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PostPosted: Thu Dec 29, 2011 12:06 pm 
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Hi all,

I'm 60 YO male, doing resistance training for about 6 months, and I'm at a loss trying to figure out how my age should affect the usual guidelines for gaining some muscle mass. To be more specific, I am looking for data about the optimal parameters like set length, resistance value (say as a fraction of RM1), recovery timse between sets and between sessions etc. The trainers in my Gym do not seem to know much about it, so I get the same advice as young trainees do.

Same is true for almost all the data I see on the net. It refers to young people, and I doubt it does not change with age. For example, it seems that 48 hours is not enough recovery time for me (The Statins I take do not help in this respect, Q10 does not seem to have any effect whatsoever) so I moved to AB program. I still have no idea if I shoud stick with 12X3 sets for the large muscles, or maybe 9X4 is better for me. 15X2 is out of the question as I can't work at anything close to my RM1 because of frequent injuries (I handle muscle pain easily, but inflamation of joints and tendons is a total disaster, as it takes forever to get better so it prohibits training for long periods of time).

Will appreciate any advice or pointers to online sources.


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 29, 2011 12:33 pm 
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Josh, you bring up several points.

Recovery: The typical program, even the better ones, assume recovery similar to that of young men. That's the first mistake. As you already noted, you don't recover that fast, neither do I. By the same token, I need to workout frequently in order to maintain strength and conditioning. There's a happy medium out there that is different for everyone. I would suggest 1 heavy and 1 light workout for the major movements each week and adjust from there. I tend to stay away from single joint exercises simply because of the wear and tear on the joints.

Statins: Statins have no proven value for anyone of your age. In fact the only population in which a benefit has been seen is in men aged 65 or more that already have heart disease, and the benefit doesn't come from the cholestrol lowering effect, it comes from the anti-inflammatory effects. You would get the same thing from fish oil. One of the most common side effects of Statins is muscle pain and weakness. It's often not noticed in people your age since most think it's normal. Very few athletes take statins because of this reason. I strongly encourage you to stop the statins and adopt a paleo type diet.

Reps/sets: Ideally you should vary the reps and sets so that you work a range of attributes. 10 reps sets are about as long as you need although some people like longer sets for lower body. The sweet spot for strength is about 5 reps/set. Going heavier once in a while is good to challenge your tendons and make them stronger. Maybe once a month, go heavier than 5 reps. Keep the total number of reps per movement per workout in the 15-50 range and that should give you a good stimulus without being rediculous. Some do better at the upper or lower end of the range so experiment a bit.

C Q10: Another side effect of statins is that it depletes C Q10. This precursor hormone is needed by your heart. You can get it from meat, organ meat especially beef heart is the best source. If you're on statins, you need to take C Q10 for your heart's sake. Better is to get off the statins anyway.

Stu

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Let thy food be thy medicine, and thy medicine be thy food.~Hippocrates
Strength is the adaptation that leads to all other adaptations that you really care about - Charles Staley
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 29, 2011 4:41 pm 
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Doc, Tim? :laughing3:

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PostPosted: Thu Dec 29, 2011 9:27 pm 
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Welcome, Josh.

We have quite a few older lifters here. One of the other factors to think about is your "training age". Some of us have been training for years, many since their teens, but some of us are relative beginners. I started training seriously in my early 50s, and I'm not well into my late 50s.

There are several areas of adjustment you'll have to make in training compared to younger men, and compared to experienced trainers of your age. You and Stu have touched on the recovery issue, and that's important.

You also need to consider something referred to as "work capacity". That's simply the ability to do large volumes of work in a given time, and recover adequately. It is often discussed in terms of "total work", the number of reps multiplied by the weight. So if you are lifting 3x8x100lb, that's 2400lb of work. That's a crude measure, and affected by a number of factors, but it gives you a starting place to think about what you are doing. So, in choosing a rep/set scheme, you need to consider that. If you are considering sets of 12 or 15, you might want to reconsider. Then you have to think about how much load you can handle within your chosen rep/set scheme. Obviously, you won't be able to lift very heavy loads at 12 or15 reps! Your work capacity will be lower than it was at a younger age, but it can be trained and improved. Recovering from a large volume of work is often harder, or at least longer than recovery from high load. So recovery might be easier after 3x5x120 than 2x10x80, even though the total work is similar.

Rate of progression may be slower than for younger lifters. You will increase the load as well as the reps and sets more slowly.

You need to look at how the training is spread out over time. Recovery is more difficult if all your workouts are equally demanding. If you are lifting heavy every time, you probably won't be able to handle 3 or 4 workouts per week. If you plan to do your heavier lifting after adequate rest (say a 2 or 3-day break) and then make your next workout after a 1-day break a less demanding one, you may be able to handle it better. If the second workout is less fatiguing than the first, recovery from the first can continue.

