Age Adjusted Starting Strength?
I'm 61 and, while I've been active all my life, I never did strength training until I discovered your books 6 months ago. In your writings you say that the main issue for older novices is that recovery takes longer and that older folks might benefit from a move to the Texas Method sooner than younger people. Others on this site have suggested that old novices do the A, B, workouts once each week (twice a week in the gym). One person suggested working out every 3rd day.
When I started SS in March I decided to do the A, B once each week approach and continue surfing and biking. It worked well and I was soon enjoying the benefits of improved strength in my recreational sports. Unfortunately I developed progressive shoulder pain which I finally diagnosed as poor arm and wrist position in the squat (and a little too much exuberance in my surfing). After a layoff and some therapy, my shoulder pain has abated and I have started up SS again. Since I've done a big reset, its easy to workout 3 times per week and I plan to do so until I reach my previous PRs.
Having experienced the tremendous benefits of strength training, I am now much more motivated than when I first started last March, and I'm now willing to forgo my surfing and biking until I exhaust my novice gains as an aid in recovery, with the intention of getting the most out of my novice period.
My questions is: as a motivated 61 year old novice, is it best to do the program 3x per week as per younger people and just expect to switch to TM sooner, or should I try to stretch out the novice period by giving myself more days of rest between workouts, to accommodate my old person's slower recovery capability?
What are you thoughts?
Thanks for your terrific program and the attention you give this forum.
I'm only 50 but I'd advise training 3 times a week. It doesn't have to be all out every time, but getting into the habit is important.
At your age, modifying SS so you only add weight to the bar weekly instead of every workout may be necessary. Listen to your body. If you start having pains in your back, shoulders or knees, cut back on weight and volume.
The common recommendation is to train three times/week but make smaller weight increases.
my elbows / biceps / other stuff in the upper arm seem to get pissed off if i squat over ~280 3x5 3 times a week. I've tweaked my form but so far over the year and a half i've been doing SS related things i haven't been able to kick it. When it was moderate or less the pain wasn't a problem for most things (though it would really kill my bench press) EXCEPT that it was really a problem when swimming. Specifically in the middle of a freestyle pull. (which makes sense since it's the same tension on the elbow joint as when pressing a bar into your back). All that to say that i can see how paddling and squatting would have the same negative interaction.
Thanks, guys. I guess Rip has nothing new to say on the topic, though in all my searches through the forum and reading his books he has given direction and things to consider but has never been very definitive concerning geezer programming (Unless I missed something). So my plan is to just follow an approach outlined by Oldster. He suggests that when linear progression on each workout stalls, then just bump the weights only once a week. When that peaks out, I'll move to advanced novice (light day on Wednesday) and then on to TM, with the understanding that these transitions will come sooner and at lower weights than they would for a youngster. Comments and other thoughts welcome.
I'd start with adding weight just once a week. It sounds slow, but even starting with the empty bar and 10lbs, plus 5lbs x 52 weeks means 315lbs - 3 plates a side - more weight than your typical guy in his 60s could ever dream of, and more than any of the 17-35yo curlbros I see in my gym.
Starting slow and building up allows your body plenty of time to recover. Also you'll often find that some old injury plays up once you reach a certain weight, like veryhrm described. It's best if you know just what that weight is, so you can approach it slowly and then back off, rather than just smashing through it and reinjuring yourself. You just back off and come in another way, with some variation of reps (eg going for 20 rep squats with 1/2-2/3 the load) or exercise (eg change to front squats).
Having taken the time to build up, by the time you reach the stage of stalling normally or having to back off due to old injury, you'll have put in thousands of reps and be more confident with it all, more sure of how you can vary things.
Somewhere in one of the books it is made clear that the program is meant for an age demographic of 18 to 35. So those of us that have comfortably outlived this demographic need to find the program that works for us, and there is a lot of advice on threads here for the over 50s.
In my case, I have now settled down into a routine that has SS style 5x5 squats and presses twice a week, bodyweight push ups, chins, dips and db rows twice a week, machine based rows, bench press and pec decks twice a week, and 45 minute cardio twice a week. In a 6 day routine that allows for 2-3 days recovery between each kind of workout. That allows me to make this a daily habit, while still giving the necessary recovery time. If I was doing active sports - I don't at this time - I would probably cut the routine by half.
I find that the best way to add 5 lbs to squats and presses is when the last reps aren't a complete grind out the rep in agony thing. I find that I progress quicker on the squat, adding 5 lbs every week, while it can some times take me two- three weeks to add 5 lbs to the OH press.
I have stopped doing the deadlift for now, I found that I wasn't too comfortable with the way my lower back felt during the exercise.
What I think may still be missing in the routine are flexibility movements, I agree with what I read once, that with age, the biggest losses are on the flexibility front. And conversely, the key to a long and productive life is to retain flexibility. For now, I find flexibility work to be very boring, but one of these days...
It's quite possible to overestimate how much direct flexibility work you need. What commonly tightens up? Hips, shoulders, lower back and neck. Okay, now consider the exercises in the SS programme.
Low bar back squats below parallel. The "below parallel" part keeps the hips loose, and the "low bar back" actually does a lot for your shoulders - in fact, many people in their 20s can't comfortably get into that position when they begin at the gym.
Powercleans. These require both stability and mobility in the lower back, if you can't keep that controlled but loose the cleans simply don't work well. They also help with shoulder mobility, getting into the rack position - again, many people can't manage this to begin with.
That just leaves the neck to actively stretch.
For most people, a full range of motion on the basic lifts is enough flexibility work. There will of course be exceptions for previous injuries, etc.
Thanks, Kyle. I'll take your advice and only add weight once a week, once I hit my previous PRs. Since I took a big reset after being off, increasing the weight each workout has been easy. However, when I first started SS I had to do a number of resets for form corrections. These might also have been exacerbated by adding weight too fast for this old body. Inconclusion, the "age adjusted SS" I'm going to pursue is: SS workouts 3x per week, but with weight increases only once per week on each exercise. I'll let you know how it goes.
Kumar, you are an animal. That's a lot of activity. Good for you if you can keep it up. I'll add some conditioning, too, once the Novice gains start to petter out. In the mean time recovery from SS workouts is the first priority.
I'd add weight once a week right now, not wait for the previous PRs. Slower progress does no harm, and ensures all the various bits and pieces adjust to the load. Joint mobility especially will be helped by slower progress. Remember that most people in their 60s would struggle to do a single below parallel squat without any weight at all on them, if someone in their 60s could do 20 decent bodyweight squats every day, they'd be better off than probably 90% of their peers.
Once it starts getting hard adding weight each week, have a look at things like Dan John and Pavel's Easy Strength and Jim Wendler's 531.
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