T Nation

Over 35...and 40...and 45....


As gravity creeps in and sedentary lifestyle won for a bit, it is so very very hard to get back into it. I can't do shit I did years ago. I went full out with dynamic lifts and hurt my shoulder and wrist. Starting back again, I am trying to get back to a decent level of work capacity. No I am not going to jump right into a 10*10 or even 8*8..YET.

Sucks getting gassed at work loads that used to be meh.
I want to do more volume work, but have to be sensible about adding volume. Any others near or at the half century mark that have any advice?


You have way more experience, so I hesitate to answer JP.

Are you just talking about being in shape/ not fat? Or are you trying to get back to competing in PLing / or OLY where the compound lifts are mandatory?


^Yup. Gotta know what your goals/aspirations are.


Here’s my advice…don’t stop.


I have found TRT quite helpful.


[quote]Powerpuff wrote:
You have way more experience, so I hesitate to answer JP.

Are you just talking about being in shape/ not fat? Or are you trying to get back to competing in PLing / or OLY where the compound lifts are mandatory?


This is everything. Can’t give advice until we know that other than to say do something.


The only thing I can offer is my personal experience which may have some relevance. I’m 55 and just started lifting again at the end of last summer after what was or the most part a 15 year hiatus. When I lifted I worked out regularly and with no coaching I got up to 2.3 times bodyweight deadlift with no belt. So I was no freakin strongman but I felt pretty good for a desk jockey. And I had plenty of mass for my age. Then I started my own business and completely fell off the wagon. I probably lifted about 30 times total over the last decade and a half.

When I did try to get going again I would find that I maxed out a work set just about what had been my warmup weight back in the day. Then my back started hurting and I got a diagnosis of Degenerative Disc Disease about 10 years ago, so any thoughts I had about lifting again were dashed because I loved deadlifting and squatting heavy more than anything, the two things I was told not to do.

So for a variety of reasons I finally broke the streak and started working out 7 months ago. What I found was that after 6 weeks of working out in my basement, principally dumbbells and bodyweight, I felt and looked like a different person. I can’t say that I packed on a lot of mass, but if you used to work out, don’t worry about the age thing. A little bit of work goes a long way. Then when I saw the progress, it made everything since then easy. I realized the reason I never lifted during that long layoff was that once I lost my strength and mass after 40, I believed deep down that I could never get it back. I realize now how demoralizing and wrong that was.

Right now, I’m taking a very different approach to lifting. The golden rule is keep safe, avoid injuries, and keep going. I find that focusing on form, limiting ROM, stopping my sets at least one rep shy of failure, all the stuff that back when I was younger I thought was wimpy, I follow religiously and still see great results. So for example, to save my shoulders I don’t bench anymore, I do dumbbell floor presses with a neutral grip, all very shoulder friendly. I’m up to 5x5 with 70 lbs in each hand. I feel and look stronger. And I can’t wait to work out.

I thought my biggest issue would be working my legs while avoiding the heavy weights, and I was right. But there are some really great articles on this sight about unilateral leg exercises and how to work your quads while protecting your knees. There’s plenty to work with. I’m no Tom Platz, but I’m not self-conscious about heading to the beach.

In terms of adding volume, there are tons of articles on this site and around that can help. Lately, I’m working off of some stuff I read from Pavel Tsatsouline suggesting working a weight that you could do 7-8 reps and keep the sets at 5 reps, then do lots of those sets. I do 5-6, he says you can go up to 20. Point being that you get plenty of benefit without working to failure. It’s easier on our aging bods. (See Chris Shugart’s interviews with Tsatsouline, The Evil Russian Speaks, parts 1 and2).

And now I’m just getting into kettlebells. These seem like a great way to keep intensity high without subjecting our backs and knees to stacks of plates.

Bottom line, great satisfaction awaits if you can get yourself back into it. I feel better at 55 than I did at 45.


^ Knocked it out of the park with your first post. Really nice.


