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    duplicate-post from introductions - 41 years old, never lifted - HELP

    I'm a 41 year-old dude and I guess I'd fit the definition of skinny-fat. I played soccer and basketball in high school and was relatively toned into my early 20s, but never actually built... just leaner and you could see my small muscles when I had so little body fat.

    I'm here seeking advice from anyone/everyone willing to give it.

    I'm 5'10 and 183lbs... and would describe my body as looking like a very hairy woman.

    arms are 13"
    waist is 37"
    chest is 40"

    I have no definition at all to anything above the waist and my legs are chicken-legs but somehow have retained what looks like definition until you touch them and then you can tell they're just jelly too.

    I would estimate my body-fat percentage at around 25% based on internet calculators (but I really have nothing else to go off)

    I decided 2 weeks ago I need to make some sort of change but have no clue where/how to start... I have tried to start anyway, just at home, with nothing at my disposal but body-weight or a pair of old dumbbells with only 50lbs of total weights (58.8 if you count the bars) to work-with.

    I can comfortably rep 20lb dumbbells (24.4lbs I guess?) for 10 reps and wear out and have to cheat and throw my back into it to do 11 and 12. I can do 35lbs (39.4lbs?) for a single rep with good form or 40lbs (44.4lbs?) if I cheat and throw my back into it. I can do about 25 super-wide-armed pushups before exhaustion or about 40 if I bring my hands in to a shoulder width and use arms/shoulders to assist.

    I'm currently doing 5 sets of 10 (because I can't go to 12 without cheating) 20lb (24.4?) dumbbell curls a day for each arm and doing 5 sets of 20 very-wide-armed push-ups. I'm doing some lunges and that leg-lift thing where you lie on your back and hold your heels a few inches off the ground for 5 seconds a time 20 reps 5x a day. I'm currently doing the above 7 days a week and while I feel exhausted at the end of each set, I don't feel much of a burn the next day but also can't seem to do more than 2-3 reps at a time if I try to go any heavier than the 20s (24.4) for the curls...

    I've stopped smoking weed, and drinking and stopped eating pure processed **** (Pizza was my go-to probably 4 nights a week) and am aiming for 135G protein per day as I estimate that's roughly my actual lean muscle mass, but I'm totally guessing... and 1600 calories a day as my first instinct was to cut the fat as a first step. Then I started reading this forum and there's so much info which seems to contradict my instinct.

    I'm awfully late to the party just getting started at 41... where should an old man who's never lifted at all get started? Should I cut to see if muscle shows through after 30, 40, 50lbs? should I try to build strength first?

    Any/all advice is appreciated.
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  2. #2
    Time is Muscle ECGordyn's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by OldManNoob View Post
    I'm a 41 year-old dude and I guess I'd fit the definition of skinny-fat. I played soccer and basketball in high school and was relatively toned into my early 20s, but never actually built... just leaner and you could see my small muscles when I had so little body fat.

    I'm here seeking advice from anyone/everyone willing to give it.

    I'm 5'10 and 183lbs... and would describe my body as looking like a very hairy woman.

    arms are 13"
    waist is 37"
    chest is 40"

    I have no definition at all to anything above the waist and my legs are chicken-legs but somehow have retained what looks like definition until you touch them and then you can tell they're just jelly too.

    I would estimate my body-fat percentage at around 25% based on internet calculators (but I really have nothing else to go off)

    I decided 2 weeks ago I need to make some sort of change but have no clue where/how to start... I have tried to start anyway, just at home, with nothing at my disposal but body-weight or a pair of old dumbbells with only 50lbs of total weights (58.8 if you count the bars) to work-with.

    I can comfortably rep 20lb dumbbells (24.4lbs I guess?) for 10 reps and wear out and have to cheat and throw my back into it to do 11 and 12. I can do 35lbs (39.4lbs?) for a single rep with good form or 40lbs (44.4lbs?) if I cheat and throw my back into it. I can do about 25 super-wide-armed pushups before exhaustion or about 40 if I bring my hands in to a shoulder width and use arms/shoulders to assist.

