My First Year In Bikini

At a Glance: Sarah Vance

Age: 25

Education: Registered nurse working in ICU

Family: My parents Pamela and Alan Vance -- both were bodybuilders who utilized Beverly International products, an older sister Shelley, my wonderful and supportive boyfriend Giev, and my child (really my dog!), Niko

Residence: Cincinnati, OH

Years training: 3 years

Height: 5'5"

Weight: 120-122 (off-season), 115-118 (contest)

Favorite Fitness Meal: : I look forward to two of my meals every day. The first is UMP pancakes with a side of turkey bacon. The second is Chocolate UMP mixed into a pudding with cinnamon and peanut butter. During the off season, I put nonfat cool whip and a banana on top for a banana split taste. It is amazing!

Favorite Supplements: UMP powders are my favorite because of their taste and versatility. You can bake with them, mix them into a pudding, or make a shake when you are in a rush. UMP tastes amazing and is like a sweet treat. My second favorite is Glutamine Select. The flavor is very refreshing and it really helps me power through intense training sessions.

What would you recommend to someone who has never used Beverly supplements before: I recommend they try UMP. One of the major issues people have when dieting is dealing with their sweet tooth. UMP tastes so good that it virtually eliminates sugar cravings. I guarantee there isn’t a better tasting protein powder on the market.

Music: When in the gym, I usually listen to a dance station on Pandora. If at home reading or cooking, I listen to classical/orchestra type music. I love all music, except country!

Hobby or interests outside fitness: Dancing, cooking, and relaxing.

Reflecting on my current state of affairs, I was turning twenty-five, overweight, and unhappy. I knew I needed to reinvent myself. “Is this the best I can be? Am I the healthiest I can be? Is this the best physique I can offer myself?” I decided it was time for a major lifestyle overhaul.

Growing up, both my parents were active bodybuilders, so my decision to start my over-haul by going to the gym should be no surprise. I loved lifting, but did not have a concrete goal until I attended the 2012 Arnold Expo. My goal crystallized when I saw the bikini competition. I thought, “This is what I want to do.” I wanted to become what each competitor portrayed onstage - a healthy, fit, and genuinely happy individual.

For my first competition, I had to drop a significant amount of body fat. I dieted hard, trained hard, and believed in myself. I also learned a valuable lesson; next time if I stay within 5lb of my stage weight competition prep will be a lot easier. I followed that rule for my next round of competitions and have been able to make lean muscle gains while keeping body fat to a minimum. I am coming in ahead of schedule because I didn’t go crazy during the off season. I also learned to be patient and trust that if I stick to my plan, my body will do what it is supposed to do. That said, here’s my plan. Why don’t you give it a try?

Nutrition

My typical meal plan is six meals spread throughout the day over a 12 hour window. I drink a gallon of water each day and try to keep my meals at 2-3 hour intervals. This helps me stay sufficiently full and not suffer extreme hunger pangs or cravings. Even though my food choices are limited, I vary the way I cook, season, and present my food so it is more appetizing and does not become monotonous. I have two large food prep days each week when I cook everything and portion it into my Tupper-ware. This way there is no room for error and no guess work to what I am going to eat throughout the week.

MEAL #1 (9 AM)

2 slices low fat turkey bacon, ½ cup dry oatmeal, 2 scoops Beverly International vanilla UMP, 4 egg whites. I mix the oats, UMP, and egg whites all together with some cinnamon and make pancakes. I usually drink black coffee with this meal.

MEAL #2 (11 AM)

Apple with 1 tbsp peanut butter; 4oz nonfat Greek yogurt or 2 pieces of lite mozzarella cheese sticks

MEAL #3 (1 PM)

4oz chicken breast; 1 cup mixed veggies (I prefer grilled peppers and onions); 6oz sweet potato; and a side salad with olive oil and vinegar dressing

MEAL #4 (4 PM)

2 scoops of Beverly International Rocky Road UMP and cinnamon mixed into pudding

MEAL #5 (6 PM)

Steak fajitas - 3oz lean steak, a cup of veggies, and 2 low carb tortillas

Fortunately, during my last contest prep, I had the luxury of having 200 flex calories each day. I can use these remaining 200 calories to eat any ‘clean’ foods. Below is what I usually ate.

