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mikeydlaw 09-03-2012 11:39 AM

Programs for the not so young
OK so I am turning 34 in a couple of weeks, so I'm definitely not over the hill just yet, but I am finding that the body is not quite responding the way it used to 10 or so years ago. I'm actually in probably the best shape I have ever been in right now as I have been training pretty consistently for coming up 3 years, but I have been struggling with injuries on and off over that period.

I started off at about 154 pounds and got up to about 200 pounds in two years and have cut down since then to about 190 pounds. So I am actually pretty happy with where I am at, I wouldn't mind cutting down a bit more and putting on a bit more muscle mass but I mainly just want to be able to train consistently, maintaining, while avoiding injuries.

I guess I am what you call a "hard gainer" I find it easy to lose weight hard to put it on.

I've always trained to failure on every set so it seems that is the first thing I am going to need to change. I have pretty much always done a 5 day split, weight training 4 days a week, cardio 1 day a week, my workouts are usually around an hour and I have about 2 minutes rest between sets.

To try and prevent injuries I have upped my reps, my heavy week I usually do about 10 - 16 reps, my light week I'll do 12 - 20 reps. My third week I have now introduced a two day split just to mix things up where I do 10-16 reps as well. I mostly stick to 3 sets per exercise.

Regarding the injuries they are mostly shoulder and elbow/forearm pain. Nothing major but I'm sure if I just ignore them then they'll probably result in something more serious. I love bodybuilding and would be gutted if I had to give it up due to injury, but don't want to wreck my body at the same time.

I don't know if the cause is from not taking time off, I have taken a few days off here and there and only training 4 days a week on a 5 day split gives plenty of rest but I haven't taken a full week off in at least a year.

It may also be caused from RSI as I work in IT so spend a lot of time in front of a computer. I think that at least explains the forearm pain as it always seems to be my right arm.

Or maybe it is just due to training to failure every set and I'm just overdoing it.

I thought perhaps I should follow a proven program instead of continuing with my own. I notice a lot of people talking about HIT, 5x5 and FST-7. I actually have all three incorporated into my workouts but should probably pick one and follow it to the letter.

Anyway, any advice you guys can give me would be much appreciated, especially if you are in your 30's or 40's and managing to avoid injury.


slimshad7 09-04-2012 12:07 PM

I've been in the same boat mikey........I'm 37

And yes,I've just posted about training to failure and had some great advice from commander and greatkeen.....

The injuries seem to stem from training to failure on every set.....which is what I was doing aswell.

I've now changed it to obviously still having a challenging weight but now I'm sticking to hitting 12reps with good form on set 1 and 2 and then on my last set go to failure,rest pause for say 20-30 secs then carry on till I hit failure again,rest pause for another 20-30 secs then go again till I hit failure and stop.

The way I look at it now.....that's by far enough to stimulate growth while avoiding injury.

mikeydlaw 09-04-2012 01:00 PM

Cheers for the comment, I'm taking this week off the gym and reading up as much as I can. The general consensus seems to be to avoid training to failure, something that is probably going to be challenging at first. I'm going to avoid failure completely and start relatively low and just build up the weight each week keeping reps the same until I plateau and eventually hit failure, take a week off then drop weight back down and start again. See if I see any gains and see how the body holds up.

Charles Izzo 09-04-2012 03:02 PM

Many believer that less sets is better because you can recover better. But that is only if you are training to failure. And I'm not sure that is exactly the best way to train, unless you're strapped for time.

I like doing more sets better. That way you get more sets to warm up and get ready for the heavy weights. 5 x 5 is a good example. I like that one if you don't have as much time. But I also like the way some strength athletes train where they'll do even more sets of 1-3.

Also, plan to progress slower. You're not 18 anymore!

And lastly, just be creative when you have to, know what hurts, and avoid it. I noticed when I do pull ups it feels like the bones in my right arm are going to separate at the elbow joint when I get to the bottom of the movement. So now instead, I go lighter and I stop before I get to the bottom.

Commander 09-04-2012 04:13 PM

Going to failure set after set means progressively sloppier form which definitely will stress the joints/connective tissue more and leave you more prone to injury.