For now you can give fairly equal attention to 3 or 4 main lifts. Don't try to do 12 or 15 and treat them all with equal importance! Pick a few that are important to you, a few that are of less importance and maybe a few more that are occasional assistance work.

Wow, I just discovered that I'm about to be late for work, so I gotta go. This subject is dear to my heart, so I'd be glad to continue the dialog.

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PostPosted: Thu Dec 29, 2011 9:30 pm 
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hoosegow wrote:
Doc, Tim? :laughing3:

Yeah? Whaddya want? :roll:

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PostPosted: Fri Dec 30, 2011 9:58 am 
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There is a tiny bit of discussion about this in the 5/3/1 for power-lifting book (and I haven't seen it in any of the other editions?). I think it suggested training 2 days per week and doing accessory work by feel. Don't go out and buy it just for that, but if you're keen on that kind of program, it might be worth a look for you.


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PostPosted: Fri Dec 30, 2011 10:17 am 
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Here's an interesting article on recovery. It's all the more important for older trainees.
http://www.precisionnutrition.com/all-about-recovery

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Let thy food be thy medicine, and thy medicine be thy food.~Hippocrates
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 01, 2012 4:09 am 
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Thanks for the tips, Stu.

stuward wrote:
Recovery: The typical program, even the better ones, assume recovery similar to that of young men. That's the first mistake. As you already noted, you don't recover that fast, neither do I. By the same token, I need to workout frequently in order to maintain strength and conditioning. There's a happy medium out there that is different for everyone. I would suggest 1 heavy and 1 light workout for the major movements each week and adjust from there. I tend to stay away from single joint exercises simply because of the wear and tear on the joints.

For me it seems that machines are better than weights for injury prevention, so I have to ignore all the (reasonably logical) advice I read on the net about it. The reason is that my stabillizers are probably not strong enough to do their job correctly. I understand this is a case of a vicious cycle because by using machines I don't give them a chance to get stronger, but I don't see a way around it. For example, dumbbell/barbell shoulder press seems to hurt my left shoulder, while using the Smith machine solves the problem (BTW, don't get the wrong impression that I lift heavy weights. As a matter of fact I'm too embaraced to quote the numbers here, so let me just say that if I drop the weights on some ant's head, the poor creature would probably suffer from a mild concussion).
Quote:
Statins: Statins have no proven value for anyone of your age.

With all due respect I prefer to stay away from this topic. I only brought up statins as a side comment.
Quote:
Reps/sets: Ideally you should vary the reps and sets so that you work a range of attributes. 10 reps sets are about as long as you need although some people like longer sets for lower body. The sweet spot for strength is about 5 reps/set. Going heavier once in a while is good to challenge your tendons and make them stronger. Maybe once a month, go heavier than 5 reps. Keep the total number of reps per movement per workout in the 15-50 range and that should give you a good stimulus without being rediculous. Some do better at the upper or lower end of the range so experiment a bit.

5 reps/set is too harsh on my joints. I'm doing 12 and some 10 (e.g. Skull Crusher) reps in 3 sets. however, I think the total number of reps/movement/workout is in the range you specified.


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PostPosted: Sun Jan 01, 2012 5:12 am 
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Jungledoc wrote:
Welcome, Josh.

Thanks! Be warned: If you guys will go on giving me the good advice I might stay along...
Quote:
We have quite a few older lifters here. One of the other factors to think about is your "training age". Some of us have been training for years, many since their teens, but some of us are relative beginners. I started training seriously in my early 50s, and I'm not well into my late 50s.

Mine is about 6 month, so I'm just a babe in the gym :-)
Quote:
You also need to consider something referred to as "work capacity". That's simply the ability to do large volumes of work in a given time, and recover adequately. It is often discussed in terms of "total work", the number of reps multiplied by the weight. So if you are lifting 3x8x100lb, that's 2400lb of work. That's a crude measure, and affected by a number of factors, but it gives you a starting place to think about what you are doing. So, in choosing a rep/set scheme, you need to consider that. If you are considering sets of 12 or 15, you might want to reconsider. Then you have to think about how much load you can handle within your chosen rep/set scheme. Obviously, you won't be able to lift very heavy loads at 12 or15 reps! Your work capacity will be lower than it was at a younger age, but it can be trained and improved. Recovering from a large volume of work is often harder, or at least longer than recovery from high load. So recovery might be easier after 3x5x120 than 2x10x80, even though the total work is similar.

