To Top

Two Geezers and the Size Trip

The gym’s two geezers have trained together almost every Monday, Wednesday and Friday for nearly 10 years—they’re an institution

The gym’s two geezers have trained together almost every Monday, Wednesday and Friday for nearly 10 years—they’re an institution. At 49 and 53 they’re among the gym’s oldest members, although they’re still youthful in mind and body. Phil and Ron train harder than most of the guys in their 20s and are way stronger and better developed than nearly all of them.

They’ve almost always kept their routines short and focused on the big, basic exercises. During the long period they’ve trained together, they’ve used only two basic formats. Some cycles they’ve alternated two routines—upper body and lower body—over their three weekly workouts. Other cycles they’ve rotated three routines—back, biceps and neck; triceps, delts and pecs; and legs and abs—and done a little more volume for each bodypart than on the other format. They change their routines every three months or so. As far as building muscle goes, their training has worked very well.

I’d just started warming up on a treadmill when they noticed me. They were about to leave the gym after finishing a workout and came over to chat. After exchanging pleasantries, Phil, the younger of the two, asked me how he could add 15 pounds to his bench press, to take him to 320 pounds for sets of five reps so that he could match Ron.

“What about the cardio we’ve discussed many times?” I asked. “What about the six-pack you keep telling me you want to have? What about making the changes to your diet that we’ve discussed many times? Those things are way more important than adding 15 pounds to your bench press.”

“I’ll get to those things later on, Stuart. Just tell me what to do so that I can get to the 320 for fives.”
Phil is 49, and yet he’s still putting off getting a six-pack, still putting off fixing his diet, and still putting off doing decent cardio. It’s the same story with Ron and many other 40-plus bodybuilders.

When you’re in your 20s, you have the time to procrastinate, but when you’re in your 40s and 50s and still procrastinating, you risk never getting around to a six-pack, excellent diet and decent cardio.

Even if Phil gets to 320 for five in his bench press—up from the 305 for five he’s at now—it won’t make a blind bit of difference in his physique. If he trims his bodyfat from its current 25 percent or so to 10 percent, however, he will transform his appearance. Although he may lose a little on his bench press, so what? He would finally be able to see his substantial muscle mass and have a sharp six-pack. Given his age, that would blow most people away.

If you’ve trained seriously for more than 10 years, chances are you’ve reached the maximum muscle size you’re ever going to have naturally. Many bodybuilders carry excess bodyfat under the assumption that it’s necessary in order to keep building size. There’s something to that idea—you’re not going to build bigger muscles if you keep yourself ripped—but don’t carry excess bodyfat indefinitely.

Many bodybuilders get stuck on a size trip, forever wanting just a bit more. No matter how much they get, they always want a bit more.

Phil and Ron are still following pretty much the heavy diet they used 20 years ago, when they needed to eat a lot in order to build their muscle mass in the first place. With that approach they’ve been putting on a couple of pounds of fat each year over the decade or so they’ve been working out together, and the pounds have added up. They’ve gotten bigger all right, but not in the way that they want.

Most bodybuilders would look much better if they trimmed 10 pounds of fat while holding their current muscle mass than they would if they added 10 pounds of muscle while holding their current bodyfat mass. Phil and Ron, however, each need to lose about 30 pounds of bodyfat in order to get terrific six-packs.

Unless you already have a delineated set of abdominals, how about setting the following goals for yourself?

1) “I’m going to reduce my calorie intake so that I lose one pound a week every week until I can see a distinct six-pack.”

2) “I’m going to do serious cardio work twice a week for the rest of my life as well as maintain my weight workouts.”

3) “I’m going to eliminate junk food and eat more healthfully for the rest of my life.”
Achieve those goals and not only will you improve your physique, but you’ll also make a big improvement in the supreme priority—your health—and stay youthful as you age.

—Stuart McRobert

Editor’s note: Stuart McRobert’s first byline in IRON MAN appeared in 1981. He’s the author of the new 638-page opus on bodybuilding Build Muscle, Lose Fat, Look Great, available from Home Gym Warehouse, (800) 447-0008, or

Instantized Creatine- Gains In Bulk

You must be logged in to post a comment Login

Leave a Reply

More in Over-40 Training