T Nation

Starting Out at (Nearly) 40


7 weeks ago, with the big four-0 looming and the Christmas excesses still clogging up my poor body I finally had enough. I was disgusted at how weak, flabby and out of shape I had become and decided to do something about it. I cleared a space in my garage, put in a squat rack, got a bar and some plates and got stuck into Stronglifts 5x5.

So far, I've gone from lifting absolutely nothing to (don't laugh):

Squat 132lb (5x5)
Bench 110lb (5x5)
Deadlift 176lb (1x5)
Bent over row 110lb (5x5)
Overhead press 66lb (5x5)

I've also dropped from 204lb to 194lb and seem to have grown an inch from 5'8" to 5'9"(?).

Apart from some post-workout aches and my left shoulder taking real issue with OHP on week four (which set me back quite a bit on that lift), I've never felt better! In fact, I feel absolutely great. I know my numbers aren't exactly awesome yet, but I'm pretty happy with my progress so far and most importantly I'm loving getting under the bar 3 x week. I really wish I'd started this a bit sooner in life!

Anyway, just wanted to say Hi and that I'm really looking forward to learning a lot from everyone on this forum.


Good choice.


Welcome. Worth noting that OHP is not for everyone (me, for example).


Thanks guys.

A rack wasn't much more than a gym membership and I get to work out whenever suits me which seemed like a good idea.

I do seem to struggle a bit with OHP at the moment. I'm going to stick with it a while longer and really watch my form to see if it improves and my shoulder can cope. If not, I'll look for an alternative.


Welcome. Always a good idea to start a log. Several examples here of success stories like your own.

Keep working!


Thanks man. I log all my workouts in a little note pad at the moment. Might start a training log on here soon.

I'll definitely keep working - I'm loving it!


Welcome to the iron! OHP can be a challenge, but it can be overcome. I started out about the same as you, and just kept grinding it out. Results on OH can be sporadic, but pressing stuff overhead is one of the few delights left in this world. Take it slow and pay attention to your form all the time.


Thanks for the welcome. I experimented with a slightly narrower grip with OHP last night (shoulder width instead of slightly outside it) and that seemed to go ok. Still got funny clicking noises coming from my left shoulder though!



I know some people get a lot out of OHP but I've never been one of them either.


welcome brother. Glad to have you here. Definitely recommend having a log. I get a lot of value and encouragement from keeping and reading logs.

I started shortly before I was 40 and am 2 years in myself. The journey is exciting.



Welcome. I started back at 40 after a 20 +/- year layoff. One of the best decisions I have made in my adult life. Good luck to you.


^good call, I meant to mention that before. It took me a while to find what worked for me. I also set up like a PL bench, lots of rolling the shoulders and shoulder blades into place and get super tight regardless of the weight. Always be careful, no one set or PR is worth months of pain.


^good call, I meant to mention that before. It took me a while to find what worked for me. I also set up like a PL bench, lots of rolling the shoulders and shoulder blades into place and get super tight regardless of the weight. Always be careful, no one set or PR is worth months of pain.


Welcome. I'm fan of OHP. Grab it narrow and load it up into your lats at bottom.


Thanks for all the welcomes, encouragement and advice guys - I appreciate it. I think I'm really going to enjoy it here. Hopefully I'll see some progress with OHP again. I'll keep you posted.


Thought I'd take this advice and turn this thread into a training log.


Total beginner coming from a pretty sedentary and unhealthy lifestyle. 39yo (closer to 40). 5'9" and 194lb.

Current goals are fairly simple to start with, i.e. get stronger, eat healthy and generally feel better. Once I've built a solid strength base I'll see which way I'd like to progress.

Mostly focusing on compound lifts with the odd vanity lift thrown in for good measure (who doesn't want bigger arms and shoulders?).

Todays workout:

Back squat 121 x 5 x 5

Bench press 110 x 5 x 5

Bent over row 77 x 5 x 5

Middle back felt a bit fatigued today, so I went a bit lighter on the rows rather than push it.

Doesn't look like much now that I've typed it out! Still, gotta start somewhere. Onwards and upwards.


Tonights workout:

Deadlift 65kg 5x5

OHP 25kg 5x5

Barbell curl 25kg 5x5

Stuck with a narrow grip on OHP and focused on squeezing my glutes/pushing my hips forward instead of bending backwards during the upward drive and found it worked really well. I'll nail this OHP form yet!


Tonights workout:

Squat 55kg 5x5

Bench 50kg 5x5

Lateral raise 7kg DBs 5x5

Got nice and low with squats tonight. Felt a good stretch in my hips. Bench was ok too. Focused on a strong drive up on the raises and slow controlled lowering. Had some great tunes on tonight too!


I've decided to give the All Pro Simple Beginner Routine a go for a 5-week cycle to see what happens. Details of the programme can be found here http://simplebeginnerroutine.wikia.com/wiki/All_Pro's_Simple_Beginner_Routine_Wiki

Week 1, day 1 (excluding 2x8 warm up sets per lift)

Squat 50kg 2x8
Bench 45kg 2x8
BO Row 40kg 2x8
OHP 25kg 2x8
D/lift 60kg 2x8
BB Curl 20kg 2x8

First impressions are good. It's a bit more overall volume and variety per workout than I've been used to so far but I really enjoyed it. Definitely had to push harder towards the end to get all the reps finished, but in a good way. I took front and back 'before' pics so I can compare them to the 'after' pics in five weeks.


All Pro Simple Beginner Routine

Week 1, day 2 (10RM x 90%)

Squat 45kg 2x8
Bench 40kg 2x8
BO Row 35kg 2x8
OHP 22.5kg 2x8
D/lift 55kg 2x8
BB curl 17.5kg 2x8

  • excluding 2x8 warm up per lift

Today was the medium day (Mon was heavy day @ 100% of 10RM). All felt good.