After chatting some with Ashiem on another forum, I got interested in how he was approaching his training. I couldn't recognize the sort of patterns that I was used to seeing on "cookie cutter" programs, and started asking questions. He pointed me to several articles and posts here, and I've been reading avidly here ever since, and am now convinced that this is really what I need.
I'm 58 years old, and I do not have an athletic background. I didn't do sports as a kid, always got Cs or Ds in PE, and was involved mostly in sedentary activities. Finally in my 40s I started doing martial arts, mostly to be with my kids when they went to their classes. That ended about 9 years ago when I moved away from the US. In 2004 I had knee surgery, but didn't do any formal rehab afterwards. Several months later I got "stuck" while on a hike in the mountains, nearly couldn't get back on my own. This was my "wake up call", and I started training shortly after that. At first it was just random exercises on a multi-station machine. After I started to read a lot on line I changed to a simple linear full-body program, using mostly free weights, starting as Eric has described several places; just picking up the bar and doing some reps. After hurting myself a couple of times I began to study good form. That's tough when you have no help, and no background to sort out which on-line guru knows what they're talking about and which don't. After a couple of years of that, I began to hit walls on a pretty regular basis, and started looking for something different. I settled on Wendler's "5/3/1" program, and have used that since. I do like the measure of flexibility that it allows on the last set of each day.
I like Eric's analogy of traveling across a field that has lots of walls, but going with your head down and running into them, then just backing up and charging at them again. That got me thinking about beginning to program my training myself. What has now happened a couple of times is that I set new PRs on most of my lifts. Since 5/3/1 emphasizes all 4 "big lifts" equally and simultaneously, this has meant that I was pushing myself on all of them at the same time. I'd set a new PR on all of them around the same time, but I'd be exhausted, sore and discouraged. Convinced that I was on the verge of serious injury, I'd "reset" all of my lifts, some of them by as much as 20%, and charge at the wall again. This has brought me back full circle. I'm currently just beating or approaching PRs that were set 2 or 3 years ago, except in DL, which I had reset by the greatest amount. Last week I discovered, mostly by blind luck a little about managing fatigue. Since my "training max" for DL was well below my true max, I had been doing sets of 6-9 on the last heaviest set. Then I'd be tired and sore for days afterward. But this time, I cut the number of warm-up reps and then just did singles up to the planned weight for the last set. I felt so good at that point that I did another single heavier than the planned top rep. I didn't feel sore and miserable, so a few days later I applied a similar approach to squat with similar results. Then within the next day or 2, I read what Eric wrote about distributing fatigue, and how fatigue from volume can be more difficult to recover from than fatigue from intensity. This was the second "ah-ha" moment that convinced me that I need to change and that I have a lot to learn.
So, as I said, I'm 58, have been training in various was for about 6 years. I'm 5'11", and about 185. I train for strength, since that is the measure that correlates best with longevity, and therefore with over-all health. I want to be able to tie my own shoes when I'm 92. I got a late start, and my abilities to progress are more and more limited by advancing age, so I need to train smarter if I expect to make progress. I'm now as strong as I ever have been. I don't know how close I am to another wall, but I want to go around this one, not straight into it. Recent lifts have included bench 190 (new all-time PR, and I'm feeling really good about bench right now), DL 315 (close to PR) and squat 245. My overhead press is at about 105, has never been above 120. I also like to train chin-ups, which I've done for 2 reps with 45# added.
My biggest issues right not are nagging low back soreness, which comes and goes, not just with lifting but with other activities, and poor shoulder mobility.
I live in Papua New Guinea, where I work as a missionary doctor at a small rural general hospital in the Highlands. Thus my screen name, "Jungledoc"—I really am a doctor and I really live in the jungle.
"There is nothing so useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all."— Peter Drucker
Progression tables for my main lifts are here