MEAL #6 (9 PM)

2oz sliced turkey breast, 2 tbsp hummus, and carrots; or if I have a sweet craving, I will mix UMP chocolate with a CarbMaster yogurt.

My macros and calories may change as I go through prep based on what I need at the time to present my best physique possible.

 

Supplements

A structured meal plan must go hand in hand with a structured supplement plan in order to attain maximum results. The staples of my plan whether I am in the heart of contest prep or in a maintenance stage are Beverly International’s Lean Out, Fit Tabs, Glutamine Select, and Density. I typically add 7-Keto to aid in dropping body fat and appetite suppression as I get closer to the contest. My supplement regimen looks like this:

Supplement Schedule

2 Lean Out taken 5 times a day before meals to help trans-port fat to be used for energy

3 Density tabs 3 times a day to help maintain my lean muscle

1 capsule of 7-Keto twice a day -- one prior to fasted cardio, one before my 1 pm meal

1 scoop Glutamine Select pre-workout to aid in muscle recovery

1 scoop of Muscle Synergy pre-workout for maintaining lean muscle mass and increasing strength, it also gives me a great pump

2 Fit Tabs twice a day -- two in the morning and two in the evening. Fit Tabs are quite beneficial to overall health, and ensure that even as my diet reaches its most stringent phase, I am still obtaining all the essential minerals, vitamins, and micronutrients.

Cardio

Cardio is another important additive to contest prep. My favorite type is High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) first thing in the morning. During contest prep I do 15 minutes of HIIT three times a week prior to breakfast. This usually consists of sprints, stair stepper, or jump rope. At times I will do all three or add in some plyometrics for variation.

I used to despise cardio; now I don’t mind it at all. The key is finding something you truly enjoy. I love sprinting. It is hard, gets my heart rate up, and also involves quite a bit of glute activation. I also have learned that mixing it up keeps me interested and my body from becoming too accustomed to one thing.

A routine that really gets my heart rate up is sprinting as fast as I can for 30 seconds, doing 20 walking lunges, sprinting for 30 more seconds, doing 15 pop squats, and ending with 30 more seconds of sprinting. Repeat that a few times and I guarantee your heart rate will rise considerably. The other benefit of HIIT is that you actually continue to burn calories for 24 hours after your session in comparison to LISS (Low Intensity Steady State) type cardio.

Training

When I am training in the gym, I am completely focused on my workout and the specific body part being worked. If you blindly go through your workout routine, you’ll only be cheating yourself and hinder your ability to better your physique. My routine usually consists of high rep, low weight supersets, trisets, and plyometrics. My heart rate stays elevated during all of my routines. I especially like to train legs and glutes. Leg day usually consists of high rep squats, lunges, and plyometric work. Top bikini competitors are known for having really high, tight glutes, and the plyometric work has really helped me in that area.

My favorite exercises for legs and glutes:

Single leg straight squats: 15 reps on each leg for three sets. These are SO hard but they really work your glutes, legs, and even your abs since you have to maintain your balance.

Single leg skip ups: 15 reps, three sets per leg

Jump squats: 15 reps for 3 sets

Jumping switch lunges: 10 reps for three sets

Bench step ups stepping down and back into rear lunges: These really make your glutes burn the entire time

Single leg plate drag: 12 reps for three sets

I promise you that these exercises will set your glutes on fire. For illustrations and descriptions of these exercises and more, go to JulieLohre.com and click on Exercise Library.

Presentation

I cannot stress to you enough the importance of your presentation. You must feel and look comfortable and confident on stage. On the day of the show you may be fatigued, excited, nervous, or all of the above. The last thing you want is to have to consciously think about each pose. I attended Julie Lohre’s Mock Competition and I will never forget her saying, “You will want to be able to pose in your sleep.” Practice your posing regularly so that when you take the stage you can demand the judges’ attention, make eye contact, and be confident in the hard work you have done. I currently practice posing a minimum of 15 minutes, 3 times a week. The more you practice, the more natural it will become.

Getting ready for a contest and competing has been an unforgettable experience. I was proud of myself for just being able to stand on stage, and then taking the overall Bikini at the 2012 NPC Kentucky Muscle (in just my 2nd show) was truly a humbling experience.