    I'm currently doing 5 sets of 10 (because I can't go to 12 without cheating) 20lb (24.4?) dumbbell curls a day for each arm and doing 5 sets of 20 very-wide-armed push-ups. I'm doing some lunges and that leg-lift thing where you lie on your back and hold your heels a few inches off the ground for 5 seconds a time 20 reps 5x a day. I'm currently doing the above 7 days a week and while I feel exhausted at the end of each set, I don't feel much of a burn the next day but also can't seem to do more than 2-3 reps at a time if I try to go any heavier than the 20s (24.4) for the curls...

    I've stopped smoking weed, and drinking and stopped eating pure processed **** (Pizza was my go-to probably 4 nights a week) and am aiming for 135G protein per day as I estimate that's roughly my actual lean muscle mass, but I'm totally guessing... and 1600 calories a day as my first instinct was to cut the fat as a first step. Then I started reading this forum and there's so much info which seems to contradict my instinct.

    I'm awfully late to the party just getting started at 41... where should an old man who's never lifted at all get started? Should I cut to see if muscle shows through after 30, 40, 50lbs? should I try to build strength first?

    Any/all advice is appreciated.
    I started 5 years ago at almost age 39, 135 lbs. Age doesn't matter. Your workout routine, diet, and lifestyle (sleep, recovery, general health) matter the most.

    I wouldn't cut aggressively. Just eat at maintenance and do resistance training. You'll see physique improvements just by starting to lift regularly. Calculate your TDEE and track the calories you eat. Eat around 1 gram of protein per pound of bodyweight to build muscle.

    Run a full body program every other day. The 6 main exercises you want to do are: squat, deadlift or variation, bench press, row, overhead shoulder press, and pull-up/pulldown. Those are compound movements that give the biggest return on investment. If you can't do those exact lifts due to equipment limitations, then do the same movements: pushups, dumbbell shoulder press, dumbbell RDL, dumbbell squat, dumbbell row, etc. Curls are the last thing to worry about. You want compound movements like the 6 listed above. If 2 joints move, it's a compound.

    You'll outgrow those dumbbells, especially on leg exercises. So prepare to get heavier weights or adjust programming later. Kettlebells are inexpensive, and very versatile.

    Others here can suggest more.
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  3. #3
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    Originally Posted by ECGordyn View Post
    I started 5 years ago at almost age 39, 135 lbs. Age doesn't matter. Your workout routine, diet, and lifestyle (sleep, recovery, general health) matter the most.

    I wouldn't cut aggressively. Just eat at maintenance and do resistance training. You'll see physique improvements just by starting to lift regularly. Calculate your TDEE and track the calories you eat. Eat around 1 gram of protein per pound of bodyweight to build muscle.

    Run a full body program every other day. The 6 main exercises you want to do are: squat, deadlift or variation, bench press, row, overhead shoulder press, and pull-up/pulldown. Those are compound movements that give the biggest return on investment. If you can't do those exact lifts due to equipment limitations, then do the same movements: pushups, dumbbell shoulder press, dumbbell RDL, dumbbell squat, dumbbell row, etc. Curls are the last thing to worry about. You want compound movements like the 6 listed above. If 2 joints move, it's a compound.

    You'll outgrow those dumbbells, especially on leg exercises. So prepare to get heavier weights or adjust programming later. Kettlebells are inexpensive, and very versatile.

    Others here can suggest more.
    Thanks for the tips! I'll have to buy equipment... not going to a gym as long as they're trying to make people wear masks for fear of the common cold. - is there any sort of machine which can be adjusted to handle all of the movements you're suggesting? or am I looking at buying a few?
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  4. #4
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    Originally Posted by OldManNoob View Post
    is there any sort of machine which can be adjusted to handle all of the movements you're suggesting? or am I looking at buying a few?
    There are machines, but I don't recommend buying an all-in-one or several machines for a home gym to mimic these movements. IMO you'll get more bang for your buck and better results if you just buy a barbell with a decent amount of plates for weight, and if you eventually get a power cage or half-rack and a bench you're pretty much set as you progress. You can still use your dbs for isolations.

