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Gilgongo

Novice starting weight question

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(This feels like such an embarrassingly stupid question, but I can't find the answer in the knowledge base. Perhaps it's just old age...)

 

I'm 50 years old, a total noob to lifting, and reading The Barbell Prescription (basically like a Starting Strength for old people).  

 

While there are lots of fairly complex things I am gradually understanding about programming, nowhere in the books can I see where they describe how to get your starting weight on which to base the programme templates they describe. 

 

I'm guessing something like working out what the maximum weight you can lift in 1 rep is, then take about 70% of that and make that the weight you have for your work sets? 

 

Or, er... something else?

 

Thanks for any pointers.

 

 

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If you're a complete novice to lifting I'd say start each lift with just the bar (usually 45lbs). Some people may need to use even less than that. Starting Strength will then have you add 5lbs each session, so you'll progress up to "real" weighs pretty fast, but without jumping into the deep end too quickly. I don't know what sort of progression your book/program has but if it's designed for beginners it's probably fairly similar.

Trying to determine your 1 rep max as a beginner isn't usually worth it. Beginners will progress so fast  (from learning the skill of the lift, not just strength increases) that it's pointless to try to nail that number down. That and there's always the risk of hurting yourself from throwing a bunch of weight on your back with (potentially) suboptimal form.

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When I started grabbing weight in the gym, I started off way low on weights because I had no idea what I was doing in as far as the weight selection (still don't have  a ton of knowledge, but I'm increasing weights over time).

 

What I kind of started using as a guide, was that if it seemed too easy or if I didn't "feel anything" after a set, I picked up a bigger weight. Similar to when I started off with the beginner bodyweight program, it took me a while to get to the point where doing 3 sets of 20 squats was "easy." So one day, I glared at a 20 lb dumb bell, grabbed it in a "chalice" grip, and did 20 squats...they burned again. I did the same thing the next workout for about 3 weeks, then glared at/grabbed a 30 lb dumb bell. Now I'm up to 45 lb chalice squat.

 

I'll echo what calanthrophy says, use lighter weights and make sure form is on point. Then start increasing weight till its a challenge, not impossible.

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OK thanks! I've been doing lots of form practice with just the bar so I'm fairly confident on that (videoing myself and having a mirror on one side of me). The book I'm reading has a rank novice programme sessions for the over 50's like this:

 

Squat 3 x 5

Bench 3 x 5

Deadlift 1 x 5

 

It also says you do warm up sets with just the bar at the start of the session. So if I do a couple of "only bar" sets, then load up to a level that feels fairly heavy but not crazy, then do work sets with a bit more than that and see if it burns? Wait two days, rinse, repeat and see if I can load a little bit more onto the work set?

 

(BTW the book says that older lifters are much more sensitive to volume than younger ones - so there's no way I'd be doing a set of 20 reps of anything even as an intermediate!)

 

 

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Sounds like a plan to me Gilgongo!

 

Something I've read around the boards (or it mighta been an article)...a slow step forward is faster than sitting on the couch.

 

I'd say as long as you're trying something, your moving in the right direction. I try to keep telling myself that as I keep trying to move more (and typically in a forward direction).

 

 

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On September 28, 2017 at 2:53 AM, Gilgongo said:

 

 

(BTW the book says that older lifters are much more sensitive to volume than younger ones - so there's no way I'd be doing a set of 20 reps of anything even as an intermediate!)

 

 

 

Yep, volume sucks.  lol  

 

Also, welcome aboard!  As a newby myself, I can tell you that the folks here are good bunch and very supportive.  

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Thanks - this weight lifting thing is pretty complicated. I think I'm going to need all the help I can get!

 

BTW on the advice given in this thread, I've spent the day determining what my starting weights might be. They've come out as:

 

Squat 57Kg

Bench 32Kg

Deadlift 52Kg

Press      22Kg

 

First day of training is Monday, so I'll see how it goes. I'm going with 24hr rests at first, although I might find I need 48hrs (the book indicates that might be better for 50+). 

