T Nation

Training Routine Recommendation

NOTE: I originally posted this in the Beginner’s Forum, and it was recommended to post here, as you all might be able to offer better input!

Hey, all… I have a friend who wants to start a good routine. He is almost 60 years old, and has had surgery on his back (a fusion, I think?). He doesn’t feel comfortable with weights, and being a former Marine (oorah), has expressed interest in a bodyweight-only program.

Right now, he has started by modifying his diet (I’m working with him on this to the best of my abilities), and is also taking a walk for 45-60 minutes every day.

Personally, I’m at a loss as to a good program to get him on. I’ve thought about simple push-ups, pull-ups, lunges dips, and sit-ups, and possibly bodyweight squats. Are there any good, established bodyweight programs you might be able to recommend?

Any help would be much appreciated! Thanks!

Hey Darwin… welcome!

That is awesome that you are helping your friend out, good for you!

I think we may need a little bit more information to better understand and inform you properly. The guys and gals on this site are amazing and very knowledgeable (much more than me… I am new to this as well and am learning). That being said, if I was going to assist you and your buds, I would need more info… as follows;

What was his back injury? When was the surgery? What are his current limitations? What is his height and weight (bodyfat comp?)
Does he have any other physical limitations/ medical problems and or on medications?

I know some of this stuff is personal… but this is the place to let it all hang out. There are members in this forum that are dealing with… and training around a myriad of injuries and physical (some even mental! lol) limitations/ injuries… including myself.

Once again, welcome. Guys/ gals, help me out here?

Thanks for the welcome! I’m definitely testing the waters on being able to help others learn how to train (especially since I’m a noob myself).

His height is 69" and he weights 225 lbs. Think of a short Santa Claus, and you’ve got the right idea (well, his beard isn’t white).

He had the back surgery almost 10 years ago, but it was a fusing (I think that’s what it’s called), so the range of motion in his lower back is non-existant. He’s also been treating with fluid injections to stabilize the fluid in his spine.

I’m trying to get him to visit his doctor to find out what he can and can’t do in regards to lifting. Until that happens, I can understand why he wants to stick with non-weight workouts.

This is what I know, but if there are other good questions to ask, I’ll ask. I told him I was consulting with people over here, and he really appreciates that I’m taking the time to help him.

How many vertebrae were fused? Fewer leaves you with greater range of movement, more limits your range of movement.

Not that it is that important though, as that area is not meant to move a whole heck of a lot to begin with.

He can essentially do any exercise that allows you to keep you lower back in normal lordosis - which is darn near everything.

I know a man with 7 vertebrae fused completely and he’s flinging 70 lb kettlebells around on a regular basis. And no namby pamby oldster rountine either.

The real problem is likely going to be his weight, body composition and diet.

Has he been completely sedentary? If so - he’ll need to work on strengthening his joints with frequent, low-intensity bodyweight exercise. Things like calesthenics, but only for a few reps, but often until his body begins to remember that it needs muscle and tendon…

[quote]skidmark wrote:
How many vertebrae were fused? Fewer leaves you with greater range of movement, more limits your range of movement.

Not that it is that important though, as that area is not meant to move a whole heck of a lot to begin with.

He can essentially do any exercise that allows you to keep you lower back in normal lordosis - which is darn near everything.

I know a man with 7 vertebrae fused completely and he’s flinging 70 lb kettlebells around on a regular basis. And no namby pamby oldster rountine either.

The real problem is likely going to be his weight, body composition and diet.

Has he been completely sedentary? If so - he’ll need to work on strengthening his joints with frequent, low-intensity bodyweight exercise. Things like calesthenics, but only for a few reps, but often until his body begins to remember that it needs muscle and tendon…[/quote]

That’s cool. I didn’t realize that the fusion was not that detrimental to lifting. I’m still going to have him talk to his doctor, as there may be other things that I don’t know about that might warrant more caution, anyway.

He’s been mostly sedentary. He works at home doing IT, and the most activity he gets is working out in his yard. He lives in North Carolina, though, so he’s able to get outside most of the year.

