T Nation

Training Volume Over 35

OK, I’m 34 and 4 months, but I have a question for those getting stronger past the age of 35.

What would you say is an ideal volume, or range of volumes of training per week DRUG FREE.

To keep it simple, lets say your AVERAGE set is 5 CHALLENGING reps, and your only doing major compound lifts
Squats, Deads, GMS, Pulls, Overhead and bench presses, rows, pullups, lets say about half lower body and half upper body.

Or might TIME spent training hard be a better guideline?

So just to get a feel for what people are doing, put a number of sets, or set range down that you have averaged over the course of a year PER WEEK, or average time training hard per week.
If you count sets of smaller exercises like curls, or direct tricep work, leg curls etc, you may want to cut the sets down to 1/2 or 1/3 to keep the numbers standardized.

For me, using those parameters, I probably would say that at my current level, about 50 “standardized” sets per week would be right down the middle. Over 80 or so is bound to put me in over"reaching" within a couple weeks and less than say 30 is really not an effective dose.

Funny thing is, I could probably get 50 hard sets in in no more than 2 hours of total weekly training, and I usually spend 4-5 hours in the weightroom per week.

Thanks all.

I just turned 35 about two weeks ago, so I’ll chime in here with my 2 cents. For years, I made the mistake of thinking I was a “hardgainer” and, consequently, limited my volume and training frequency. Needless to say, that was a complete mistake, and I wasted years of training potential.

Basically, I underestimated what my body was capable of. After I started following CP’s training principles (10X3 and so forth) I grew like a weed. At those volumes I limited my training to three or four days a week and trained each bodypart once a week. After about three years of that (and starting to get both burnt out and bored with it) I recently switched to Dan John’s OLAD. I’ve read more than one article on this site stating that advanced lifters should spend the majority of their training time below 6 reps but should vary their volume constantly. OLAD seemed to fit the bill perfectly.

To keep a long story short—I’ve set more PR’s in the last 6 weeks than I’ve set in the last 3 years or so. In the past I would’ve NEVER considered working out 5 days a week with nothing but the “Big” exercises. There tends to be a lot of overlap between muscle groups during the week, and I was concerned that I might “overtrain”. Well, I haven’t. In fact, I’m getting stronger by the week.

I guess the moral of my story is this—Don’t underestimate what you’re capable of. I cheated myself for years by thinking that I was a “hardgainer” and “getting older” and stayed away from high volumes. High volumes, and greater frequency, turned out to be my holy grail. I’ve dumped all the crap and gone back to NOTHING BUT the basics, and it’s the smartest training decision I’ve ever made. The only caveat I would leave you with is this—NEVER go to failure. Since I switched to higher volumes and lower reps, I ALWAYS leave one or two reps in the hole. Going to failure will trash your CNS like nothing else, and you WILL overtrain! I hope this helps.

[quote]Jeff_with_a_G wrote:
I just turned 35 about two weeks ago, so I’ll chime in here with my 2 cents. For years, I made the mistake of thinking I was a “hardgainer” and, consequently, limited my volume and training frequency. Needless to say, that was a complete mistake, and I wasted years of training potential.

Basically, I underestimated what my body was capable of. After I started following CP’s training principles (10X3 and so forth) I grew like a weed. At those volumes I limited my training to three or four days a week and trained each bodypart once a week. After about three years of that (and starting to get both burnt out and bored with it) I recently switched to Dan John’s OLAD. I’ve read more than one article on this site stating that advanced lifters should spend the majority of their training time below 6 reps but should vary their volume constantly. OLAD seemed to fit the bill perfectly.

To keep a long story short—I’ve set more PR’s in the last 6 weeks than I’ve set in the last 3 years or so. In the past I would’ve NEVER considered working out 5 days a week with nothing but the “Big” exercises. There tends to be a lot of overlap between muscle groups during the week, and I was concerned that I might “overtrain”. Well, I haven’t. In fact, I’m getting stronger by the week.

