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Realistic Progress/Expectations for Powerbuilding After 40?

Greetings fellow lifters.I am 43 yo male,with a lifting history of mostly BB programs in my late teens-late 20s.I quit lifting at around 30 due to studies-work-stress-boredom and an annoying shoulder injury that kept persisting.After a decade of being off, I decided to grab the barbell again. My goal was/is to repeat and if possible surpass my best lifts of my youth ( bench about 255 lb x 2, squat 325 x3, deadlift 375 x3) by the age of 45, and this time I chose to start with SL 5x5 in November 2017. My starting weights were bench 110, squat 155, ohp 55, DL 175.Novice progression lasted about 5 months.I switched to GSLP for 3 months.Since I could not progress anymore I tried intermediate programs: Madcow 5x5 -it lasted a month, because it buried me, I could not recover at all, 1 block of Candito 6 week program, and last December I switched to 5/3/1,first the original and then SSL. I got decent results, but still I couldn’t progress steadily every month.I got fascinated after reading about the Hepburn method-which is what I am running right now for the last 3 months,experimenting by using the singles/triples method for all lifts, and for bench/ohp I am on CT Hepburn layer program.

Even with tested 1RM my progression is way less then I expected it to be. In fact I stalled early on BP,SQ and OHP followed, DL going well.

My biggest concern is that I may never be able to reach my goal.Progression goes slower and slower.BP has stalled since April.SQ and DL are going up, but no more than 2.5 lb/month.OHP I’m pretty stuck right now.

I would like to hear advice from every fellow lifter who has been in my shoes, advanced or not.What would be considered a realistic approach, and programming/frequency/deloads.

My current lifts : BP 210 x2, OHP145 x1, SQ 310 x1, DL 350 x1.

Many thanks in advance!

I’m 4 years younger than you, but those seem like very attainable goals if you do your part.


I see no issue why you wouldn’t… I see no mention of anything injury or health wise in why you wouldnt.

define steady?

Hi there.Define steady…well, since last January, I practically gained only 5 pounds on my max BP.Even though I had tested my max, set an accurate training max,deload a couple times, or taking a complete week off( did that twice).My ohp gained 10 pounds-interesting.Squat and DL-20 pounds.And all that in a 10 month period.
Strangely (?) enough, during my last stall on my BP, I was using the least volume compared to every other exercise.
Long story short, I cannot seem to be able to gain even the minimal 5 pound monthly increase.
Bodyweight: Im about 20 pound overweight.Sleep: at least 6-8 hours.Training 4 times per week.

Main thing for most guys over 40 need to worry about is recovery and soft tissue health.
You will have to adjust slightly at 43 how you might have approached things at around 30.


I think everyone is individually different in regards to how much progress they will make as they age. Sure for the most part we are all close enough in our 20’s to say we can expect ‘X’ amount of gains. Beyond 40… It comes down to prior conditioning and most importantly health, yeah it sucks getting older and unfortunately for some their genetics are out to get them. Not to say we don’t all make gains but at a certain point it’s more about maintenance and cardiovascular health vs BIG lifts and PR’s.
I’ve seen that my own PR’s peaked around 32, then it’s been a small step down, could I get back to those PR’s maybe, but the risk of injury and that path to do it does not interest me. Rather be injury free, strong and fit. I used to bench 450 as a working set & maxing at 510, 3yrs ago I was doing working sets of 350 and my elbows started bothering me… had to back down 315, can I go higher, sure but the risk of injury and pain isn’t worth the trouble. esp as it took 9 months for the elbow tendon pain to go away, first time experiencing daily pain that limited what I could do, that’ll take the wind out of chasing past PR’s real fast.

I found for me that to increase my PR I would add and subtract weight weekly, so for example the overhead press, when I started I could push 135 for 10 but adding another 10lbs killed the reps to 2-3, so I did it in small steps of waves, 8,6,4 reps adding 2.5lbs for each step down in rep count. the next wave was 5,4,3 but starting the 5 rep count with the weight of the 6 rep count and moving up so that by the rep count of 3 it was 10lb over the starting set.

then the next week I’d step up everything by 2.5lbs again… it’s small but steady progression. Shoulders are smaller muscle groups so it takes smaller steps. With bench I used 5~7.5lb steps and with dead’s/squat it was 10~12.5lb steps.

Also here’s a trick I learned a couple yrs ago, therapeutic massage, you know the ‘it hurts good’ PT kind, not the spa version. I found that at least 2x a month really helped with recovery and mobility. Yeah it hurts and if you’ve never done it, it takes a day to recover from but it’s worth every penny.

You don’t mention how much you weigh or how tall you are but I am going to assume average male. I would say these numbers are definitely possible.
Your situation is very similar to mine, I went back into the gym 3 years ago at 42, having spend more than 10 years away. I literally started with an empty bar and only trained 2 days a week due to work and family commitments. May of this year I managed to add another day and have been training 3 days a week for the past 4 months.
Right now my numbers would be a little higher than yours (not that that is really relevant). I guess my point is you have 2 more years to get to my age. With slow progression, consistent effort, good diet and rest. There is no reason why you wouldn’t progress over the next two years.
Keep it simple, train hard and dont do anything stupid. You will get there.

No reason to think you cannot hit those numbers, and you can probably even do it in a few months. Would be easier if we knew more about your height/weight. If you are a 100 pound midget, then I might have to re-consider my opinion.

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Thanks for your encouragement.Im 5 f 8, weight 198 pounds

That is a good progression plan, smaller increases/microloading.I am seriously considering massages too.