Older lifters, experienced and inexperienced

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Moderators: Ironman, Jungledoc, parth, stuward

How old were you when you started training seriously?

Under 20.
7
29%
20-29
8
33%
30-39
5
21%
40-49
2
8%
50-59
2
8%
 
Total votes: 24

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Jungledoc
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Older lifters, experienced and inexperienced

Post by Jungledoc » Mon Jun 30, 2008 8:33 am

I'm 55 years old, and have been lifting for about 2 years, if you don't count the weight lifting class I took in college at the dawn of recorded history. I'm aware of some older guys on this forum, such as our venerable (oops, I almost typed "vulnerable" :lol: ) moderator, TimD. But most of them, like Tim, have been lifting since they were quite young.

I'm interested in some discussion about the special situation of older lifters in general, but in particular that of less-experienced older lifters. So if you are lurking here, please speak up.

What was your experience in the early months of lifting?

Of advice that is commonly given about weights, sets, reps and progression, what have you found to fit, or to not fit your situation?

What about training schedules? Do you think older lifters can train as often as younger?

How about dietary advice? Supplements?

In a PM with Ironman, he mentioned two interrelated issues; recovery time, and lower testosterone levels. He mentioned that older men may need more recovery time. Low testosterone levels may interfere with recovery, as well as strength gains.


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Post by stuward » Mon Jun 30, 2008 9:04 am

Andy, I started training late in life. I did a little when I was younger like most people did, but not a lot and I wasn't into sports. In the military, there was the odd push up and run that I had to do but not much. I started with machines at about age 45 along with treadmill cardio. After a few years of that, I started squatting and deadlifting. That was when I finally started to feel stronger.

I don't think I'm as strong as I would have been if I had trained more when I was younger but there's no point in regrets. At this point recovery is the key. There is a fine balance between too much and too little. Nutrition is also a fine balance. It's easy to put on the fat and hard to keep the muscle on. That's probably related to testostrone. I don't have any other symptoms of low test but it's probably a factor.

One thing I did learn the hard way is that most programs are written for young people. If you follow a young person's program for too long, you will burn out and get sick, and may wind up weaker at the end than if you had taken it slower.

Volume has it's place but I find too much will burn me out quicker than heavy weights. I like to work with 3-5 reps, but only 1-2 work sets, with some higher reps at low weights for variety and stamina work.

I usually only work out about 3 days/week but sometimes I go more frequent. I have even set PRs the day after working the same movement. I find this happens mostly with legs. It's like the first day just warmed me up and the second day I was able to push harder. You have to keep looking for opportunities to provide stimulus within your capabilities.

This is a process that you have to adapt to as you go along.

Stu

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Post by Jungledoc » Mon Jun 30, 2008 4:35 pm

stuward wrote: One thing I did learn the hard way is that most programs are written for young people.
You know, that should have been obvious to me, but I didn't think about it. In the 50s you're not "old" in most respects, and it didn't occur to me that my age would be a factor, but it is. It doesn't help matters that I train with my 18 year-old son; I have to keep reminding myself that I'm only competing with myself.
stuward wrote:This is a process that you have to adapt to as you go along.
I'm learning that, somewhat painfully.

Stu, do you mind if I ask how old you are now?

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Post by stuward » Mon Jun 30, 2008 4:52 pm

Jungledoc wrote:
stuward wrote:...

Stu, do you mind if I ask how old you are now?
51

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Post by TimD » Tue Jul 01, 2008 5:00 am

Andy, in the mid 90's there were a couple of PL champs that wrote articles for PLUSA, Ascher Sharon, Greg Reschel and Dawn (Reschel) Sharon. They wrote several good articles for Masters lifters which addressed intensities and work capacities. Work with higher intensities was recommended, but at a very reduced frequency. Instead, they recommended a lot of GPP (general physical preparednes) type of workouts more frequently with loads around 60%. The idea was to stay in "shape" (whatever that actually means) and keep in touch with the major lifts, but at the same time don't go with the high intensities too often for revovery purposes. Kind of along the same lines crossfit is recommended (at a way scaled back level) for seniors and those doing rehab.
Tim


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Post by KPj » Tue Jul 01, 2008 5:36 am

The guy that runs and coaches in my local PL club is in his 60's (i'm too scared to ask his age). He is a former British number one, and WON his last comp at the age of 51. He's a bit of a character. When he talks, I just shut up and listen, so i've not asked the 3million questions i've got for him yet (not been going long). But i've noticed a few things with his training which falls in line with what Tim said.

