB Incline Curls/Overhead Extensions (Occ)
2x3x30

Superset: Cable Curls/Cable Pressdowns (Occ)
2x3x30

Superset: Reverse Preacher Curls/Wrist Curls (Occ)
2x3x30

Still feeling the GIs, and weak/low-energy from them but I managed to pull off a few sets.

BB Flat Bench (RP)
3x4, 2+1+1 @ 155, time to move up

Overhead Smith Press (GVT)
7x10, 9+1, 8+2, 7+3 @ +30 (mostly balanced smith), time to move up

Superset: Incline DB Bench/Urlachers (GVT)
5x10, 8+2, 7+1 @ 2x25 lbs
4x10, 8+2, 7+3, 6 @ 2x10 lbs

After this I couldn’t move my arms. The Urlachers really target the medial delts and I was on fire without even finishing. After getting off work late and feeling crappy (literally) it was all I could do.

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I’m evidently, and pretty obviously, neurotype 2a.

Lol, yeah, totally.

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Hey Virgo Welcome to the log section.
I’m in for this journey.

Looks like some brutal workouts. Be careful R/P work can be very taxing. But you seem to know what your body can handle.

If you haven’t take a look around on others logs, plenty of good talk going on in here, this is a great place to ask peeps for advise or give advise.

Good luck reaching your goals.

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Thanks mortdk,
Yes these routines are for hard workers, and I do my best to be accountable for my own successes. My RPs feels like a good way to start, and doing so few reps and sets limits how exhausting they are. Specifically, I’m not that big and not that strong, so there’s only so much intensity I can bring. The “muscle memory” of my cardio, if you will, is still there, and that support system can easily compensate for the work my physique is doing. If I were closer to my genetic potential and able to lift twice the weight I don’t think I could pull it off. RP is a very different animal with a 300lbs+ bench press versus a 150lbs one. It’s almost like my RPs are for activation in prep for GVT.
Oh, and sometimes I overthink, lol.

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Back at it today.
I may have identified one reason my arms lag. I save them for the end of the workout so their pre-exhaustion won’t effect the rest of the exercises. But on days like this I tend to run short of time and omit the last few, and that happens more often now than ever. So although I worked really hard, no direct arm work was done. I need to solve this problem.

Deadlift
1x12@135
1x8@225
3x3@275

Seated row
1x12@85
1x10@100
1x8@120
1x6@140
1x4, 1x3+1, 1x2+1@160

Pulldown wide/narrow
4x10, 1x8+1, 1x6+3 @85
5x10, 1x9+1, 1x6 @100

DB Pullover
10x10@35, extra rest sets 7-10.

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Gym traffic is a bitch sometimes. There were a couple of guys retiring on the flat bench, working their jaws with the owner.

And of course the cable crossover is always as busy as a nickel pool table on dollar beer night.

Taking some recommendations from T-Nation iron veterans I made a minor change to the routine. 10x10s are replaced by 5x10s. Weights went up accordingly.

Smith Overhead Press
4x10, 1x7+3 @+50

Superset: Incline DB Press/Urlachers
5x10@25, I was a little bit surprised at my success with this. Time for more weight.
4x10, 1x5+3+1+1 @10 Wow, I love the burn on these.

Decline DB Press
5x10@35, surprised again. More weight next time.

Upper chest cable crossovers
2x15, 1x10+2+1+1+1 @10

Superset: Face Pulls/Lateral Raise
3x15@15
2x15, 1x4+3+1+2 @10

Superset: Triceps Pressdown/Overhead Extensions
2x15, 1x12+2+1 @25
1x15, 1x12+2+1, 1x10+2+1+1+1 @25

Total time about 50 minutes. This could work.

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greetings
i am another 50-ish lifter and i will look in here once in a while to study your progress. best wishes!

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Warm-ups/Ramp-ups/Pyramids not shown.

Deadlift, because deadlifts don’t need no reason.
3x4, 1x2 @265

Missed so many leg days, and going to miss this week too, so I threw in these.
Hamstring curls
3x12, 1x8 @95

Motivated by grief, Seated row
4x4@160

Superset: Pulldowns wide/narrow
5x10@85
5x10@85
Motivated, felt strong, focused, supps working? Time to add weight.

Superset: 1 arm cable rows/face pulls
3x15@20
3x15@20
Yeah, definitely something good going on.
At least in the gym.