 

Rather a lot to do in the session too.  Warm-ups, re-rackings and stuff. Also, although obviously not ideal, I'm having to do the rack-based lifts on one floor of the house, but the deadlifts in the kitchen downstairs as as to avoid sending shock waves through the whole place! Toying with the idea of buying a 4ft bar just for those and keeping it in the kitchen along with the plates needed for upcoming deadlifts in the programme.

 

And all that's even before I've got to my nutrition and conditioning routine! 

 

I'm sure it'll all be a breeze once I get used to it... Hoping I can get it all done in an hour though before going to work in the morning.

 

 

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If there is too much to do in 1 session, and having to manage too many things around it... my experience is that your mind will find a way to sabotage/avoid the workout. Hate to say that but you have to engineer a way to do it a lot more easily.

 

I suggest trying to do the following instead, which is sorta a pareto principle; 80/20 way of getting things done:

1) Do your weights training in the kitchen

2) Do only deadlifts at first. 3x5 worksets, 2-3min//sets. Do triples/doubles as warm up, increasing weight until you reach the targetted working weight.

3) Do this 3x a week... until you get to at least 80kg deadlift that you can lift for x5. WHY THIS WEIGHT? Then you will be able to do a decent power clean with more than the bar is why.

4) Now add Overhead Press to the mix. Similarly, it's 3x5 worksets, 2-3min//sets, warmups follow the same idea.

5) My experience is that doing the OHP first is the best, followed by deadlifts. OHP takes a lot less out of the body than deadlifts.

6) How about Bench and Squats? If you want to be a powerlifter, IGNORE everything I have said so far. If you are doing this to get stronger generally, then do some pushups, air squats... and increasing their difficulty with a final aim of One-Arm Pushups (OAP) and Pistol Squats. You can search youtube for the progressions on how to do this - there is a Men's Health video (I know) that explains the progression quite well.

7) Do your conditioning on the days you are not lifting weights - running, cycling, swimming, skipping, or just a long walk. At 50, I think long walks with/without a rucksack is best.

8) Nutrition is key - if u are trying to lose weight at the same time you will still make Strength gains but they will be slower and less predictable.

9) Rest is another important factor. 

 

*adding weight: if you can do 3x5, resting 2 to 5mins//sets and get all the sets, go up in weight. DL you can increase 10lb per workout, OHP I suggest 5lb or even 2.5lb. Eventually you will slow to 5lb for deadlift, and 1-2lb for OHP. You will probably end your linear progression on OHP much much earlier than on Deadlift. 

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Hey there @Gilgongo! Congrats on getting started with weight training! It's always a good time to develop more strength ^_^

 

It's easy to get stuck complicating things, especially in the beginning. Working weights need to be hard but manageable, as many others have mentioned. Pick something up, if it's too easy, pick up something heavier ;) 

 

I don't really have a problem doing different parts of my workout in different locations, but I might be one of the few that's fine with it. It you get a 4' bar just remember to compensate for the weight - they're lighter than the 7 footers :D 

 

Keep us posted on how it goes! It's always cool seeing people get started and swapping stories and info :D 

 

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@godjira1 Thanks for the pointers! As it happens, on the two training days I've had so far, I've not allowed enough time to do the deadlifts in my programme, so I've sort of done what you suggest by accident but the wrong way around. The other points are noted - although I don't have space in the kitchen to put a squat rack, even if my wife would let me, which she most certainly would not! :-)

 

One question though on your point 6. Do you mean I don't need to do squats or benches and just DLs and OHP and then press-ups instead? I'm aiming for stronger generally, not power lifting or body building (as far as I understand the difference between those and strength training).

 

Also, I've noticed is that I've not (yet) had any DOMS from the work sets I've done so far. Maybe that'll come, but OHP 3 x 5 x 32Kg this morning, and only just managed it without breaking form. My squats were 55Kg which wasn't too taxing. 