Regarding shoulder pain, many times this is due to poor benching technique. Check out the video in this article for proper bench form, that should help the shoulder:

To avoid elbow pain, don't go too heavy on arm work, stick with lighter pumping movements, unless you are very warmed up. But even then, I wouldn't go to heavy, if you are hitting the chest and back hard you are already getting some good stimulation for the triceps and biceps.

I'm with Charles, I prefer to do more sets. I'd rather steer clear of failure, execute each rep flawlessly and explosively and do many sets of low reps. It has worked great for me. I am currently 33.

mikeydlaw 09-05-2012 12:20 AM

Thanks guys, that all makes perfect sense. I definitely think bench could be the cause of shoulder pain. I usually alternate between DB and BB press (2 splits on one then 2 splits on the other). Chest has always been one of my weaker areas so probably where I lose form the most. I'd be happy just to stick to DB press if it meant less chance of injury, but I guess a lot of the same principles apply to both.

I usually do a lot of drop sets and super sets on arms, high reps with light weights, perhaps with the exception of BB curls and triceps push downs. I do hit arms pretty hard though.

Clarence 10-06-2012 10:38 AM

I'm getting this 7 days off the gym and studying up as much as I can. The common agreement seems to be to prevent exercising to failing, something that is probably going to be complicated at first. I'm going to prevent failing absolutely and begin relatively low and just develop up the body weight weekly maintaining repetitions the same until I level and gradually hit failing, take per 7 days off then fall body weight returning down and begin again.

mikeydlaw 10-06-2012 11:54 PM


Originally Posted by Clarence (Post 924993)
I'm getting this 7 days off the gym and studying up as much as I can. The common agreement seems to be to prevent exercising to failing, something that is probably going to be complicated at first. I'm going to prevent failing absolutely and begin relatively low and just develop up the body weight weekly maintaining repetitions the same until I level and gradually hit failing, take per 7 days off then fall body weight returning down and begin again.

This is what I have been doing and so far so good. I've increased my warm up from 5 minutes to 10 and spending more time stretching before working out. I'm doing the FST-7 workout at the moment.

You are right it is a little challenging not going to failure every set if that is what you have always done but it's not as hard as you think. I'm just trying to focus on good form first and foremost rather than how much I am lifting and how many reps I am doing. As soon as I feel my form is starting to go I end the set. In the past I would have kept going and pushed out 2 or 3 more reps.

On my first set I am doing 20 reps, second 18, third 12-16, fourth 8-12 and fifth 8-12. Increasing the weight each set.

I'm only three weeks back into training since taking my break and only second week into the FST-7 programme so still early days. I also purchased some of those exercise bands to do some rotator cuff exercises at home and I've changed my technique on bench and incline press.

Ratcat 10-07-2012 03:30 AM

There is still a place for failure sets. i like to fail at 2 or 3 reps every now and then. I think my body takes longer to recover these days so I have days when I'll just do 30 minutes of rowing and that is my workout. Then there are days when I'll lift heavy. I like to train body parts but some days I feel a full body workout does me better. Protein shake after workout to start the recovery is essential. And I have to train around my injuries as they come and go. It has been over 4 years since my cancer treatment and I'm still getting over it. It still knocks me around but it doesn't stop me getting in a workout. I just have to work around it. And I am so much better off physically because I have been able to work out. Cheers. :)

Algavinn 10-10-2012 07:02 PM

One thing I'd like to add is that if you've mostly been doing the same workout for 3 years, you need to switch it up. Not just implementing different machines/motions, but changing your overall routine. If you've been doing a day split, try mixing that up for a month. If you've been working a certain rep range, try hitting your body with a lower or higher rep range for a brief while (2-4 or 12-15 instead of 6-10). If you've been doing 80% the same workout for 3 years, your body will take much more to progress at any speed.

Also most of us take a scheduled rest period every once in a while. Life usually plans these for me, but if you're very regular, then taking a week and just doing moderate cardio wouldn't be bad every 3 months or so.

Some specific 'proven' workouts around here might not be a bad idea to mess with to switch it up, just make sure to not think you've found 'the one' and never change from that either. To make your body adapt, you must adapt.

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