He doesn't compete anymore, but just tries his best to maintain. He still trains the big lifts and coaches everyone. I notice that when we are all 'working in' on a certain lift or exercises, he doesn't always take part, opting to just spot and load. I also notice that when he does train the big lifts, it's with a restricted ROM i.e. Floor press or rack pulls. I've not been around long enough to see for myself, but i'm told he will go through a 4ish week phase, training the lifts full ROM, then revert back to restricting ROM.

I notice that he always looks like he could do a few more sets - so he lifts intensely, but 'leaves some in the tank'. I also notice that when we all start doing our assistance exercises (DB bench etc), he will only coach us, and do his own assistance stuff which consists of conditioning / healthy exercises like push ups, OH squats etc.

So it looks like he still trains the big 3, he still trains them intensely, but makes sure he doesn't put everything he's got into them and doesn't train them as often. And with the assistance stuff - conditioning. Clearly general fitness and maintaining flexibility.

I can tell he doesn't follow a strict program, but relies on instinct, playing it by ear. He'll just be able to tell that today he should be stepping off the gas - conditioning only. He's an inspiration. When you know he's watching you, you get stronger - amazing.

KPj

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Re: Older lifters, experienced and inexperienced

Post by Kenny Croxdale » Tue Jul 01, 2008 8:19 am

I'm interested in some discussion about the special situation of older lifters in general, but in particular that of less-experienced older lifters. So if you are lurking here, please speak up.
I started lifting when I was 16 years old. I entered my first powerlifting meet in 1969 and still compete.

I have lifted with those like you that got a late start.
What was your experience in the early months of lifting?

Of advice that is commonly given about weights, sets, reps and progression, what have you found to fit, or to not fit your situation?

What about training schedules? Do you think older lifters can train as often as younger?

How about dietary advice? Supplements?
In a PM with Ironman, he mentioned two interrelated issues; recovery time, and lower testosterone levels. He mentioned that older men may need more recovery time. Low testosterone levels may interfere with recovery, as well as strength gains.[/quote]

I agree. The main difference is recovery time. And the only you find out as to what your recovery time is, is by experimenting with it.

Kenny Croxdale

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Post by Kenny Croxdale » Tue Jul 01, 2008 8:40 am

TimD wrote:Andy, in the mid 90's there were a couple of PL champs that wrote articles for PLUSA, Ascher Sharon, Greg Reschel and Dawn (Reschel) Sharon.


Wow, I haven't heard those names for a while. You are an encyclopedia of obscure facts....:)

Dawn died of cancer, year ago. She was one of the strongest women who ever lifted.
They wrote several good articles for Masters lifters which addressed intensities and work capacities. Work with higher intensities was recommended, but at a very reduced frequency.
There is an inverse relationship between intensity and volume. When intensity goes up volume goes down and vise versa. That hold true for ever age of lifter.
Instead, they recommended a lot of GPP (general physical preparednes) type of workouts more frequently with loads around 60%. The idea was to stay in "shape" (whatever that actually means) and keep in touch with the major lifts, but at the same time don't go with the high intensities too often for revovery purposes.
One need to cycle up and down the intensity ladder. I don't see much value in training program that center around frequent loads of 60% for competitive athletes.
Kind of along the same lines crossfit is recommended (at a way scaled back level) for seniors and those doing rehab.
I understand the use for rehab work and for seniors or anyone else who just want to stay in shape...just not for those who want to excel in a sport or activity.

