Programming for Older Lifter with Wear and Tear Issues

I’m at a point where I have to change the way I train. I’m 49 but I’m falling apart. I have a bad shoulder which hurts when I do pressing movements. I have a bad back which grinds when doing squats and dreads. And I have a bad knee in which one leg takes most of the load when squatting. I most definitely made things worse while continuing to train.
Any suggestions on modifying my 531 programming. I’ve been using 531 for about four years and been doing 2x2x2. I definitely got strong using 531. Several buddies that I have referred the program to will not change to anything else. In my case, old man winter is catching up to me. I blame it on improper programming for the 29 years I did not use 531 and just lifted ignorantly.

I’m sorry to hear about the issues you’re having.

We train to be stronger, mentally and physically. Compound barbell lifts are perhaps the most effective way to get stronger. In your case, you are beaten down and have pain beyond what most non-lifters your age have. You know that training with compromised health has made it worse. Barbell lifts are painful, non-symmetrical, and grinding. You are 49, and do not rely on physical feats to make a living.

Why, oh why, are you modifying what is derailing your health? Take up another hobby. Learn a new sport, start taking yoga, join a hiking club, learn to surf (or swim if you’re not coastal). Let’s say two years down the road you are healed, have learned some new life skills and made friends, and want to get back at it. Then start some 531. You will quickly make up for lost time, and be far ahead of where you will be should you grind out some painful reps “just because” over the next two years. Why are you crippling yourself? Football players do it, but they have a short career and large financial incentive to do so. You have neither of these reasons.


Is there anything you can do which doesn’t cause pain?

Leg press? Chest press? Dips? DBs? Single leg work?

Yes, Bulgarian split squats don’t cause me pain when wearing knee sleeves. I haven’t tried dips yet. Pull ups hurt my shoulder; though I might be able to do inverted pull ups.

I get what you’re saying, but weight training has been part of my life since I was 16. It’s my destressor. When I don’t train I become grumpy and at times depressed. I also play recreational softball on Sundays, but I can give that up without issue.

I get it, and can sympathize. Life changes, though, and we have to adapt. I can’t imagine that 5 years from now you’ll be better off if you keep performing physical activities that are breaking you down. I can’t imagine you’ll be glad you “pushed through” the pain and kept up a training regimen despite a body that’s giving you screaming “please stop”.

Why not take this time to explore other aspects of life? Learn to play an instrument, learn to meditate, take classes on something you always wanted to learn.

At the very least, let yourself heal and ease back in. Don’t give yourself a time limit on the break, and don’t let it stress you out.

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Antique guy has some great points there.
Learn something new. That is always fun.
Heal yourself, I too believe that if you keep up to what you have been doing, you’ll end up hurting yourself even more.
BUT if you have to lift a couple of times, then do a lot of mobility stuff, do some stretching.
Then back of those weights, a lot. work on technique.
Do a lot of core work and isolation work.
Good luck, with whatever road you choose :slight_smile:

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