T Nation

The Over 70 Lifter and a Beginner

The subject is me.

Anyone around that has tips for starting out, specific to geezers? Thanks.

I started at 54, when my little brother started GetUp. Been a runner most of my life, but the injuries kept coming back.

Don’t know where you stand right now. Age 70 isn’t that big a deal, I’ve been helping throwers all the way to 80. If you know what farmer’s walks are, grab a couple of 25# dumbbells and start with those. Chin-ups are good. If you can do one, do singles. They are a good started exercise.

Mostly, need to know what are you already doing and go from there. You should get advice. PM me if you don’t.

The principles of exercise do not change with age, only our ability to adapt to stimuli. As such, you really need to first worry about technique and range of motion on any good exercise. I don’t see any reason to omit an exercise that is proven it’s salt, if you can do them with proper form. As for managing the variables like volume, intensity and frequency; that is the same as anyone of any age. With the exercises that you can do, start with low weight and low volume but medium frequency. eg. total body three times a week with few exercises and few sets. Keep adding weight to the bar as often as your body will allow. If you are lucky enough to keep adding every workout, milk it. When you are not able to do that, try to add weight one day, the next workout drop the weight to about 50% and go for a new personal record on the third workout. Keep that frequency up until it doesn’t work any more. When it doesn’t add another active recovery workout of 50% between max attempts. Soon enough you will find your optimum frequency for each body part/exercise. When you find the frequency with one set per exercise start alternating accumulation and intensification. Eventually you will not be able to add much to the bar no matter how infrequently you try. At that time add volume. To do so, start by adding weight to the 50% days. Keep adding it until you cannot. That just pushed your body’s ability to handle more per week. Once you plateau there, add sets. You’ll find that you will be able to for a while, but not for ever. Eventually you’ll not be able to do more sets with the same weight. At this time go back to intensification by doing half the sets and on non max days do 50% of max effort again. Just try adding pounds to the bar again. Do that until you plateau and take a week or so off. Then start again. Also make sure to mix up rep schemes frequently.

Most important though is correct technique for a good range of motion. Find out how to correct any structural imbalances first.

And make sure to always do a thorough warm up.

Read Cressey and Robertson articles here for warm-ups and structural imbalances.


Can’t believe I didn’t include the best advice I could ever give you:

Make damn sure a trained eye is teaching your technique. A smart person training you will teach you how to squat, but one step at a time.


Best advice comes from one of greatest geezers of all time, Jack LaLaine. “Make haste slowly” or Dan John “inch by inch it’s a cinch - yard by yard it’s hard” also by Dan John “work, hard, simply.”

Don’t rush. How you feel is often the best indicator of what you should do, i.e., throttle back, train harder, keep status quo, take a break. Don’t get all distracted by involved set/rep routines stick to the basics, bench press/push up, squat, hang from a bar if you can’t get a pull up. Finally, over training is the hardest thing for us older (I’m 48) athletes to avoid. Good luck and keep posting. jim

Thanks to all for advice and encouragement.