How a Beat Up 39 Year Old Finally Got in Shape

Posted by Jason Ferruggia on March 14, 2012

Guest Post by Renegade Inner Circle Member, Mark Lockwood

I was stuck.  I mean really stuck.

One day’s gains were next week’s losses and, by the end of the year, I was usually right back where I started.

Six years of hard training had given me good relative strength in the big lifts, but very little had changed in recent years. I was starting to wonder if at age 39 it was even possible for me to make substantial gains.

Then I stumbled onto Jay’s website and I was hooked.  The guy had some different thoughts on training and tons of practical pointers.  Not to mention excellent taste in women. But I digress.

I tried implementing a few of Jay’s ideas and had some success.  So I made a bold move. I dug out my wallet, bought MGS and got to work.

It wasn’t long before I noticed some changes.  I was getting stronger. And bigger.  I was finally making progress again. There was only one problem.

I was also getting fatter.

I did not like watching my waistline expand. Twenty years ago I wouldn’t have cared, but now?  I cut back on the eating and kept going with MGS.  My gains slowed, but that was OK.  They were still gains, and it was better than feeling like a slob.

After MGS, it was back to business as usual.  I tried a few different things, but I had basically reverted to my old ways.  Training the big lifts too heavy, too often, and doing it twelve months a year.

Then I noticed Jay had started the Inner Circle. I was a little skeptical, but decided to sign up. That turned out to be one of the best decisions I can remember … somewhere between asking that girl at the gym out to lunch (now my wife and training partner) and attending Jay’s first seminar.

I was amazed at the quality and depth of the content in the IC. A massive amount of reliable information was easily accessible and I had a direct line to Jay.  Let me assure you, he really does answer your questions.

A Smarter Approach to Training

Things started to change quickly. I learned a lot, like how to properly balance my training. When you sit at a desk all day, one pushing movement for one pulling movement is just not enough.  But I soon realized that applies to someone with healthy shoulders, not someone with a history of pushing twice as often as he pulled.

My shoulders held a grudge. Things gradually deteriorated until eventually I could not lift my arms over my head without pain.

I was luckier than most. I got plenty of solid advice from Jay, Keith Scott, and other members of the IC.  It took a long time, but my shoulders are finally ok. Things could have worked out very differently.

OK, all that’s nice, but what about my old goals? Am I pulling, squatting and pressing more?

The truth is I don’t care so much about those things now.  I’m learning to measure success in terms of quality (like how explosive the rep was) and not by whether the number is bigger than last time.

Remaining Injury Free

Long term progress is what’s important.  In order to achieve that, I had to change.

Today, instead of punishing my body with excessive barbell and dumbbell work, I get most of my hypertrophy done in more interesting, less stressful ways.

Bodyweight exercises like pistols, pushup variations and handstand pushups are staples. They’re effective, fun and they don’t beat me up nearly as much as, say, incline dumbbell presses. If I do those week after week, month after month, I’ll push too far and run into trouble.

That’s why I bring the Jungle Gym to my commercial gym once a week and use it after my main lift. Sure, I get a lot of annoying questions, but the possibilities are endless with suspended training. And there’s no denying the benefits.

I do stuff now I had not even heard of a few years ago. And I love it all.  My biggest challenge is limiting the number of movements I do each training session.  I have a hard time putting the kettlebell down and calling it a day.

Sometimes I forget that in my case less is usually more. Recovery is a crucial part of the equation and I have to plan for it. But that doesn’t mean doing less.  In fact, my progress has come from doing more.

I have increased frequency in simple ways.  I can’t get to the gym as much as I want, but sometimes on off-days I can squeeze in some l-sits, planche progressions or hill sprints.

And I almost always do bodyweight pushups and band pull aparts (as seen below) on off-days.

I’m convinced that systematically adding sets of pushups as Jay outlined in the IC has made a huge difference.

I love moving heavy weight.

But now the goal is to dominate each rep and avoid those grinders that were once a bad habit. 

Finishing my set amped up instead of drained is not only more fun, it’s more productive.

Where I’m at Today

I still train hard. And the truth is, I still sometimes I overdo it.  It is part of my makeup. But so is perseverance and that always pays off.

The result is I feel way better. I’m faster, more mobile, much healthier and closer to being “one piece” than ever before.

That’s why it’s even more gratifying that I recently hit PRs in the bench and the military press. I didn’t set out to do it, it just sort of happened.

And thanks to the Renegade Diet, I accomplished this with much improved body comp.

Three plus years ago, my priority was to improve my performance on the big lifts.  Ultimately, it did happen. And today, my shirts from last year are noticeably tighter while my waist is way smaller.

You can make progress even when you are a little older, have been training for years and have accumulated nagging injuries. You don’t need to quit your job and ditch your family to make it happen.

Just listen to Jay and do what he says.