Kenny Croxdale

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Post by amivan » Tue Jul 01, 2008 2:19 pm

I've been training seriously for about a year now, but I have the benefit of going to school in the exercise science field along with some other things so that I have access to a lot more knowledge than most starters do. I started lifting first when I was 15 or 16, the first time I saw a gym actually, until then I was always biking or playing soccer. For those first 3 years my regiment consisted of, you guessed it the bench press, skullcrushers, and dumbbell curls but i have an excuse, I was on the track team so I thought I shouldn't train my legs (yeah I know) and my coaches weren't big on instructing us what to do in the weight room (something I wish they would've done probably for the rest of my life) but i was fortunate enough that in my senior year I started going to the HS gym on my own after practices and working with a former Olympic weightlifting judge who would run the gym afterschool and he started introducing me to things like the power clean and squats (amazing stuff!) from then on I started to research more and more into it, I read Arnold's encyclopedia but I realized I didn't want to body build (I'm not a fan of getting that large, just a personal choice) but rather wanted to improve athleticism and instantly knew that I wanted to work with future athletes so I quickly changed my college from cornell's engineering school to another school's (its a good one, really) exercise science program.

here's a couple things ive come to notice;

What i've noticed so far with training is that I do better when I train 4x a week (not including the other things I do); 2 days on, 1 day off, 2 days on, 2 days off.

I make the best gains when those first two days are isolation work like lunges, 1-leg DB deadlifts, pistols/split squats, skullcrushers, curls, forearm bar rolls, weighed situps, etc. because that doesn't fatigue the CNS as much as the compound work I'll do on the other 2 days (deadlifts, squats, DB incline presses, etc.).

Secondly, I've noticed that it's better for me to train myself short of fatigue when I do the compound stuff since it's so hard, sometimes I'll push it to fatigue, but only if I know I'm going to get adequate recovery.

Third, training the hamstrings after the quads works best for me because every hamstring exercise I do involves my lower back and I don't want that baby fatigued at all when I do quad work unless I'm doing trap-bar DLs or hack/DB/goblet squats for quads that day. (Big thumbs up to supersetting a pulling exercise with a pushing exercise w/ 1 more set of the pulling exercise than the pushing) Secondly, since I'm pretty flexible I like to work in the hole as much as I can, sure it hurt like hell the first week I did sumo snatch-grip DLs but it pays off.

which brings me to number 4, believe in the exercises you're doing, you chose them for a reason (you did choose them right?). if you don't believe what you're doing is working then it's time to find another exercise or find a reason to believe.

#5; the smaller muscles in your body are important too, they can provide that extra oomph or prevent that next ouch, so don't ignore them.

#6; sometimes less is more; though if you looked at my journal you probably wouldnt think so but I do think that at times you should cut back for 2-3 weeks, reducing yourself to the basic 4, a pulling motion, a pushing motion, a posterior chain, and an "anterior chain" exercise

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Post by Jungledoc » Tue Jul 01, 2008 4:27 pm

Amivan--Several good points.

How old are you now?

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Post by Ironman » Wed Jul 02, 2008 3:15 am

My gal has a little new and used book store. She just happened to bring me home a very interesting book called lifelong fitness, by Dr. Bob Delmonteque. It is the older one form 1993. It has a lot of good information about working out when you're older. He looked great for being 73. Actually, other than the gray hair and mild wrinkles, he looks as good as a man in his 20's. His site has pictures of him as old as 84 and he looks the same.

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Re: Older lifters, experienced and inexperienced

Post by KPj » Wed Jul 02, 2008 6:04 am

Kenny Croxdale wrote: I agree. The main difference is recovery time. And the only you find out as to what your recovery time is, is by experimenting with it.
I think this is a great point. It made me think of a huge "ah ha!" moment I've had. Recovery fascinates me. I thought I would share the experience as it emphasises Kennys point on experimenting, as well as the benefits of keeping a detailed training log.

I never really understood recovery until I sat down with previous months programs and thought about it. I got kind of frustrated at all the different recommendations you see, so I thought, "screw this, i'll just overtrain and see for myself!".

