T Nation

Rate of Gain?

Okay, I’m tired of looking in this section and having it make me feel like a geriatric.

For those of us over 35 and NOT on HRT or AAS, what type of gains are you making and how are you going about achieving them?

I thought it was just me who was sick of reading questions from 13 to 19 year olds who are wondering why they aren’t huge bundles of muscles after 4 weeks of training.
And all those questions about fitting in the training around their homework, pimple popping and girlfriends… sheesh!

Anyway, I’m doing shoulder block accumulation with total body maintenance days included at the moment and gains in strength and size are slow but evident.

I’m over 40 so I don’t expect too much these days and I’ve learned that injury free training is more important to me than beating previous lifts or impressing anyone else.

The most annoying part for me is trying to increase my overall bulk, while my body wants to store it all around my mid section. It’s a balancing act between eating very regularly, only moderate to light cardio and how big my stomach gets.

I’m interested to see how the other mature folks are going too, thanks for asking Vroom.

Well i took some time off,about 20 years.The first thing I had to do was lose 60 lbs.did that.Now im trying to rebuild the muscle and its going great.However a big part of this is probably because there was so much room for improvment.

I have been looking around and trying to see how far guys our age can get and its pretty encouraging.There are some pics posted on this site of guys our age(im 44) who look real good.A few guys at my gym have real good size and look pretty good and they did not start till they were 40,so I think the chances are pretty good.

I’m not in that age group, however, I was always the type of person who became friends with the older guys in the gym who were in really good shape, well beyond average. From most of them (mind you, these guys weren’t exactly low on the genetics scale even though I am bigger than most of them), they claimed they made better progress in their mid-30’s because they finally understood their bodies better.

These were guys who were in the gym 3-4 times a week and looked better than most of the pics I have seen on this forum well into their 40’s. The main thing was their consistency (these were the “gym regulars”, the guys who knew each other for years). One guy in particular (who had two teenage girls) took his meals with him in a cooler everyday at work. It took preparation and it took making it a part of your everyday schedule.

The biggest problem I see with most people is the lack of even that much drive.

Yes, I understand that genetics are a factor because I knew one guy who had to be well over 50 (he really wasn’t that big compared to guys closer to my age) who was RIPPED all of the damn time. Granted, he was mostly just maintaining at this point, but this guy never missed a workout. His wife would pick him up at the gym afterwards.

I know that not everyone can get arms over 18", but I also know that most people are not really pushing themselves to even achieve what their own genetics allow.

Either way, it’s almost midnight and I still have to go train arms.

[quote]vroom wrote:
For those of us over 35 and NOT on HRT or [/quote]

Vroom, are you admitting to being over 35 here?

vroom,

Interesting question. So often I think I’m hitting that uncrossable bar, and then I try something else that brings noticeable improvement.

Earlier in the summer, inspired by AG, I returned to a very strict ABBH, after a stretch of 5x5, and there was noticeable improvement in upper-body proportion and posture. Then I turned to full-body 3x/week, and concentrated on chest with inclines. As a result, my pectorals are bigger than they’ve ever been.

Deltoids have always been a weak point for me, so I did some extra work for those on the 3x/week schedule, when I had the energy left–also with good results. I was eating much more than usual during this time, and have gained some around the waist, but the rest of me still looks pretty lean.

Recent re-thinking–and the inspiration of the Brotherhood of Iron thread–have got me thinking long-term in a different way now, and CT’s HSS-100 for Back is going to be my focus for the next 4 weeks (another area I feel needs work). The 2 other days will be Leg Days, because I’ve been doing legs 2x/week with a friend since January–to good effect. Just last night, in fact, my wife asked “How much bigger can those quads get?” I grinned and replied “Let’s find out.” CT’s “Bulk Up and Cut Up” for Quads is going to be our guideline starting September.

I think what all this has taught ME is that gains come with:

  1. change

  2. specializing: full-body is good for overall fitness, but I’ve made the most progress (in my 47th summer) by focusing on a specific muscle group (legs, chest, deltoids, now back) and doing maintenance work for most others for awhile. I expect to do some chest work each week for the next month, but I won’t have time for much with HSS-100 for Back and Legs 2xweek. If that seems like a bad idea, then in 4 weeks I’ll shift focus to chest again for awhile.