I couldn’t have done it without Julie Lohre’s Team Fitbody. After that day at the Arnold Expo, I didn’t know where to start. It was a friend of a friend who told me about Julie’s Mock Competition. I decided to give it a try and see if this was something I really wanted to do. I was surrounded by educated and strong women with beautiful physiques. Julie beamed with her love for the sport and her passion for helping people make healthy lifestyle changes. I knew I wanted to be a part of this team.

I highly recommend joining such a team if you have the chance. It’s great to go through contest prep together, share ideas, laugh about each other’s experiences, or just talk about how good ice cream sounds. I reinvented my mind, body, and soul by embracing a healthy diet, sensible workout plan, and the support of my teammates.

FULL STEAM AHEAD: Nutrition, Training, Cardio, and Visualization for Figure Competition

At a Glance: Hyla Conrad

Age: 29

Education: Bachelor’s degree in exercise science and cur-rently writing articles for Julie Lohre’s TeamFitbody.com website

Family: Married for 2 years to my high school sweetheart, Jimmy. We have a very active border collie named Max.

Residence: Corydon, IN

Years training: Competition training for 2 years, always been active and had a very athletic childhood

Height: 5'3.5"

Weight: 130 (off-season), 122 (contest)

Favorite Bodybuilding Meal: Beef! I love beef, lean steak or hamburger with side salad and sweet potato.

Favorite Supplements: I love FitTabs multivitamin because they make my hair and nails look amazing. I take two in the AM and two PM. Of course, how could I not mention UMP? By far the best protein I have ever used. It keeps me full, while delivering the results I am looking for - lean muscle gain. This protein is so versatile, and tastes amazing just mixed with water. I have at least two shakes a day. My favorite is vanilla mixed with Jell-O sugar free banana pudding powder and 2tbsp of natural peanut butter with a little bit of water and ice topped with fat free Cool Whip. It’s delicious!!

What would you recommend to someone who has never used BI supplements before: Make sure you know your goals and the body type are trying to achieve, and read the Supplement Recommendation Chart on the BI website before you purchase. Educate yourself on the science behind the supplements; connecting the mind to the body is key.

What’s in your CD player: Mix of classical music for my Pilates workout

Hobby or interests: Camping, hiking, and playing in my garden. I love the dirt.

Words to live by: "Fear defeats more people than any other one thing in the world” ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Most inspiring book: Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver

 

I have always dreamed of competing but I didn’t know where to start, so in January of 2011, I turned to the Internet and searched for personal trainers in Kentucky. That is how I found IFBB Pro, Julie Lohre. It was the best decision I ever made. I was small and thin, with little to no muscle. Julie suggested I com-pete in bikini, but I always loved the way figure ath-letes looked and dreamed of having a body like that. I was determined to gain muscle in my upper body and with a background in gymnastics, I decided to take a shot at Fitness. I will never forget Julie’s re-sponse to my first 4-week photo update. I had gained muscle in my upper and lower body in just 4 weeks. I was ready for the stage in 9 weeks with lean muscle gains and a lower body fat percentage. I placed 1st in Fitness at the NPC Kentucky Derby Show and 2nd at the Julie Palmer Showdown.

Now, I am a figure competitor. My muscle gains have increased, and my body fat percentage is stable, only dropping during contest prep. The process of contest prep is easier because I am able to stay on track with the help of Julie and Beverly International. I am healthy and have tons of energy. Along with my everyday healthy lifestyle, competitively 2012 was the best year for me! My fall competition season started with Overall Figure wins at the NPC Kentucky State, the NPC Ohio State and the NPC Kentucky Muscle. My fall season ended with a trip to NPC Nationals in Atlanta, GA, which gave me the experience that I’ll need to improve and come back stronger in 2013. This journey and career path is just the beginning for me, and I am excited to see what is next.

Working with Julie has been a positive, life changing experience; committing to her training programs and nutritional guidance delivered results. She introduced me to Beverly International products, which supplemented my success in ways I never could have imagined. The quality of these products has given me the ability to take Julie’s training and nutritional pro-grams to another level.

Now, I’d like to outline exactly what I did this year to achieve these results, and I hope it will help you design your own success program for 2013.