I’m proud of him, though. He asked me if he was a guinea pig, and I explained that I was helping him out A) because I wanted to help a friend, and B) I need experience if I’m ever going to be a trainer. He laughed, and said that, in that case, once his job situation stabilizes, he’ll get a gym membership. He just needs to know if he’s staying in NC, or moving to Texas, before he throws money into a gym.

He also told me that his walks have been increasing in distance (not time), and that he’s starting to feel really good after them. So, some progress, and I think it’s enough to show him that, yes, exercise is a GOOD thing. :slight_smile:

As far as his diet, he admitted he hasn’t been keeping his food log, but he started a new one yesterday and is going to record a week for me to analyze. At least he’s making the first steps. I think he’ll do fine!

What I would start him on is a kettlebell and swing the crap out of it. Seriously. Get a 26lb bell and start doing 2H swings.

We had a guy a couple years back off of brain Tumor surgery just come out and do swings. We had him start with 5x10 swings every day till he built up to 5x40 in less than an hour. He litterally lost 8-9" off his gut, everything firmed up and he got in much better shape.

this routine is simple, time frindly and can help build him up for a greater routine in the future.

Just my 2 cents

[quote]Brandell wrote:
What I would start him on is a kettlebell and swing the crap out of it. Seriously. Get a 26lb bell and start doing 2H swings.

We had a guy a couple years back off of brain Tumor surgery just come out and do swings. We had him start with 5x10 swings every day till he built up to 5x40 in less than an hour. He litterally lost 8-9" off his gut, everything firmed up and he got in much better shape.

this routine is simple, time frindly and can help build him up for a greater routine in the future.

Just my 2 cents [/quote]

Worth at least a buck fifty. I have to agree: the kettlebell is the most bang for the buck for beginning lifters. Swinging one strengthens everything important, and the variations one can use are surprisingly numerous.

[quote]Brandell wrote:
What I would start him on is a kettlebell and swing the crap out of it. Seriously. Get a 26lb bell and start doing 2H swings.

We had a guy a couple years back off of brain Tumor surgery just come out and do swings. We had him start with 5x10 swings every day till he built up to 5x40 in less than an hour. He litterally lost 8-9" off his gut, everything firmed up and he got in much better shape.

this routine is simple, time frindly and can help build him up for a greater routine in the future.

Just my 2 cents [/quote]

I looked up some kettlebell videos and sent them to him. He watched them and said he will look into getting one. He also mentioned that he didn’t want to contemplate the pain if he misjudged his swing.

Thanks for the suggestion! I didn’t even think about something like this!

You mentioned getting him to talk with his doctor about what he can do…umm…warn him that his doctor will most likely tell him he’s too old to lift weights and he’ll get huge if he does and end up on steeroids…and that he should actually stick to walking on a treadmill or a rowing machine…

There’s a new article about the total pushup…send that to him…Marines apparently love pushups.

Once you’re ready to get him on to weights, I recommend Waterbury’s Total Body Workout routine. It’s pretty simple and works well.

And make sure you remember the number one goal when you’re over 35 and training is to not get injured.

Well if he’s intent on doing bodyweight exercises check out bodyweightculture.com Also a good stretching/flexibility program should be included.

[quote]sen say wrote:
You mentioned getting him to talk with his doctor about what he can do…umm…warn him that his doctor will most likely tell him he’s too old to lift weights and he’ll get huge if he does and end up on steeroids…and that he should actually stick to walking on a treadmill or a rowing machine…

There’s a new article about the total pushup…send that to him…Marines apparently love pushups.

Once you’re ready to get him on to weights, I recommend Waterbury’s Total Body Workout routine. It’s pretty simple and works well.

And make sure you remember the number one goal when you’re over 35 and training is to not get injured.
[/quote]

Think it might be better to get him to go see a sports medicine doc? Maybe that would give him an honest assessment?

I never particularly cared for pushups when I was in the Corps, but yeah, they love to make you DO a LOT LOT LOT of pushups all the time, for any reason. :slight_smile:

Uh huh… pushups. I remember something about them… lol!

I spent 12 years Reg Army… I think I still owe them about 10,000 pushups lol.

Mind you, I also instructed at a Battle School, so I gave out millions of 'em too!

I gotta try these kettle bells… I haven’t even seen one yet