Advising the Mature Bodybuilder
by Vince Gironda
I am often asked about the age factor. How important is it? Are muscle gains impossible after age 40? To tell you the truth, I never think of age much. I do not acknowledge my own age as being anything unusual. I personally see an advantage in every year I gain chronologically. What you lose on the swings you gain on the merry-go-round. For example, I find that definition is easier to maintain as you grow older.
In an era when promoters were holding "over 35" contests, because bodybuilders over that age were considered too old to compete successfully with the younger set, I was entering the Mr. Universe contest in England at the age of 46. All the other contestants were around half my age but I felt like a kid. I have always trained as though I were young, and if anyone asks my age I just glare at them. If I told them, it would be like offering an excuse.
I have been active in bodybuilding since my youth. I still love working out. I thrill at strenuous exercise, pulling, pushing, curling . . . the very thought of it, even after all these years, gives me a flush of excitement. But if you haven't been involved in formal exercise for a while, it goes without saying that you should get your physician's endorsement. And however frisky you feel, please start into your workouts slowly. Keep the weights light and allow your body to adapt to the workload in its own time.
The first thing to accept, once you are really into your training, is that you do not need to take a maximum workout every day. Your biorhythm (energy) levels differ from day to day, and you may have abundant energy during a particular workout. Do not train endlessly even if you feel fresh and bursting with vitality. A long workout, even if you feel you just do not want it to end, is counterproductive. Conversely, two individual, short workouts can be very productive.
It is most important that the older bodybuilder endeavor to keep his or her training on schedule. Regularity in living habits will help you to maintain maximum energy. Eat at the same times each day, work out at the same time, relax at the same hour each day. Your body will set its internal clock after a short time, and as you pass from phase to phase your mind and body will be prepared to meet its obligations.
The 40-70 Weight Gainer
To gain weight, there is little doubt that you will have to eat more. I am a strong believer in taking supplements to help along the muscle-building process. Weight-gaining enthusiasts are advised to substitute certified raw milk instead of that coffee break. The following rules should be observed by all those who are underweight.
Points to Remember
- Never overeat.
This can cause discomfort, additional adipose, and a muscle-weight loss. The digestive system is confused and overworked, and its efficiency is ultimately impaired.
- Eat very small meals every three hours.
There is less stress on the digestive system. Remember to keep meals regularly spaced.
- Never allow yourself to get really hungry.
When the stomach is completely empty, the body starts to feed on itself for maintenance, and muscle size can diminish. Always eat something light before retiring at night.
- Absolutely no smoking.
Nicotine constricts the capillaries for as long a eight hours as well as using up the body's Vitamin C reserves.
- Get control of your emotions.
Nervous energy and worry cause the endocrine glands to shut off production.
- Calm down. Slow down.
Refrain from wasting energy needlessly. Over-activity will assure constant loss of weight. Maximize your digestive efficiency by putting your feet up after every meal whenever possible.
The 40-70 Weight Reducer
Again, your food intake is the culprit. You are eating too much of the wrong kinds of foods. How long have you been on the diet merry-go-round? Maybe you can't even begin to count the number of times you have gone on a diet, lost some weight, given up the diet . . . and gained it all back! Why do we feel the need to eat more food than the body actually requires? The answer lies in what we eat.
The first plan you should put into practice is to reduce your portions of food at all meals. You will find that you will immediately lose fat. This will also cause your stomach to shrink, which in turn will lessen and ultimately eliminate all hunger pangs. By restricting your food intake, you are taking control. You will find a new sense of well-being and you will gain an added sense of self-satisfaction.
For those who suffer from low blood sugar (hypoglycemia), remember that the body requires 20 grams of protein every three hours. Liver tablets (10-20) should fill this need.
After you have reduced all your food portions, I strongly suggest that you make a constant effort to upgrade the quality of the food you eat. Try and eat natural foods such as poultry, fish, meat, cheese, vegetables, nuts, and whole-wheat breads and cereals. The egg, incidentally, is the cheapest chicken dinner I know of! Where possible, eliminate gooey cakes, cookies, candies, synthetic desserts and pies, table salt, salad dressings soft drinks, canned fruits, white-flour products, sugar, beer, and ice cream.
Basically, a vigorous, healthy older person can do anything that a youngster can do, but in moderation. I myself frequently work out with bodybuilders in their twenties. And in many cases I use the same sets, reps, rests and poundage. You may be different: Tailor your workouts to your age and condition. Bear in mind that it's always preferable to err on the side of moderation rather than to overdo any exercise. Train too hard or too long and you will overload your constitution.
The Muscle Sleep
Although I can work out with the best of them, there is something I do now that I did not do as a young man. I take a nap (muscle sleep!) for half an hour every afternoon. This not only helps recuperation, but it is a great energizer. Actually, more bodybuilders and more people in general than you may imagine make a habit of taking a short mid-afternoon nap.
As an older person, you may want to adopt this habit of taking naps. Sleep experiments, incidentally, have shown that two or three short naps are more beneficial than one long sleep. The most of our lives are organized, taking a nap every few hours is not practical, but it is an interesting scientific observation nevertheless.
Once you are really into working out and eating correctly, you will probably surprise yourself at the rate at which your body takes on new muscles. Your fitness level may also hit an all-time high!