This is a crude measure allright, apples and oranges (or should I say biceps and quadriceps). I mean one picture might be worth a sousand words, but for sure one squat is not equal ten arm curls... Would be nice to have a calculator that will take into account the different exercises and muscle groups and give a total grade to the workout effort. Since ExRx has that wide collection of both, maybe they can develop such a calculator (i couldn't find one in the "calculators" section. BTW, seems there is much to improve there, but that's another topic).
Quote:
Rate of progression may be slower than for younger lifters. You will increase the load as well as the reps and sets more slowly.

Tell me about it :-)
Quote:
You need to look at how the training is spread out over time. Recovery is more difficult if all your workouts are equally demanding. If you are lifting heavy every time, you probably won't be able to handle 3 or 4 workouts per week. If you plan to do your heavier lifting after adequate rest (say a 2 or 3-day break) and then make your next workout after a 1-day break a less demanding one, you may be able to handle it better. If the second workout is less fatiguing than the first, recovery from the first can continue.

I do 3 workout sessions per week and I'm doing an alternating AB program so that I have 3-4 days of rest between workouts of the same muscle groups, although there is some unavoidable overlap (e.g. pull ups that involve the biceps etc.). It just so happens the A part is more demanding than the B (legs are done on the A). I got to the AB idea myself just a month ago as opposed to being instructed to it by a trainer in my gym, and that's one of the reasons I went to look for knowledge on the net, where I found this ExRx great site.
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For now you can give fairly equal attention to 3 or 4 main lifts. Don't try to do 12 or 15 and treat them all with equal importance! Pick a few that are important to you, a few that are of less importance and maybe a few more that are occasional assistance work.

I'm not sure I get the point here. I'm doing 4 main muscle groups per workout , 3 different execises for each group except for the belly and lower back that get only one.
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This subject is dear to my heart, so I'd be glad to continue the dialog.

Great, so do I. Thanks again.


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PostPosted: Sun Jan 01, 2012 6:05 am 
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josh60 wrote:
I'm not sure I get the point here. I'm doing 4 main muscle groups per workout , 3 different execises for each group except for the belly and lower back that get only one.


some folks think it matters to get stronger on specific lifts, as if you were training for some Exercise X competition. If General Fitenss is your goal, personally, I doubt it matters. However, I'd keep in mind if you continue with the lifting bug, it's quite likely you will want to put more iron on the bar steadily. Doing so consistantly is hard enough with a few lifts. If you push yourself with 12 exercises each time, I'd imagine you will platue quicker on your "favorites" than if you use the othere 8 for assistance.
I don't know much and am always learning. Most foks regurgitate what they read and then leanr something else, and regurgitate that. There are some universal truths though.


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PostPosted: Sun Jan 01, 2012 8:38 am 
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The machines vs weights debate could go on for years. There is a continuum of stability that needs to be considered. The more unstable the exercise, the more your small stabilizer muscles are involved, the more stable the exercise, the more the prime target muscles are involved. If you spend more time on the stable exercises at first, you risk that the strong main muscles will overpower the weak stabilizer muscles causing an injury. This is a gross oversimplification. of course but it illustrates that working out solely with machines is not the safest method.

I'd rather see you spend some time on bodyweight exercises with some single limb exercises. These will engage the core muscles more. Then when you eventually progress in your heavier exercises, your stabilizers will be up to the task.

The number of exercises per workout depends on what type of exercises you're doing. 3-4 full body exercises like pressing, rows, squats and deadlifts are more effective than a 15 station circuit type program. However, you need to do what you're comfortable with.

I won't talk about statins again as long as you get my take away points. It will have a detrimental effect on your muscles and your health and you must continue C Q10 while on statins even if you don't think you're getting anything out of it.

For rep ranges, cycle the reps so you're doing high reps part of the time and low reps part of the time. Your body gets used to the same rep range quickly and it's the easiest way to keep the program fresh and keep your body continually adapting to new stimulus.

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Let thy food be thy medicine, and thy medicine be thy food.~Hippocrates
Strength is the adaptation that leads to all other adaptations that you really care about - Charles Staley
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 01, 2012 10:42 pm 
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josh60 wrote:
This is a crude measure allright, apples and oranges (or should I say biceps and quadriceps). I mean one picture might be worth a sousand words, but for sure one squat is not equal ten arm curls... Would be nice to have a calculator that will take into account the different exercises and muscle groups and give a total grade to the workout effort. Since ExRx has that wide collection of both, maybe they can develop such a calculator (i couldn't find one in the "calculators" section. BTW, seems there is much to improve there, but that's another topic).

You've missed my meaning here. No one compares work capacity on curls to work capacity on squats! That would be silly. You can discuss the work you do on squats today with the work you do on squats next week, or the work you do on curls now with what you did when you were 17, but why would you ever compare squats to curls?