I’ll hit a limit someday (soon, I suppose!), based on my frame, genetics, and amount of time I’m willing to spend in the gym and at the dinner table. But I’m no longer panicking about getting old. I’m telling myself that the goal is to look better than I ever have in 3 years when I turn 50. Then I’ll figure the next goal.

This may, ultimately, even out and produce less growth than some other approach, like the HRT and AAS approach! :wink: But for now I’m feeling good about what I’m accomplishing.

(BTW, it was your long-ago Rack Pull Thread that got me doing them more and motivated me to work up to 405. Thanks.)

[quote]TShaw wrote:
(BTW, it was your long-ago Rack Pull Thread that got me doing them more and motivated me to work up to 405. Thanks.)[/quote]

Cool. It’s the “brotherhood of iron” thread that has me doing them again to bump the deadlift up some more…

Anyhow, Mr Chen, I don’t like to acknowledge the passage of time, but yes, I am over 35. I admit it openly from time to time, just not often.

[quote]vroom wrote:

For those of us over 35 and NOT on HRT or AAS, what type of gains are you making and how are you going about achieving them?[/quote]

Good thread Vroom. I have also posted similar things to other forums and got tired of having 20year olds chant the ‘lift eat and get big mantra’.

I’m with Duke:

[quote]duke wrote:
I’m over 40 so I don’t expect too much these days and I’ve learned that injury free training is more important to me than beating previous lifts or impressing anyone else.[/quote]

I’m 48. I didnt really get into serious gym work till I was 45. I’m your classic hard gainer: 6’2" I never weighed more than 80k even in my 20s. I always assumed I had the wrong physique to muscle up. I realise now that I didnt know how to do it properly - and that loving cardio worked against me, let alone the running, rowing and cycling.

In two years of gym work I’d gone from a skinny 68kg to about 78kg. But plateaued there. For me the issue is only partly about being able to add mass, its also about keeping it (my body seems to want to shed everything fast!) its also about keeping free of injury as I have had plenty of those and my recovery time from strains and tendonitis is in terms of multiple months not weeks.

I have the answer now, as much as there is one, which is Mejia & Berardi’s ‘Scrawny to Brawny’ programme. More than anything it enabled me to re-educate myself and realise that less is more.

I know I am a different kind of scrawny from what they have in mind and like all programms they are tailored for men half my age. But it’s working. I seem to be building muscle thats broadening me out more than I have previously. I’m only part way through the programme but I’ve gained kgs. (And compliments - much better than measurements!)

The problems: the diet isnt formulated for an over 40. I dont know what groups the thermogenosis calculations are based on but I bet it not my metabolic rate. I have to play around with intake but i dont know if this is a simple matter of calorie intake or if it also effects protein carb balance and distribution during the day. (Dr John are you out there - any information on this?!)

Also: the lifting to one rep max is something I have to be careful with. My point of failure has to be at loss of perfect form, not when I cant push it any more. (And there’s a big difference). I couldnt achieve what I have without an occassional personal trainer either: perfecting a hang & clean or a snatch isnt easy and the book doesnt give enough guidance. (But now I can do 'em I love 'em and only wish they kept more in the final part of the programme!)

At the end of the day, it gives me a challenge I respect. Its intelligent and I like that.

[quote]pel wrote:

The problems: the diet isnt formulated for an over 40. I dont know what groups the thermogenosis calculations are based on but I bet it not my metabolic rate. I have to play around with intake but i dont know if this is a simple matter of calorie intake or if it also effects protein carb balance and distribution during the day. (Dr John are you out there - any information on this?!)[/quote]

There is much debate as to whether age actually has that much to do with metabolic rate outside of actually being “elderly” at all. Activity level seems to be the largest factor, not just how old someone is.

[quote]Professor X wrote:
There is much debate as to whether age actually has that much to do with metabolic rate outside of actually being “elderly” at all. Activity level seems to be the largest factor, not just how old someone is. [/quote]

I think it’s that and the fact that studies repeatedly show that the average person loses muscle mass as they age. Thus less muscle = lower metabolism. The real question then becomes, is muscle loss over time genetic and thus inevitable, or is it simply a function of sedentary lifestyles?

