Build Muscle 50+ – BoomerMuscle

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Older adults can be successful building muscle.

Beginner Dumbbell Workout

Here’s a beginner dumbbell workout: a 4 day per week plan using only adjustable dumbbells and an adjustable bench. It should take only 30 — 45 minutes per workout. It’s ideal for the beginner or someone who has limited amounts of equipment available.

If you’re just starting out, take it easy at first. Your very first goal is showing up each day to do the workout. Get accustomed to a routine. Make this a regular part of your schedule and lifestyle. Work up to a higher level of intensity over time. Use very light weights at first and get used to the motions.

Upbeat music can be a big booster, so crank up some tunes to help your head get into the zone. Motivation can be a tricky thing and little things like the right music can really help.

How Heavy Should the Weight Be?

Once you’re ready to go full bore, you want to select a weight level that causes you to “fail by the 12th rep of your first set in each exercise. In this case, failure is success. Think of failure as taking the target muscle to exhaustion. In other words, you are not able to do another rep in good form. Use good form, don’t cheat or use body english.

Ultimately, your goal is to feel a bit sore afterward. Not pain. Just muscle soreness. It’s a good thing. It’s a signal your muscle is in hypertrophy — the process of muscle building. Think of it as a Pump. It’s caused by blood flowing into your muscles bringing nutrients to help them heal and grow, while also flushing out toxins. It’s a good thing.

In fact, feeling a pump is your ultimate goal.

Lighter Weights and Higher Reps – Proven Effective

This method has been proven to work. Dr. Marcas Bamman, Director for Exercise Medicine at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, was quoted in the New York Times saying that men and women in their 60s and 70s who began a weight training program developed muscles that were as large and strong as those of your average 40-year-old.

“Our lab and others have shown repeatedly that older muscles will grow and strengthen,” he said.

In their studies, volunteers used weights calibrated so that the lifters could barely complete a set of 8 – 12 repetitions before the target muscles grew tired and had to rest. In the weight training world, we call that failure.

Dr. Bamman says you should push your muscles in this manner until they are exhausted because this is what triggers the biomechanical processes that lead to larger, stronger muscle fibers.

See this post for more on Building Muscle Mass After 50. It has references to several more articles and studies on the proven benefits of lighter weight/higher reps.

A Note on Individual Needs

Everybody is different. We each have different levels of fitness and experience. And different body issues.

Take me for example. Iâ’ve been working out for nearly 5 decades. I’m in my early 60’s now and have the battle scars that go with time on the planet. My right knee is hanging by a thread, so I have to be selective in which lower body exercises I do. My shoulder joints are sensitive from too many years of benching extra-heavy weight, so I have to be selective in exercises that stress the shoulder joints.

The video shows me pushing up 610 for a couple reps on my Powertec leverage bench. I don’t touch heavy weights any more, and I’ve got more muscle thanks to lighter weight and  higher reps.

In addition to all the injuries and sore joints, I’m naturally kind of clumsy, so I don’t do a lot of moves that require good balance. You’d never want to stand next to me in a Zumba class. I could go on, but the point is you can customize a workout to fit you.

As you build your plan, don’t be afraid to limit or delete some exercises and replace them with others, or double up on ones you are the most comfortable doing.

You can also modify movements in some exercises. For example, with my bad knee, I’m not going to do Lunges. But I can do squats as long as I don’t go too deep. The point of working out is to stress your targeted muscles in a controlled, safe way. If a particular movement causes real distress to any of your joints, modify or discard that one.

No pain. And if you have concerns about certain health conditions please check in with your doctor.

How do you do it?

3 – 5 Sets per exercise. Work up to a higher number of sets as you get in better shape. If you have to start with only one set per exercise, start there. The most important thing is to start and stay consistent. Do 3 Sets per exercise if your goal is to tone and simply get healthier. Do more work, 3 – 5 sets per exercise, if your aim is to build some serious muscle.

8 – 12 Reps per Set. You might get to failure with 12 reps in the first set, but only be able to do 10 in the next and 5 or 6 in the last one. Don’t get too hung up on the numbers. This is about the feeling in your muscles, not the numbers.

Rest: Take about 30 seconds of rest between sets. Adjust that rest time as you progress. Use a little more time if you need it at first.

Form & Feel: Use a smooth motion with the weights. Your purpose is to feel the target muscle working. Focus on the smooth movement and the sensation it causes in the target muscle. They call this the Mind-Muscle Connection. Your brain has a tendency to wander, especially if you’re conditioned to think of exercise as drudgery. That’s why it’s key to mentally focus your mind on that muscle and really be aware of how it feels as it contracts and releases. This is really key.