 

Regarding diet, the Barbell Prescription says that 40+ can't (or don't need) to consume lots of calories for general strength training, but do need lots of protein. I'm aiming at about 2.2g per kilo of body weight, so maybe 160G per day if I can (looks like I'll have to eat that whey stuff - ugh was hoping not to, but not sure I can get that much from protein foods alone). I also take a low dose of vitamin D (11 micrograms)  and 1000mg of fish oil daily as per recommendations for 50+ lifters in the book.

 

Thanks @RedStone and @SeanP !

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Volume is for crazy people. Like me. 

 

Hi @Gilgongo! Welcome to the forums!

 

There's a reason that Deadlifts, Squat, Bench, Overhead Press, and Pull-ups are generally called the Golden 5. All are compound movements, meaning they hit multiple body parts. Each works on a particular area of strength and all combine to be a solid overall program. I'm not super familiar with the Barbell Prescription, but it sounds like a solid program, especially for a rank novice. 

 

The one thing I will say that is almost an unarguable fact, and I will say it with emphasis, is this. DO NOT TRY TO WRITE YOUR OWN PROGRAMMING AS A NOVICE. I do not mean this with any disrespect or discounting your abilities, but programming a workout is a complex process, and people who have been working out for years and years still have problems writing programming and ask for help. Let someone who is an actual professional in the field write the program and you follow it. As long as you enjoy the workout and continue to see improvements (Gotta get dem GAINZ!) then it's a good program. When you no longer enjoy following it, or plateau for an extended period, then worry about switching it up. Until then, just keep on keeping on.

 

Don't worry about DOMS, you're not moving enough weight for enough reps yet. Your only concern should be about form right now. The soreness will come, followed by the swoleness.

 

Again, welcome to the forums, we hope you stick around, and I look forward to seeing you progress.

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25 minutes ago, Grumble said:

The one thing I will say that is almost an unarguable fact, and I will say it with emphasis, is this. DO NOT TRY TO WRITE YOUR OWN PROGRAMMING AS A NOVICE. I do not mean this with any disrespect or discounting your abilities, but programming a workout is a complex process, and people who have been working out for years and years still have problems writing programming and ask for help. Let someone who is an actual professional in the field write the program and you follow it. As long as you enjoy the workout and continue to see improvements (Gotta get dem GAINZ!) then it's a good program. When you no longer enjoy following it, or plateau for an extended period, then worry about switching it up. Until then, just keep on keeping on.

Only thing I'd add to this - don't stress about 100% compliance to your program. You're going to get sick, or have relatives to take care of, or have a true hell week at work, or any of a number of other things that keep you from exactly following your program. Do the best you can for that time period (even if doing your best means completely skipping the workout and still getting as much sleep as possible and eating nourishing food). None of this will *stop* you from getting stronger, it'll just add a week (or a few) to your journey and make it a little bit non-linear. And all of that's totally ok!

 

Keep us posted how it goes - really interesting to hear about the differences for the 50+ population, might eventually nudge my parents towards that book if I hear it working out well.

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For the time starved, space constrained person, I think possibly the best program combination is:

1) Power to the People

2) Grease the Groove with the movements that u lack from 1). 

3) Sprinkle pullups or chinups as needed. 

 

I do a variation of the above as I can’t be too beat up from weights training to do my brazilian jiu jitsu, and I aim for 80/20 in most things. I do switch the exercises every month or so:

eg. 

deadlift to front squat

press to bench press or pullup

 

as for your earlier question - yes Pushups and Squats can replace the weights version but they are much harder to gauge/meter increasing the load - as opposed to adding weight you need to play with leverage instead. 

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Cool. Seeing as I can juust about fit in my workout into 2 hours (I have to get up at 6:00 for it and leave for work at about 8:00ish) I think I'll stick to the programme in the Barbell Prescription. That's based on the Starting Strength method at least. Then when I start to get stuck I'll think again (although it has lots of tactics for this in the book). Meanwhile, I've just done session 3 and everything's incrementing neatly I think.

 

BTW I did a squat where I forgot to concentrate on my hip drive. Boy did my legs complain! Nearly didn't get out of the hole on that one. Sure pays to keep your form in.

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