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Best Workout Routine for a Middle Aged Man

Best Workout Routine for a Middle Aged Man
Pat Dickson - Thu Aug 01, 2013 @ 02:05PM
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I've written a lot about my diet, which I call, generically, "my one meal a day diet." A lot of my critics have pointed out that my diet should work because with as much exercise as I do, any diet should work. Nevertheless, in the interest of full disclosure, I present my routine below.

Caveat, this is my routine. It works for me. I am not a doctor, so consult one before you do as I do.

About me. I am a 44 year-old middle aged man. My routine (plus my one meal a day diet) keeps my stats at at least 15.9% body fat at 226 pounds. My bench press is over 300 pounds. My blood pressure and pulse are in the healthy range. As you will read from my other blogs, I am diligently trying to reduce my body fat while increasing my strength.

My middle aged man routine involves two critical parts, walking and performing compound weight lifting exercises:

Walking: I walk. I do not run. Running gives me shin splints, hurts my knees, spine and hips. Is this age related or weight related or both? I don't know. What I do know is that walking does not hurt me (a middle aged man) and helps me stay more trim. Twice a week I walk 8 miles. Before and after each workout (5 days a week) I walk a half a mile on the treadmill. So, each week I walk 21 miles. Of course this is a current average, and some weeks are more while others are less.

Weight Lifting: 5 days a week, I work out with weights for about an hour. As a middle aged man, I believe two things I do with my weightlifting routine are material.

1. I use no machines. I only do compound exercises. I only use barbells, dumbbells, benches, cages, stationary dip stations, and pullup bars (with the exception of the standing calf raise machine). The reason is that machines always hurt me. I don't know the exact reason, but I believe that machines force my body to move in unnatural ways, so I get hurt. My middle aged joints just can't be forced out of the groove! They have to take their natural course. If I want to pull my back or hurt my knees, the Smith Machine Squats will do it every time, whereas free weight squats never hurt me.

Additionally, I have to say that sticking with compound exercises does a lot more to get me breathing hard, and doing so gives my core a lot more work than some seated apparatus would offer it. I'm forced to use my entire body. I have to use a lot more balance than I would need to put into play were I using machines. At my age, I need as much balance and agility training as I can get. My coordination movements are not getting any better with age!

2. I go low volume. If I want to get hurt, all I have to do is high volume. I can't do 5 hard sets on the bench press any more. Something will tear off. However, the good news is that I seem to be able to climb to my average best bench press (or squat or deadlift) within a few months using a very low volume routine (and even when I remain uninjured using a high volume routine my progress really is not measurably faster). To get to my strongest the fastest while avoiding injury, just one thing (at least for me) seems required. I warm up a ton, and only do one real working set. Then I'm done. The next week all I do differently is I either add one more rep or slightly more weight to my one working set. 

For example, since my late 30's I've worked up to a bench press of about 275 pounds for 10 reps about a half dozen times. Here is how I did it. I'd been working out with something like 225 lbs for max reps, not having attempted higher poundage for several months. So, I decide to increase my weight. I feel I've rested from the heavy stuff long enough and want to go up again.

Usually I start by bench pressing every Monday. I warm up with the bar x 10, then add 50 lbs x 10, then 135 x 10, 185 x 5, and then a final warmup of 225 x 2. For my single heavy work set, I'm barely able to lock out a single with 275. Hence, my entire bench press routine is nothing more than 5 warmup sets completed with a single heavy set. Then like clockwork, for 9 Mondays thereafter, my warmups stay the same and all I do is add one more rep to my single 275 pound working set. Higher volume routines have never made me any stronger any faster. If anything, higher volume routines injured me and slowed my progress.

Caveat, this method might not work for everyone. Plus, maybe this technique works for me because of muscle memory. I've been at 275 x 10 before. And, I'm not claiming to be able to reach new strength peaks this way. I'm only getting back to my historical best. But remember, I am a middle aged man! Just being as good as you've been before can be heroic!

So, here is my compound weightlifting routine. With each listed exercise I set forth for each day of the week, as mentioned above, I just do a lot of warming up and then do one heavy working set. With each of these single working sets, I either try to do one more rep or a few pounds more than I did the week before. As far as target reps to start with any exercise, I'd try to stick between 4 and 20. Experiment a little. Each of us responds differently to rep ranges. Just keep your form strict, your core tight, and breathe!

Notes: I don't do a lot of exercises that stress or stretch the joints too much, like front raises or chest flys or upright rows. Instead I do military press, bench press or shrugs. Big stuff that stays within safe ranges of motion where the body and the core is straight behind the bulk of the weight. No stressful angles! I don't do any snatches or power cleans. For me that's just asking for an injury. With squats it often takes me as many as 20 reps with the 45 lb bar to get to just below parallel.

My Middle Aged Man Weight Lifting Routine Exercises


Bench Press
Close Grips
Incline Dumbbell Press
Standing Calves


Reverse Bent Over Rows
Dumbbell Rows
Reverse Dumbbell Flys
Weighted Crunches (plates and inflated ball)


Standing Military Press
Seated Dumbbell Military Press
Standing Barbell Curls
Standing Dumbbell Curls
Standing Calves


Front Squats
Hammer Dumbbell Curls
Weighted Crunches (plates and inflated ball)


Romanian Deadlifts
Dumbbell Shrugs

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