[quote]T-Cop wrote:
Professor X wrote:
There is much debate as to whether age actually has that much to do with metabolic rate outside of actually being “elderly” at all. Activity level seems to be the largest factor, not just how old someone is.

I think it’s that and the fact that studies repeatedly show that the average person loses muscle mass as they age. Thus less muscle = lower metabolism. The real question then becomes, is muscle loss over time genetic and thus inevitable, or is it simply a function of sedentary lifestyles?

[/quote]

I believe more of a function of diet and sedentary lifestyle. Muscle goes into the category of don’t use it you lose it. Combine this with diets lacking protein in any adequate amounts, no good carbs or healthy fats, and high in processed carbs and unhealthy fats and you have people that after mid twenties to thirties lose muscle every year and gain fat. Take a look at all the family and friends we know who live like this. It’s sad.

D

[quote]Dedicated wrote:
T-Cop wrote:
Professor X wrote:
There is much debate as to whether age actually has that much to do with metabolic rate outside of actually being “elderly” at all. Activity level seems to be the largest factor, not just how old someone is.

I think it’s that and the fact that studies repeatedly show that the average person loses muscle mass as they age. Thus less muscle = lower metabolism. The real question then becomes, is muscle loss over time genetic and thus inevitable, or is it simply a function of sedentary lifestyles?

I believe more of a function of diet and sedentary lifestyle. Muscle goes into the category of don’t use it you lose it. Combine this with diets lacking protein in any adequate amounts, no good carbs or healthy fats, and high in processed carbs and unhealthy fats and you have people that after mid twenties to thirties lose muscle every year and gain fat. Take a look at all the family and friends we know who live like this. It’s sad.

D[/quote]

I know guys in their late twenties who are becoming slugs. They are gaining fat and losing any muscle they had before. It isn’t because of old age. It is because they don’t do shit anymore. Most people are fairly active (or at least they used to be) in high school. After that, unless they are serious weight lifters, most just take up residence behind a desk all day and use “walking to the car” as their only exercise. Is it really a surprise that someone like that loses muscle mass as they get older? Is it really because muscle just disappears for no damn reason (let’s not forget about the drop in testosterone)?

I know guys who are middle aged who look better than most people on this site. They stay active. They aren’t shrinking and becoming obese slowly. they may have to work harder at it the more their lives slow down, but I honestly believe that blaming “age” for why your stomach is now hanging over your belt is just a cop out. It isn’t like it was the past 15 years of drinking beer on the couch and being witness to every single late night tv showing that did it to you, is it?

Being over forty the gains in lean muscle mass is real slow. I think has something to do with the amount of food I can eat before it ends up around my gut. If I could eat 5000 calories a day then I believe my mass would increase at a good rate.
I am now into my second week of waterburys WHFS training program. The amount of days and also two a days seems like they are going to kick my ass. Hope my body can take this kind of abuse. Will be watching my caloric intake really closely and will be making sure my body get enough sleep. hope to see good gains out of this program… cd

I suppose I can outline what I’m doing these days as well…

I’m at the gym just about every day, though I do throw in the odd light day or cardio day depending on the previous few days and how I’m feeling.

At the same time I’m experimenting with calorie cycling. Low one day, normal to high the next day.

The calorie cycling experiment combined with hitting the muscle groups more often seems to be leading to slow but steady progress. A couple more reps here, a small increase in weight there.

As long as that continues I’ll be happy to continue my little experiment.

In general, I find that recovery and pushing enough are my biggest struggles. In the past I’ve worked hard but stagnated… with presumably too much stress or lack of sleep.

Now, with what appears to be better recovery, I find that without a lifting partner I can easily reuse a previous weight or be satisfied with something I could easily have been pushed to exceed. The increased recovery is very motivating.

As a FFB I find it quite difficult to get lean, but I’m slowly (very slowly) seeing small body composition changes taking place. While still smooth I do sometimes see a new indentation or curvature. My camera doesn’t catch these things though, so I have a long way to go. I have upped my cardio, but I still don’t really do very much of it.

[quote]Professor X wrote:

Activity level seems to be the largest factor, not just how old someone is. [/quote]

I find that activity level and consistency are my major factors. As a 40-year old, I’m okay with the small improvements (Kaizen) in my lifts, the increase in muscle mass and fat loss despite all the travelling I do every week. Thank God for Spike!

