Testimonial from an "Elder" Testimonial from an "Elder"

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Thread: Testimonial from an "Elder"

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2017
    Location
    Minneapolis, MN
    Posts
    42

    Default Testimonial from an "Elder"

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    Upon my retirement from full-time work at age 66, I transitioned from my former leisure activities of running and backpacking to bicycling. I joined a local bicycle club and renewed my joy of long (30-50 mile) rides at a brisk pace. Early in this biking phase I took on the goal of training to improve my bicycling speed, not an easy task with my weight and height (230 lbs then at 6'4" tall). By managing calories and riding 5 or 6 days per week, I would get my weight down and speed up as the cycling season in Minnesota progressed. Bicycling, like running, tends to favor low body weight as power-to-weight ratio is paramount, especially so for climbing hills. Each off-season, November - April, my weight would go up as my bicycling activity dwindled. With the new riding season arrival as the weather improved, the process would begin again to get into shape, extend my riding and work at losing winter weight gains. Year by year, despite getting older, I improved my ability to ride faster as the weight declined. My "best" results were in 2016 at age 70 when I got my weight down to around 190 pounds at the end of the riding season, low enough so our friends would take my wife aside to ask in a low voice if I were ill. I, of course, thought I looked great and I felt good.

    As the 2016 riding season drew to an end, I was NOT looking forward to an off-season of crossfit type workouts, the specialty of the personal trainers at our local gym. While they helped with keeping the off-season weight gains down and keeping muscles more-or-less strong, I did not like the workout-of-the-day flavor nor what felt to me like workouts designed for twenty-somethings. Looking for an alternative, I followed up on the suggestion of one of my biking friends to look into weightlifting as an off-season alternative. The prospect of regular predictable workout routines and getting more upper body strength seemed like a good deal to me. My internet research revealed no lack of possible lifting routines, but two stood out as beginner-friendly programs, Stronglifts 5x5 and Starting Strength. The absence of Starting Strength certified coaches in our area tilted me in favor of Stronglifts as a beginner step. Fast forward to April, 2017 and the weights were starting to get heavy, feeling like real work. I was much stronger and went through a series of personal training sessions (5 sessions) at one of the local lifting-centric gyms. My reason for getting this personal training was to improve form, avoid bad technique and to thereby keep lifting safely. My weight had increased from 190 pounds to 213 pounds, though I was still wearing the same clothing sizes. With the counsel of the personal trainer, I embraced a two-day per week lifting program that enabled me to bicycle four days per week. What I discovered was that despite my strength improvement, hill climbing and keeping up with the fast group was not happening. The power-to-weight ratio and the laws of physics were not to be denied! I revised my self-imposed expectations for riding speed to ride a bit slower, paying more attention to heart rate and to riding at a pace that didn't demand more than a 24 hour recovery. By the end of July, my strength gains were stalling, my riding was not getting faster, and my weight was up to 217 (still no change in waist size). My arms were bigger (biceps!), I actually could see pectoral muscles, and the love handles had shrunk even though I was heavier. I liked the outcomes from the lifting even though it was not improving my cycling. I took another step down the path by swapping out a riding day (down to three days per week) for another lifting day (up to three days per week). I got programming help from Andy Baker (Home - Baker Strength Coaching) and started an HLM program emphasizing the Starting Strength core lifting exercises (Squat, Bench Press, Deadlift, Overhead Press). I was also avidly consuming what I deemed to be relevant information about lifting and programming (Starting Strength, Practical Programming for Strength Training, The Barbell Prescription)

    With the shift to three days a week lifting on the HLM model, my lifting progress resumed, albeit at a slower than my former novice pace. As August passed, and September led to October, I continued to progress, regularly setting new Personal Records in my lifting. As October, 2017 draws to a close, my bodyweight is up to 221 pounds (same clothing sizes). I've ended my seasonal bike riding a month or so earlier than normal. Doing so has actually accelerated my strength gains, not a surprise to the experienced lifting community. One cannot maximize progress without enough sleep, enough food, or enough recovery time. The quick version is that my cycling was interfering with my recovery from lifting. In two weeks, I will make a three hour drive to the nearest Starting Strength Coach (Nick Klemetson) for a workout session and specific feedback on form and technique.

    It's hard for me to have a full perspective about my journey as I'm still far from ending it. Nevertheless, I like the changes in my physical and mental states that I attribute to weightlfiting. At age 72, I can definitely feel the decline in some of my body's abilities (hearing, vision) but strength wise I've never been better. For now, I'm in the off-season for my biking and looking forward to sustained progress with my lifting over the next several months. I'm even toying with the idea of entering a powerlifting meet or two. Next spring I'll have to come to terms again with lifting vs bicycling balance.