A Note on Dumbbells

Dumbbells have some advantages over barbells and machines. For one, they help you really focus on certain muscle groups and help create a great Mind/Muscle Connection. Dumbbells are like a primal form of resistance training.

You really need to focus when you use them vs. the sometimes mindless state people can find themselves in on a machine or other device. In my opinion, this is the strongest benefit of using dumbbells. The better your mental focus, the better your workout will be.

They also have some disadvantages. You will be somewhat limited in how many different exercises you can do. For example, machines and resistance bands are great for lower body exercises like hamstring curls, knee extensions, and weighted glute kickbacks.

Those are hard to replicate with a dumbbell. Also, you need to be careful with the adjustable aspect. If you are using clamps to secure the weights, make sure they are good and tight, especially when doing moves like triceps extensions behind your head.

Also, adjustable dumbbells can vary in how heavy they can go. Getting the right amount of resistance “failure” by the 12th rep — is key to this workout. If your dumbbells are too light, you will need to amp up the number of reps. But if they are way too light and you can’t reach failure within a reasonable amount of reps, you will need to consider other options like adding a set of inexpensive resistance bands to your equipment mix.

That said, you can definitely get a great full body workout with a simple pair of adjustable dumbbells and an adjustable bench. Here’s a simple plan to try:

Day One

BICEPS: Choose 3 of these exercises for each Biceps Workout. Perform 3 – 5 Sets per exercise. Various options and variations are shown. Do whichever style and grip is most comfortable for you.

3 – 5 Sets of 2-Handed Bicep Curls.

Standing: simultaneously curl both dumbbells. Start with your hands down next to your thighs, knuckles toward the floor and palms facing up,  and smoothly curl the weight up completely toward your shoulders. Without stopping, curl slowly back down and then back up again in a smooth motion. Keep continuous tension on your biceps.

everkinetic dumbbelleverkinetic curls

 3 – 5 Sets of Alternating Hammer Curls 

Similar movement as above, but keep your knuckles aiming straight ahead and palms facing each other. Curl up slowly and smoothly up. Alternate one arm and then the other. You can do these while standing or in the Optional ways noted below.

everkinetic dumbbell alt hammer curleverkinetic dumbbell alt hammer curl

OPTION 1: Incline on the Bench. For both of the above, you can, instead of standing, use the adjustable bench. Raise the back so that you are seated at an incline. Do the same movements as above, only your hands will start off hanging toward the floor. Curl upward toward each shoulder and down again in one smooth move.

OPTION 2: With the Hammer Curl, you can also perform it cross-body style as pictured below.

everkinetic cross hammer curl

Cross body hammer curl

3 – 5 Sets Dumbbell Concentration Curls

Seated on the bench, ball or sturdy chair. Bend over slightly. Start with the weight at a comfortable position and rest you elbow against your thigh if seated. If lying face forward on an elevated bench, begin with arms as shown in the middle picture. Using one arm at a time, slowly curl the weight up toward your chest and down again in one smooth motion. Stay with one arm to finish a full set of 8- 12 reps. Then repeat with the other arm.

everkinetic dumbbell concentration curl

Seated on an exercise ball

everkinetic lying curl

Lying on an elevated bench

everkinetic concentration curl

Seated on a bench


Choose 3 of these exercises for each Triceps Workout.

3 – 5 Sets of Triceps Seated Extensions

Sit on the bench or sturdy chair. Hold one dumbbell with both hands around one end. Lower the dumbbell behind your head and raise it back up again in one smooth motion. Feel the tension in the back of your arms. If using one dumbbell-like this feels awkward, you can also perform this with two dumbbells, one in each hand and lower them simultaneously behind your head with your hands in a hammer style grip.


Seated triceps extensions

3 – 5 Sets Triceps Kickbacks

Rest one knee on a bench surface and hold the dumbbell straight down by your side. Press it straight back as pictured and repeat. Again, feel it in the back of your upper arm. Finish a complete set and then alternate to the other knee and arm.


Tricep dumbbell kickbacks

3 – 5 Sets Triceps Extensions

Standing, hold one dumbbell at a time. Start with your arms straight up toward the ceiling and by bending your elbow, lower the weight down behind your head. If you prefer, you can instead use both hands at once as in the seated version.

everkinetic dumbbell extension

Standing one arm triceps extensions

Forearms & Wrists

Finish your arm workout with these exercises to build up your forearms. The illustrations show barbell, but you can also instead use dumbbells.