    The benefit of starting at 41 is that your joints don't have the same mileage you'd have if you were lifting for decades, and if you put in effort/consistency with solid programs, you'll likely end up at the same place by the time you're 45-50, but without as much wear and tear on your body. See stickies in the Workout forum for some program examples.

    Watch your form on exercises - don't "cheat and throw your back into" unrelated exercises to lift more weight. And be mindful of the very wide-armed pushups or at least vary your hand positioning sometimes - those may aggravate your shoulder over time.
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    Originally Posted by air2fakie View Post
    There are machines, but I don't recommend buying an all-in-one or several machines for a home gym to mimic these movements. IMO you'll get more bang for your buck and better results if you just buy a barbell with a decent amount of plates for weight, and if you eventually get a power cage or half-rack and a bench you're pretty much set as you progress. You can still use your dbs for isolations.

    The benefit of starting at 41 is that your joints don't have the same mileage you'd have if you were lifting for decades, and if you put in effort/consistency with solid programs, you'll likely end up at the same place by the time you're 45-50, but without as much wear and tear on your body. See stickies in the Workout forum for some program examples.

    Watch your form on exercises - don't "cheat and throw your back into" unrelated exercises to lift more weight. And be mindful of the very wide-armed pushups or at least vary your hand positioning sometimes - those may aggravate your shoulder over time.
    Thanks for the tips. I'll grab a bar on craigslist. looks like there are a few in my area for $100 and one guy is unloading 187lbs of weights for $80... just have to drive 25 minutes to get there. And while there are no squat racks or benches on there in my area it looks like between the two It'd be under $500 for cheaper sets. I don't think I'm very strong and honestly doubt I'll be able to work up to being super muscular. more interested in being fit and toned... I see cheaper cages which can handle up to 300lbs. does it make sense for someone like me to get a stronger cage which can support more weight? I have no clue what I could squat, but 300lbs seems like that's for much stronger guys. Would a totally fit and toned 5'10" 180lb guy need to go over 300? (I'm a long way from being that guy, but that's the end goal... be at roughly the same total mass as I am now, but lose 50lbs of fat and gain 50lbs of muscle)

    on the pushups I tried the wide-arm thing after watching some videos about trying to isolate the pecs. I feel like when I do them with my hands below my shoulders it's really working too many muscles so none of them are actually getting much of a load... but I don't know what I'm doing beyond copying the form of fit guys on youtube videos. is that wrong? would that low of a weight still provide benefit to shoulders/triceps/pecs simultaneously? or is it just basically cardio since it's such a low weight? - It seemed like when I did a true, full chest-to-the-ground pushup with the wide hand placement my pecs could feel it as I hit 16-17-18... whereas with the standard hand-placement it was relatively effortless and it was more of a lack of wind (smoked weed and tobacco every day for 25 years) that wore me out after 40-ish reps.
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    Originally Posted by OldManNoob View Post
    I don't think I'm very strong and honestly doubt I'll be able to work up to being super muscular. more interested in being fit and toned... I see cheaper cages which can handle up to 300lbs. does it make sense for someone like me to get a stronger cage which can support more weight? I have no clue what I could squat, but 300lbs seems like that's for much stronger guys. Would a totally fit and toned 5'10" 180lb guy need to go over 300? (I'm a long way from being that guy, but that's the end goal... be at roughly the same total mass as I am now, but lose 50lbs of fat and gain 50lbs of muscle)
    300 lbs isn't a superhuman squat at all and weighing 180 lbs it's pretty realistic for you to surpass. I wouldn't buy something that you'd need to replace or have your progress be so easily limited by equipment. If you feel you're really weak right now or will be back in the gym before you progress too far, you can just start out with heavier spinlock dbs (ex: 100 lbs each). Or even just the bar/plates, but there's a risk there if you fail and it may be hard to get into position.

