Older Guy: Needs to Gain Strength but keep up the Cardio

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Maybe I'm looking in the wrong places but I don't see many other people here in my boat. I am:

- 56
- Male
- I have always been a toothpick (skin, bones, and fat with little to no muscle except on my legs) but sometimes a fat toothpick
- I am trying to lose the last few pounds (<5) of excess belly fat
- I am still restricting my calorie intake (by a few hundred per day) to lose the remaining fat
- Doing cardio (running, elliptical) 5 hours per week to stay cardio fit and to burn the fat but have lost upper body muscle
- Doing strength exercises (dumbbells, crunches, pushups, etc.) 3 hours per week to reverse the muscle loss
- Doing flexibility exercises 3 times per week to gain flexibility

Balancing the above is difficult as it seems by body easily wants to both put on fat and lose muscle while I'm trying to push it to be leaner and stronger.

I expect to finish losing the fat within a few more weeks and could restructure both my diet and exercise routine.

Cardio health is the most important thing for me and I will always demand some decent level of vigorous daily cardio exercise and a low fat diet.

My interest is purely about my health and I have no interest in looking hot or becoming really strong.

Please chime in if you're there or if you have good advice for an old dog!

Replies

  • DancingMoosie
    DancingMoosie Posts: 8,619 Member
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    Ok, so I'm a woman, and younger, but here's what worked for me:
    1. circuit training--I use JM 30 day Shred or RI 30 with 9lb dumbbells instead of 3lb
    2. lift heavy--squats, deadlift, bench, plus auxilliaries of good mornings, lunges, and standing calf raises with the bar
    3. push-ups and pull-ups
    4. Eat at maintenance or slightly below, no massive deficits. Make sure you get enough protein.
    Like I said, its what worked for me. You will get lots of differing advice and opinions. You have to find what works for you. I still run, but not as often or as long as I used to.
  • MikeStnly
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    I'm similar - just turned 60 - and have the same goals as you. Good cardio and body tone, but not a muscle builder. I am doing one hour of treadmill most days and have just started the FitStar Get Lean 12 week program. I feel better than I have felt in years. I would like to lose about 30 pounds in the end and then maintain that weight.

    Good for you for starting at 56!
  • toddis
    toddis Posts: 941 Member
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    I assume you are doing cardio on the same days you are doing strength training?
    Few ideas if you haven't done them:

    1. Strength training should be difficult. If you are doing more than 12 reps at a time, increase the difficulty by adding weight, changing the angle, etc.
    2. Alter your cardio to be more intense in a shorter duration. Hill sprints, sled pulls, sprints, intervals, etc.
    3. Similar to 2, incorporate HIIT training if you are able.

    If you are interested in gaining/retaining muscle keep the cardio on both ends of the spectrum, either intense, or low intensity.

    Random thoughts.
  • jerber160
    jerber160 Posts: 2,606 Member
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    54 HERE. I FEEL AS I GET OLDER I 'M GETTING WEAKER. i WAS THINKING OF GETTING A TRAINER FOR ONE DAY A WEEK FOR ABOUT SIX MONTHS. IT'S GETTING SO CARRYING GROCERIES IS 'NOTICABLE' . LUGGAGE TOO.
  • Vonwarr
    Vonwarr Posts: 390 Member
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    First off, great job on losing the weight... I am inspired! However, I do think you need to re-evaluate what you are doing now that you are approaching the end of your fat loss. Right now, your methods and goals don't align very well. If you're trying to gain weight, long cardio sessions and a calorie deficit is not going to help.

    As you get older, your body naturally loses muscle for a number of reasons. I know you said that you have no interest in becoming "strong" but strength training becomes more and more important to preserve lean muscle mass. Compound lifts or a progression of increasingly difficult body weight exercises is the ideal way to preserve lean mass while trying to lose fat. You will see this advice over and over in many threads because it really does work.

    It sounds like you are pursuing an aggressive deficit, both in diet and the amount of steady-state cardio you are doing. A less aggressive deficit may take longer to lose the last few pounds but it will slow the loss of lean mass. If you enjoy running, by all means continue... just realize it may be working against you and you have to adjust your diet to take it into account. On another note, short sprints or "HIIT" style cardio improves cardiovascular capability more than long distance running. Try mixing it up and shortening some of your cardio sessions but increasing their intensity.
  • TheWorstHorse
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    In my experience, it is difficult to build muscle mass while maintaining a calorie deficit, especially as we age (I am fifty-five.). Steady state cardio makes it more difficult. You can *maintain* muscle mass as long as your calorie deficit isn't too large and you are doing whole body strength training two or three days a week: free weights, bodyweight exercises, machine training.

    If you don't want to give up the weight loss goal, here's my suggestion: Do a full-body workout two days a week. Work your way up to the point where it is difficult but not impossible to finish your sets. Do cardio four days a week. Take a day off. Watch your weight and adjust your calorie intake so you are losing around a pound a week.