My point is that you have to think about your work capacity. A program that has you doing 5x5x100 pounds (on whatever lift) probably will be much harder for you to sustain than one that has you doing 3x4x120 (on tht same lift). That's 2500 pounds of work compared to 1440. You'd probably increase strength better, and be less likely to have issues with fatigue with the second program. But work capacity can be trained. Don't try to jump from doing 1400 pounds of work to 2500 overnight. Far better to add work slowly. That is often not considered in planning a program.

You say you can't work at anything near your 1RM, but I say it's all in how you do it. You won't gain much strength if you don't do some lifting in the upper end of your capacity. When the weight gets heavy is when you have to pay attention to the the total work. You said that you can't do 15 sets of 2 as you can't go anywhere near your 1 RM. If that's how you try going near your 1RM, then well, of course! 15 sets of 2 would be brutal for a very experienced lifter. But if you are doing 3 sets of 4 relatively-heavy reps, there is room to gradually increase. Add a rep per session for a while. Then try 4 sets of 4. As the volume gradually builds up, then drop the rep count back down but with a bit more weight and continue the process. All the options you mention include a large total number of reps, so the total work is going to be very high. Many programs are build on the use of Prilipin's table (no, I'm not going to look up the correct spelling) which was from descriptive research done on elite Russian Olympic weightlifters. That's what many people use to design programs for middle-aged men trying to get a little stronger. The research just doesn't apply. You are talking about 36 reps. You probably need to be thinking about 10 or 12 reps at your working weights.

What I was saying about emphasis is that you can't expect to make good progress if you give equal emphasis to every exercise. You say that you do 4 muscle groups (more on this concept in a minute) with up to 3 exercises per muscle group. The only way that you can sustain this is if you don't work very hard at any one lift! You have to give mediocre effort to each lift, and your results will be mediocre. If you want to make good progress, you have to decide what's important to you. You can't imagine that a curl and a squat are of equal value, can you? You need to both decide what's important overall (lift-time perspective) and what you want to emphasize right now (a 1-month to 1-year perspective). Then structure your workout accordingly. If the squat is more important than the curl, then don't spend equal time on them. Don't put equal energy into them. Your high-priority exercises should be given more time and effort. They should be done when you are the most rested in your work-out week, and at the beginning of your workout. As I mentioned, I currently have one lifting day when I only do one exercise. It's the lift that I have decided is my top priority for the next 6 months to a year. Not for the rest of my life, but I want to make progress on this, so I don't want to dilute my effort much. There are 2 other lifts that are "tier-2" lifts for me, and I do them together on the second day of my training week. 3 other lifts are important to me, but I'm willing to allow them to simmer on the back burner for now.

Here's a link that might be helpful on this topic.

Why do you need 3 exercises per muscle group? Yeah, they can have slightly different emphasis, but not THAT different. If you try to think about muscles or even muscle groups, there is an overwhelming number of exercises you will feel that you "need" to be doing. Think movement. That's what your body does. Although you can quibble, that can be reduced pretty well to 6 major movements: vertical push (think press), vertical pull (think chinups), horizontal push (think bench), horizontal pull (think row), quad-dominant legs (think squat) and posterior chain dominant (think deadlift). Not the exercises I mentioned aren't the only possibility for each movement. There are many good ones in almost all categories.

What Stu said about machine vs. free-weight vs. body-weight exercises is very important, and I agree with him enthusiastically. Instead of deciding if machines or free weights are better, you need to be doing good, safe body-weight work. You are worrying about the difference between an MBS and an MA, when you haven't started college yet. You can be working on body-weight squats, several varieties of single-leg work, push-ups, pull-ups, horizontal rows, etc. As you gain strength at those, then start to include a little added weight to those. Only when you can't practically add weight to those should you graduate to dumbbells and then to a barbell. Body-weight work will build your stabilizers, and your endurance and your work capacity.
[/ramble]

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PostPosted: Mon Jan 02, 2012 12:33 pm 
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Doc,

the latest way you learn is not always the best way for everyone


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 02, 2012 4:26 pm 
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Oscar_Actuary wrote:
Doc,

the latest way you learn is not always the best way for everyone

Oscar, what do you mean?

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PostPosted: Mon Jan 02, 2012 11:15 pm 
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Jungledoc wrote:
Oscar_Actuary wrote:
Doc,

the latest way you learn is not always the best way for everyone

Oscar, what do you mean?


The literal meaning is clear, ya?

I suspect you are asking about what's between the lines. :tongue:
Your posts have lately reflected strong loyalty to your new found temple cult support group. Reminds me of a scene from GWH.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QnZ0Y4rvz6E


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