I guess the moral of my story is this—Don’t underestimate what you’re capable of. I cheated myself for years by thinking that I was a “hardgainer” and “getting older” and stayed away from high volumes. High volumes, and greater frequency, turned out to be my holy grail. I’ve dumped all the crap and gone back to NOTHING BUT the basics, and it’s the smartest training decision I’ve ever made. The only caveat I would leave you with is this—NEVER go to failure. Since I switched to higher volumes and lower reps, I ALWAYS leave one or two reps in the hole. Going to failure will trash your CNS like nothing else, and you WILL overtrain! I hope this helps. [/quote]
Trust me 35 is NOT old in terms of weightlifting,take this from someone who will be 52 next month and lifted since 14. Once you get to 45ish is when you will really need to change up. Then 3 days a week Total body with varying rep ranges or a 4 day a week is still fine mix your cardio in always you will be FINE for a few more years. Wish I was 35 again I wish guys would quit thinking it is ugh!!!

I see zero difference in my stamina and I’m 49.

Peronally, I think if you have taken care of yourself all your life training does not have to change much at all as you get older. It’s another one of those myths, like “the hard gainer” myth.

I do about 80 to 100 sets per week, plus cardio work. I refuse to concede one inch of groud because of age. In fact, I have set new and more difficult goals to achieve. I’m stronger, faster and most importantly smarter than I was 20 years ago.

Let everyone find their own path, but here is what I do:

  1. Eat naturally-Fruits, vegetables and meats. If man makes it don’t eat it. (Jack Lalane said that first and he’s right, he will also be 91 in September and trains two hours per day).

  2. Supplement regularly-I take (natural) vitamins and supplements three times per day every day and have for many years. Just make sure you do the research and take the right ones. Stay away from drugs. I don’t even take a Tylonol. Have you noticed that every few years they come up with a list of new side effects for these long time “trusted” drugs?

  3. Sleep 8 hours per night. Forget what they tell you relative to everyone being different, get your 8 per night if you want to stay healthy and continue to gain muscle.

  4. What goes into the mouth is not as important as what comes out. Be honest with everyone, treat people the way you want to be treated and give to others. It’s amaxzing the positive impact this can have on your health.

  5. Craft a challenging routine, but don’t do it for more than eight weeks. Then take a few days off and raise the bar for the next 8 weeks. Keep your sessions 30 to 60 minutes, and no longer. Actually, I rarely train over 45 minutes. Oh…and stay away from joint killers like the Barbell Bench Press.

  6. I’m big on restorative therapy. Swim, massage, heavy use of ice, ultra sound therapy. You name it and I do it! I can always afford an extra 20 minutes per night if it means I get to keep training at this pace.

  7. Stay away from drugs. I don’t even take a Tylonol. Have you noticed that every few years they come up with a list of new side effects for these long time “trusted” drugs? My wife says I’m a bit fanatical when it comes to this, but I have not been to see a doctor, except for an every other year check up, in almost 20 years!

  8. Do your cardio! I don’t what the latest guru says about cardio and muscle wasting. Hit cardio two or three days per week. I do one day of long distance and two days of “sprint” training; hills, 1/4 or 220yds, whatever I’m in the mood for.

  9. Keep a positive mental outlook regarding your age. Don’t ever let anyone tell you that you can’t do something because you happen to be 10, 20 or 30 years older than them. They are stereotyping you! No different than someone stereotyping another because of sex, race or any other reason. It’s pure BULLCRAP!

Mert

Until the Staley program, I did 5 sets of 5 for 4-6 exercises 3 days a week, per Brooks Kubik’s Dinosaur Training, with some sandbag or kettlebell work in between. First 2 sets were warm ups.

I found this worked very well, and I got more for less, so to speak.

Now that I am in the TeamStaley Transformation for this summer, things have changed (obviously!) but I’ll have more to say about that later.

Steve Weiner (and others since) have had alot to say about not letting age be a factor in accomplishment in the gym, and he is a great example of just that.

40 is the new 30. You’re still a kid!