2 Sets of Wrist Curls

Seated, rest your forearms on your thigh with your wrists hanging over your knee. Curl the weight slightly upward using only your wrist. Palms facing down is a reverse wrist curl, palms facing up is a wrist curl. Do 2 sets of each. You can do one arm at a time, or both together. Keep the tension constant. Feel it in your forearms. Do as many reps as you need to feel the Pump. You can also do these with a barbell as shown.

Left: Palms down reverse wrist curl. Right: Palms up wrist curl

Seated reverse wrist curls w/barbell. 

Standing wrist curls w/barbell

Day Two


Choose 3 of the following exercises.

3 – 5 Sets of Bench Press 

If you have a workout buddy, ask them to hand you the dumbbells as you are lying on the bench. If you are working out alone, try grasping the dumbbells while seated on the bench and then slowly lie down.

Hold the dumbbells at the sides of your body as shown above and press straight up, bringing them together and flexing your pecs at the top of the movement. Lower and repeat in a continuous smooth motion. For variety, you can set your bench at either an incline or a decline. You will feel slightly different stress on the muscles depending on the position. In addition, you can experiment with hand movement by turning your palms inward at the top of the movement. Focus on the feeling in your chest muscles.

everkinetic bench press

Dumbbell bench press

3 – 5 Sets of Flyes 

While lying on a bench, start with arms out to your sides with elbows bent slightly. Then, bring your hands up together in front of your chest and feel the pectoral muscles squeeze and flex. Repeat. Smooth continuous motion.


Dumbbell flyes on bench

3 – 5 Sets of Lying Pullovers

Lying on the bench. Grasp one dumbbell by the end with both hands and raise it up over your head. Keep your elbows slightly bent but keep maximum pressure on your chest muscles, not your arms. Lower it behind you keeping your arms relatively straight. Keep the tension on your chest and lat muscles. The difference between this movement and the Tricep Extension is this: Keep your arms relatively straight in this exercise, rather than lowering the weight with your elbows as you do for Triceps. Really focus on your pecs or chest muscles.

everkinetic dumbbell pullover

Chest: lying dumbbell pullovers

Finish with 2 Sets of Pushups to Failure

Pushups. The classic exercise is still ideal for building chest muscles. You can do them with your bare hands the old-fashioned way or add some challenge with some floor handles.

Day Three

Shoulders & Back

3 – 5 Sets Reverse Flyes

These can be done standing in a bent over position or lying face down on the bench as pictured. Basically, this is the reverse motion of the Flye described above in the Chest workout. The standing version is more difficult because it requires you to focus on balance and also engages your core muscles. Do whichever you are most comfortable doing.

everkinetic reverse flyes

Reverse dumbbell flyes on the bench

everkinetic dumbbell reverse flyes

Standing bent over reverse flyes, start

everkinetic dumbbell reverse flyes

Bent over reverse flyes, finish

3 – 5 Sets One Arm Rows 

Brace yourself with an arm and knee on a bench or against a sturdy chair. Raise the weight up feeling the sensation in your back and side (Lat) muscles. Try to make those back muscles do most of the the work, not your arms. Keep the tension on the lat muscles and keep the movement continuous and smooth.

everkinetic dumbbell rows

Bent over dumbbell rows

3 – 5 Sets Front Raises

Focus is on your shoulder or Delt muscles. Start with your hands down by your thighs and raise them up parallel with your chest. Lower and repeat 8 – 12 times. Can be done simultaneously or alternating as pictured. Your shoulders are a delicate joint so perform these moves carefully. Smooth motion.


Dumbbell front raises, alternating arms.

3 – 5 Set Lateral Raises

This also focuses on your shoulders. Can be done standing as pictured or seated on the bench. Begin with the weights down by your sides and simultaneously raise them to parallel to shoulder height with your arms fairly straight. Palms are facing the floor. Smooth motion. Do not use a weight that forces you to use any body english or cheat movement. Be careful with your shoulder joints.

lateral raises

Dumbbell lateral raise, both arms simultaneously

Day Four

Lower Body

A word on “Leg Day.” This day is notorious among experienced trainers. It is perhaps the most beneficial set of exercises for your whole body, which is great. But they can be difficult and taxing, which sometimes seems daunting. So, some people do not look forward to leg day. Try to not fall into that trap. These exercises will greatly benefit your overall health and sculpt your lower body for a sexy appearance.