    When you hit your goal weight, you can decide if you want to build muscle mass. If you do, you will probably find that you need some combination of (a) progressive strength training, (b) less cardio or a change to interval training, (c) more calories of a different sort.

    And, as always, YMMV. Tinker with the basics until you find what works for you. Good work so far and good luck!
  • vivaldirules
    vivaldirules Posts: 169 Member
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    Thank you for all the comments! I've been assuming that sometime in March I would increase my calorie goal, reduce my running, and bump up the strength exercises. I'm just not sure how much to do of any of those. I guess I will play it by ear and see what happens. To start, what would you think if I changed to:

    - Increase calories to maintenance plus 250 per day
    - Reduce cardio to 5 x 30 min. per week
    - Increase strength to ???

    I'm really puzzled about the strength training. How many days per week should I be doing it? And for how long? I'm not even sure I'm giving all my muscles the attention I should or how to tell. Any thoughts or suggestions where I should read?
  • toddis
    toddis Posts: 941 Member
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    The general go to books/resources for strength training are:

    Starting Strength: Basic Barbell Training by Mark Rippetoe
    Stronglifts 5x5: ( http://stronglifts.com/stronglifts-5x5-beginner-strength-training-program/ )
    New Rules of Weight Lifting ...by someone or other =P


    Basically you'll want to do 2 or 3 days per week to start. No more than an hour per session.
    Generally the advice here is to stick with barbell/dumb bell exercises. Follow a program of
    progressive overload. (more weight or reps over time)
  • sijomial
    sijomial Posts: 19,811 Member
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    The general go to books/resources for strength training are:

    Starting Strength: Basic Barbell Training by Mark Rippetoe
    Stronglifts 5x5: ( http://stronglifts.com/stronglifts-5x5-beginner-strength-training-program/ )
    New Rules of Weight Lifting ...by someone or other =P


    Basically you'll want to do 2 or 3 days per week to start. No more than an hour per session.
    Generally the advice here is to stick with barbell/dumb bell exercises. Follow a program of
    progressive overload. (more weight or reps over time)
    Good advice here ^^^^^

    Despite your age (nice to find someone even older than me!) if you have never done any serious weight training then one of the beginner weight training programs as outlined above will be perfect.

    I've just turned 54 and am balancing strength / weight training with a lot of cardio (mostly cycling). My weekly routine is 3 x 1hr strength training and 3 sessions of various cardio, 1 of these is often a long cycle ride. I do cardio and strength on different days.

    Don't worry about cardio affecting strength gains, that's really not something normal people need to worry about as long as your diet is good. I would say reduce your cardio if you feel fatigued or it's affecting recovery but otherwise if you enjoy it then carry on.
  • Ready2Serve
    Ready2Serve Posts: 113 Member
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    I have been reading more and more on HIIT training. SO with doing more anaerobic exercises you burn more fat and less muscle. But that means 90 seconds of cardio as hard as you can, when you finish you should not be able to go any farther. When I run I am running at 9.5 with an incline of 1%. then back down to 4.5 for 3 minutes. I do that for four cycles. Has really turned up my fat burning and have not loss any muscle in the process.
  • SunofaBeach14
    SunofaBeach14 Posts: 4,899 Member
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    I'm 41, and started working out again in my mid-30s. My suggestion is get under an oly bar and start lifting weights. Read Starting Strength for guidance. Your stomach will tighten more from squats and deadlifts than from crunches. When you can, add an ab wheel and then hanging pikes. As for adding muscle, it is going to be much easier to commit yourself to cut and bulk cycles then it is to wait patiently for body recomp from eating at or below maintenance over the long run.

    ETA: You do not need to reduce your cardio to gain weight. Just eat more. There is a lot of crap out there about cardio destroying muscle gains, and while true if you are doing very long cardio sessions, most of it is simply a matter of eating sufficient calories.
  • jerber160
    jerber160 Posts: 2,606 Member
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    wondering where your favorite beach is. wondering if you live there too!
  • OverDoIt
    OverDoIt Posts: 332 Member
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    Hello,
    There have been many fantastic replies and I would like to add a couple of suggestions. If you are going to be increasing intensity and or workload you may want to do it slowly. The reason being is first and foremost joint health and mobility. While strength training and compound lifting help with mobilty, a full attack right out of the gate may cause serious joint discomfort. Also, before I state this I will quote Louie Simmons "My morals are not your morals". Have you looked into Male HRT (testosterone therapy) this helps with many of the sticking points you adressed in your post. I feel that there is a great benefit for many men of a certain age and stature that HRT benefits. Please do not attack me everyone, I am genuinely trying to help. Take what you want and leave the rest. Do not ever give up.