Iron John

[quote]ZEB wrote:
I see zero difference in my stamina and I’m 49.
[/quote]

You know, it was probably a mistake for me to link this to age. I was more interested in adjustments made when someone gets more advanced and can lift a lot more weight. I first started making real progress when I pushed my volume up to 75-90 total sets (about half compound and half isolation) per week several years ago. I could handle those workouts fine now, but its a little different squatting 5 x 5 with 365 than with 225 for example, and I’m wondering if at some pont I really need to monitor volume.

I generally try to finish a workout in 45 minutes after my first hard set, and will train 7 days a week. This means for me, 3-4 exercises, 4-5 WORK sets a day, about half compound exercises and about half more isolation. Counting the isolation/smaller exercises as 1/2, and assuming I take a day or two off a month and a week off every 4-6 months, I came up with about 60 “sets” a week, and figured that I usually feel like I push the volume just a little too much.

I’m 36 and I do 3 workouts per week, taking off a few extra days every 4 weeks or so. I do only compound lifts. For example, my current scheme is DL and Clean & Press on day 1,OH squats and pull/chin ups on day 3, DB Incline press and Front Squats day 5. I rotate my set/rep schemes between 3x8, 4x6, 5x5, 10x wavelike with sets 5-9 as singles or doubles.

My workouts usually last about 30 minutes including one warmup set. I usually do about 10 minutes of a warmup circuit beforehand consisting of jumprope, ab work, swings, etc and follow each workout with about 10 minutes of stretching. All-in about 50 minutes. I also get in impromptu GPP on the weekend, such as carrying a rock around the yard. I will probably go to a structured routine (ABBH I) after Labor Day.

A lot depends on my workload, travel and family obligations, and I’ve found that this has worked out really well for me right now.

DB

There’s a guy around named Dan John … you might have heard of him? He might know something about this … just a thought.

Bastard!

Sets are not a great way to measure volume, total number of barbell lifts (NBL)above 50% of your 1RM is much better, and everybody from the Russians to Rickey Crain to Ed Coan say the volume drops slightly as you get older and stronger. The way you do that is do less reps in a set(3-7) and more sets(3-10), and use heavier weights as a percent of 1RM. CW’s "Set/Rep Bible " article really is a great place to start to get your head around all this.

In general, my research and experience shows 50-200 total lifts is about the right range in a workout. There a million ways to do your workouts, but excessive work with light weights and high reps(8-15) works only for young genetic freaks on great drugs. Lift heavier weights for low reps, then some much higher rep(25+)with very light weigths or just bands for recovery.

i am 43 and do at least 4 workouts a week staying in the 50-150 NBL range mostly, working with 70-110% of my 1RM. i do 3-5 extra workouts minimum.

great post

Volume? Just play it loud, man.

[quote]jackreape wrote:
Sets are not a great way to measure volume, total number of barbell lifts (NBL)above 50% of your 1RM is much better, and everybody from the Russians to Rickey Crain to Ed Coan say the volume drops slightly as you get older and stronger. The way you do that is do less reps in a set(3-7) and more sets(3-10), and use heavier weights as a percent of 1RM. CW’s "Set/Rep Bible " article really is a great place to start to get your head around all this.

In general, my research and experience shows 50-200 total lifts is about the right range in a workout. There a million ways to do your workouts, but excessive work with light weights and high reps(8-15) works only for young genetic freaks on great drugs. Lift heavier weights for low reps, then some much higher rep(25+)with very light weigths or just bands for recovery.

i am 43 and do at least 4 workouts a week staying in the 50-150 NBL range mostly, working with 70-110% of my 1RM. i do 3-5 extra workouts minimum.[/quote]

Jack,

I have been following these guidelines as well. Is 50-150 NBL the total for each specific competitive lift for the week or are you doing 50-150 NBL for each workout?