3 – 5 Sets Squats

You can use your bench to provide a safety catch. Stand as shown, holding both dumbbells. Squat down with your butt touching the bench and back up again. You may need to increase the number of reps to get to failure, depending on how much weight your dumbbells provide. Mind your balance. Focus on your glute (butt), thighs and lower back. This movement requires balance and can stress your knees, so modify how far you squat to your comfort level.

dumbbell squats

Using bench for safety

dumbbell squats

3 – 5 Sets Lunges

Standing straight up and holding both dumbbells at your sides, lunge forward with one leg and back again. Alternate each leg. Mind your balance and keep your mind focused through this movement. Requires balance. Modify accordingly. If you experience balance issues, try it without any dumbbell weight and/or modify how far you lunge forward.

dumbbell squats

Lunge, with or without dumbbells

3 – 5 Sets Calf Raises

While seated on the bench, hold a dumbbell on one thigh, near the knee. Raise your knee up, keeping the toes firmly on the ground. The focus is on your calf muscle. Do reps to ‘failure’ and repeat with the other leg. If you have a platform you can place your foot on, as depicted in the diagram, you can use it. It’s not necessary if you do not have one.

You can instead do this move while standing with or without dumbbells.

everkinetic calf raise

Seated calf raise. Foot platform shown is optional but not required.

Leg Day Finishers & Options:

Like pushups, the following exercises don’t use the dumbbells, but you could finish your workout with a few sets of each. These are especially good for the Glutes or butt.

3 – 5 Sets Glute Bridges

Lying on the floor, raise you butt up off the floor and down again as pictured above. Really focus on those glutes and lower back. You can increase the tension by holding a dumbbell across your lower midsection


Glute bridges

2 Sets of Flutter Kicks

No dumbbells here, but if you own a pair of ankle weights, by all means strap them on.  Lying face down on the bench or an exercise mat on the floor, slowly/smoothly kick your legs as if you were swimming. Focus on feeling it in your glutes and thighs. Rather than counting reps, do each set until you feel fatigue in the glutes. Go slow enough to keep constant tension on your butt.

glute kicks

Flutter kicks

2 Sets of Glute Kickbacks

No dumbbells here either, but if you own a pair of ankle weights, you can strap them on.  Get on all fours on the ground, kick one leg all the way out and back for 8-12 reps and then alternate to the other leg. Your focus is again on the glute muscles. And, rather than counting reps, do each set until you feel fatigue in the glutes. It is not necessary to hold one arm up as shown.

glute kicks

Glute kickbacks

This workout will work

The basic principles have been proven, especially regarding our Baby Boomer age group. You can grow stronger without Insanity or Pain. You can look better. Feel better. Defy age and Live Strong.

I hope if you are just starting out that you will give this a try. There are many more exercises you can use in your workout, but this one is designed to get you started with minimal equipment. You can consider adding resistance bands to your home gym. They are inexpensive and you can do most all of the exercises with them instead or for variety.

If you need to purchase dumbbells, resistance bands or a bench, read my review here.

You can also take a look at a full body resistance band workout here.

What’s your experience with home workouts? Please share your thoughts in the Comments below. 

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Building Muscle after Knee Replacement

Rebuilding muscle after knee replacement surgery is a long, slow process. It takes longer to rebuild it than it does to lose it. Here’s my progress after one year.

About 40 years ago, I destroyed my right knee doing something stupid. Really stupid. I had never been on snow skis before, but I decided to take a buddy up on the idea of me putting on a pair and letting him pull me across a frozen lake on a snow mobile – at a high rate of speed. 

Ah youth. Young men do stupid things sometimes. I paid the price this time. Surgery removed virtually all of the soft tissue like tendons, ligaments and cartilage. The surgeon said, “walk very carefully for the rest of your life.” So I did.

But a little more than a year ago, the arthritis got so bad I could barely walk. Working out was impossible. I hobbled about with a cane until the replacement surgery in May, 2018.

I’ll skip how painful it was, except to say that ice was my best friend for a long time. Finally around September, some 5 months post surgery, I got back in the gym

Immediately after knee replacement surgery. Both knees badly atrophied following months of inactivity pre and post.

September, 2018, 5 months post surgery as I try to rebuild muscle after knee replacement surgery.

