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Training for the Over-40 Gang, Part Two




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[About 10 years ago a woman was writing a book on bodybuilding for the over-40 gang and asked for Dave’s input. As far as I know, the book was never published, so let’s repurpose this interview for your enjoyment. This is Part Two. If you missed Part One, read this first. ~ Laree]

Continuing with the Q&A:

Q. I am a 47-year-old bodybuilder and have been working out on and off since my teens. Are the older bodybuilder's protein requirements the same as for a younger bodybuilder? Or are they less than for younger bodybuilders due to the slower metabolism that comes with age?

A. I suggest musclebuilders of all stages and ages accentuate their protein intake to assure muscle development and tissue repair. The muscle you've achieved over the years and your spirited efforts to continue to grow strong depend on a plentiful supply of those amino acids.

Since the metabolism is not firing as well as it did as a kid, it follows that the system is not as efficient at absorbing and utilizing amino acids to satisfy our hopeful needs. The overall volume of food intake might require downward adjustment, but let's keep the protein high, with the nutrient-packed carbs and the good fats fortified with essential fatty acids. Get stronger every day.

Note: Protein is not toxic; you can't get too much and certain amino acids combine to provide energy.

Q. Is it too old to compete when you're in the 40s?

A. Not if one wants to compete and assesses oneself worthy of the effort and display. Folks compete successfully into their 60s, 70s and 80s at lifting and physique contests arranged for their age group. Some of our best champion bodybuilders have amazed audiences with their fine development in their mid-40s and 50s.

However, before we jump into things on a whim, let's evaluate the stresses that come with competition. Is it really worth it? Maybe what was once a favorable decision won't always be.

Q. How can I make my face look as young and powerful as my body?

A. A strong visage often comes from the look of confidence that accompanies training and the qualities one acquires through the training process. Strength, the courage to gain it and the humility of knowing someone around the corner is stronger and bigger exudes a powerful glow of its own.

I've heard of facial isometric and isotonic exercises, but have not seen a program outlined or demonstrated. You could design your own routine with a little creativity -- cheek-crunching and jaw-stretching and eye-widening reps every other day for 15 minutes.

I really doubt these are worth the time and effort, though. Just think of the tense facial expressions we make during a tough workout or within any given day. Our faces should be ripped after all this work.

Leanness, a goal in bodybuilding, is eventually realized in the face, accentuating the bone structure and often translating into a rugged look. Seek leanness through hard training and right eating.

In other words: Train hard, eat right and look tough.

Q. How do I begin exercising safely over age 40 without risking health and causing unnecessary strain?

A. The best way is to be a kid again... with an adult brain. Revive your curiosity, playful spirit and willingness to jump in without painful self-consciousness and binding pride. Have fun and trust in your efforts. This doesn't mean make a fool of yourself or charge forward with unbridled eagerness. It means to use your energy, enthusiasm, heart and commonsense.

There are different ways to begin your over-40 training program. You can powerwalk around your neighborhood. As you're able, go longer distances, hills and even adding jogging to your walking regimen.

Learn and practice simple rules of smart eating behaviors and consider future training plans that include resistance exercise.

Join a gym, hire a knowledgeable personal trainer for three basic sessions and apply the teaching regularly. Continue your wise investment, knowing time and consistency will certainly carry you to your fitness goals.

Training and eating right are not rocket sciences. Instincts, sound thinking and simple observation will guide you along the way. Safe and wise steps will unfold. Eventually, you'll know yourself and your limits and will have the means to surpass them.

Risk and strain and the over-40 mentality will evaporate like steam from an old kettle on a potbelly stove.

Q. What is the most important muscle group to work after 40? I think it may be the legs since that is what hurts me the most.

A. You don't want to neglect any muscle group, although it's true that legs get us from place to place and contribute to our independence.

Something else: A decent leg workout provides systemic benefits. Due to the mass of the muscles under load and the vast amount of blood moved through the system, comprehensive enzyme and hormone activity takes place and the entire muscular system is urged to respond, to grow accordingly.

Bingo. Leg training hits the jackpot.

Throw in some supersets of chins and dips, dumbbell inclines and seated lat rows, bench presses and lat pulldowns to keep a grin on your face.

Q. Reducing bodyfat, losing lower abdomen fat and maintaining lean mass while cutting: How do I do it? I need single-figure bodyfat percentage to show off my abs.

A. Have you tried chanting to Zeus?

This small miracle requires lots of time, patience, courage and perseverance, mixed generously with leg raises, rope tucks, planks, hyperextensions and a tad of cardio exercise. Of course, the perfect application of basic musclebuilding movements from squats and deadlifts to barbell curls and dumbbell inclines are a must.

Don't forget to combine volume- and power-training. There'll be no turning back, letting up or laying off... ever.

Now, about your eating habits and nutritional plan: start with slabs of protein, smaller meals frequently throughout the day... mmm...why don't you have a seat, sit back and relax... it might be the last chance you get.

Q. Can you get rid of cellulite on the arms and body by doing aerobic activity every day and lifting weights? Right now it seems like the more I work out, the more ‘baggy” my arms are getting, yet I know I am getting stronger. Does this stuff really go away if one works hard and long enough on a daily basis?

A. Let's just say that no other plan of attack will work better... or at all.

You face a monumental problem if the loose skin on the back of your arms becomes your only focus and reference for achievement. Your regular smart training and right eating will continue to improve your health day by day. Be confident of this.

Building muscle is our most important exercise achievement. Train to build muscle, and fat burning will follow. Sometimes training intensity has to be increased if we want to see more impressive improvements take place. Where moderate exercise is healthy, it might not be enough to affect the changes you seek.

You might consider increasing your set-to-set pace or the amount of weight you use in each exercise or the level of input in each set and rep. Supersetting exercises is a most effective training method for muscle building and fat burning. Try HIIT-style aerobic training (High Intensity Interval Training) for more dynamic fat burning and cardio health.

That's all she wrote, skydivers. And I've been over-40 for 33 years. Youth is a good old friend, musclemakers; never let him go.

Go with God's speed... Kid Draper from Secaucus


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