For example, if my volume is very high that week and I am at 170 NBL and I am training the bench, which I do three times a week in various forms, I will break it up and do 80 NBL on the first workout, 40 NBL on the second bench day and then 50 NBL on the third bench training day. Am I incorrect in figuring this and doing it wrong? Thanks for your input!

Andy

[quote]ZEB wrote:
I see zero difference in my stamina and I’m 49.

Peronally, I think if you have taken care of yourself all your life training does not have to change much at all as you get older. It’s another one of those myths, like “the hard gainer” myth.

I do about 80 to 100 sets per week, plus cardio work. I refuse to concede one inch of groud because of age. In fact, I have set new and more difficult goals to achieve. I’m stronger, faster and most importantly smarter than I was 20 years ago.

Let everyone find their own path, but here is what I do:

  1. Eat naturally-Fruits, vegetables and meats. If man makes it don’t eat it. (Jack Lalane said that first and he’s right, he will also be 91 in September and trains two hours per day).

  2. Supplement regularly-I take (natural) vitamins and supplements three times per day every day and have for many years. Just make sure you do the research and take the right ones. Stay away from drugs. I don’t even take a Tylonol. Have you noticed that every few years they come up with a list of new side effects for these long time “trusted” drugs?

  3. Sleep 8 hours per night. Forget what they tell you relative to everyone being different, get your 8 per night if you want to stay healthy and continue to gain muscle.

  4. What goes into the mouth is not as important as what comes out. Be honest with everyone, treat people the way you want to be treated and give to others. It’s amaxzing the positive impact this can have on your health.

  5. Craft a challenging routine, but don’t do it for more than eight weeks. Then take a few days off and raise the bar for the next 8 weeks. Keep your sessions 30 to 60 minutes, and no longer. Actually, I rarely train over 45 minutes. Oh…and stay away from joint killers like the Barbell Bench Press.

  6. I’m big on restorative therapy. Swim, massage, heavy use of ice, ultra sound therapy. You name it and I do it! I can always afford an extra 20 minutes per night if it means I get to keep training at this pace.

  7. Stay away from drugs. I don’t even take a Tylonol. Have you noticed that every few years they come up with a list of new side effects for these long time “trusted” drugs? My wife says I’m a bit fanatical when it comes to this, but I have not been to see a doctor, except for an every other year check up, in almost 20 years!

  8. Do your cardio! I don’t what the latest guru says about cardio and muscle wasting. Hit cardio two or three days per week. I do one day of long distance and two days of “sprint” training; hills, 1/4 or 220yds, whatever I’m in the mood for.

  9. Keep a positive mental outlook regarding your age. Don’t ever let anyone tell you that you can’t do something because you happen to be 10, 20 or 30 years older than them. They are stereotyping you! No different than someone stereotyping another because of sex, race or any other reason. It’s pure BULLCRAP!

[/quote]

Excellent advice I am 47 I don?t do as much volume as zeb. I do about 60 to 70 sets.

I’ll be 37 in August and still getting stronger, up and mix your volume or intensity slowly, have a heavy day and a light day with a couple of feeder/recovery additional workouts during the week.

50-150 is NBL total per workout as a rough guidline for a recreational lifter. This can lead to weeks with about 100-250 lifts in each lift. I only did about 70 last week in the BP because i did a lot of work above 90%, about 38 in the squat, and 23 in the dl as i am just getting the sq/dl back up to speed.

CW 25-50 reps of a main complex exercise is excellent guidance. Then 25-50 of an assitance move and you are good to go.

jack

1st time poster here and my posting will be a bit volumnious just to get the info out of the way.

Male. Age 39. 5’8" and 175 lbs. Lifted weights for 21 years but took 3 years off to concentrate more on Aikido (2nd kyu going for 1st kyu, then black belt). Been doing Aikido since 1997. Decided to get back into heavy lifting again after a 3 year hiatus. Tomorrow will be the beginning of my 3rd month working out and have made quick gains, naturally. Plan to put on another 10 lbs or so before combining weight training with Aikido practice which will help the excess fat I may have built up. I went from 152lbs to currently 175lbs in 2 months time with helpings of weight gain drinks.

