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  1. #1
    I love my power hour MrCarrot's Avatar
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    13 years ago I was way strong, was it because I was younger or because I was fat?

    I'm 41 years old now, I've never been especially strong, and physically I look in better shape than I ever have (probably best fat to muscle ratio I've had).

    13 years ago in my late 20's I went on a pretty reckless bulk. Smart phones were much more basic back then so no apps for tracking calories and such like. I just ate as much as I physically could every day for over a year (I estimate 4-5k calories a day).

    I grew really fast, but looking back at old photos a lot of it was fat. I even gained lower belly fat that to this day I cannot get rid of. But my strength was also through the roof compared to now. I could squat and deadlift 3 plates each side whereas now that would either crush me or give me a hernia. I could curl 90 pounds which I can probably do now but back then I'd barely break a sweat.

    I realise these numbers don't make me "strong" compared to some, but relatively speaking I was way stronger back then compared to now. I also looked way bigger and great with a t-shirt on, but pretty terrible with my shirt off.

    I now bulk (more scientifically) on around 3k calories and cut on around 2.4k. I would guess my bf is now consistently closer to 12% whereas before it was probably closer to 20%.

    So am I now a weak piece of chit because I'm 13 years older, or just because back then I ate like every meal was my last? I also heard when you're fat it helps to provide extra cushion and stability around the muscles.
    Last edited by MrCarrot; 11-13-2021 at 02:21 PM.
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  2. #2
    Chihuahua in the rain Corbets's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by MrCarrot View Post
    I'm 41 years old now, I've never been especially strong, and physically I look in better shape than I ever have (probably best fat to muscle ratio I've had).

    13 years ago in my late 20's I went on a pretty reckless bulk. Smart phones were much more basic back then so no apps for tracking calories and such like. I just ate as much as I physically could every day for over a year (I estimate 4-5k calories a day).

    I grew really fast, but looking back at old photos a lot of it was fat. I even gained lower belly fat that to this day I cannot get rid of. But my strength was also through the roof compared to now. I could squat and deadlift 3 plates each side whereas now that would either crush me or give me a hernia. I could curl 90 pounds which I can probably do now but back then I'd barely break a sweat.

    I realise these numbers don't make me "strong" compared to some, but relatively speaking I was way stronger back then compared to now. I also looked way bigger and great with a t-shirt on, but pretty terrible with my shirt off.

    I now bulk (more scientifically) on around 3k calories and cut on around 2.4k. I would guess my bf is now consistently closer to 12% whereas before it was probably closer to 20%.

    So am I now a weak piece of chit because I'm 13 years older, or just because back then I ate like every meal was my last? I also heard when you're fat it helps to provide extra cushion and stability around the muscles.
    Personally, I don’t believe 40ish is old enough to make you weaker - probably by the time you get to 60 (and even then it’s relative, there are some strong MFers out there at 60). I’m at 42 myself, though admittedly I didn’t start weight training properly until 39.

    But if you’re really at 12% bodyfat (which I don’t doubt, just setting the boundaries) your body is going to have less energy available to lift with. I can tell a massive difference between when I was in the neighborhood of 12% or maybe a bit lower vs now when I’m bulking and in the upper teens.

    Also, there’s the fact that you inherently put on more muscle as you gain fat. The ratios may not be (well, aren’t) ideal, but you will have more muscle with more bodyfat. That will be a factor.

    Finally, there’s a leverage factor. You didn’t mention bench, but that’s an easy example - more back fat pushes your chest up higher, more chest fat moves it even further, so your bench ROM decreases.

    I would guess, though I can’t say conclusively, that that all has more to do with your perceived weakness than age. I’m going beyond my knowledge with the next statement, but it seems to me that while your absolutely ability to build muscle decreases if you start in your late 30s compared to your late teens, those who started early can still be building small amounts of muscle into their 40s.
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  3. #3
    I love my power hour MrCarrot's Avatar
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    Thanks for your reply Corbets.

    Just to clarify a few things, I don't know if I am 12% or close to 12% (more of a guess) but my upper abs are usually still just about visible when bulking. Either way, I'm certainly much lower in bf compared to my twenties. In the region of 10% difference I would estimate.

    I also got stretch marks on my arms and under my armpits in my twenties, I grew so quickly (they are still there today). I wonder if that was due to the fat, but I'm inclined to think not because my arms never did get fat at any point (genetics I guess).

    I didn't mention bench because I've always been terrible at it strength-wise. I seem to recall in the past I only ever really used dumbbells, and sadly my old notebooks are long gone. It's easy to remember squatting 3 plates but not so easy to remember which dumbbells I was using at the time.

    On the plus side, I can now do far more pull ups than I could back then, due to weighing less :-)

    My goal was to get to 210 pounds and then start cutting. I think I got to something like 206 pounds and then other stuff happened in my life, and I gave it up. I'll never know whether I had a load of lean muscle under the fat and whether I'd have retained the strength on what would have been an aggressive and prolonged cut, or whether I'd have just ended up looking similar to how I do now!
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  4. #4
    Old Man Lifting PhDPepper1111's Avatar
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    Obviously there are individual differences. Dr Mike Israetel did a great youtube on strength as you age, worth looking up - he quotes a lot of data on muscle loss as you age, as well as what you can expect if you keep training through each decade of your life. Main thing for you now is to have a good resistance training plan and stick to it - you can certainly maintain good functional strength for many years yet!
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  5. #5
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    Originally Posted by PhDPepper1111 View Post
    Obviously there are individual differences. Dr Mike Israetel did a great youtube on strength as you age, worth looking up - he quotes a lot of data on muscle loss as you age, as well as what you can expect if you keep training through each decade of your life. Main thing for you now is to have a good resistance training plan and stick to it - you can certainly maintain good functional strength for many years yet!
    Yeah, I liked that video... bookmarked it, too. I warm up much more these days, since watching it.
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  6. #6
    In it for the gainz RestoringTally's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by PhDPepper1111 View Post
    Obviously there are individual differences. Dr Mike Israetel did a great youtube on strength as you age, worth looking up - he quotes a lot of data on muscle loss as you age, as well as what you can expect if you keep training through each decade of your life. Main thing for you now is to have a good resistance training plan and stick to it - you can certainly maintain good functional strength for many years yet!
    On spread.

    Interesting video. At 66 I am lifting as much as I want to. I like the way he ends the video saying, "When you die, die well."

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r8zcF6Ut7lo
    Last edited by RestoringTally; 11-18-2021 at 03:24 PM. Reason: Typo
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  7. #7
    Registered User modof's Avatar
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    maybe it's just mental, and you aren't pushing as hard as you could be.
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