T Nation

Now I'm Old


Long time no post...

I stopped training in martial arts about two years ago when I got my new job and moved to a new part of the country. I got into weightlifting and bodybuilding instead. I reckoned my new job was too stressful and time consuming to keep up my training.

Two years down the line and it turns out I'm old. Well only 25, but I certainly feel old. I have been sidelined with a chronically sprained sacroiliac joint and a suspected problem with a disc in my lower back. According to my chiropractor (and I'm not saying I agree with this) weightlifting was a stupid hobby for someone with a spine as long as mine. I have become stupidly inflexible and have done untold damage to my knees, hips and back. I have been banned from the gym and certainly any heavy lifting for the forseeable future while we sort this out.

I have been told though that I need to stay active, so I reckon it's time to go back to martial arts, my first love so to speak. I am after some advice and recommendations from people training MA either with long term injuries or as a lifelong pursuit (as opposed to trying to turn pro/win olympics/compete at the ADCC etc.). I still have the same goals I had when I used to train- be fit and strong, develop confidence and some self defence skills, have the opportunity to stay competitive at some level.

I'd be interested in any thoughts you guys might have, I remember from when I used to post here a lot there are some really good people here with some great insights, many of whom I reckon are in this position. Some specific questions would be whether stand up or grappling are more likely to be a problem for my back? What sort of strength and conditioning work is appropriate for rehabbing and staying strong for life, rather than in the short term? On the chiro's recommendation I picked up a copy of Yoga for Men and Pilates for Men (she clearly thought the "for Men" titles would keep me happy), but haven't started to read them yet. Is there any value in this sort of stuff? I've dug out my old Ross Enemait book that I used to use when I was big into BJJ but I reckon that bodyweight training could mess you up just as quickly as weightlifting.

Thanks in advance for any advice.


Hi there, Roundhead. The first thing I'd do is get a second opinion from a doctor who specializes in dealing with athletes, preferably one who is also an athlete. Not knocking your current doc, but a lot of docs who aren't active don't get it.

Yoga will be awesome for keeping your back healthy. I've never done pilates, but my understanding is that it's main goal is to strengthen one's core, so it couldn't hurt.

I would think standup would be better for your back, as takedowns etc, are where lots of back injuries happen.

25 is not old (I'm 45), but your testosterone levels may be starting to drop slightly at this age, you will have to do more rehabby-prehabby stuff to stay in this for the long haul.

Ice what hurts.


This is from the section for REALLY old guys. I mean over 35, how are they not all dead? Anyway, I found some of this stuff to be really helpful, hopefully you might as well.



I had a bad back, once i started getting more and more stronger on deadlift, squats and abs i never had anymore problems.

I had bad discs at l4-l5 and l5-s1.


Yep l4-l5 are where my problems are at too. Although at the moment it's the pain in my hip that's killing me.

Thanks for the feedback so far, some really helpful stuff. I know 25 is not really old, but it is the first time I have started thinking about training in terms of health and longevity, which is quite a paradigm shift!


his testosterone levels are dropping slightly at only 25??? ummm, are you kidding me or what. 25 and his test levels are dropping. that is beyond rediculous. your test levels (not counting extreme cases) do not drop at that young age. even if he was an extreme case, there are so many many many supplements on the market today proven to raise test levels, lower estrogen levels its almost funny.

and age has nothing, i repeat nothing to do what chronilogical number you are. your age is solely based on your mind set. if you believe your old or young. I firmly believe age 95% psychological and is one huge placebo effect. sure, some might disagree with me. and thats cool. but don't tell a dude whos only 6 years out of being a teenager, his test levels are dropping. i just laughed when i read that.


good link!


i've have a lot of issues with my back as well, and found that running on hard pavement and lifting are the two worst activites for me to do. BJJ actually helped me a lot, i think do to loosening up my hips.

i'm also a freak about total body stretching, and do so everyday for about 15-20 minutes, and have done so for about 20 years, i guess.

Ross's stuff is great as well....i think he might have some new DVD stuff out now, too.


Maybe weightlifting is something you need to lay off, but your chiro basing that on you having a long spine seems a bit off to me. All good weightlifters have long spines and short femurs. It gives the best leverages. I'd get a second opinion both about the injury and the prospects of continued lifting.
Either way you should most likely strength train in some form or manner. Very few conditions are so severe that they are beyond the scope of rehab. Do check with some sort of professional first though.


there is substantial research that says test levels start dropping at 25.


substantial evidence??? please show me some of this substantial evidence. now im talking about men that routineley workout and weightlift, not guys who sit on the couch and do no exercise. last night, i just watched Bernard Hopkis win the light heavyweight title. he is the oldest man in history to win a legitimate world championship. hes 46. is his testosterone levels declining?? if they were, he wouldn't be able to compete at that high a level. and before someone says hes the exception. id say no, hes the rule, if you workout and take care of yourself.

