Q: Man, your beach photo in the GH Stak ad is simply awesome. I would say you look great for someone over 50, but 99.9 percent of 20-year-olds would give anything to look that good at the beach. I’m 44 and recently divorced. I’ve been in pretty good shape before, but it’s been a few years. I need to get back in the game now. How can I look that good in a pair of swim trunks by summertime?
A: Thank you very much. I had a blast doing that shoot with Michael Neveux. And after seeing the photos, I would say that I looked my best ever for it. Yes, I wish I’d looked that good when I was in my 20s—I probably would have gotten a lot more dates.
The answer to your question is very simple. You have to train hard with weights, do regular cardio and eat right. It’s not complicated, but it does take hard work, dedication and consistency, in both training and diet.
I got your note last week and was thinking about what to write. As I was driving back to work a couple of days ago, I was listening to a local radio show. The guest host was Rob Balon, an Austin food critic. He started the show by talking about how there was so much less of him than there had been a year ago. He’d lost more than 70 pounds during 2010. He said that after having tried every fad diet known to man, he’d hit on the “secret.” He had to exercise intensely on a daily basis and be more disciplined when eating. That’s pretty darn simple.
I also recently did consultations with two excellent masters bodybuilders, Mark Domme and Gary Benkendorf. Mark was the ’10 NPC Texas Shredder Classic over-40 champion, and Gary was the ’10 NPC Texas Champion. Both men were in their off-season but were in tremendous condition. After spending about an hour talking with each of them, I found that the common denominator was that both train extremely hard and are very disciplined with their diets. It’s no surprise that both guys look so damn good—for any age.
Hard, consistent work and responsible eating get you muscular and lean. Don’t fall for silly gadgets or even sillier diets that are out there. Getting into great shape—especially when you’re over 30—takes a lot of hard work and dedication, but the results are well worth the effort.
To get in shape for swim-trunks season, you need to follow a three-pronged approach: weight training, daily cardio and clean diet. Here’s how you get going.
Start with a full-body weight-training program three days per week. I know that you know what it’s like to work out hard—because you’ve been in good shape before—but start slowly. Don’t kill yourself in the first few workouts. Let your body adjust to the weight training, and build the intensity at each workout. After three weeks of full-body workouts, split your training into a lower-body-plus-abs session and an upper-body routine. Continue lifting three days per week, alternating the two workouts. After six to eight weeks of hard training you many want to go to a three-day split, but if you’re continuing to see progress on the two-day split, stay with it.
For cardiovascular exercise I recommend 20 to 30 minutes first thing in the morning, six days per week. Exercise at 70 to 75 percent of your max heart rate—220 minus your age equals max HR. One mistake a lot of people make is that they kill themselves on cardio, which interferes with their ability to recover from weight training. You must, however, get up and do your cardio first thing in the morning. I’m not a morning person, but I’ve learned over time that to get into top shape there’s no substitute for getting up and getting the fat-burning process going right away. I’ve seen it repeatedly with clients and friends. Early morning cardio has an almost magical effect. If you hit a plateau in bodyfat loss, add another cardio session in the evening.
As to diet, I’m going to give you some very general guidelines. As a starting point, divide your macronutrient intake as follows: 40 percent protein, 40 percent carb and 20 percent fat. To determine how many calories to start with, multiply your bodyweight by 14.5. For a 185-pound man that would come to 2,682 calories per day. Divide the total calories by six meals, and you get 447 calories per meal. Choose lean sources of protein, such as poultry breast, fish and lean red meat. For carbs you want to eat low-gylcemic starches, fresh fruits and vegetables. Your food will provide some fat, but you’ll want to supplement with essential fatty acids—three gel caps, three times per day. Depending on your body type, you may have to manipulate the macronutrients as you see how your body is responding. You can very easily keep track of your diet and all of your nutrients by using the “Lose It” app on your iPhone or iPod.
You also need to keep weekly tabs on your skinfold measurements and bodyweight. That’s to make sure you’re getting the right amount of food and doing the right amount of exercise. I like to see clients lose one to two pounds of bodyweight per week—with two pounds being the upper limit; however, if you’re gaining muscle at the same time, you’ll see less weight loss on the scale. By monitoring your skinfold measurements—that is, subcutaneous fat—you’ll see whether you’re actually losing bodyfat, even if your bodyweight isn’t dropping.
I’ve seen people who gained muscle and lost bodyfat at the same rate and didn’t see a loss on the scale (I’ve experienced it myself). That’s the best-case scenario, and it means you’re doing everything right. You may be wondering how you’re going to measure your skinfolds. The best method is to find out whether any of the trainers at your gym have skinfold calipers and would be willing to measure you. It takes only a minute, so it should be very inexpensive or even free.
Here’s a full-body workout and a two-day split to get you started. Remember: Hard work and discipline. Please let me know how you progress.
10 minutes fast walking on exercise bike
Ab crunches 4 x max
Bench presses 4 x 10-12
Seated cable rows 4 x 10-12
presses 3 x 10-12
Barbell curls 3 x 10-12
Pressdowns 3 x 10-12
Squats 4 x 10-12
Leg presses 3 x 10-12
Leg curls 3 x 10-12
Standing calf raises 3 x 12-15
Lower body, abs
Hanging knee raises 4 x max
Crunches 3 x max
Squats 1-2 x warmup
4 x 8-12
Leg presses 1 x warmup
4 x 8-12
Leg curls 3 x 8-12
Leg extensions 3 x 8-12
Standing calf raises 5 x 12-15
Deadlifts* 1-2 x warmup
3 x 8
Bench presses 1 x warmup
4 x 8-12
Incline dumbbell presses 3 x 8-12
Seated cable rows 1 x warmup
4 x 8-12
(to the front) 3 x 8-12
Overhead presses 4 x 8-12
Standing barbell curls 4 x 8-12
Skull crushers 4 x 8-12
* Do deadlifts only at every second upper-body workout.
Editor’s Note: See Dave Goodin’s blog at www.IronManMagazine.com. Click on the blog selection in the top menu bar. To contact Dave directly, send e-mail to [email protected] IM