My goal is to increase strength and bulk. I am 54+ years of age, 6', 3", 185 pounds. I began lifting again after an 12 year layoff and have been at it for 4 months using three day split routine, day 1 = legs, day 2 = back/biceps and day 3 = chest and triceps. The weight increases seem very slow to me compared to my early 40's when I stopped. My set/rep is generally 4/7-8 performing 4-5 exercises. I start with the compound exercise and work to isolations. For example: legs: squats, leg extentions, leg curls, calf raises. Back/biceps: deadlift, lats, dumbbell row, preacher curls using low cable, standing dumbbell curls. I vary the isolation exercises every month or so. On my off days I ride my road bike 1-2 hours after work and weekends at a 17+ mph average pace. I am currently working towards 40 mile rides. The goal is 50+ miles in a single ride. Diet is normal and balanced, fruit, vegetable, carbohydrates, proteins, dairy. Low salt and sweets.
Why such slow gains? What could I do different? thanks.
First, at 54, you likely have a slower recovery, so muscle recovery may be more like 72 hours, not 48 as when you were younger. So if training on a 48 hour recovery schedule.
You may also need to increment the weights in more regimented fashion. Older weight training guru Bill Pearl recommends a 5% increment, or close to that, about every three weeks. You are ready for an increment when you can complete 3-4 more reps on all sets of a given exercise, and more easily. You may think this not aggressive enough but you can double your strength in a year doing this. To add bulk, you probably don't need too many sets, and will need to eat more. A small meal of 80% carbs, and 20% protein within 90 minutes after your workout will go mostly to muscle rebuilding. Using this pattern, I gained 15 pounds in 4 months, after decades of being unable to gain any weight.
An excessive number of sets can simply increase your metabolism, and prevent you being able to bulk up. You will need to drink more water and have more protein thru the day, too. For weight gain, more total calories. For muscle building, more protein. For energy to fuel everything, more carbs. Be careful on fats. You need a lot less than you think.
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