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Terry Baldwin: Strapping Up To Glory

53-Year-Old Bodybuilder and Powerlifter Terry Baldwin Innovates to Isolate—and Gets Better With Age!

Terry BaldwinInnovators are rare in any field and even rarer in bodybuilding. Among the few that come to mind is Arthur Jones, the father of high-intensity training and inventor of Nautilus machines. Arthur felt that the smaller muscle groups were the limiting factor in basic exercises, and his elaborate machines attempted to isolate the back, chest and shoulder muscles by eliminating the use of the biceps, triceps and forearms, which are weak links when you’re performing bench presses, incline presses, overhead presses, chins and rows.

Amazingly, Terry Baldwin, a 53-year-old NGA drug-free competitive bodybuilder and AWPC world-record bench presser, has accomplished what Jones attempted—isolation of the larger muscle groups—with a simple device that costs less than $100 and fits neatly into any gym bag.

Terry’s been training for 34 years and has been a competitive bodybuilder for 29 of them. It would be an understatement to say that he might have a few things to teach other serious bodybuilders, so I jumped at the chance to interview him.

DY: Tell the readers a little about yourself.

TB: Well, I was born in Fresno, California, and raised in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. I’ve been married for 34 years, and we have three daughters.

DY: What’s your height and weight?

TB: I’m 5’7”. My off-season weight is around 225, and my competition weight is 205 to 208. Of course, I’m always striving to improve size as well as conditioning, so those bodyweights are simply a measuring stick, so to speak.

DY: How long have you been training?

TB: I’ve been training competitively since 1980.

DY: I understand that you came into bodybuilding from a unique entry point.

TB: I was a professional arm wrestler from 1975 to 1980, training in the basement of my home with a bench and a small set of weights. I joined a small gym in 1980 to gain more strength. The guys in the gym were so impressed with my physique that they talked me into competing in a local bodybuilding show in 1981. I placed third in my first NPC show in the open class and then came back the next year and took first.

DY: That’s an interesting start. The arm wrestlers I’ve met generally go into competitive powerlifting. What do you do for a living?

TB: I’m a certified fitness trainer. I own my own personal-training facility, Baldwin Fitness Training in Missoula, Montana, where I and five other trainers work. I’m also a partner and developer in a company called Flexsolate, which specializes in creating new technologies for strength training and physical therapy, like the Flexsolate grip-free isolation cuffs and the Flexsolate Gym in a Bag.

DY: Flexolate cuffs really take the strain off the joints and smaller muscle groups and isolate the larger muscle groups.

TB: Thank you. That’s exactly what they’re designed to do.

DY: Do you play other sports or are you involved in any hobbies?

TB: I’m a world-class drug-free bench presser and record holder. I’m training to compete at the WABDL World championships in Las Vegas to try to break the record of 556.5 pounds. I also love to hunt, fish and spend time with my family.

DY: What keeps you motivated to train and diet at 53 years old?

TB: I just enjoy feeling, looking better and being stronger than I was in my 20s and 30s. Life continues to get better for me.

DY: What is your diet strategy, both on- and off-season?

TB: Whether on- or off-season I eat six meals a day. That never changes. What changes are the calories and the macronutrient percentages. It breaks out like this:

Off-season: I eat 3,200 to 3,500 calories a day—50 percent carbs, 30 percent protein and 20 percent fats.

On-season: I eat 2,600 calories a day—50 percent carbs, 40 percent protein and 10 percent fats. During that time I do cardio seven days a week.

DY: Do you have a cheat day when you’re dieting strictly?

TB: During the season I have a cheat meal once a week, but I’m still eating good wholesome food with some extra carbs. In the off-season I eat good wholesome food all week during my training, as that’s the most critical time for nutrient demand, and then indulge on the weekend with a few treats. My wife is a great cook who’s extremely health conscious, and we like to enjoy new recipes and sometimes dessert on the weekends. We enjoy pizza maybe once every couple of months, but that’s about it for fast food.

DY: Describe a sample day of of your eating plan.

TB: Sure:

4 a.m.: 16 ounces organic coffee mixed with 1/2 packet chocolate Labrada Nutrition Lean Body Meal

5 a.m.: 1 1/2 cups cooked oameal with organic
maple syrup; 1 sliced banana; 3 capsules Now Sports Nu-tri-tion omega 3-6-9 fatty acids; 1 capsule each Juice Plus vegetable, fruit and berries; 2 capsules Now Sports Nutrition glucosamine and chondroitin with MSM

6 a.m.: 5 capsules Anabol Naturals amino acids

7 a.m.: 3 tablets EFX Nytric; 1 1,000-milligram tablet Now Sports Nutrition tribulus

8 a.m.: 1 1/2 cups cooked seasoned rice and brown rice pasta with 8 egg whites

11 a.m.: 1 1/2 cups cooked seasoned rice and brown rice pasta with 6 to 8 ounces lean meat; 1 apple, orange or grapefruit

Noon: 1 tablespoon EFX Liquid Kre-Alkalyn.

