I just turned 40 and haven't trained much my whole life. I was skinny when I was young but with the years I've put on some fat. Now I'm 6.1 for 175lbs with 20% body fat. In April, I've decided to start training to change my body composition. I had (and still have) several constraints:

  1. only a pull up bar
  2. very little time (demanding job + lots for kids :) )
  3. not used to work out at all

I've started with the start bodyweight routine (to satisfy 1) with a few changes

  • combine exercises in agonist/antagonist supersets (to satisfy 2), e.g. pull ups/push ups, rows/pike push ups.
  • train 6 days a week in a upper body/lower body split (to satisfy 3 as it's easier for me to form a habit to practice daily or close to that)

I got satisfactory results and went from a set of 8 knee-push ups to sets of 15 diamond push-ups, put on a few pounds of muscle. After 6 months or so, I hurt my knee (not during a workout though) and got a tendonitis to the arm. I went to the doctor (specialized in sport medicine)to treat my knee and arm, which she did. She also told me I overdid it and gave me some training advices (let me stress here that these are not medical advices): train only twice a week using full body workouts and favor sets of easier moves with high reps and fewer sets...So I did! and my current routine is (please don't laugh)

  • knee push ups/rows, 2 supersets
  • elevated pike push ups / jackknife pull ups, 2 supersets
  • bodyweight squats / bodyweight deadlift, 2 supersets
  • lunges / weird exercise I don't know the name, 2 supersets

I take 90 sec rest between sets and exercises and add reps until I hit 30 - when I go to the next "progression". The whole thing takes about 40 minutes.

I do that every tuesday and saturday and sometime I throw half of this workout (using only 1 superset each) on thursday. But after 2 months it looks kind of pointless: same weight, same body fast, same everything. It's getting harder to stay motivated since there's no results. Worst part is, as the "habit effect" of daily practice is lost, I reeeeaaally struggle to start my workouts these days, like I don't want to do them.

My questions are:

  • how long should I stick to this routine before increasing the frequency/volume? She told me to do that a year but honestly...sounds like eternity.
  • What do you think of these advices? True, I'm 40 and out of shape with no sportive background. But does it really take that long to build a decent base?
  • Is there any other proven bodyweight routine I could use to get better results - that does not take 3h a week of time and that provide a clear progression that is...
  • any other advice you could give?

Thanks for your help

1 Answer 1


I'm going to preface this by saying I'm not a doctor and you should always follow medical advice.

Now, unofficially, I'm going to say the lady you saw is, in my opinion, wrong with her suggestions regarding your training. I do understand her suggestions, but telling you to stick to that for a year doesn't sit right with me.

There are different preferences when it comes to training (more than I can count actually), but the two that spring to mind are training very frequently with lower volume per training day, and training less frequently with higher volume per training day.

Training more frequently tends to lend itself to strength (and CNS) training, less frequently lends itself more to muscle gain, though there is a lot of cross over, they just tend to lean more towards one side or the other.

I think training every day is a much better way of doing things, but remember that just because you're training every day doesn't mean that you have to train ball to the wall every day, you could have a day of practicing a particular skill, working on mobility, working on stability, a quick core session, there are numerous possibilities.

What I would recommend for you is to take a look at the recommended routine on the Reddit Bodyweight Fitness sub and look at adding in skill days between the training days, though make sure you do take one day off completely per week (go for a long walk, or something low impact like that).

The other thing to remember is, unfortunately, like me, you're no longer a 23 year old who can go for days on end without sleep, you need to look after your recovery (sleep, drink water, eat healthily and do some mobility work). Also, this s**t takes time. If you've spent 40 years letting yourself get out of shape, getting back in shape isn't going to be a 6 week job, it's going to take a while. The trick, as you hinted at in your question, is to let it become a habit and a lifestyle, then, hopefully, you'll never fall back into your old way of living.

  • 1
    thanks for your answer @DarkHippo! it makes a lot of sense. Skill days could probably help with the habit building. I've seen the recommended routine before but it looked like it takes quite some time to complete, like 1h or more each workout (3x a week). Afraid I don't have this much... anyway, I'll give it a try :)!
    – pp ll
    Jan 14, 2021 at 19:54
  • @ppll Thing with a new workout is it always takes longer the first few times, then, as you learn it and get used to it, you move through it quicker. Particularly true with the warm up if you have mobility restrictions, which you well might if you're not used to training. If you're worried about the time, then drop all exercises to 2 sets instead of 3 while you get used to it, then slowly add a set to an exercise to gauge the timing. One thing that is always tempting is to skip the warm up. Don't, it's important, especially for us older guys :)
    – Dark Hippo
    Jan 15, 2021 at 7:47
  • 1
    alright! I'll give it a try! Thanks again fpr taking the time to answer and for the sound advice!
    – pp ll
    Jan 15, 2021 at 15:56

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