If you’ve ever had a layoff from the gym, you know that you can lose muscle fairly quickly, especially if all you do is sit around with an ice pack like I did for 5 months. The first days back in the gym were tough mentally. I was skittish about applying any pressure to my knees.

I used much lighter weights than even my usual routine of lighter weights and higher reps. Both legs are pretty badly atrophied compared to my previous normal state.  

I am focused heavily in my rehab efforts on the two muscle groups that surround the knee, the Vastus Medalis and the Vastus Lateralis, which I’ll illustrate below

Those muscle groups are critical to protecting your knees. They are even more crucial for someone like me, who has a knee with virtually no internal protections left. I focus here as I rebuild muscle after knee replacement surgery.

Conventional wisdom says Leg Extensions are great for the Vastus Medialis on the inside of your leg. I do them religiously on my leg days, but I use much lighter weights than I have in the past. 

And instead of doing 8-12 reps, I am doing 18-21 reps with super light weight. It seems to work and I get to failure this way.

The two key muscle groups that protect your knee.

December 17, 7 months post surgery. Slow progress on right leg in rebuilding muscle after knee replacement.

The Vastus Lateralis started to come back pretty quickly on my ‘good’ left leg, as you can see at left. But the right leg continues to lag behind. Hack squats really target this muscle.

I do hack squats on my Powertec home gym. It has a great station for this. Steel pins spot you. The foot pad is angled upward and the shoulder apparatus is heavily padded. Perfect for someone who works out alone as I do.

Again, I dropped the weight significantly here. Like I said, I was already a believer in lighter weights and higher reps, but now on legs, I go even lighter with more reps.

Now, about 13 month post surgery, my left leg is back to relative normal. My surgical right leg has improved slowy, steadily but still lags behind the left.

My leg workouts consist of:

  • Leg Extensions on machine
  • Hack Squats on Powertec gym
  • Leg Press on Powertec sled
  • Hamstring Curls on machine
  • Glute Kickbacks on machine

June 29, 2019. Left leg back to ‘normal,’ right leg improved but still lags behind in rebuilding muscle.

Lighter Weights and Higher Reps

You will read a lot of inaccurate things about building muscle. One old saw says you can’t muscle if you don’t lift heavy weights. That’s just flat out wrong.

It has been proven over and over again that “hypertrophy,” the process of building muscle, happens best when using lighter weights and higher reps to “failure” or exhaustion in each set. See my post on Building Muscle after 60 here, it includes links to studies that back me up on this.

Lighter weights are also best for us older people. I used to lift heavy, until it gave me arthritis in my shoulders. Starting a few years ago,  I go lighter and in fact I’ve built more muscle this way, even as I age into my 60s. Your body can only take that heavy abuse for so long.

Now as I rebuild my legs, I am going even lighter with the weights to play it safe.

I used to do legs one day per week. Now, I do them twice. But I drop the volume down to only 3 sets per exercise instead of 5. And I use much lighter weights, while still taking the higher reps to failure. I’ve also added some right-leg only sets on the Leg Extensions with a very light weight. And for calves, I finish each of my Leg Press sets with Calf Raises to failure.

On top of that, I do 20 minutes of cardio on my Precor elliptical machine. You can adjust both resistance level and elevation on a Precor, so it also provides some resistance power.

I admit to being frustrated by what I see as slow progress in rebuilding muscle after knee replacement. But I don’t think I can push any harder than I am now. At 63, I’m older and I hope a little wiser than that youthful knucklehead I was when I first injured my leg.

This link will take you to a good article on leg extensions, pretty much everything you ever wanted to know. It cautions against going too heavy on this exercise, and that’s especially true if you’re recovering from surgery. 

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March 20, 2019

Mind Muscle Connection

Connect Mind & Muscle

The mysterious Mind Muscle Connection is an essential key to building more muscle.

As you train with lighter weights at higher reps, your main focus is not on progressively increasing the amount of weight you use. It is on feeling the target muscle go to “failure” in each set.

You can adjust the number of reps and the amount of resistance as you work through your sets. But you are not focusing on numbers. You are focusing on the feeling in your muscle.

You want to get into a mental groove called the Mind Muscle Connection. Feel the pump. The amount of weight and the number of sets are just tools to get you to the pump.

It’s almost a form of meditation when you really get into it. And it is critical to your success in building muscle. It may sound a little spacey, but it really isn’t. It’s about mental focus.

Even after all these years of living it and preaching it, I often find my own mind drifting away from that focus during a rep. It’s critical to catch yourself when your mind strays and put it back on the feeling in the muscles you are working. It really matters.

