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Where to Start a 59 Year Old Newbie?

I have a 59 year old friend who wants to start lifting.

This past week we tested his lifting max for each major lift and dropped them to 80%. His numbers are:

Squat 140
Bench 110
Press 70
Dead Lift 165

He osteoarthritis and has mobility issues in his knees, shoulders, and lower back and had trouble with De’Francos Agile 8. and has trouble jumping and throwing. He does walk 30 to 45 minutes a day and weighs 175 pounds. His goal is overall strength, mobility, and conditioning which is why I suggested 5/3/1 over Starting Strength.

My question is which program to start him with? I thought Triumvirate or 2 day a week, but not sure he can handle the volume. Also would you suggest 5 Pros instead of the original 5/3/1 AMRAP?

Also, what would you suggest for jumps, throws, and mobility?


I would suggest 5’s PRO with 5x5 FSL. Keep it light, of course, and let him adapt to barbell movements. Don’t be afraid to skip/alter some of the main lifts depending on form/mobility issues. For example, trap bar deadlifts might be an option of deadlifts (or even back squats) are not a viable option.

I would suggest choosing calisthenics, KB swings, and DB squats are the primary assistance work.

I’d be careful here. If he hasn’t done anything explosive in a long time, I might stay away from box jumps. Submaximal throws or broad jumps might be an option, depending on his interests/ability. Just don’t let him go too hard on these at the beginning.

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Disclaimer: I’m pretty inexperienced, but…

Is it a good idea to jump at all, given the impact to the joints? You can get a similar effect by throwing a med Ball vertically or back over your head from an Underhand grip (like the KB/keg/sandbag toss in strongman). It gives you a pretty good triple extension with not much impact to the joints.

Also, aren’t box jumps lower impact than broad jumps? I’ve seen some footage of Joe DeFranco using box jumps (not for Max height) with some 50+ year old clients

I’m 59 (as of yesterday) and have many of the issues you list, though I have been lifting and pursuing other sports for a long time.

I would strongly suggest a 2x2x2 program (lifting/conditioning/mobility) with 5s Pro instead of 531 with PRs.

I also second avoiding the jumps. I have bad knees (3 surgeries) and for me jumps would be very painful but I have no problems with squats. Restoring the proper range of motion in his joints should be a very high priority, higher than strength or conditioning, as poor mobility cripples everything.

I also suggest your friend consider pursuing a sport that will provide many of these benefits. It is hard to beat martial arts as a source of training in mobility, conditioning, balance, coordination, and general athleticism that are very valuable as we get older.


Congrats on your dedication mate.

Thank as well as assistance you everyone.

We sat down and talked about the options and decided to go with 2x2x2 with 5 Pros and slowly adding FSL and assistance depending on how he responds and progresses.

Right now lifting will look like.

Squat 3x5 Pros
Bench 3x5 Pros
Pulldown 3x10

Trap Bar Dead Lift 3x5 Pros
Press 3x5 Pros
DB Rows 3x10

For conditioning I am just letting him keep walking 30 to 45 minutes on off days. Eventually we will add a couple days of Prowler walks for hard conditioning. Still thinking through the mobility. Thought some basic stretching while working into De’ Franco’s Agile 8 then move on from there.

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For Mobility - if you can find someone who can work with him on VERY basic yoga. VERY basic.

It has to be scaled for his ability. It will do wonders, IN ADDITION to basic mobility work. We do yoga with our athletes during the in-season and while they struggled in the beginning, it did wonders for our recovery and our “overall” readiness.

Jim, can you provide the yoga movements you consider basic? Thanks