Getting back into familiar territory

I was in my mid 30s when I started lifting weights. I’m in my mid 40s now.

In the interim I’ve developed psoriatic arthritis, I’ve torn a meniscus, and some of the discs in my lumbar spine have compressed. So I’m not working with the same body I worked with then. It is a very good body still, but it is a body that needs a little more care and consideration to function well.

It’s been 5 or 6 years since I was last in the gym regularly, so the past 3 and a bit weeks have been a careful journey of discovery. I’ve started again almost at the beginning, with a 5×5 strength program. Big, compound lifts, starting with just the 20kg bar and progressing incrementally at each workout.

Except for deadlifts: I didn’t start with 20kg as the program prescribes. The deadlift is my favourite lift and I used to be very good at it. Not competition level (I have never aspired to compete), but still very good. At my fittest, I could pick up 120kg from the floor, and that was just over one and a half times my body weight at that time which is sort of a cool thing.

So I ‘cheated’ – I started my deadlift sets at 60kg. Once upon a time that was my warm up lift to get into the groove, but three weeks ago it felt a lot like work.

Today I deadlifted 80kg, and it felt good.I don’t have many clearly defined fitness goals at this point in my life. I am working with the body I have, and it is a very good body, but it might not be able to do all the things it could do in my thirties. I think in most lifts, my progress will be a little slower and I will need to be more careful to manage risk.

But I’m pretty sure my deadlift will progress solidly, and while I don’t have a strict timeline, I want to be able to deadlift 100kg for reps again. That will make me happy.

I’m 80% of the way there.

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