In 2019 there is exciting news about the Mind Muscle Connection:

Researchers have tackled the subject and proven that the Mind Muscle Connection results in more muscle growth! Men’s Health has a review in their March 2019 edition. An excerpt follows:

“Research published in the European Journal of Sport Science tracked the results of two groups of men who trained with weights three times a week for eight weeks. Both groups did the same exercises—the barbell curl and leg extension—but with one key difference: Subjects in the first group were told to “squeeze the muscle” during each rep, while subjects in group two were told simply to “get the weight up.”

The results were striking. Subjects who were told to “squeeze the muscle”—an internal focus of attention—there was a 12 percent increase in the size of the biceps.

That was almost double the gains seen in the group who were told to “get the weight up,” where the average increase in biceps size was just 7 percent. It was a different story with the quads, where there was no significant difference in muscle growth between the two groups.

The researchers think this might have been down to the fact that untrained individuals have a hard time establishing a “mind-muscle connection” in the quads compared to the biceps. In fact, several subjects said that they found it much easier to focus on their biceps than their quads.”

If you click the “Research” link, it will take you to a synopsis of a study from the U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health. It concludes with the bold, clear statement that:

“The findings lend support to the use of a mind-muscle connection to enhance muscle hypertrophy.”

In other words, keep a hyperfocus on how the muscle you are working feels as you execute the rep and you will see greater muscle building results.

We Are Going to Pump You Up

If you successfully maintain a Mind Muscle Connection, you will likely induce some soreness in those target muscles. That soreness is the legendary “Pump,” as blood rushes into the target muscles bringing healing nutrients and flushing out waste. The Pump is a great feeling. Soreness is good. Pain is bad.

Our egos tend to tell us that more weight equals more strength equals more muscle. Wrong. Unless you’re trying out for the Olympic team, forget about your weight totals.


Muscle grows in response to tension placed on it that does microscopic damage to the tissues. With proper rest and nutrition, the fibers are repaired a little stronger and thicker than before.

Hypertrophy is the process. You feel it as that “pump” while you’re working the muscle and perhaps after or even the next day

To those points above there is typically general agreement.

Succeed by Failing

Where I diverge a bit from others is that I believe in focusing each workout on a specific muscle group with enough sets in order to take it to “failure” rather than mixing up various muscle groups on each workout day. You still work the entire body but over a week’s time. You focus each workout day on one area at a time.

Failure occurs when you cannot complete another clean rep without cheating. Don’t cheat on any rep.

If you’re focusing on biceps, for example, I would stay on biceps until you’ve reached failure. In my case, this equates to 5 sets each of 3 separate exercises. Typically I’ll do bicep barbell curls x 5, bicep dumbbell hammer curls x 5 and bicep rope curls on a machine x 5.

On that same workout day, I’ll also do triceps right after biceps in a similar way. Then, I’ll add some work on forearms and wrists. And that’s it. All arms and done. On to the next body area in the next workout.

In a nutshell the formula goes like this:

  • 8 – 12 reps to failure in every set
  • 30 – 40 seconds rest between sets
  • High volume of work: 3 – 5 sets per exercise, 3 or more exercises per target muscle group
  • Focus on one muscle group/area per workout
  • Muscle exhaustion is the goal — feel the pump

Lighter Does Not Mean Light

At the same time, we’re not talking about aerobicizing here. When I say “lighter weights, higher reps” I don’t mean waving a tiny dumbbell around for 100 reps.

It does mean finding the right level of resistance to cause your muscle to fail between 8 – 12 reps. In this case, failure is a good thing. It means you can’t do another clean rep without cheating because you’re taking the target muscle to exhaustion. You take a brief rest and do it again. This is how we cause hypertrophy.

Add resistance whenever 12 reps become too easy on that first set. It’s that simple, numbers wise.

Your focus is on the feeling, not the numbers.

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January 7, 2019

Motivation: Why is this so hard?

Work for the Pump to stay motivated.

Motivation to workout, why is this so hard? Maybe you recently signed yourself up for a gym membership to try and force yourself into doing it.

But are you motivated? Are you doing it?

And maybe, like most who resolve to workout, you’re already skipping them and talking yourself out of it.

Motivation: Why is this so hard?

I started working out 50 years ago. I had some lapses in various decades, but for the most part, I get it done week after week.

But… Before each and every workout, I have to battle a little demon that lives on my shoulder and tries to talk me out of it. He says things like:

“We’re too tired, take a break…” 

“We can catch up tomorrow…”

“What’s the point, anyway?”

