Lo and behold, I turned 30 one sunny day in September, and what do you know? Sixteen years of consistent training were really starting to pay off. Finally, my physique was beginning to shape up. After all those years of struggling to put on mass and “look like a bodybuilder,” I could see it coming. To celebrate the occasion, I got into contest condition, even though I wasn’t competing, and shot with IRON MAN’s ace lensman Michael Neveux. I was also featured in a series of TV commercials for Valeo lifting gloves.
As I proceeded into my 30s, the demographic that felt the need to assure me of my imminent physical decline was slightly older. Though all the hard training, good food and high-quality supplements were continuing to yield results and improvements, 40 was now the age at which it would all go to hell. Again, I ignored the negative prophecies.
To celebrate my 40th birthday, I made my national-level debut in bodybuilding, competing in the NPC Team Universe. With more than a quarter-century of effort against the iron under my belt, I looked even better than I had at 30. I had more size in general, my physique was more balanced than ever before, and my condition onstage was truly shredded down to the glutes. I had not woken up on my 40th birthday to find that my once muscular body had turned to sagging flab.
More recently, a 50-something man at my gym went out of his way to inform me that, in fact, 50 was the age when my body would begin to deteriorate. He knew because it had happened to him! Finally, I got the urge to confront the gloomy forecasts I had been receiving for so long.
“Did you ever look like me?” I asked the man, a retired police officer.
“Well, no,” he admitted.
“Do you have any idea of how dedicated I have been to bodybuilding since I was a kid?” Of course he didn’t. He had been a gym rat, working out but never putting a whole lot of thought into his training and even less into his nutrition. In other words, he had looked good only as long as he was young and could get away with being so haphazard and clueless.
Getting defensive, he began rattling off some injuries, aches and pains he now suffered that severely limited what he could do in the gym—with the insinuation that they were all simply factors of aging. Boy, did he pick the wrong man to whine to about injuries!
I calmly explained that in addition to tearing my right triceps in 2011 and having a shoulder decompression that same year, I suffered from arthritis in both shoulders, a massive bone spur in one and lower-back injuries dating back to 1987. Yet I never once stopped training. I always found ways to work around the injury. I’ve taken advantage of chiropractic treatment for more than 20 years, I get a deep-tissue massage every other week, and I foam-roll and stretch every night.
There are certain exercises I can’t do at all and others I can’t go as heavy on as I used to, but, overall, I can’t complain. I train two days on/one day off and have found other ways to stimulate the muscles other than doing very heavy sets, such as FST-7, 4X and TORQ [see Built for Life on page 135 for more on that]. Clean eating and regular cardio keep my bodyfat low.
I will be turning 45 soon. I can’t say that I feel the way I did when I was 18, 25 or even 30. I certainly have more aches and pains from the years of wear and tear on my joints and connective tissues. In all modesty, though, I look damned good for my age. Bodybuilding is my lifestyle and has been for most of my life. I won’t ever stop training hard or eating right. Training is my passion and one of the things that gives me the greatest joy in life.
I love junk food as much as the next person, but I can’t eat it very often. Food is fuel, and I can’t put dirty, worthless fuel into my temple. So will I wake up at the age of 50 in a few years and see a doughy sloth in the mirror? Methinks not.
Age can be just one of a laundry list of excuses people use for why they let their bodies decline, and it’s a favorite one. Just know that using your age as an excuse for your lack of physical fitness is pretty lame. There are enough of us defying that myth to prove just how weak of an excuse it is. If you want to stay dedicated to this lifestyle and are committed to looking and feeling good, you will. Or you can take the easy way out and blame a date on your driver’s license for letting yourself go. The choice is yours.