Just added a few sets on my main exercises and done this for a month. I knew it would be too much because I was already training to the point that I wasn't capable of much more. Anyway, after 4 weeks I surprisingly wasn't too bad, but I could feel that I was doing too much. Then my mind ran away from itself, "what if I managed an extra hours sleep every night and another 500-1000 calories per day" hmmm.... Anyway, I had to stick to the experiment so I never changed any of that.

Then I started learning about fluctuating training stress, first came across the concept at a Cressey seminar. It was actually on Shoulders but everything got covered, and UK coach Nick Grantham done a Recovery and Regeneration section.

I like to keep things simple when learning new concepts. What I gathered from all the information I was getting on it was that I could train with even more volume than I did with the 4 week experiment, if I just done it for one week, and the surrounding weeks (before and after) were less (lower than I would normally do). So i done this over 3 weeks this time, the week with really high volume was a nightmare, but in a good way. The first and third week were quite low volume. I never felt any over training symptoms kick in. I never really felt anything, other than relief that really high volume week was past. What DID happen, though, was that after the 3 week experiment, so now on the 4th week - I made some impressive gains. I also felt re charged, refreshed, highly motivated, it was amazing. This was all trying my best to keep diet and sleep constant.

I didn't come up with this. Cressey speaks a lot about it, as do other coachesand this is where I got it from. It was just my way of clarifying it, as I was focused on being able to do 1 weeks training with such volume that you look at the program and think, "don't be stupid!", and actually get away with it. In this case, actually benefit from it. I may have terminology mixed up, but I think this gets referred to as 'strategic overreaching'.

Anyway, since then, i'm on board with fluctuating training stress over a 4 week period. Week one sets the standard and breaks you into the new program, week 2 is slightly less volume, week 3 is very high, and you deload on the fourth - low volume. Week 4 and week 1 of the next program always sees some progress. I have no doubt this will change for me as I become a better lifter and gain more experience, but right now, it's one of the best things about my programs. The deload week is amazing if your keeping old injuries at bay, too.

This E-book of Cresseys goes over this. It's not all that complicated, really. You just need to try these things properly and keep your training log updated, you'll see and feel progress, or lack of progress.

http://www.ericcressey.com/artofthedeload.html


KPj

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Post by Jungledoc » Thu Jul 03, 2008 8:30 am

Thanks for all the input.

I've learned that I can't try to keep up with either my 18 year-old son, or with my 41 year-old training partner, either in regard to weight lifted, or to rate of gain.

I do need to experiment more with my work volume and intensity. At present, I'm varying them workout to workout within the week.

I'm currently trying to recover from some over use low back pain. Even though I was trying to confine myself to lifts that did not involve the back (actually pretty hard to do), my back got a little worse after yesterday's fairly intense upper-body workout. I think an extra day off is in order, and then consider even further limitations for the next two weeks.

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Post by stuward » Thu Jul 03, 2008 9:57 am

Jungledoc wrote:...I'm currently trying to recover from some over use low back pain. ...
I'm going through the same thing right now. It's virtually impossible to not use your lower back but recently my gym aquired a trap bar. What a fabulous device. You can really blast your legs and it puts virtually no undo stress on the lower back.

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Post by ellerbus » Thu Jul 03, 2008 10:55 am

stuward wrote:
Jungledoc wrote:...I'm currently trying to recover from some over use low back pain. ...
I'm going through the same thing right now. It's virtually impossible to not use your lower back.
I'm currently 35, and want to keep lifting as a life-long goal. I'm assuming you guys both do deads/hypers/etc. ... so I'm curious as to what is causing the over-use low back pain. Is it too many sets, too many reps in a set, or just the fact that your lower back is always used in life? I'm curious because I have low back pain when I'm not lifting. Now that I'm lifting again after a few years, my shoulder, low back, and knee pains have subsided. I would like to avoid any pain from lifting as I get older (bascially I'm seeking advice).


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