 

MY MUSCLE GAIN / STAY LEAN DIET

MEAL #1

  • 2 whole eggs + 3 egg whites
  • 3 slices of turkey bacon
  • 3-4 slices of low-carb/high fiber bread with spray butter and sugar-free jelly
  • ½ cup of berries

MEAL #2

  • ½ cup of low-fat cottage cheese, 1 small apple

MEAL #3

  • 8oz ground turkey patty with 2 slices of low-carb/high fiber bread to make a burger with lettuce, tomato, onions, pickles and mustard
  • Small salad w/ 1 tbsp olive oil & vinegar dressing

MEAL #4

  • 2 scoops Ultimate Muscle Protein
  • 1 banana or apple
  • 2tbsp natural peanut butter
  • 2 rice cakes

MEAL #5

  • 4-5oz lean beef
  • 2 cups of green vegetables-usually a salad or green beans
  • ½ cup of sweet potato or brown rice

MEAL #6

  • 2 scoops of Provosyn mixed with ¾ cup of skim milk (awe-some for lean muscle gain)

Supplement Schedule

BI FitTabs Multi-Vitamin: 2 in AM and 2 in PM

BI Glutamine Select: 1 scoop during training and another at night if I’m feeling depleted

BI Lean Out: 2 capsules with 5 meals

BI Ultra 40: 2 tablets with 5 meals

BI EFA Gold: 3 in AM and PM

BI 7-Keto: 3 in AM and 3 with Lunch (4-6 weeks out from competition)

Cardio

3-4 days a week 30 minutes HIIT in the early evening. I can work harder when I do cardio in the afternoon and I have more energy. As a former sprinter, I usually head to the local track and do sprints mixed with some plyos or I run stairs at the local fairgrounds. This type of car-dio really helps keep my legs tight, while developing the glute/ham tie in that many of us struggle with. I also wear a heart rate monitor to help me understand when my heart rate is at its peak and help me to monitor shorter recovery times. My recovery times are based on HR and not muscle exhaustion or accelerated breathing rates.

Training

My training routine is more athletic based and incorporates bodyweight exercises mixed with higher intensity weight training. I started doing Tabata workouts and saw a huge change in my cardiovascular system. My recovery times in between sets were becoming easier and I was becoming more efficient each week. Plus it keeps my mind active by switching up the typical training regimen. I also added in Pilates twice a week to keep my legs and core tight, while helping to elongate the muscle bellies in my lower body.

Monday

Core/Back/ Delts

Tuesday

Legs

Wednesday

Rest

Thursday

Back/Biceps/Triceps

Friday

Shoulders/Abs

Saturday

One Pilates and cardio session on either day

Sample Tabata Workout

8 sets x 20 seconds work/10 second rest each exercise

1. One Arm Overhead Press Standing on one foot (alternate foot)
2. Across Body Delt Pulls (left)
3. Inverted Pushups
4. DB Lateral Raises
5. Across Body Delt Pulls (right)

Presentation/Competition Experience

After working hard for weeks, sweating, training and sticking to clean meal plans, competition day is the day I get to be tan, wear pretty jewelry, and have my hair and makeup done. For me, competition day is my “girly” day! The competition experience is always special to me and each one is unique. I always meet wonderful inspiring women who are living the same lifestyle I am. It’s like, “you step backstage and things you love automatically surround your world”. Just being in the com-petition is a great feat in itself, and everyone should be proud of being a part of something so wonderful.

I practice my presentation at least 3 times a week year round, even if it’s just a quick 5min practice in my gym clothes. This helps me remember some of the reasons why I am training and helps me keep track of symmetry and areas that I need to improve. First thing that goes through my mind is, smile. Second, is eye contact to all the judges. Lastly, I remember this is a show, and people want to see a show. My walk, my stage presence, my confidence, everything is centered on one thing- knowing that I am in a show. I scan the judges and the audience constantly with a huge smile on my face. I prac-tice this at home in a mirror, the walk, eye contact to all the judges, turns, just like it’s a real show.

Vision and Motivation

What helps keep me motivated? I am a strong believer in connecting the mind with the body. I truly believe if you can vision yourself in a positive light, you are able to achieve anything. Connections between the body and mind are very important for diet and training too. Knowing how foods work in my body help to keep me on track and healthy. Understanding the muscle structure and how it works is key to making those connections with the body during training sessions.

