How I Maximized My Fitness Level and Physique at Age 40!
No Nonsense Magazine Vol 22, #2
By: LaRita Laktonen-Ward
At a Glance: LaRita Laktonen-Ward
Occupation/Education: Tru Life Fitness online certified weight management and competition prep coach, personal trainer, BS Kinesiology, Masters in Public Health
Family: Married to Tru Ward, 12 year old daughter, Ravenna
Current Residence: South Prince George, Virginia
Years training (total): 5 competitively, but have always exercised and learned healthy eating habits
Weight: (Off-Season) 160, (Contest) 145
Favorite Fitness Meal: UMP Pancakes (see sidebar for recipe)
What do you love most about Beverly supplements? Beverly supplements are designed for the drug free natural athlete. The quality of the products will maximize your results. Find a stack that lines up with your goals and take as directed.
Music: Hard rock or rap while lifting
Most Inspiring Book: Anything on maximizing fat loss or muscle gain. I love reading peer reviewed research on exercise physiology and nutrition.
Hobby or interests outside bodybuilding: Family is my number one priority, so I strive to get my husband and daughter as many opportunities to fulfill their dreams and I also support them. I’m a dance mom and also invest many hours cooking to support the nutrition and energy needed for success.
Words to live by: Action proceeds motivation and it comes from you. You can seek motivation in others, but you can’t wait for it to kick in. Make an action plan and stick with it. Motivation will follow action and consistency.
The No Nonsense magazine used to have a tagline, “Amazing Transformations”. As a lifetime fitness learner and expert, I don’t have a huge transformation story to talk about, but I can tell you how I maximized my fitness level at the age of 40. Since my 40th birthday I have won overall at the OCB Pro Bowl in Professional Figure and 2nd at the prestigious OCB Yorton Cup in Professional Figure. I try my best to lead by example, and I’m a true believer that longevity in the sport of bodybuilding is increased by being steroid and drug free. It can be done and you can meet your desired goals through simply hard work and balance.
I lifted some in high school and as a college basketball player in the late 90’s, but not consistently until 2012. I was inspired seeing my husband compete and attending various shows with him. As a busy professional at the time and a mom, I did my first show while my husband was deployed with the Army. I won overall Bikini in my very first show. The prep was the hardest ever and I was so burned out after the show that I put on 15 pounds within a couple weeks. When you spend months focused on a big goal and invest your all, it can be an empty feeling when it’s over. Now, I have a better understanding of myself emotionally, mentally, and physically, so I am able to find balance after a competition.
Before I tell you about my diet and training, I’d like to leave you with this thought. You must have a goal. No matter how much you know about nutrition and training, your body will not take you there unless your mind has the destination. Goals bring an extra level of dedication and intensity.
In my very first competition, my diet consisted of 99 percent lean protein, starchy carbs, and green vegetables. As the first prep is always the toughest, I also suffered from many cravings due to not having essential fats in my diet.
Now, the focus is on whole foods, but supplementing protein powder for convenience. I cycle starchy carbs including them with most of my meals on some days and only before and after training on other days. On the lower carb days I will add in whole eggs or other forms of good fats like almonds to replace the calories. Carb cycling not only gives you a mental break, but helps bump up your metabolism.
My favorite starchy carbs are sweet potatoes, rice, and oats. My favorite protein sources are egg whites, 99% lean ground turkey, or chicken, but I also eat fish.
The meal plan below is a typical day for me:
Meal 1: 1 whole egg and 1 cup egg whites scrambled with garlic, mushrooms, asparagus and 1 Ezekiel English muffin
Meal 2: 2/3 cup oats cooked with 2 scoops of chocolate UMP protein and 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon
Meal 3: 5oz ground turkey, 4oz sweet potatoes, and steamed broccoli
Meal 4: 2 scoops UMP protein in shaker bottle with water or blended with 1 cup of no sugar added vanilla almond milk, with 16 raw almonds on side
Meal 5: 5oz grilled chicken, 1/2 cup rice, and mixed greens
Meal 6: 5oz ground turkey, 4.5oz baked potato, and steamed asparagus
In my diet, greens are always a go and unlimited! One quick snack that I enjoy is to add two handfuls of spinach into the blender with a cup of no sugar added vanilla almond milk and UMP protein powder! Vanilla or chocolate both taste amazing and it keeps you full! Adding the spinach may not sound good, but can’t knock it till you have tried it.