The erratic training of years past is no longer a factor because of the intensity, drive and consistency that I now have.

I don’t know how long I will be able to improve but I’ll get back to you in 40 years.

I just hit 30 in January and have actually been looking forward to this age range between 30 and 40 training wise. I have always been told that this is the time muscle maturity is at its greatest. Combine that with 15 years of experiece in the gym (read: trial/error and countless mistakes) and I cant wait to get bigger, leaner and stronger in the years to come.

As pointed out by previous posters, dedication and discipline are vital. It is somewhat easier for me to say this and stick to my routine as well because I do not have any kids yet. I imagine kids and other factors interfere.

[quote]Professor X wrote:
pel wrote:

The problems: the diet isnt formulated for an over 40. I dont know what groups the thermogenosis calculations are based on but I bet it not my metabolic rate. I have to play around with intake but i dont know if this is a simple matter of calorie intake or if it also effects protein carb balance and distribution during the day. (Dr John are you out there - any information on this?!)

There is much debate as to whether age actually has that much to do with metabolic rate outside of actually being “elderly” at all. Activity level seems to be the largest factor, not just how old someone is. [/quote]

Good thread Vroom. Looking forward to hear about your progress towards the goal set.

[quote]vroom wrote:
TShaw wrote:
(BTW, it was your long-ago Rack Pull Thread that got me doing them more and motivated me to work up to 405. Thanks.)

Cool. It’s the “brotherhood of iron” thread that has me doing them again to bump the deadlift up some more…

Anyhow, Mr Chen, I don’t like to acknowledge the passage of time, but yes, I am over 35. I admit it openly from time to time, just not often.[/quote]

I’m 44 and 6’11."

My history is skinny in my 20s, with 6 months at a gym in my mid 20s that didn’t do much, probably due to not eating enough.

Three years ago I was close to 200 pounds and in pictures from that time I look 3-4 months pregnent.

Last year I decided to reduce my eating & commute by bike 2-3 times a week and compuslively do push-ups & pull ups. Over a few months I dropped from 190 to less than 165.

But I felt too skinny. I found JB’s Scrawny to Brawny and seriously worked on it since May, and have gone from about 170 to about 183 pounds. That’s slightly less than 1 pound/week, which I understand is on track.

While much of that gain is undeniabley muscle in the upper torso & arms, I’m also getting some fat returning my mid-section.

I’d also like to read what diet tweaks JB recommends for formally scrawny 20-somethings (the target demographic of his book) who grow into 30-40 somethings who now tend to get fat in the mid-section.

[quote]Professor X wrote:
pel wrote:

The problems: the diet isnt formulated for an over 40. I dont know what groups the thermogenosis calculations are based on but I bet it not my metabolic rate. I have to play around with intake but i dont know if this is a simple matter of calorie intake or if it also effects protein carb balance and distribution during the day. (Dr John are you out there - any information on this?!)

There is much debate as to whether age actually has that much to do with metabolic rate outside of actually being “elderly” at all. Activity level seems to be the largest factor, not just how old someone is. [/quote]

But how old someone is cannot be dismissed. Even if age is independent of metabolic rates - age has a pretty big role in recovery times, inuries, and gains.

That is not to say a sedentary lifestyle doesn’t have an effect on those issues as well.

I know you wanted input from natural lifters vroomie - but bulding muscle is building muscle. If what you are doing now is not working - re-evaluate. If you have given the program a chance, then do something different.

I was hitting a wall at the beginning of the summer even while on gear. Prof suggested going to higher reps, lower weight, and increased TUT. Worked like a charm on my chest and arms. Didn’t do crap for my legs, though so I re-thought my leg training.

[quote]rainjack wrote:
But how old someone is cannot be dismissed. Even if age is independent of metabolic rates - age has a pretty big role in recovery times, inuries, and gains.

That is not to say a sedentary lifestyle doesn’t have an effect on those issues as well.[/quote]

That’s true. I would imagine it is also pretty individual with regards to how much someone can handle. I would also think someone who had trained their entire life would be able to adapt to more than the guy who just started training at the age of 40.