I have a vision of what my life will be like in a couple years. It’s a vision that includes everything I have ever wanted to achieve in my life. I revisit this vision often, and have a key word that takes me there. That key word is “steam”. My vision looks like this - “I am cooking a healthy meal for dinner in my kitchen, and the “steam” is rising out of the pot on the stove. My husband is sitting on the couch reading. My dog Max is napping on the floor a couple feet away from me. The windows are open, the air is clean and crisp, and the leaves on the trees are changing. I feel fit, healthy, and happy. I am in my mid 30’s and I am an IFBB Pro and I have won many competitions and have friends that support me and love the bodybuilding industry as much as I do.” This vision is important to me, and holds a special place in my heart. When I lose my focus, I turn to this vision and it keeps me training and pushing towards it. I really suggest that you develop your own personal vision for the life you want to achieve, inside and outside of fitness.
The love for this sport will never die for me. I know when I am 80 years old, I won’t be competing but I will still be training and enjoying this healthy lifestyle, and I will still be using Beverly International products!

Over 50 Training – Another Perspective

In this article I would like to share some personal thoughts on the best system of training for the mature bodybuilder. By bodybuilder, I mean anyone who is trying to develop muscle and strength, not just those training to enter a contest. This article is targeted at the over 50 male who has had some previous experience with weight training, but he may have experienced a long lay–off or he just wants to try something different from what he’s been doing for years.

To start, let’s agree that the over 50 bodybuilder’s basic concerns are very much the same as bodybuilders of any age – to develop an above average degree of fitness, muscle, and strength. For the over 50, let’s add – to look and act younger than his age.

Here is an outline of notes I’ve taken regarding myself specifically, and the aging bodybuilder in general. I started training pretty regularly in 1963, so these comments are based on 50 years of training experience.

Males typically lose ½ pound of muscle per year once they hit their late 30’s or early 40’s.
Fast-twitch muscles decline and testosterone production is reduced as the years go by.
An extended "lay–off" or "years–off", results in excess fat. In addition our metabolisms slow down as we age.

Note: We can counter the above negative effects with targeted supplementation. Muscle Synergy (i), Quadracarn (ii), and 7–Keto Musclean (iii) will help you overcome these factors of aging. For more information, see Supplements at the end of this article.

Training time is often limited because of work and family obligations. However, this may be a good thing. You are less likely to over train by training too often or with too many sets and reps.
Injuries – anyone who has been training for most of their life has accumulated various injuries that interfere with their workout. My personal list includes lower back and elbow injuries for years, which are now pretty much ok. Current issues include arthritic knees, shoulders (including a complete shoulder replacement of my left shoulder) and wrist (which currently is my most limiting), along with varying degrees of tendinitis. But, injuries, like limited time to train can actually be a blessing. You may have to cut way back on the poundages that you use in certain exercises. The reason this is good is that you can really concentrate on developing perfect form and slowly progress for a very long period of time before you hit a plateau.

Self-Discipline – often improves with age. We’ve had to use it throughout our lives – not only in our workouts, but, perhaps in college, the military, building our own business – in fact; any goal we’ve achieved has had self–discipline as a vital component.

Patience – the older bodybuilder is no longer looking for a quick fix. He knows that anything worth achieving takes time and effort.

Knowledge of how his body works and feels – which exercises he can do and which he must make adjustments to, or avoid.

Realistic expectations – he realizes his strengths, but also his limitations. Goals are essential for the over 50 bodybuilder, but unlike many younger bodybuilders he knows that he is not going to be the next Arnold.

1. Should I train like I used to, or be content with a milder version? Be cautious, but don’t let caution keep you from progressing – for any strength or muscle building routine to be effective it must include some overloading in the form of progression.

2. Can I still do certain exercises? It is more important than ever to focus on the best exercises. These are core exercises for the shoulder girdle, back, and legs. Try the harder exercises: squats, dead lifts, and military presses. Even if you quit doing them years ago, give them another chance. Often, you just need to reduce the weight on the bar and improve your flexibility to start doing these exercises safely and productively. If an exercise is beneficial to a younger athlete, it can be useful to an older one. Don’t build limitation into your routine simply because of your age.

3. Can I really expect any gains at my age? Absolutely, the older body responds to strength training exactly as a younger one, but at a slower pace (this could be good for it helps you avoid injury and overwork). – You must adhere to principles of strength development.