My absolute go to’s are:
EFA Gold (3 with meal 1)
Joint Care (3 per day)
Creatine Select (1 scoop daily), or we substitute
Muscle Synergy (16 tablets daily) for the last month before a show
FitTabs (2 tablets with meal 1), although we use the Super Pak pre contest
Mass Amino Acids (2-3 with every meal for a total of 12-18 daily)
Lean Out (2 capsules, 3 times daily between meals) helps me during the last few weeks of show prep to cut cravings and burn that last little bit of fat.
Natural athletes have to incorporate both volume and heavy weights. We often include drop sets on an exercise to get 10-20 more reps after failure. Occasionally, I will do 300-400 bodyweight lunges in addition to my weight workouts. Depending on what our individual goals are, we may push harder on certain days or go into that workout more determined and focused. A typical plan for the week would be like this:
3 Days On, 1 Day Off | Day 4: Cardio or full rest day
|Day 1: Chest, Shoulders||Amount|
|Smith Machine Shoulder Press||1x15, 4x10|
|Single DB Press||4x12 each side|
|DB Lateral Raise||4x12 (superset)|
|DB Front Raise||4x12|
|Push-ups||4 sets to failure (start flat or incline,
as many as you can, then go to knees
and continue to failure)
|Day 2: Back||Amount|
|Heavy Single-arm DB Rows||6x12|
|Assisted Pull-ups||4x10 (last two reps are slow negatives)|
|Wide Lat Pulldown||4x12 (superset)|
|Reverse Grip Pulldowns||4x10-12|
|Day 3: Legs||Amount|
|Single Leg Extensions||4x15 slow squeeze (Last set AMRAP
with both legs on single leg weight)
|BB Glute Press||4x15 (heavy)|
|Step-back BB Lunges||4x30 (alternating)|
|Leg Extensions||3x30 (both legs together)|
|Calf Raises||100 reps any combo/exercise|
|Day 5: Chest, Shoulders||Amount|
|Hammer Strength Incline Press||1x15, 4x10|
|High Cable Pec Flyes||4x12|
|Flat DB Bench Press||3x25|
|DB Overhead Press||5x10|
|Cable Rope Face Pulls||4x12|
|DB Lateral Raises||(one set, 60 sec. AMRAP
with moderate weight)
|Day 6: Legs||Amount|
|DB Suitcase Squats||5x10|
|Deadlifts on Unilateral Hammer Strength or BB||4x8-10|
|Seated Hamstring Curls||3x15|
|Day 7: Arms||Amount|
|Single-arm Rope Extension||4x12 (superset)|
|Single Handle Cable Extension||4x12|
|Both-arm Rope Extension||3x15|
|Machine Bicep Curls||5x12|
|Machine Single-arm Curls||3x10|
- 1 c of oats
- 1 scoop UMP vanilla
- 1/2 c egg whites
- 1 heaping tbsp baking cocoa
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tbsp vanilla extract for flavor
- Walden Farms 0 cal syrup
- Fruit or unsweetened applesauce
Blend and add a little water at a time till it's the right consistency for pancakes
Competition suits, courtesy of Figure Suits by Jodi
During prep, I prefer the stationary bike, as I have seen studies that show it preserves the most muscle, followed by incline walking. When going into a show, I will do a couple days of 30 minutes on the bike per week and also a couple days of HIIT (high intensity interval training) in the form of outdoor sprints for 45 seconds all out and 75 seconds walking in between for a total of 20 minutes. Off season, I like to hike or jog occasionally, but I don’t have a prescribed schedule for cardio.