Sound familiar? I think everyone has a little demon living on their shoulder. Some whisper louder than others. But we all have to fight the urge to walk away and be lazy. Motivation: why is this so hard? More importantly, how to beat the devil and get motivated? Here are some simple tips and hacks:

Employ Ritual:

Habits. Sometimes, just doing the things you consider automatic can help get you moving. For me, it’s a few simple things I do every time without thinking much about it:

  • Turn on one of my favorite I-Tunes playlists. LOUD Custom-made for workouts. Songs from various eras, but all have a strong, driving beat. From 60’s oldies like “I Want Candy” by the Stangeloves or Bob Seger’s “Heavy Music,” to sweet upbeat soul music like the Esquires “Get on Up” to modern tunes like “Last One to Die” by Rancid, “Space Lord” by Monster Magnet and “Raise Your Glass” by Pink.
  • I pop two pieces of Bubble Yum Original Sugar Free into my mouth, one for each side. The non-thinking action of chewing the gum helps put my brain in the workout groove.
  • Then I slide on my Sheik finned lifting gloves and aim myself at the first work station.

Just Start:

I believe the first step is simply to get started: Do that first rep! And as you begin, tell your mind to shut the F up and STOP the verbal crap. Get into the music, let it drown out that little demon and his loud mouth.

Feel the beat as you execute the rep.

Breath deep, in and out…

Keep it Going:

Great, so how do you keep going past the first rep? It helps to have motivational goals you can visualize as you go.

Are you trying to add some lean muscle, lose some fat? Then think about how good you’re going to look in a new pair of jeans and form-fitting shirt.

How about your spouse or significant other? They’re going to be turned on by way you look. Think about it…

Don’t have a significant other? Imagine one. Maybe that person you used to have a crush on a long time ago.

Or just see yourself in general, feeling better, looking great.

Remember, this is your mind we’re working with here. Let your imagination run loose. Next to sex, the pump from a workout is one of the most sensual things you can experience. Go with it. Let your fantasies play out, if they help you push your body and get that pump going.

Feel the fantasy, feel the pump… get lost in it.

The 5 Keys:

Keep the technical aspects of your workout simple and straight-forward. Check out my 5 Keys to Feeling Stronger – Right Away for some tips. The main focus is get to that “pumped” feeling in your target muscles that lets you know the muscle-building process is working.

Using lighter-weights and higher-reps with solid form is the best way to get there. Take each set you do to ‘failure.’

A good  pump is an amazing feeling. It should be the motivating goal of each individual workout.

My Playlist:

You can build your own playlist with any music that feels good and maintains a strong tempo and beat. For thought-starters, here what’s on my current favorite playlist. I usually play it on random shuffle so the order always changes.

I have several more lists, but this is the one I’m stuck on.

If you’ve got some favorite motivational tunes, please put them in the Comments. I’m always looking for more.

Peace of Mind – Boston

Only the Young – Journey

I Don’t Feel Like Dancin’ – Scissor Sisters

Feelin’ Satisfied – Boston     

Last One to Die – Rancid

Summer of ’69 – Bryan Adams

I want Candy – The Strangeloves   

Roll With the Changes – REO Speedwagon           

Any Way You Want It – Journey

Dreams – Van Halen 

More Than a Feeling – Boston

My Ever Changing Moods  – The Style Council     

Who Do You Love? – Woolies

Bad Reputation – Joan Jett & The Blackhearts

Lit Up – Buckcherry

Lick It Up – Kiss

Top of the World – Van Halen

Ballad of Detroit – Street Dogs

Lucifer – Bob Seger

Beautiful Trauma – P!nk

Badlands – Bruce Springsteen

Get On Up – The Esquires

The Dream is Over – Van Halen

Under Pressure – Queen & David Bowie

Street Fighting Man – The Rolling Stones

Baby Come Back – Equals

 HERE IT COMES  – The Ramrods

Heavy Metal – Sammy Hagar

Legs – ZZ Top

I Gotta Feeling – The Black Eyed Peas

In the City – Joe Walsh

Smokin’ – Boston

​ It For Later – The English Beat          

Head On – The Jesus and Mary Chain

Rock & Roll Band – Boston   

Heaven – The Psychedelic Furs 

Raise Your Glass – P!nk

Cum on feel the noise – Quiet Riot

Space Lord – Monster Magnet

Give to Live – Sammy Hagar

Lose Yourself – Eminem

Rescue Me – The Alarm

Right Now – Van Halen

Love Walks IN – Van Halen

Heavy Music, Pt. 1 – Bob Seger & The Last Heard  

Rosalita (Come Out Tonight) – 7:02            Bruce Springsteen

Born To Run – Bruce Springsteen

Please check out the BoomerMuscle Facebook page. It has lots of informative and helpful articles and is frequently updated.