Incline curls
3x15@25

Preacher curls
3x15@45

Reverse preacher curls
1x15, 1x12+1, 1x10 @35

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Got busy and forgot to post yesterday. Felt like a Monday so it was only natural to do deadlifts.

Deadlift
2x4, 1x3+1, 1x2 @275
Felt really strong.

Hamstring curls
1x12, 1x8+1 @95, 2x12, 1x10+1 @80
Watched that crazy old video of Tom Platz doing leg curls. It motivated me to add a glute/ham flex to raise and hold/pause at the top of the contraction. Holly hell! That’s how I do them from now on. Had to drop the weight halfway in to get my reps.

Seated row
Tried to up the weight to 180, but no reps had good form and so didn’t count. Last week was a fluke.
3x3 @160

Superset: Pulldowns wide/narrow
3x10, 1x8 @100
2x10, 1x8+1, 1x6 @120
Started to round my shoulders forward and release the scapula early, so these weren’t as good as I would like.

Superset: 1 arm cable rows/face pulls
3x20 @25
3x20 @25
Felt strong, but I should probably do 1 more day at this weight and flex/pause at full contraction to get more out of this before form breaks down.

Incline Curls
1x9, 1x7, 1x4 @30
New weight. The downside of dumbells is that there aren’t any 27.5s on the rack. Oh well, heavy, low-rep curls are good sometimes, right?

Preacher Curls
2x15, 1x12+2+2+1 @50.
I actually did better than I thought I would. Maybe if I went in thinking I would rep these out I could have done even better. Gotta get my mind right.

Reverse Preacher Curls
3x15 @35g
35 is too light. 40 is a tad heavy. Think I’ll bump these up to 30 reps and use the occlusion bands.

So, interesting development. For the first time maybe ever my mind/muscle connection with my back is getting clearer. Not only can I feel my lats and rhombus moving, but I can flex it almost to the point of cramping. Maybe one of my problems was I used to get terrible upper back spasms that would basically cripple me for a day or more. I always adjust my effort to avoid creating a Charlie horse. But I think it terribly hindered my back development, even my whole rear chain. I need to focus on flexing these muscles more at full contraction and not be afraid.

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Doing more Neurotype study, I may be 2B after all. Low GABA and norepinephrine. Doesn’t make a huge change to my routine or diet since I’m mostly doing it the prescribed way anyway. Funny how that’s what I gravitated to without even knowing.

Bench Press
4x4 @155, unlike the other day when the bench was a parking lot, today the gym was vacant, so I felt unconfident about this, but I squeaked out all 4 of 4. Might repeat this next time if there’s no one to spot, but I’ll bump it up to 165 if there is. Long way off from my 240 PR 1RM.

Smith Overhead Press
5x10 @+50, time to bump it up.

Superset: Incline DB Press/Urlachers
5x10 @30, too easy, weird. Bump this up.
5x10 @10, Had a hard time feeling the Urlachers, no mind/muscle, no burn, weird. Time to bump it up.

Decline DB Press
2x10, 1x8, 1x7 @40, definitely felt these, good chest flex.

Upper chest cable crossovers
2x15, 1x8+2+2+1+1+1 @10

Superset: Face Pulls/Lateral Raise
1x15, 1x12+3, 1x10+2+2+1 @25
1x15, 1x7+2+2+2+2+2, 1x4+2+2+2+2+2+1 @10, that kinda sucked, in a lactic burning kinda good way. Embrace the burn, seek it, chase it, love it.

Superset: Triceps Pressdown/Overhead Extensions
1x15, 1x10 @25
1x15, 1x5+1 @25
Out of gas

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Going to skip the deadlifts because my mid-back is pretty sore, which means I’m skipping hamstring curls too. I’m beat.

Seated row
4x4 @160, long rest between felt better, decent form

Superset: Pulldowns wide/narrow
4x10, 1x5+1 @100 rounding my shoulders on #4, completely lost form on #5
2x10, 1x8+1, 2x10 @120, kinda gathered myself together and hoss’d it out!

Superset: 1 arm cable rows/face pulls
3x15 @30
3x15 @30
Probably the right weight for face pulls for now, but I can up the rows. As I build the M/M I feel like I can just push harder, awesome!

Incline Curls
1x12, 1x6+1, 1x5 @30

Preacher Curls
3x15, 1x12 @40

Reverse Preacher Curls
1x15, 1x8+2+2 @30

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