12:45 p.m.: 5 capsules Anabol Naturals amino acids; 3 capsules Anabol Naturals amino GH releasers; 2 scoops Labrada Nutritioin Super Charge Xtreme

1 p.m. to 2:15 p.m.: Workout

2:15 p.m.: Postworkout drink with 1 scoop Now Sports Nutrition whey protein isolate shake, 1 scoop Now Sports Nutrition Electro Pro Recovery drink, 1 scoop Metabolic Nutrition Trans-Alanyl-Glutamine; 3 capsules Now Sports Nutrition omega 3-6-9 fatty acids; 5 capsules Anabol Naturals amino acids.

5 p.m.: 1 organic Kashi granola bar, 1 scoop Now Sports Nutrition whey protein isolate shake

6 p.m.: 3 tablets EFX Nytric, 1 1,000-milligram tablet Now Sports Nutrition tribulus

7:30 p.m.:1 organic fresh veggie salad or stir-fry, 8 ounces lean meat, 1 to 2 slices whole-grain organic bread with Smart Balance spread, diced fresh organic fruit mix

9 p.m. (before bed): 1 capsule each Juice Plus vegetable, fruit and berries; 2 capsules Now Sports Nutrition glucosamine and chondroitin with MSM; 3 capsules EFX ZMA; 3 capsules Anabol Naturals amino GH releasers

DY: That’s very disciplined. What are your favorite supplements?

TB: Number one would be Juice Plus. It’s an organic supplement that uses micronutrients from 15 fruits and vegetables. It’s an excellent source of antioxidants and phytonutrients to help fight oxidation within the body. Second would be EFX Liquid Kre-Alkalyn. I’ve never used a creatine that works as fast and effectively as that.

DY: What’s your proudest achievement?

TB: The fact that my wife and I have been married for 34 years and have three wonderful grown daughters. My proudest achievement in bodybuilding is being where I am today without the use of anabolic steroids.

DY: Being drug-free, how do you overcome training plateaus?

TB: By having patience and accepting the fact they’re always going to occur. I like to cycle my training during the year from heavy to moderate resistance, always applying the mind to the muscle one rep at a time, attacking the bodyparts with different methods of isolation, resistance and angles, constantly looking for ways to shock the body.

DY: How did you find what works for you?

TB: Through years of trial and error. My biggest mistake was overtraining the first few years, thinking more was better. Once I got over that hurdle, the gains were much quicker with fewer injuries.

DY: What keeps you fired up?

TB: I love bodybuilding, but it’s my love for God that gives me strength to continue on. I believe God has given me a gift as a successful bodybuilder and trainer for a reason other than to satisfy my own desires. Whether I continue to compete or not, I plan to use that gift as a tool to reach out and share with others what He does for me. I believe we all can be ambassadors for good, whatever our gifts are, as long as they are used to help others in need and make the world a better place to live in.

DY: What are your goals in bodybuilding?

TB: I’ve always looked at bodybuilding and fitness as a continuing journey, and whatever I achieve along the way is a bonus. I just take it one day at a time and try to wait for God to open doors.

DY: It’s often said that a great deal of success in bodybuilding is the mental approach. Do you use any mental or visualization principles?

TB: I constantly try to visualize how I want my body to look. If I see a lagging bodypart, I try to put more emphasis on it than other parts. In order to work the weak bodyparts, you need to master the mind before you can master the body. I try to mentally “will” the muscle to grow while watching it contract during the exercise. I visualize it growing right before my eyes. I enjoy the challenge of working the weak parts of the body and seeing the changes occur.

DY: Do you have a life philosophy?

TB: In order to live life to the fullest, you have to experience it not only physically but spiritually as well. That is the way to truly enjoy life and keep things in a true and positive perspective. I never take my good health for granted and am extremely thankful for it.

DY: What strategies do you use for success in life or business that you’re able to carry into bodybuilding?

TB: I never worry about competition as long as I put all my energy and focus into being the best I can be. I’m not afraid to try innovative ideas to keep things fresh and exciting, not only for myself but also for my clients.

DY: What is your training philosophy?

TB: I live by a statement I heard years ago: “The will to win is not nearly as important as the will to prepare to win.”

DY: How do you switch from your normal training to contest training?

TB: Everything has to feel right. Once I commit, there has to be minimal interruption during contest preparation in order to do it the way I want. I prefer spring contests. That way I have a good part of the winter to prepare, which is a less hectic time in my personal life.

DY: How many weeks out do you start your preparation?

TB: Ten weeks in order to lose approximately 20 pounds.

DY: Do you use supersets, forced reps or other intensity techniques?

TB: I use drop sets, supersets, static resistance and forced reps only on movements that minimize the risk of injury. I also like to use different types of resistance, such as free weights, machines, stretch cords, power-plate training with free weights and instability platforms. Anything to shock the muscle for potential growth.