November 14, 2016

Can I Build Muscle?

Sad man

Yes, regardless of your age.

Assuming your health is generally ok, of course. Virtually anyone can build muscle.

The question back to you is: Are you willing to devote 30 – 40 minutes for 3 – 4 days every week to do it?

If you can’t muster that consistent discipline, you will not build much muscle. If you can, you will.



One of the problems holding people back today is the over-abundance of training routines getting pitched constantly. There are times when too much information is not helpful, it’s just adding confusion. This is one of those times. The fitness industry is choking with methods, gurus and hype.

Tune it out.

The art and science of building muscle hasn’t changed much at all from the old school days (except of course for the dangerous devotion to drugs in the pro bodybuilder ranks).

Try to screen out all the hype for a moment and view this with fresh eyes. There is absolutely nothing complicated about building muscle. It does NOT require a complex course of action and coaches yelling at you.

It does not require Insanity, Confusion or Bootcamps — or Pain.

The real formula has never changed. It goes like this: Muscle fibers grow in response to controlled damage that we do to them through specific exercises. The muscle fibers tear on a microscopic level. This damage is repaired while we sleep using the good nutrition we’ve put in our bodies as fuel. IT IS NOT ABOUT PAIN. Forget the old saying, “no pain, no gain.” Think NO PAIN EVER.

Exercise + Good Nutrition + Rest & Recovery = Muscle Growth.

If you’re working hard enough, you will feel a bit sore. Think of that soreness as the “Pump.” That’s a good feeling. That’s your body sending blood into the muscle fibers with healing nutrients. Pump is good. Pain is bad.

We create that muscle “damage” by targeting specific muscles with various types of resistance exercises. These can be done with weights or with resistance bands or even with bodyweight movements. Our muscles don’t think. They just respond to resistance and don’t care where it comes from.

The ideal amount of resistance is one that you can finish 8 to 12 clean repetitions with before reaching “failure.” By “clean” I mean no cheating. No swinging the weights around or using body english. “Failure” means you can’t do the next rep in a clean way.

Do 3 – 5 sets per exercise. Decrease the number of reps as necessary to finish the final sets. Rest as briefly as possible in between sets. If you’re first starting out, this time will slowly decrease as you get in better shape. 30 – 40 seconds rest is ideal.

You’re main focus is not increasing the amount of weight you use. It is on taking the target muscle to “failure” in each set. You can adjust the number of reps and the amount of resistance as you work through your sets. You are not focusing on numbers. You are focusing on the feeling in your muscle.

You want to get into a mental groove called the Mind/Body Connection. Feel the pump. The amount of weight and the number of sets are just tools to get you to the pump.

Once you’re in shape, you want to have a good amount of “volume” in your workout plan. Volume relates to how much work you’re putting in. Personally, I find 3-5 sets of each exercise is ideal with up to 3 – 5 exercises per body part. In other words, if I’m working my biceps, I do 3 different exercises, with 5 sets for each:

Standing biceps curls X 5 Sets
Standing concentration curls with dumbbells X 5 Sets
Standing cable curls using the triceps rope X 5 Sets
That’s 15 sets in all for the biceps and that’s considered a lot of Volume. But I am an experienced lifter and can handle it. If you’re new, start smaller and build your way up over time.

Me at 60 in my basement gym


If you want big arms, you’ll be doing a variety of bicep curls, triceps work and some work on the forearms and wrists. My arm workout consists of the above Biceps routine, plus a similar routine for the Triceps (back of the arm) and I do some specialty work for forearms with a “wrist roller,” and some “gripper” devices.
I recommended targeting one area per workout day. That gives that area several days of rest and recovery before the next workout.

That’s it in a nutshell. We can get into lots more details, but secret to building muscle is not complicated. It’s simple.

Doing it consistently is the hard part.

Thanks for stopping by!

Get my 5 Keys to Feeling Stronger – Right Away! by clicking here. You’ll get a video and PDF guide on the 5 Keys that get you feeling stronger in your next workouts. It’s free. No sales pitch.

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