T Nation

The big blue experience.


Well having looked in on T-Nation for a little while (and having mistakenly posted on someone elses thread..sorry) i thought it only fair to start my own thread.

The basics are that at age 53 i am starting weight training properly for the very first time--never ever lifted before except for some machine weights many years ago..so its as 'newbie' an experience as can be had.

Little bit of background then :
Work full time, mainly night shifts as an acute care specialist nurse in a big teaching hospital, job is currently under threat (again).
Job is pretty high stress at times and the work/life pattern especially around eating and sleeping is difficult to say the least.
Just over a year ago i was in a very bad state ie overweight (technically just obese with a MBI nudging 30)and a worts waist measurement at over 40 (more like 42) probably slightly clinically depressed although denying it.
Now.. in terms of exercise : you must be having a laugh !.
What got me was that on a hiking trip my partner took a photo of me naked (rear) which when i saw it was a total shocker so when we got home i got stuck into a 'new life' idea.

First to go was the car--in terms of driving to work ,then i tried to stop the high carb and caffeine approach to getting through a shift (although still struggling with that)--that with a walking programme out in the woods for 6 months got me into a weight zone where i could think about actual training.

So : 6 months back started running and attempting 'easy' resistance exercise e.g dips, couldn't do press-ups or pull -ups, just not strong enough and old back injuries stopped press-ups dead.

Sideways step then : injuries include 3 levels of disc injuries (mainly lumbar) all work related and a recent gastrocnemius tear.

In late december i joined the 'posh' gym as its just down the road and mainly so that i could access the swimming pools to work on the gastroc tear rehab.
Around february i managed to get on the treadmill and added in some resistance work--again all very basic.

In march i had a total re-think after reading everything i could about training--including T.Na and sites like gym jones (jesus h christ !!) , got totally information oveload but realised that not only was i a fat git but that i was a weak/soft fat git as well.

So : march, approached one of the trainers at the gym for help and he took me on with an introduction to strength training. As i have said it was all new and we just started on as far as i can see now absolute basics.

I have just finished our 10 session contract and am now flying solo--right from the start i went in around 3 times a week just to mimic and practice what i was doing with my trainer.

So here are some numbers :
1. Me weight (as of today) 84 kg (down from 100) .height 1.88 m. body fat --not sure as the measurements from my calipers dont make sense on the book i am using.
2. weights (exercise) : best is deadlift where i have just gone over body weight (90 kg today) . squat is difficult as i was up to about 70kg but with poor form i.e 'high' so have dropped it back to get lower. Bench press today at 42.5 kg which is a new working best. Upright cable row-60kg. Lats pull down at 68 kg today (again new).

working routine looks like :
Day 1 .i call 'big 5 routine i.e deadlift, squats, bench,lats.cable row . usually warm up sets and then 3 working weight sets of 10.
Followed by either treadmill routine (intervals) or what i call 'dartmoor' miles.

Day 2. lower body split so : deadlift,squats, incline leg press . sets of 5x5.
followed by either more treadmill or a circuit of something like : press-ups (50) step-ups with weight (50) and clean and press with weight.

Day 3. upper body split so : bench press, cable row and/or barbell row , lats, tri cable pull down, pec flye, ohp
followed by more treadmill.

Last week my trainer introduced me to harder conditioning work so my new circuit is 3 rounds of :
Rower (concept 2) 500m
Kettlebell swings 20
Clean and press with vipr 15
Kettlebell squat 10

(i think its based on a 'crossfit' workout ,doesn't have a name so i have called it 'bastard,.

Some other info :
Running times--just done 1.5 miles in 10.33
Rower 500m in 1.48.

thats about it--hope i havn't made too many newbie posting goofs there.


Like your new avi. She was a real bitch though. I was glad when McMurphy strangled her.

I think at 53 and new to lifting you will be able to make some amazing gains.


Big nurse (ratchet) was my whitbread race name back in the late 80s and came about after an incident aboard my boat when i wouldn't let the guys watch tv (actually the microwave !) but you would have had to have been there.

Gains are happenning--just trying to go along without an injury.


Welcome - you aren't the only late starter around here.

84kg at 1.88m seems like you have some room to add muscle now...


Hi, Nurse! Glad to see you started your own thread. Congrats on taking the plunge to get into shape. You'll get a lot of support here.

Curious, what exactly has your trainer been showing you? I ask because I've been disappointed with training I got years ago. They just showed me this and that and couldn't care less whether I got any stronger or not. Is your trainer actually showing you squats and deads?

Your avatar is perfect, BTW.


My trainer has been great, initially he got me on machines and free weights just to get going. Now its all free except for cable i.e lats and cable row.
He is very insistent on keeping it 'big' i.e compound and simple. Most recently we have been working on my squat technique mainly in trying to get me to go lower. Big inbuilt problem seems to be related to long levers i.e that i have very long arms and legs on a short torso.
Squat development is along the lines of doing much deeper work with the bare bar before loading lightly--also doing kettlebell sqauts even lighter than the olympic bar.
Billy (trainer) is almost my ideal in being light, lean,fast and a hell of a lot stronger on less weight than i am.

Overall weight seems much less important now but i can clearly still afford to lose some belly fat which is still hanging around.

Weight today at end of week (only really accurate dry weight of week) is 83.5kg.


You really lucked out with your trainer, sound's like he knows what he's doing.

I've got long legs too, which makes squatting miserable. Keep it up though, because the rewards are awesome, even with modest weights.

Be patient with your gains, you'll avoid injuries if you're not reckless.

Check out Old Navy's log. He didn't start lifting until he was 61, and today has a physique that would make Tom Cruise jealous. It can be done.


Welcome and best of luck. It's a really big step you've taken but you'll be happy that you did.