Prior to my layoff from weight training 3 years ago my bodyweight was 152-154lbs with best bench at 330lbs, squat 410 (in 1999 and had to get away from squats because of lower back problems) and deadlift (which I rarely do) was around 330lbs in a 1999 PL meet at a bodyweight of 142.

I am slowly easing into my training routine 5 x week alternate with 4 x week. My bench is already up at 290lbs when at the beginning I could barely do 185 for a few reps two months ago.

Alternate single sled leg presses will be a new feature (rather than two legs pressing) for me going up to 6 plates for each leg x 10 reps so far and will soon go higher.

I’ll be 40 this December (watch out for me in the 40+ section!) with a goal to bench 350+. But I may actually go higher than that with the already large weight gain and increased muscle mass. What will help is my twice a month heavy partial bench presses using the power rack going from 3/4 press, 1/2 and then 1/4 presses so far at 420 x 3. But I was doing 1/4 bench presses at 520lbs x 3 at 154 lbs bodyweight 3 years ago.

Ok. Enough of the details. Late for bed. Nice reading ya’ll training posts. Lots more to read and catch up.

[quote]ZEB wrote:
I see zero difference in my stamina and I’m 49.

Peronally, I think if you have taken care of yourself all your life training does not have to change much at all as you get older. It’s another one of those myths, like “the hard gainer” myth.

I do about 80 to 100 sets per week, plus cardio work. I refuse to concede one inch of groud because of age. In fact, I have set new and more difficult goals to achieve. I’m stronger, faster and most importantly smarter than I was 20 years ago.

Let everyone find their own path, but here is what I do:

  1. Eat naturally-Fruits, vegetables and meats. If man makes it don’t eat it. (Jack Lalane said that first and he’s right, he will also be 91 in September and trains two hours per day).

  2. Supplement regularly-I take (natural) vitamins and supplements three times per day every day and have for many years. Just make sure you do the research and take the right ones. Stay away from drugs. I don’t even take a Tylonol. Have you noticed that every few years they come up with a list of new side effects for these long time “trusted” drugs?

  3. Sleep 8 hours per night. Forget what they tell you relative to everyone being different, get your 8 per night if you want to stay healthy and continue to gain muscle.

  4. What goes into the mouth is not as important as what comes out. Be honest with everyone, treat people the way you want to be treated and give to others. It’s amaxzing the positive impact this can have on your health.

  5. Craft a challenging routine, but don’t do it for more than eight weeks. Then take a few days off and raise the bar for the next 8 weeks. Keep your sessions 30 to 60 minutes, and no longer. Actually, I rarely train over 45 minutes. Oh…and stay away from joint killers like the Barbell Bench Press.

  6. I’m big on restorative therapy. Swim, massage, heavy use of ice, ultra sound therapy. You name it and I do it! I can always afford an extra 20 minutes per night if it means I get to keep training at this pace.

  7. Stay away from drugs. I don’t even take a Tylonol. Have you noticed that every few years they come up with a list of new side effects for these long time “trusted” drugs? My wife says I’m a bit fanatical when it comes to this, but I have not been to see a doctor, except for an every other year check up, in almost 20 years!

  8. Do your cardio! I don’t what the latest guru says about cardio and muscle wasting. Hit cardio two or three days per week. I do one day of long distance and two days of “sprint” training; hills, 1/4 or 220yds, whatever I’m in the mood for.

  9. Keep a positive mental outlook regarding your age. Don’t ever let anyone tell you that you can’t do something because you happen to be 10, 20 or 30 years older than them. They are stereotyping you! No different than someone stereotyping another because of sex, race or any other reason. It’s pure BULLCRAP!

[/quote]

ZEB,

Your advice is dead on brother. I’m 47 soon to be 48 and have been living a very similar lifestyle to you. Our philosophies on training are mirror images.

ZEB’s post is about the best I’ve read on here.

Heed this advice and you’ll be able to train indefinitely.

AB