    Originally Posted by OldManNoob View Post
    on the pushups I tried the wide-arm thing after watching some videos about trying to isolate the pecs. I feel like when I do them with my hands below my shoulders it's really working too many muscles so none of them are actually getting much of a load... but I don't know what I'm doing beyond copying the form of fit guys on youtube videos. is that wrong? would that low of a weight still provide benefit to shoulders/triceps/pecs simultaneously? or is it just basically cardio since it's such a low weight? - It seemed like when I did a true, full chest-to-the-ground pushup with the wide hand placement my pecs could feel it as I hit 16-17-18... whereas with the standard hand-placement it was relatively effortless and it was more of a lack of wind (smoked weed and tobacco every day for 25 years) that wore me out after 40-ish reps.
    You can do pushups wide if it doesn't bother you, was just saying to be mindful of it. From what you describe about doing 40+ reps but poor overall poor fitness, I have a feeling you're doing them more like cardio rather than with proper form/speed. Either way, cheap pushup handles, feet up on a chair some sets, and a weighted vest or even loaded backpack can go along way with making them harder and get a better stretch. No need to try so hard to specifically isolate the pecs since it's a compound movement.
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    Originally Posted by air2fakie View Post
    300 lbs isn't a superhuman squat at all and weighing 180 lbs it's pretty realistic for you to surpass. I wouldn't buy something that you'd need to replace or have your progress be so easily limited by equipment. If you feel you're really weak right now or will be back in the gym before you progress too far, you can just start out with heavier spinlock dbs (ex: 100 lbs each). Or even just the bar/plates, but there's a risk there if you fail and it may be hard to get into position.
    wow. I figured 300 was a pretty lofty goal, but I'll go ahead and buy one of the bigger cages. I'm pretty sure my job is going to stay remote forever now that we've assessed the savings on the lower overhead of having all employees work from home without any loss in productivity (even some productivity gains in the female-dominated departments as now they're not spending 2 hours a day gossiping) - so I will have the time to do sets at home. - I see a $349 cage by a brand called Sunny health? says it'll do up to 1000lbs. maybe one of my sons could use the higher weight in a few years. they're still waaaaaayy too young to even consider a serious strength building routine but are enthused watching me and trying to do 5lb curls.

    You can do pushups wide if it doesn't bother you, was just saying to be mindful of it. From what you describe about doing 40+ reps but poor overall poor fitness, I have a feeling you're doing them more like cardio rather than with proper form/speed. Either way, cheap pushup handles, feet up on a chair some sets, and a weighted vest or even loaded backpack can go along way with making them harder and get a better stretch. No need to try so hard to specifically isolate the pecs since it's a compound movement.
    This is accurate... the wide hand placement kinda forces me to go slower as I can't do a gravity drop and catch myself without hitting the floor, but can with the closer-in hands. I'll try to force myself to slow-down on the drops with hand-placement closer-in.

    I made an attempt at the fierce 5A routine as best I could with just the dumbbells I have this morning and really feel it pretty much all over now 4-5 hours later... and that's with very little weight (each one fully loaded to 29.4lbs bar included).Seems even at a low weight that's significantly more effective than everything I was doing before.

    I appreciate your advice!
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    Time is Muscle ECGordyn's Avatar
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    I'd grab the 187 lbs of weights. You can sell some later if it's too much.

    Note the difference in plate sizes. Some plates have 2 inch holes for Olympic barbells. Some plates have 1 inch holes for small barbells and dumbbells. Olympic bar & plates is standard for strength training.
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    Originally Posted by ECGordyn View Post
    I'd grab the 187 lbs of weights. You can sell some later if it's too much.

    Note the difference in plate sizes. Some plates have 2 inch holes for Olympic barbells. Some plates have 1 inch holes for small barbells and dumbbells. Olympic bar & plates is standard for strength training.
    yeah, I tried but guess I was too slow. dude messaged back and said they were already sold. Would have been a steal compared to buying new! - Money's not really an issue at this sort of level... I can't go dump $2-3k into all this stuff but I can drop a grand and not really impact the budget. Now that I'm not wasting $500 a month between weed and beer I'm freeing up a pretty serious chunk of change each month... and I haven't been able to quit the cigarettes just yet but have cut down to 4-5 per day which cuts the tobacco budget by $200 a month. another $100 once I get down to 0 per day.
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