Thanks guys, slow and steady wins the day !!.

Chris T pointed me in the direction of the 50+ fireman thread who has been competing in their games--really impressed by that.
A part of my inspiration over here was a fil-maker name of Chris Terrell who at 54 joined a recruit troop at nearby Ctc Lympstone to 'live' through Rm commando training and who passed all 4 commando tests.

That kind of fitness is my kind of goal too.




Thanks all for taking the time to take a look and reply.

Soldog--i am getting a lot happier about my weight and body fat although i could quite happily reduce the fat folds a bit yet and having spent some time reading through the site it seems best to stick with one main idea (goal) at any time.

Being an older guy i have no great rush to get 'big' 'fast', the gains that are genuinely happening are all probably beginner gains where i am just getting used to handling more weight--boy and mind learning what to do.

Putting some more flesh on the bones today :
I am working to my own plan rather than anything i have specifically seen on here--my trainer had a good look over my training plan and pronounceed himself satisfied and only keeps me reminded along the lines of :
Keep it simple
Keep it big (compound)
Do the work.

The only change currently is to start specifically working on the areas that are weaker thus : getting the squat deeper by dropping the weight back as one example of current goals.

This week is an easy training week (just 2 gym sessions) due to : 1. A heavy chesty cold 2. A dental problem which has left me very sore and a bit sleep deprived--on top of normal nights work sleep deficit.
Its also a deliberatley lighter week after finishing a hard week last week where i had 4 lifting and conditioning sessions last week + 'other work'.

So my training cycle now looks like :
1 week easy (rest ,recovery,reflect)
2 weeks moderate based around 3 lifting and conditioning sessions.
1 Week hard based on 4 strength and conditiining + other work.

On the 'other work' :
The main new exercise is load carrying--i have seen this described as 'rucking', what i do is head down into the valley below where i live to where some trees have been cut (about a mile) load an old rucksack with the largest round of beech that i can get in the pack and stomp bak uphill all the way. Its not a huge distance or height and the load is around 70-80 lbs but it feels like good work--a couple of runs of that and then splitting and cutting the wood currently constitutes a work session.

I am looking for other ideas of doing 'work' that is good and physical and not gym related, my job being hardly physical aside from the distance i cover in the hospital.


Today in the gym was a real struggle.

Working nights now for the end of the week so : out of bed around 16.00 but fuzzy around the edges and found it difficult to get going, probably hadnt slept well either, got some food in but the toothache is still there.
Anyway--walked down to the gym and got there for 18.00, worst time of day in there as its their busy time.

The gym is only a small part of a 'health and raquet club' and only occupies a small part of the building, aside from the gym there are 2 pools, a huge expanse of tennis courts, and fitness 'studios'.
Today the gym was packed out mainly with people on the traedmills and bikes, the weights area which is small semed to be full of guys not doing very much aside from curling biceps and sitting on the benches.

So i tried to work through my upper body push-pull-press , not so bad at first but slowly got weaker as the workout went on.
Finished on the rower/kb conditioning but came close to losing my dinner on the rower so packed it in .
Very shaky afterwards, maybe dehydrated and just too tired.

Disappointing after last weeks progress where i went up on all my weights bar the squat.

Work tomight.need to eat but no appetite, hope i am nit going down with the hospital bug (norvirus)


Sorry to hear about the aches & pains.

The "rucking" sounds like a great conditioning exercise.

A lot of us have to put up with gyms where most people aren't serious. You should be pulling ahead of them fairly quickly. Mine is the opposite, almost everyone is bigger & stronger than me. Sometimes inspiring, sometimes intimidating.

Yeah, the weights don't always go up every week. We just keep at it and eventually they do go up.


Having been there myself, those folds are extra skin and unfortunately they don't really go away.

As you say, Stick to your goals and keep plugging away...


Keep it simple
Keep it big (compound)
Do the work.

Use that as your moto and you will do good things.


Its a very good thought to go into the gym with .

Also :" If i am not scared of it then its not heavy enough" !! (from another thread on T na)

Also---i pick things up...and put them down (repeat many times)

Tempted to get a tee-shirt printed up with the latter repeated about a hundred times just to take the piss out of the ridiculous planet fitness fiasco.


I saw that in a Dilbert cartoon:
"I'm a weightlifter. I spend hours picking things up and putting them down. Guess that makes me look pretty stupid."
"Look on the bright side. I'm sure the pay is good."


I've been missing for a few days so a belated welcome. Looking up at your list of exercises; were you deadlifting and squating 2 days or 2 sessions in a row?
Best part of "... Cuckoo's Nest" was Will Sampson ripping the water fixture from the floor and throwing it through the window.


No--at the moment i do a 'whole body' session, then day off then either upper or lower body split.

Mmm favourite film moments could be a really good thread in its own right. I hadnt even seen the film when i aquired the name !!


This week : a planned easy week was partially 'rest ,recovery and reflection' time.

Lots of thoughts about progress so far and the journey ahead so here are a few random thoughts that i have jotted down in my own training diary.

Progress is definitely non-linear and not always easily defined quantitatively i.e by weight pressed or pulled : this week for instance i didn't increase any weight but had much better control on one of my weakest lifts ie bench--where when i started it felt like the bar was all over the place at least now its going where i want it to.

This week i have even made progress by going back on weight (lighter) but achieving much better form--a deeper squat.

This week though i had a really poor workout on the second session--could just feel the energy draining away as the workout progressed, no excuses --the push just wasnt there.

Sometimes the way the gym 'is' affects how the workout goes--i think i work better when there aren't many people there-- i seem to be able to focus on the exercise rather than what i can only call the irrtating distraction like the endless bicep curling and vapid 'tv watching while walking on the treadmill routine' that i see--maybe i am in the wrong gym ?