1. Forget the old numbers. Don’t become fixated on how strong you used to be. You’ll lose focus on what you are currently trying to accomplish, and become discouraged. One of the keys to the routines that follow is small, steady strength increases over the long haul. It is important that you set realistic goals based on your current condition. What you used to do is ancient history. It’s how you look and feel today that really matters. Don’t set goals based on your previous best lifts (for some of you that would take you back to your 20’s and 30’s), but do set goals for your current age. For example, at age 55, perform 6 perfect reps in the bench press with 185 lbs. Set new personal records, but base them on where you are now in life.

2. You can set personal age related records every year. There is a formula used in weightlifting called the Malone–Meltzer age coefficients which adjusts for age. At age 55 your coefficient is 1.35. That means that if your goals were 300 (bench press) – 400 (squat) – 500 (deadlift), you would basically be achieving these goals with lifts of 225, 300, and 370. This puts everything into perspective with definitive goals within your reach. (You can Google Malone– Meltzer to find what the coefficient is for your age.)


Here are a couple of sample workout schedules. Program #1 is for the over 50 male who is just starting training or starting back training after a prolonged lay off. Program 2 is for anyone who is looking for an alternative workout that will save time yet build strength and muscle.

Program #1
1. Objectives
a. Acquaint or reacquaint yourself to the basics – perfect your form on the best exercises.
b. Slowly build or rebuild your strength on the basic exercises.
c. Halt and reverse age related muscle loss.
d. Improve body composition – more muscle, less fat.

2. Scheduling. 2 or 3 weight training sessions per week. Alternate workouts A and B with at least one day and preferably two days between each workout – do not overtrain.

3. Warming up and stretching
a. Five to ten minutes of a general body warm–up is very important. You can use an air–dyne or elliptical exerciser to warm–up everything at once. Or just go through the various movements you’ll be using in your workout with little or no weight.
b. Next, stretch between sets and exercises. Flexibility is an A number 1 priority for the older bodybuilder. Your workout should be: Lift, stretch, lift, stretch then leave.

4. Progression. You will want to lift as much as you can right away. Everyone does. But, you have to look at the long term. Start with a weight 70% or less than what you are currently capable of using. Concentrate on training consistency and proper form. We want to progress very slowly over a prolonged period of time. If you add 5 lbs to an exercise every other week for 3 months, you’ll have added more than 30 pounds to each exercise.
a. On the exercises which have a 10–12 rep range, add weight the following workout for exercises where you got 12 good reps on at least two of the sets.
b. For those with a 6–8 rep goal, add weight when you can perform 8 reps in perfect form on one or more of the sets.

5. Keys. Consistency, correct technique and slow, sustained poundage progression. Your weight increases should be as small as possible. If you have micro plates (1.25 lbs or less, by all means use them).


WORKOUT A
Squat: 3 sets x 10–12 reps
Bench Press: 3x6–8
Barbell Row: 3 x 6–8
DB Shoulder Press: 3 x 10–12
DB Curl: 3 x 10–12
Abs / Calves: One exercise for each, 3 x 15 or 2 x 20 per exercise

WORKOUT B
Deadlift: 3 x 6–8
Incline DB Press: 3 x 10–12
Pulldown (using chin grip with palms facing you):
3 x 10–12
Barbell Press: 3 x 6–8
Barbell Curl: 3 x 6–8
Abs / Calves: One exercise for each, 3 x 15 or 2 x 20 per exercise

Program #2
1. Objectives. This workout is for anyone who needs a change from his current program. It is terrific for the 50+ male who has been training regularly, but is at a standstill as far as strength.

2. Objections
a. Many of you will think this program is not enough, but that may be just the reason your progress has stalled – you’ve been doing too much.
b. Most assume higher reps are best for the 50 and older bodybuilding, but this is not necessarily the case. Your goal is to regain or continue to gain as much strength as you can. This means 4–6 sets of 4–6 reps on core exercises.

3. Advantages. You’ll start building (or at the least, regaining) strength and since the workouts are shorter, you’ll have more time for recuperation (and a real life).

