When I started lifting at 47, being safe was a big concern. The programs you can find online might be good for beginners, but many are designed for intermediate and advanced lifters. How do you know what is safe for a new lifter? How do you know when you need to “level up”? Watch to learn how to tell if your lifting program is the best workout for you RIGHT NOW. And learn how and when to adjust your weight training program over time.
A common mistake that new lifters make is that they use a workout program that doesn’t match their lifting age.
Your lifting age isn’t how long you’ve been lifting.
It refers to how your body is responding to your training.
New lifters might try to use a program that’s designed for an advanced lifter because those programs are online everywhere.
And people who don’t know you have a lot of free advice!
Some people think that they can speed up their progress if they use a harder program, but if your body isn’t ready for it, you might stall your progress or worse – get hurt.
The best lifting program for you right now is going to be aligned to your lifting age.
So let’s talk about those different lifting ages so you know what to expect over time as you train. Let’s get into those things you need to watch for.
You’ll know when it’s time to level up and we’ll talk about how to adjust your workout program over time so that you can keep progressing.
The first phase is pretty obvious. It’s the novice phase.
This is somebody who is untrained or that their lifting has been inconsistent for a period of time.
This person is the furthest away from their genetic potential, which seems like it might be a bad thing, but it’s actually great.
It means you have a lot of progress that you can make and it’s a pretty exciting time.
You’re going to see the most rapid progress happening during this novice phase.
When you lift, you should expect to have a full recovery within 48 to 72 hours.
You’re likely to see progress from one session to the next,
This phase will last 3 to 6 months if training is consistent.
The intermediate phase comes after the novice phase and you’ll know you’re going into an intermediate phase when your progression starts to slow down.
At this point, you’ve been training for a while, you are now closer to your genetic potential for what your muscle size and your strength are going to be.
You’ll notice that your strength progress takes longer.
You will not necessarily be getting stronger from workout to workout after the intermediate phase.
If a lifter has been lifting for more than two years consistently and they have been using an intentional
program designed for a purpose – trying to get stronger, trying to get bigger – that would be an advanced lifter.
This person is very close to their genetic potential for what their body is going to be able to accomplish.
Their strength progress is going to slow down.
You’ll also notice, as an advanced lifter, it takes a lot longer to recover.
So, just based on those really quick general descriptions, do you have an idea of what your own lifting age?
Are you a novice, intermediate, or advanced?
Now, let’s talk about programming for each one of these phases.
When you are in that novice phase, which lasts from just getting started all the way up to about six months, during that time do whole body workouts and lift 2 to 3 times a week.
You can’t really put a date on the calendar and say “this is my graduation. I am now an intermediate lifter”.
What you want to watch for is recovery. If you are taking longer to recover, if it seems like you’re not ready to do your scheduled lift, you may now have moved into the intermediate phase.
We need to make some changes in your programming.
So at this point, as an intermediate, workout splits need to change to allow for that recovery.
This is when you’ll start using those more complicated programs you may have seen online, like an upper-lower split, push-pull-legs, or maybe even body part days during the intermediate phase.
You also want to include blocks of time where volume can be cycled up or down.
Your body will be in this phase for about two years if your training is consistent and intentional.
Most people will voluntarily stay in this intermediate phase.
Most people are lifting for general health. They’re lifting because they enjoy it. They’re not training to be a competitive athlete in any way.
The advanced lifter is that athlete person who is training for something. This person needs to have a customized program that is going to be based on their own variables.
And usually an advanced lifter is working with a coach.
We’ve talked about the lifting age and we talked about the different ways to program for those different lifting ages.
Do you think that your training matches your lifting age?
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Hi! I'm Tammy! I was a busy, stressed, and unhealthy teacher until I decided to take control of my health. I did not become an athlete until I was in my 50's!
I earned personal training and fitness nutrition certifications, then retired from teaching to dedicate my work life to fitness education for other busy women over 40.
My results are obviously not typical because most people don't train to compete as a bodybuilder.
But I believe everyone can make positive changes with healthy habits! Each of us has a unique combination of strengths and challenges that need to be considered to customize a program that will work for us. Science-based principles, flexibility, and consistency make all the difference.