T Nation

Risk of Injury?

I’m 44 and I recently started lifting. I was a gym member for about a year in my 20s, a classic skinny ectomorph and I didn’t get much results, probably due to under eating.

This time around I’ve aquired some used gym equipment and am working out at home, not at a gym. I’m interested in doing some serious deadlifts, squats and benchpresses, but I’m concerned about injury. I’ve been pretty healthy all my life and have managed to reach the age of 44 without having any significant injuries or health issues. My knees, back, neck and shoulders all feel fine, and I’d prefer to keep it that way.

So here’s my questions:

  1. Am I at greater risk of injury that a young guy?

  2. Can benches, squats and deadlifts be performed safely without spotters, ot at least other lifters nearby to offer immediate assistance if you’re in trouble?

  3. I’ve been using the illustrations in books and websites for instruction on how to do these lifts, but those only get you so far. Do I need to break down and higher a personal trainer to learn to do these right?

[quote]dancar wrote:
So here’s my questions:

  1. Am I at greater risk of injury that a young guy?

  2. Can benches, squats and deadlifts be performed safely without spotters, ot at least other lifters nearby to offer immediate assistance if you’re in trouble?

  3. I’ve been using the illustrations in books and websites for instruction on how to do these lifts, but those only get you so far. Do I need to break down and higher a personal trainer to learn to do these right?
    [/quote]

My opinions:

1-yes
2-you don’t need a spotter for deads and I don’t use one for squats. Bench is better with a spotter. What kind of equipment do you have? If you have a power rack, it should have safety’s of some kind you could use in stead of a spotter.
3-you don’t need a personal trainer. Just T-Nation.

I used to work out alone at home. Now I go to a gym. It’s much better.

Good luck.

Can you elaborate on how a reasonabley fit (no major issues) 40-something is at greater risk of injury than a 20-something?

No, I don’t have a power rack. It is just a bench with an ajustable rack on which one can rest a barbell or do dips.

My slightly differing opinions:

  1. You risk of injury is no greater than anyone else’s, especially if you have no prior ones to aggrevate and you are in otherwise good health. However, if by chance you DO injure yourself, it does take longer to heal than someone in their 20’s or 30’s.

  2. Yes, once you learn the lifts and use good form and know your limits. I workout alone and I need to be carefull when adding weight to any lift. This is the only drawback for me, because I can never push myself to failure on the bench. This does not hinder progress, but sure slows it down.

  3. I learned to lift with a trainer. Find a PL trainer, not just any trainer. I found it impossible to assess my own form when I started. It’s money well spent to avoid injury.

I didn’t start lifting seriously until I was 50 and I love it. You are never too old to start. Best of luck.

I personally think you are more prone to injury, because of your age. I have squatted for years by my self, with no problems. I have been trapped under a bar on bench press, I will say my salvation was that I was young and wasn?t lifting heavy at the time. I still have night mares about being trapped under a bar. I have only just begun to appreciate the dead lift. I know a lot of people will disagree with me, but I say don?t work in the Max zone I stay below 3 rep max, and have little problems. I think moderation is the key.
Good Training

  1. It’s really difficult to give a definitive answer on this one. Anyone, regardless of age, is capable of using wretched form and injuring one’s self. Make sure you properly warmup, perorm each exercise with good form, and be sensible when pushing yourself and you should be fine.

  2. If you’re going to be pushing yourself on squats, you’ll need either a caged squat rack or power rack. A power rack will cover you on just about every exercise if you’re fortunate enough to have one. If you don’t have some sort of self-spotting equipment, then obviously you’re going to have to use common sense.

  3. If you can find a qualified trainer and willing to pay for the service, it could really shorten the learning curve. I’d be sure to do some research should you decide to find a trainer to make sure they really know their stuff.

Good luck.

[quote]pittbulll wrote:
I have been trapped under a bar on bench press, I will say my salvation was that I was young and wasn?t lifting heavy at the time. I still have night mares about being trapped under a bar.
Good Training[/quote]

Got trapped? Shouldn’t it be easy to dump the weights off the barbell? I can see how you could still get hurt but not trapped.

[quote]Jetboy1 wrote:
pittbulll wrote:
I have been trapped under a bar on bench press, I will say my salvation was that I was young and wasn?t lifting heavy at the time. I still have night mares about being trapped under a bar.
Good Training

Got trapped? Shouldn’t it be easy to dump the weights off the barbell? I can see how you could still get hurt but not trapped.

[/quote]

I was probably 13 or 14 and I was using probably less than 150 lbs, I just rolled it down my body. It hurt like hell

Before you get into lifting heavy weights, build a solid strength base. Work your body into it. Be sure you use as good of form as possible with the lighter weights so you can neurally transfer that when using heavier weights.

If you are patient and disciplined, you should have no serious problems. Use common sense.

  1. I think you are more susceptible to injury due to the fact that a 20 year old body is more used to physical activity than the typical 40 year old body. Consequently, the ligaments and tendons are more flexible and less likely to be injured and as Momma said, 20 year old’s injuries heal faster.

  2. I have trained alone for most of my life without major incident. I hit failure once with 225 on bench, but I was able to roll it down my body. You need to gradually work your way up to heavy weights and be aware of how your body reacts as you are approaching failure. I just seem to know if I have enough left in me for another rep (from several near-misses) and I will ALWAYS err on the side of caution if I only THINK I might have one more in me. This likely means losing out on a short-term maximum gain, but that’s a consequence I can accept in order to be able to train again. You can also do incline presses to work chest. You don’t need to fear getting trapped on them.

I think the key is start slowly, be smart and know your body signs and listen to them. You can still make gains working alone, but it takes a little more attention as you can’t rely on someone to bail you out.

DB