You are aware, its easier to build muscle when men are in their 30s and 40s than 20s. if you look at all the top level bodybuilders, most are mid to late 30s. not all of course, but alot are. like i said, aging is a placebo effect. if you beleive something strong enough, your body will make it happen.


Cheers for the replies. Captaincalvert I definitely won't stop strength training, just need to find something appropriate for me that'll allow me to get as fit and strong as I can for the long haul. I've started reading those two "for Men" books I mentioned and I reckon there's some pretty good stuff in there that when blended with decent MA training could be the business.

cycobushmaster you mentioned that road running and lifting are the worst things for your back- what do you do for your conditioning? Never Gymless? My fitness manual when I was into BJJ was Infinite Intensity. Been re-reading it, some great stuff in there.


Yep, I'm sticking with what I said. "may be starting to drop slightly". I hardly stood on the rooftop & shouted that he had no test left. To answer your question, I'm basing it on a few things. 1) a 27 year old friend of mine, a guy, said his started dropping a little bit around that time & recovery has been a bit more of an issue. So that's purely anecdotal, but he's a guy I respect, so I listen when he talks. His experience corroborated what I'd heard before. Again, anecdotal.
2) I was having my own hormone levels tested last week, including testosterone, & asked the doctor a few general questions about it (as I've always suspected mine is a bit high for a female). She mentioned a small dip in males at about that age.

Cycobushmaster's point about running on pavement is spot on. I've stopped running on pavement for the same reason. Also, Cyco's advice > mine on BJJ, as he's actually found it helped.


His test levels have ABSOLUTELY declined from when he was 18 or 19. There's no doubt about that. Keeping in shape, and even more so, fighting shape, at 46 is a Sisyphean task, and that's due mostly to test levels dropping.

I am sure his recovery is affected by it, and even BHop, who's one of the most self-assured, boisterous fighters I've ever seen, admits openly that he's lost a step. He doesn't win fights in the same way anymore- he's much more offensive now than he used to be, because he has to be.

And nearly all of them are on massive amounts of steroids, which effectively counteract the normal dropping of testosterone.

I admit that it's easier for me to build muscle now at 27 than it was at 18- but that's more because my metabolism dropped and my job changed, meaning that for once, I can put on weight where before, it was nearly impossible.

I don't believe it's because my test levels are the same as when I was 18 though. I can nearly guarantee they're probably not, although they're also probably not far off either because I'm not that old.


honestly, no insult intended, but you are a female commenting on male hormones, which I find humorous. there have been many articles writtin about the fact that the "male menapause" is a myth and doesn't exist. yes, your friend may have lower test levels. just like some people get hit by lightning, does that make it a probable outcome for most men. of course not. i can guarantee, any man that works out, takes the necessary supplements will not experience any loss in test levels.

You are aware, there has never ever been any studies to prove a mans test levels decline. now, im talking on healthy active, weight training men. if your friend does have low test levels, there are tons of very good test increasing supplements that have been proven to work. men are not women, we do not suffer from any sort of menapause. that myth has been shattered.


Well, I think you know what I'm going to say, because I tend to believe that boxing is the answer to nearly all of life's problems.

I would stay away from grappling. I can see that being rough on your back, especially if dealing with takedowns and what not.

What I would say is that core strength is going to be really important for you. Work those situps, abs, GHR, and deadlifts if you can. I tend to not really believe any doctor that tells you lifting is bad for you, so I second Parker's advice of getting a second opinion.

What I can say is that boxing, especially if you're not sparring, is not a joint killer, and will get you in excellent shape. I would see exactly what bodyweight exercises you could do, and work up from there as well.

Foam roll.

Maybe consider picking up a martial art that's less brutal, also... when I did TMA's I did Goju-ryu, and I enjoyed it. You just gotta find a good teacher.

Maybe Tai Chi? Very cool thing to learn.

You're going to have to find out what works best for you, right down to what things hurt and what things don't.


You're a pretty big cocksucker huh?

Everyone here has been saying what they know, and qualifying it by saying it's their opinion.

If you want to do this shit, do it on another thread- don't fuck up roundhead's thread with this kind of bullshit. Kid's asking for help. If you don't have any, move the fuck along.


They are because they spent their time from 18 to mid 30 building all that mass


Much better than i could put it....


well, i can still run on the treadmill, i just can't run on pavement without paying for it for about a week. i do a lot of bodyweight circuits, treadmill, and Bas Rutten Cd's (on the sage advice of Miss P and others here). BJJ is great for me, but i have a lot of hip tightness from work (wearing a gun belt for 9+hours), so i think that's why it's been so great for me.