DY: What kind of set-and-rep patterns do you use?

TB: I do four to five different exercises for each bodypart for three to four sets each. I do anywhere from 10 to 20 reps, always varying the weight from one week to the next.

I believe that there’s no perfect ratio. What matters most is achieving the mind-to-muscle connection to obtain total isolation and muscle control for maximum results.

DY: What about cardio?

TB: Off-season I do no cardio. On-season I do cardio the first eight weeks of my 10-week diet on an elliptical machine for 45 to 60 minutes at 70 percent of my maximum heart rate.

DY: How do you organize your training week?

TB: I shut down my training facility from 1 to 2:30 p.m. on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday for me and my workout partner. Then I take three full days off for recovery.

My split is Monday: chest and triceps; Tuesday: back and biceps; Wednesday: shoulders and abs; Thursday: quads, hamstrings and calves.

DY: Can you list a typical week of your training program bodypart by bodypart?

TB: Sure.


Bench presses 4 sets
Incline presses 3 sets
Decline presses 3 sets
Flat-bench flyes 3 sets

Wide-grip pulldowns 3 sets
Narrow-grip pulldowns 3 sets
Narrow-grip rows 3 sets
Overhead straight-arm
pulls 3 sets


Lateral raises 3 sets
Straight-arm front raises 3 sets
Overhead presses 3 sets
Rear-delt rows 3 sets
Shrugs 3 sets


Wide-grip curls 3 sets
Narrow-grip curls 3 sets
Drag curls 3 sets
Hammer curls 3 sets


Overhead extensions 3 sets
Pushdowns 3 sets
Dips 3 sets
Close-grip presses 3 sets


Leg presses 4 sets
Hack squats 3 sets
Leg extensions 3 sets


Weighted one-leg lunges 3 sets
Leg curls 3 sets


Standing calf raises 4 sets


Hanging knee raises 4 sets 

DY: What range of motion do you use?

TB: I use full range most of the time, always keeping constant tension on the muscle being worked.

DY: What about rep speed?

TB: Reps are performed at a moderate tempo. Then, as fatigue sets in, I like to slow it down during the eccentric part of the motion to maintain control over the weight and not let the weight control me. That mentally gives me more power and minimizes the risk of injury.

DY: How long do you rest between sets?

TB: Approximately one minute.

DY: What is your overall philosophy about bodybuilding?

TB: Bodybuilding, if done the correct way, can promote good health in a lot of ways. It builds self-esteem and confidence, instills a good work ethic, teaches structure and builds discipline. If not, it can be very self-consuming and destructive. My philosophy is that if you do it for the love of health, you’ll reap the rewards of a fulfilled life.

DY: I agree. What do you think are the key elements of training, nutrition, supplementation and cardio that lead to building a great body?

TB: The key elements of training are consistency, mind-to-muscle connection, isolation and muscle control.

The key elements of nutrition are eating nutrient-dense, organic whole foods as much as possible and staying away from fast foods and processed or refined foods.

The key elements of supplementation are knowing why, knowing how much and knowing when. That will keep you from wasting a whole lot of money.

The key elements of cardio are making sure your body is glycogen loaded before your session and making sure you work at 65 to 75 percent of your maximum heart rate to ensure that you don’t become catabolic and burn lean muscle mass.

DY: How does bodybuilding affect your relationships?

TB: Bodybuilding has been a blessing in our lives. My wife and I take good care of ourselves because of what bodybuilding has taught us over the years. God has taught me to love my spouse the way I love myself. It would be hard to love myself if I felt and looked lousy because I didn’t exercise, sleep and eat right.

DY: Do you have any role models?

TB: Without a doubt that would be legendary bodybuilder and strongman Chuck Sipes. I first met Chuck back in 1983. I had the honor of being a friend of his before he passed away. He was an unselfish, godly man who would go out of his way to help others in need. If it hadn’t been for his help and encouragement early in my career, I don’t know if I would have stayed in bodybuilding. I thank God for Chuck.

DY: What’s the toughest thing about bodybuilding?

TB: The toughest thing is the contest preparation. Not because the physical part is tough, but because you have to literally be a slave to a 10-week scheduled plan. Normal life is nonexistent during that time as far as eating meals with my wife and weekend activities are concerned. I think a lot of it is because I’m such a driven person. I don’t like to do anything that’s going to diminish my chances for success, especially in a sport like bodybuilding, which requires so much time and effort.

DY: What is the best thing about being a bodybuilder?

TB: Two things: 1) Going out in public with my eight-year-old grandson and having people mistake him for my son; 2) Being featured in IRON MAN.

DY: Great answer!


Editor’s note: To contact Terry Baldwin about contest preparation, guest posing or training advice, send e-mail to To learn more about Flexolate training aids, visit  IM

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