T Nation

Starting Over


#1

All,

Looking for a little advice. I lifted and ran 5-6 days a week from about ages 12-26. I was in fantastic shape, flexible, and my lifting was exactly where I wanted it. Over the last two years some pretty big life changes, as well as some negative influences, have led to me gaining a disgusting amount of weight all while my workouts basically dropped to zero times a week. I am currently 295 pounds of former All-American glory.

I've read through article after article, post after post, and can't seem to find what I'm looking for. I am very concerned about my health as my BP and cholestoral have skyrocketed, my RHR is higher than I would like, and I generally wake up feeling like shit. I don't really care (for right now) how strong I am, or what I look like, I am more afraid of not waking up tomorrow than I am of what I look like in the mirror.

I was doing such advanced lifts and running sessions for so long that I literally don't know where to start. I tried starting out with Wendler's 5/3/1 as a "get back into it" routine and found myself woefully ill equipped to do the reps associated with the 1RM's I was able to put up. I can no longer conistently do the HIIT intervals I used to do, nor am I in good enough shape to do a program like Meltdown Training or Fat to Fire.

I am looking for some help in establishing a starting routine. I have begun walking ~4 miles (with hills) a day and it has made a real difference in how I feel. Do you guys have any suggestions for fat-loss/conditioning slanted weight workouts that someone who isn't in particularly good shape could start and accomplish? I still have the old foundation under here somewhere, I just need to figure out a way to get it built up again.

Thanks to any and all who answer.


#2

Starting strength is a basic program to start with.


#3

You sound a touch panicky. You should stop that. The hormonal and neurochemical effects from feeling that way will just make things worse, especially with respect to RHR and BP. It might sound pointless, but spend a few minutes a day just relaxing and letting your breathing calm down. Look up progressive relaxation, and just try one of those. Anything that gets you breathing deeper, slower, and brings down your heart rate a bit will work. Over time, this will definitely help.

Secondly, if you were lifting and running for 14 years, why aren’t you trying to do a lighter version of what you were doing then? I’m guessing you have a good idea of what worked for you.

Reading between the lines a bit here, it sounds like you were in good shape, but that stopped when life got in the way. At the same time, your metabolism slowed down a bit as you got older, but you kept eating like you used to. Which led to a combination where you lost muscle tone, as well as increased body fat… and then something happened where you got a hint of a health scare and came on here.

If that’s the case, a general guideline should be something like:

  1. decrease stress/increase relaxation
  2. fix your diet: eat less, and eat better
  3. lift heavy (for you) weights – this increases metabolism
  4. basic low-impact steady-state cardio for conditioning – also increases metabolism, but more importantly improves cardiovascular and pulmonary efficiency (i.e., improved heart rate and blood pressure)
  5. make sure you’re getting decent supplement intake: b-vitamin complex, vitamin d3, a good multivitamin, fish oil or other omega 3s

Diet should be high in protein, to retain the muscle you built in the past. If you don’t currently have physique based goals, Starting Strength or StrongLifts (I prefer StrongLifts), is an ok place to start with your training. For cardio, I’d stick with something like the elliptical or stairs until you get into better shape to start pushing it. You want to raise your heart rate during the workout and intensify your breathing, so that both your breathing and heart rate are lower when you’re not working out. Based on where you are right now, something with minimal joint impact and moderate intensity sounds like it will help.

For multivitamins, something made from whole raw foods is a good choice, since the bio-availability is higher than something like Centrum. A hippie health food store should be able to point you in the right direction.

Hopefully that was useful as a general guideline. There are plenty of articles on this site (and others) discussing all of those aspects.

Best of luck.


#4

[quote]TheTank123 wrote:
I don’t really care (for right now) how strong I am, or what I look like, I am more afraid of not waking up tomorrow than I am of what I look like in the mirror.[/quote]
Fair enough. I’d attack this goal with healthful nutrition, general fat loss and building lean muscle, and a training program that incorporates cardio and strength training. Nothing ground-breaking, but that’s the long and short of it.

For nutrition, I like this plan for establishing a gradual plan instead of turning the dial from zero to 11 all at once:

Also, you might want to check out this article with John Meadows talking about what it took to turn Dave Tate’s numbers around:


You might be able to pick up some useful bits there.

With your current state of decondition, you’re a beginner again for all intents and purposes. If you’re consistent with it, you might notice that you progress faster than someone who never touched a weight before, which would be a nice surprise.

I’m not sure what this means. If you bought the book and programmed it correctly, the sets should be relatively easy, strength-wise. If you mean you don’t have the “cardio” to do the max rep set (8-12ish reps), then stick with it until you build that conditioning. How long did you stick with 5/3/1?

[quote]I can no longer conistently do the HIIT intervals I used to do, nor am I in good enough shape to do a program like Meltdown Training or Fat to Fire.

I have begun walking ~4 miles (with hills) a day and it has made a real difference in how I feel.[/quote]
Stick with the walking for now. How long does it take to do the 4 miles?

You definitely don’t need to jump right to intervals. That can come later, if at all, but you can definitely squeeze progress out of “simple” walking. You’re 6’ tall, right? That’s a lot of weight on your joints. So I also wouldn’t push the intensity until we drop some weight, in order to avoid straining anything in the knees/ankles/hips.

Really, I’d give 5/3/1 another chance. It’s specifically meant to be done “too easy” at the start, which will help build up your foundation again. It’s basic enough to allow plenty of room for the cardio, while still building total body strength and muscle.