Thanks for the kind words.


I’m guessing JP was drunk posting, and doesn’t remember starting this thread. :wink:

I’ve told this story recently, but I’ll tell it again here because it has effected how I think about longevity and lifting. JP, I know you use machines because you once gave me some advice about training my quads in the BBing forum.

I met Kelly Bautista last year and got to talk to him about his training. He’s 38 as I recall, and a 2 time NPC USA National BBing Lightweight Champ.

He doesn’t train with a BB anymore. He’s interested in avoiding injury, avoiding disc compression, and staying healthy over time. It’s nearly all machines, and some DBs. And he keeps his rep ranges mostly up in the 20’s. NEVER does heavy singles or triples like he did when he was younger.

Just something to think about if your goals are mainly health or body composition.

I know a lot of people here are in love with BB training and wouldn’t want to consider NOT doing the big lifts. They can be super challenging and a lot of fun. Just some food for thought here.


[quote]Powerpuff wrote:
I know a lot of people here are in love with BB training and wouldn’t want to consider NOT doing the big lifts. [/quote]
I gotta admit that this is me.

But I have so much respect for people who recognize when their body has reached its limits and find alternate ways to stay healthy and fit.


Just made it back here. Work gets in the way of forum browsing. Goals are simply to get in better shape, burn off the fat, and keep injury free. Thibs gave me the idea of snatch grip high pull as a staple, and it works. Works real well. Too well. The olympic lifts really have an impact. Thing is that I need to set limits. Lifts increase quick when learning them. Muscles respond pretty fast too. Joints? Not as much.

Best conditioning in my past experience comes to me from frequency and volume. Just have to be smart about adding frequency, volume and load.
Work capacity is primary focus for now. The loads I can use are still decent, just can’t do nearly as much work without getting lightheaded and fatigued quick.

I am trying to find what routine I used about 12-15 years ago to increase work capacity and drop weight. It was based on rotating between three exercises with as little rest as possible. Bench, Row, Squat… alternate day overhead press, Narrow pulldown, Deadlift. two days on, one off. Sets of 5. 5 as a preference, just don’t like sets of 10-20. started at ten circuits if I remember, up to 20.

Load wasn’t near limit, but I did get better at the lifts with so much practice. I did for a stretch do one “day” am, the other at night. Ended day with bodyweight squats and went up to 250 if I remember. that was day off, day on. Then got derailed.

Guess I am just trying to ease into increasing work to fight the sedentary lifestyle and stay uninjured. I remember reading Chad Waterbury suggesting starting well below limit work capacity adding per session. I prob should include pushups, pulldowns, …can’t do enough pullups (perhaps another goal), and either a bodyweight squat again or single leg varieties.

Guess I am looking for circuit suggestions or comments and progression advice.


My favourite workout pattern is also a circuit of squat-push-pull. Only I don’t use light weights and many rounds. I guess what I do might be better described as tri-setting. Heavy weights, 3 rounds. Rest after each set only long enough to get my breath back and be happy that I can do the next set with good form. This format is quite dense and intense. It has a slight conditioning element to it: it increases work capacity.

The weight used and the intensity encourage muscles to grow, and the metabolism follows them by hiking up. With no extra fat-loss work I’ve recently lost (translates from UK measures) 8lb total weight and gone from around 30% body fat to low 20% with more on the table to play for.

A lot of the fat loss has been diet: cut way down on anything involving the grasses – so wheat, maize, rye, barley (sigh. Beer.) etc. and pump up the protein. Aside from my alcohol fetish I don’t really go for sugary carbs or I’d cut those as well.

Oh, and sedentary lifestyle: I make a point of walking outdoors several miles every single day at an easy but brisk pace. I try to stand as much as possible: sitting is the new smoking, mate.


I’ll be honest, I hope I never walk into a gym when the center piece of my programing isn’t Squat, deadlift and bench. I think I’d quit and go do something else.