T Nation

Some Help With My Beginner Dad


my dad has decided to partake in the iron game (im pretty happy about that) but im not quite sure where to start with him. i am away from home at college (summer school), so i cant really be there to advise him. anyways, i was hoping someone in the over 35 forum would be able to suggest a program or regiment of some kind that would be for him to do?

btw, he is 50 years old, he does cardio alot (walks 5 miles to work and back from work every day) and eats an EXORBITANT amount of vegetables. he used to be a strong man back in the day but now hes frail, i think he benches anywhere from 95-115 max for reference. thanks for any help/comments.

He sounds pretty healthy. No reason for him to avoid a sensible program of solid lifts such as the bench, squat, overhead plus chins if he can and some core work. it all depends on whether or not he has particular weak areas or joints. Bench 100lbs may not be much, but it’s also not feeble and strength comes quite quickly from the mind-muscle connection.

Would be good for him to check in with the family doctor though, just for a full check up.

Then look through some of the beginner programs on this site.

which beginner programs would be best for someone of that age? i was thinking total body 3x a week wouldnt be bad, each workout being a pressing motion, a pulling motion, and either a hip or quad dominant lower body motion. also, what rep schemes should beginners use? 4x8? 3x15?

also, to my knowledge, there are no health problems in my family on his side, although his father did die due to a life of booze and tobacco

Barring some cardiac condition (many of which can’t be detected without thorough medical tests), or an injury, age shouldn’t preclude him engaging in just about any sensible hard program. He will want to make sure he allows for good rest, as recovery becomes slower with age. He might also want to incorporate some pre-hab/balancing exercises in his routine to both counter years of developing muscular/flexibility imbalances and the higher potential for injury as we get older. You can do a search of the articles for pre-hab and renegade for some examples of these. He might want to consider some supplements to protect joint health, like condroitin, and heart, joint, inflammatory health like fish oil.

Other than this, which program to chose depends on his goals, and available equipment. He may be less enamoured of betting huge than when younger, and might be more focused on strength, flexibility, general fitness, or a number of other goals. Let the goals drive the choice of programs. Like all of us, sticking with a single program is not as effective as choosing several basic programs that stress different aspects of our physique and fitness important to our goals.

That said, he should probably start with a sound beginning lifting program emphasizing strength for the first several months as a foundation. Combine this with some pre-hab/balance exercises, smart flexibility work, some soft-tissue work (search under rollers), and some cardio, and he will be in much better shape in a few months and less suceptible to injury. While there are a number of solid beginning strength programs, I’ve leaned toward ones based on Rippetoe’s. It centers around a few complex lifts that target the big muscle groups and recruit multiple muscle groups in each exercise, a focus on strength (3 or 5 sets of 5 reps), an emphasis on learning good form, and the progressive weight increases. I’m sure if you search under beginning programs, you’ll find more on this and others.

Finally, he’d benefit from spending some time getting educated or refreshing his knowledge by reading the good info on sites like this.

“New rules of Lifting”
–By Lou Schuler and Alwyn Cosgrove

Its a good book with several different programs, and easy to digest information. Plus it will give the old man something tangible to reference as often as he likes. And you know the information is reliable.