4. Time Tested. This routine is based on time tested strength building basics. Give it at least a good three months. Personally, I’ve been using variations of this program for two years and am still making gains (at 65 years of age).
a. Progression: Program #2 embraces a variation on the 5 sets of 5 reps theme similar to what I’ve been following for the past 15 months. Reg Park, one of the strongest and best developed bodybuilders of the pre–steroid era often trained with this method. He recommended that your first set (after a thorough warm–up) be with 60% of your 5–rep max, set #2 with 80% of your 5–rep max, and set 3, 4, and 5 with your 5–rep max. For illustrative purposes let’s say that at age 55 you are capable of 5 reps with 200lbs. Your first set (after warm–ups) would be with 120, set #2 with 160, and sets 3, 4, and 5 with 200. When you can reach 5 reps on each of these final 3 sets you would increase the load by 5lbs on all sets. (Note: you never want to increase the poundage on an exercise by more than 2–3%.)

5. Warming up... and stretching should be the same as Program #1.

WORKOUT A
Squat: General warm–up, then as many warm–up sets of 5, 3, or
1 as necessary to get to your first set, then 5 x 5
Curl: 5 sets x 5 reps
Close Grip Bench Press (hands just a little closer than shoulder
width apart): 5 x 5
Weighted sit–up or crunch: 2 x 8–12
Auxiliary work for forearms, neck, calves: I personally include
neck work (as I am trying to avoid "old man’s neck") and forearm
gripping exercises.

WORKOUT B
After at least 1 day’s rest, go to workout B.
Bench Press: 5 sets x 5 reps
Bent row: 5 x 5
Plank: 2 x 30–60 seconds
(Optional) Alternate chins (palms facing you) and Dips (or pushups):
2–3 sets of max reps
Now, take 2 days off and go to Workout C.
Workout C
Deadlift: 5 x 5
Shoulder Press: 5 x 5
Front Pulldown: 5 x 5
Hanging Leg Raise or any ab exercise you like: 2 x 8–15
Auxiliary work for forearms, neck, calves

Adjustments I’ve made to continue making progress.
Regardless of how slowly you progress, eventually you’ll find it nearly impossible to continuing getting 5 sets of 5 on each exercise as described above. Here are some modifications I have made that have kept me progressing.
a. I’ve used a 5–4–3–2–1 rep scheme adding 10lbs per set from my 5–rep max.
b. I’ve alternated weeks of 5 sets of 2 with about 10% above my 5–rep max. Example: If I was capable of 200 x 5 for 3 sets, instead of going to 205 the next week, I’d do 5 sets of 2 with 220, and then go to 205 the following week.
c. I’ve also had to modify exercises (due to that darned wrist). I use heavy 1–arm DB incline presses for the bench press, thumbs up curl (with a log bar or dumbells), 1–arm db press for shoulder press (which I love), and for the close grip bench, I’ve been using a set of cable strands for tricep press-outs.


I recommend higher protein and moderate to low carbs for the over 50 bodybuilder who is trying to build muscle and strength while losing some fat. Always include at least 1 UMP protein shake. I mix 1 scoop of UMP vanilla with 1 scoop of Provosyn and drink it at least once per day and often twice.

30 grams of protein per meal is the minimum you should shoot for and 4–6 meals per day. Some current research shows that the older bodybuilder may need more protein than the younger one, so don’t be afraid to go up to 50 grams of protein in a meal.

Unfortunately, as we grow older our metabolism does slow down a little. Therefore we have to watch our caloric intake. I’d estimate 12–13 calories per pound of bodyweight is about right if your goal is to add muscle and strength while tightening up. Keep carbs under 150 grams per day on most days.


Many of BI’s best clients are in the 40–50–and 60 age brackets. I think one of the reasons for this is these guys have been around, tried it all, and settled on what works.

Here is my A list of supplements for the over 50: UMP, Quadracarn, Muscle Synergy or Creatine Select.

Next in importance would be Density or Mass Aminos, Lean Out, and 7–Keto to keep your metabolism cooking.


I hope that this article has given you some new thoughts regarding strength training and muscle building for the over 50 bodybuilder. Please let me know if you have any questions related to the article. I wouldn’t mind including a "mature muscle" question and answer column in each issue if enough of you older readers are interested. Further topics we might pursue are intensity cycling, athletic type movements, bodypart specialization, exercise modification, and more in depth supplement stacks for specific goals.