Could I get stronger by end of July?

I'm 57, 5'3", 114 lbs, in maintenance.

At the end of July we will be helping our adult child and spouse move states. This weekend, we were helping them prep their house for selling and I'm a lot less strong than I was 7 years ago when we last moved houses. 😟

Could I build strength in 5.5 months?

Right now I have access to some hand weights and a small home all-in-one weight machine (something like this:, and, of course, body weight exercises. I could, in theory, afford to join the Planet Fitness that is opening soon-ish nearby.

I do have easy to injure joints, tendons and ligaments, so I have to be careful and not rush anything.

How much time would I need to commit (both days and hours)?

Would I need to increase calories and/or protein?

Is this even a feasible goal?

For reference, I currently mostly walk for exercise (about 1 hr a day). I do a short core/stretching/yoga routine each morning. I do lots of cleaning and household chores!


  • AnnPT77
    AnnPT77 Posts: 24,736 Member
    Increasing strength in 5.5 months, when starting from not having done strength exercise before, or not for quite a long time? Yes, IMO.

    Strength increase, initially, comes from better recruiting and using existing muscle fibers. It doesn't require adding new muscle fibers (which can be slower), at first. (That's why being new, or resuming after long break, is relevant. If strength training regularly, that neuromuscular adaptation has likely already been harnessed.)

    It will still help you to get overall good nutrition alongside (especially but not exclusively adequate protein). Watch the scale, since you're in maintenance, and avoid losing more from this activity addition (the calorie impact can be hard to estimate). Since you're at a happy weight, it should be pretty straightforward to avoid eating in a way that triggers subtle fatigue (so reduced performance) or inadequate recovery (in between strength sessions, including during actual sleep, is where the actual magic happens).

    It's probably better to use a well-designed program, and there's a thread about that here:

    There are bodyweight programs in there, or ones for other machines (or even free weights) that you can adapt by using analogous exercises that your machine enables. If your goal is moving household goods, bodyweight or freeweights as much as possible may be helpful, in that it better trains small stabilizers, balance, leverage, etc.

    If some program starts with too much weight, too often, etc., for your situation, it's completely fine to start lower and go slower to ease into it, for injury avoidance purposes. It's also OK to start with a reassuringly light weight/resistance, even, and build confidence that you can handle a bit more, try a bit more, get more confidence, etc. Injuries would interfere with your timeline more than a gradual ramp-up, IMO.

    I'm not a strength training expert - far from. If you get opinions from some experts here, that's good. What I am is an older female (66 in my case) who's active, but strength trains mostly in my off-season (as an on-water rower in a Northern climate where my river - sadly - freezes). Every year, I go through a gradual ramp up (as an injury avoidance strategy), and strength improves pretty fast at first (in weeks). It may be a little faster for me, since I have strength trained in the past, but it also possibly tops out faster for me than for you because of that history.

    I think you can get some decent strength gains in a sensibly dedicated 5.5 months. Even if that's non-dramatic in poundage moved, you'll learn things (implicitly) from strength exercise, that will help you in your stint as a house mover, about how to use your body in safe ways to move weight, what your limits may be, and that sort of thing.

    IMO, totally a worthwhile idea you have there.

    Best wishes!
  • ecjim
    ecjim Posts: 959 Member
    Google Starting Strength & Strong Lifts -They are both beginner programs - Pick one and follow it - Use a starting weight that you can lift OK - Starting too heavy can be counter productive. You will get stronger. Go for a walk on your off days
  • golfchess6
    golfchess6 Posts: 64 Member
    I agree that you can build strength in 5 months. Have you tried bodyweight exercises or bands? I will do just basic band workouts during commercial breaks and have found that it really helps.
  • bold_rabbit
    bold_rabbit Posts: 1,198 Member
    edited February 10
    Thanks for the replies! (Odd that the new community - on Android app at least - doesn't alert when a post gets a reply.)

    I think that I'll do the following:

    Use the home gym machine that I have 2 days a week (it includes a workout plan), increasing weights as I am able.

    Get back to doing yoga once a week, since that is more full body and combines body weight exercises with balance.

    Continue my morning short core/ stretch/ yoga exercise and my (most) days 1 hour walk.

    Be more careful to hit at least 100 grams of protein daily (not too hard as a "mostly-vegetarian" pescatarian if I'm mindful about snack choices).

    Since my average weight in January was 113.5 lbs (lower than my doc wants), I'm also going to try to let my average weight creep up to about 115 lbs, hoping that at least some of that increase is muscle.

    Sounds reasonable?
  • AnnPT77
    AnnPT77 Posts: 24,736 Member
    Sure, sounds reasonable. Monitor your strength progress, see how it goes. Realistically, you might get better progress with 3 days of more-pure strength exercise, but the bodyweight parts will give you some stimulus to smaller stabilizers and such, that the machine won't. If this routine sounds achievable/enjoyable for you, test drive it for a couple of months, see how it's going, would be my reaction. Others may differ . . . . 🙂

    Come back and let us know how it goes, if you're willing? Might help others get insights, and it's always fun to see what people who post here end up doing/achieving later.

    Best wishes for good progress!
  • ciaoder
    ciaoder Posts: 119 Member
    The trick to getting stronger really just boils down to the idea that every time you workout you need to do just a little bit more than last time. You can do your exercises with more resistance or, if you're not ready to move up just yet, do more repetitions than you did last time. Even just 1 extra will count. For your goals, the ideal spot is that the last 1 or 2 reps of any movement should be kind of hard, but never impossible.

    The other big thing is that you don't want to start a training session with weak muscles. If after a quick warm up you start and it's much harder than your last session just lay off. Trying to train muscles that haven't recovered yet is just counter productive.

    The last thing to consider is that connective tissue won't get stronger as fast as muscles. You're already active and yoga especially is helpful. It's still good to be mindful of any new pains that might start to pop up.

  • I2k4
    I2k4 Posts: 176 Member
    edited February 11
    I moved furniture for a van & storage company summers during college. At first hire I was reasonably "gym strong", the boss was proud of benching 300 lbs to my 285, but truth told most of it was about technique (both to lift and carry weirdly shaped objects alone and in pairs and avoid injuries over a full day) and steady endurance in hot California sun. These are skills and not ordinary gym skills - my guess is there could be more useful benefit from "functional" multi-plane exercise and some cardio than typical muscle-developing barbell or cable machine gym workouts with their restrictive movements and brief time of exertion.
  • golfchess6
    golfchess6 Posts: 64 Member
    I2k4 wrote: »
    These are skills and not ordinary gym skills .

    So true. In the gym, I see so many people bench pressing or doing arm curls for show. Your manual work experience gave you true strenghth for everyday.

  • I2k4
    I2k4 Posts: 176 Member
    golfchess6 wrote: »
    I2k4 wrote: »
    These are skills and not ordinary gym skills .
    So true. In the gym, I see so many people bench pressing or doing arm curls for show. Your manual work experience gave you true strenghth for everyday.
    I had a funny direct comparison in those years when my school built new two-story residences stocked with very good extra-long single beds, and hired a crew of students to unload and place the heavy duty mattresses. Most of them were athletes fitter than me, but they had to pair up to carry them and manage the steps and door angles, while the guys at my job would have laughed at me for that. I was the only one doing it single-handedly. (On the other side of the coin, the few times I've played soccer - having a ton of fun - my legs were incredibly sore and almost immobile for two or three days after.)