    Knowing what I know now, what would I do differently?
    1. Start lifting at an earlier age.
    2. Follow the Starting Strength model.
    3. Get good coaching early and often, preferably from a Starting Strength Coach.
    4. Come to terms sooner with training that improves my overall health and lifestyle (lifting) and the slightly negative impact of that weight training on my biking results.

    For reference sake, I'm a 72 year old male, 6'4" tall, 221 lbs. Squat = 225, Bench = 150, Press = 100, Deadlift = 240.
    Last edited by Bill Puckett; 10-20-2017 at 12:42 PM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2017
    Location
    adelaide, south australia
    Posts
    287

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    You have done so well Bill.

    Knowing what I know now, what would I do differently?
    1. Start lifting at an earlier age.
    As the Chinese say, "The best time to plant a tree is twenty years ago. The next best time is today."

    They also say, "One year to grow rice, ten years to grow trees, one hundred years to grow men."

    Hope to see your progress. There aren't too many people here from the same planet as me.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Posts
    96

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    Inspirational stuff. I'm a few years behind you and hope to follow your example as I strive to fight off the Grim Reaper.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2017
    Location
    Minneapolis, MN
    Posts
    42

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    By way of update, I've taken what for me is a bold step outside of my comfort zone.
    I've entered a USAPL meet. It will be my first ever meet, and it's "only" a local meet, but I've got all the usual performance anxiety that goes along with something new. The meet is about 6 weeks out (Dec 8, 2017).

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Location
    STL(ish)
    Posts
    584

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    Good luck at your meet, Bill! I'll be rooting for you

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2017
    Location
    Minneapolis, MN
    Posts
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Puckett View Post
    By way of update, I've taken what for me is a bold step outside of my comfort zone.
    I've entered a USAPL meet. It will be my first ever meet, and it's "only" a local meet, but I've got all the usual performance anxiety that goes along with something new. The meet is about 6 weeks out (Dec 9, 2017).
    Here's an after-action report on my meet results (12/9/2017).

    Made all the lifts BUT...3 of 'em were not permitted (2 squat, 1 bench) because I didn't wait long enough for the "rack" command. Rookie errors! It was a good learning experience, however.

    Total was 671 lbs, 231 squat, 165 bench and 264 deadlift. There was still a bit left in the tank, but I was not chasing PRs though the DL was a PR.

    I switched back to high bar squat a couple of weeks ago as the low bar was stressing my right shoulder to the point where it was interfering with sleep and OHP. I am working to rehab that shoulder in order to gain ROM and enable a "proper" low bar position, but it's going to be a while before that mobility is found. I'm trying to stay away from my doctor about it. In the meantime, high bar it is.

    Overall, I had a positive experience for my first meet. I was by far the oldest competitor (by about 10 years).

    As it turns out after the meet results were certified, my numbers also make me the USAPL Minnesota State Record holder for my age group (Masters 4a (70-75), 105 kg weight class). I'm very much aware that holding such a record is a reflection of few participants at my age group, but I'm proud of the outcome nonetheless.
    Last edited by Bill Puckett; 12-14-2017 at 12:04 PM.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2014
    Location
    Manhattan
    Posts
    1,743

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    Nice work Bill!

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2017
    Location
    adelaide, south australia
    Posts
    287

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    Greetings Bill. Admire you for fronting up on the platform at this advanced age. You are coming along nicely.
    What are you doing for shoulder rehab and flexibility?

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Aug 2017
    Location
    Minneapolis, MN
    Posts
    42

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    Quote Originally Posted by 76now View Post
    Greetings Bill. Admire you for fronting up on the platform at this advanced age. You are coming along nicely.
    What are you doing for shoulder rehab and flexibility?
    The shoulder rehab is going very slowly to the point where it feels like no progress at all some days. I have reverted to high bar squats to avoid on-going aggravation. I'm working on stretches and other movements to increase mobility/ROM, but I really flying blind without a decent diagnosis. FWIW, the stretching seems to keep reaggravating the shoulder. So...I'll persist for another month or so. If no progress by then, I'll submit to the medical profession to see what my doc might say. In the meantime, I'm back on my normal programming, though I've had to forego incline bench DB press accessory work because of the pain.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2014
    Location
    chicago
    Posts
    644

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    bill, try to substitute front squats as you continue with your ROM stretching. keep up the great effort.

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