I posted this in the newbies section but I thought it might get more of a response here:
Hello there !
After 12 years or so off from weight training I am thinking of returning to it because, quite frankly, I do little exercise at the moment and would like to get into shape again.
I first started weight training when I was 22.
Without going into too many details of how or why, I ended up following a low volume/high intensity routine of the type reccommended by the likes of Arthur Jones (god rest his soul). Being a scientist myself his HIT philosophy appealed to me. His arguments made sense.
Over the next 18 months I trained 3 times a week on non-consecutive days - entire body workout - 20 exercises for 1 set each to momentary muscular failure (or very occasionally slightly beyond by the use of drop-sets or negatives) with the result that my body weight increased from 9.5 stone to around 12.5 stone. My strength increases far exceeded my expectations of my initially skinny frame (ectomorphic traits). Each of my workouts lasted around 50 mins. I ate a sensible, nutrient rich diet, emphasizing complex carbs and quality sources of protein.
I'm getting on a bit now (or I feel like it anyway at 41!) and although my body is still toned I have lost the majority of the mass and strength I once had. I do little exercise at the moment so I have to gradually work my way back into shape.
Do you think it's ok for me to return to my HIT program (once I am fitter) or am I too over the hill for it's rigours ? Would a higher volume/medium intensity workout serve me better ? Should I circuit-train to improve my cardio or take it even easier (ie light jogging, stretching to improve flexibility) before I start to use weights again ?
Low reps with high intensity after mastering form with cardio on the side to start with is what I suggest. Master form, master form, master form, master form and master form. When form is good shoot for strength under good form and keep cardio going aside from strength training for now. Lifting heavy under bad form isn't getting stronger it's getting hurt. Raise the weight but never lower the form.
Later you can bring it all together with pyrimids, supersets, or whatever is your fancy. Form, plus separate cardio first.......... then push and pull low reps with max weight with ever increasing weight then bring cardio in with compact high volume intense workouts lasting under an hour, from one forty something to another.
If this doesn't kill you you WILL get stronger. You may have to vary recovery time because you are old like me(you wish). Your experiences with body paranoia makes you better at working smarter, smarter than when you were younger. Use that. Listen to your aches and smile at the good ones. Never down play injuries but learn to work around them when possible. If you get too busy to go to the gym and use that as an excuse get use to feeling like you let your self down. Excuses are counterproductive being smart is productive. Don't BS yourself.
As you get older, you need to keep in mind of what that means for your body and how you should adjust training. But you should never adjust your goals because your older. It may take longer to get there, but there's no reason that you can't reach it.
Having blathered on, I need to say that 41 isn't that old. Go for the HIIT.
I will return to my HIT program then once I have worked myself into better shape
Hoglander - thanks for the advice. Good to know there are some other oldies out there! On the subject of form I always performed each of my reps strictly (no jerking, body momentum, leaning, swinging etc) using 2-3 seconds on the concentric and 4-5 seconds on the eccentric until any further reps were impossible (momentary failure). I tried to put my mind into the muscle or muscle group being exercised, not just go through the motions as I saw many others around me doing.
At the time I even remember people arguing with me that 1 set to failure training doesn't work (despite the evidence of my physique staring them in the face!) but I ignored them. Rooting around just recently I came across this: