Now as I recently mentioned the Laymen Steroid Guides 1V are on their way to the press, and that I wanted to explore ways to help the over 60s be able to get those muscles that they have always dreamed of. So as an introduction, I've pulled out this great testimonial by then 67 year old Alan Brown. It really is a great read and includes some great bodybuilding training routines, so here we go, and many thanks Alan...
"It's 27 October 2001 and I enter a bodybuilding competition for the first time. Big deal! Hey, wait a minute, it's taken me some 47 years, since I first put my hands to a barbell ... and I'm 67 years young!! In the words of a Kiwi friend of mine - "What kipt ya', mate?"
When I retired from work in Feb '99, my retirement present to myself was to go around New Zealand on a guided motor bike tour - EVERYONE should try it!! Fantastic country - God's own. Wonderful folk. Simply brilliant, but how do you follow that, being turned out to graze to the end of time? All those hours to fill and with parents who passed on at 89 and 93, my gene pool might suggest I'll go on for ever! I had always kept myself in good shape and had no health problems whatsoever. I've much to keep the old brain cells up to the mark - lots of interests, not least my singing with a prestigious amateur choir. There was still the bike of course, although doubts were already creeping in here, because of the havoc its riding position was causing to my old back bone and, I had to admit, I was beginning to lose my bottle anyway, becoming more accident prone. It could give me lots of fresh air, certainly, but not real physical exercise and I WANTED to stay really fit, to enjoy life to the full with my grand-daughter, born ten years to the day that my wife had died.
In fact, the very day she was born, I enrolled at a local authority fitness centre and took up basic weight training, after a lay-off of about 20 years. I had first hit the weights when doing National Service in the early '50's - 3 of us found a few weights in a bunker that served as a sports centre - and, when at home, I rigged up a makeshift barbell with a broom handle and buckets of sand! My brother bought a set of weights, to use in his bedroom until we dropped a loaded bar and cracked the plaster in the living room below. I went up to university in 1955 and found an almost unused weights room at the gym. You HAD to be a bit odd to do that kind of thing and I wouldn't dare to say that I was "bodybuilding", just weight training. I got started with Oscar Heidenstam's "Bodybuilding for Beginners", printed in successive issues of "Health & Strength", circa 1955 - pages which I still have today! Thereafter, wherever I worked - Corby/Kettering, Slough, Sheffield, Cambridge - I looked up a gym and trained perhaps once or twice a week. Nothing serious - it was just an interest. After all, I didn't have the potential to do much, did I? - certainly not sufficient to think of competitive bodybuilding. I scarcely acknowledged the fact that I was any kind of bodybuilder, just a guy who worked out for fitness.
There was a bit of a hiatus, involving meeting my one-and-only on holiday in Greece and courting for two years by holiday "commutes" between the UK and Denmark! Then, after we married, I returned to university for a higher degree - and we had twins. It wasn't until we came to live in Croydon in 1969, and the children got to school age, that I found my way back to a gym, just twice a week, as before. Back to that same beginners' course, in fact. I would have been about 38 then. I always say that it did my marriage a power of good, because I used to go home as horny as hell and my wife appreciated all the attention she got. BUT trouble struck after some two years of this, when I twisted my lower back very severely (from pruning an apple tree!!) and the various medics I saw said that I should never, ever, "lift" again. My old bones could take no more !!
But that was 1974, or thereabouts. Between then and 1999, I did no weights work and had several incidents involving problems with worn vertebrae, not least with my motor bike, but also as a result of too ambitious DIY or gardening. I always retained an interest in the Iron Game and bodybuilding in particular, so, come retirement, I thought I might venture back, cautiously, to training once more. In fear of doing irreparable damage to myself, I determined that I would do this only under the supervision of a personal trainer ... HA ! Some hopes ! I have now been through THREE such gurus, with little long-term guidance of any worth. This is a very real problem for an old 'un like me - keen to do things, full of commitment, willing to work hard and time to do so, but who can take such as me seriously? Who has EVER trained someone twice their age? Who UNDERSTANDS this old man's body, both structurally (as in weight training) and metabolically (as in diet/nutrition). I have yet to meet anyone who knows more than I do about myself.
The first guru writes for a well-known muscle magazine. I travelled to Birmingham for an assessment and, for a fee, he set me up with a Mike Mentzer-style ultra-brief schedule - single sets to failure stuff, twice a week, with a 5-6 meals a day diet sheet. The result? My early, rapid gains simply melted away and I was back where I started. And the diet nearly choked me, I almost had to push the food down with a stick!
The local authority gym lasted only a few months, being closed for refurbishment. However, I responded well to the basics and it showed ! Sometimes, I went for a swim after my workout and had young Dads asking me about my training; suddenly, I found myself called a "bodybuilder" at age 65 and it seems that I was an inspiration to a number of guys, who started back to training themselves as a result of seeing me. I moved to a local YMCA, with excellent facilities of all kinds and got taken in hand by a "fitness instructor" who nearly finished me off with the most horrendous heavy duty routines. Loads of CV, stretches, then four weights routines, each of which could take me up to TWO HOURS to complete, plus cool-down CV and more stretches. I got so tired, that I would fall asleep over my meal when I came home. Also, more and more things took me back to a physiotherapist or osteopath - like a torn rotator cuff and bursitis of the knees - I was falling apart!! Then, this young Turk had the cheek to say, "Well, I knew that if I had given that to anyone over 50, it would have killed them ... but I thought you were up for it !!"
Then to my second guru, who promised well, initially and gave me some excellent routines, with which I kept, more or less, for the past year, up to that show. He started me at my present gym - Muscle-FX, in Croydon - and got me to a good osteopath, to right the damage from working at the Y. But, I still experienced difficulties in coping with his diet recommendations. Sadly. this fellow had serious personal problems and had to give up training me; he was decent enough to return his fee - I miss his sure counsel.
Muscle-FX is a real hard-core gym and the guys there are so friendly and helpful. I'm probably twice as old as any other regular but I've so often been called "inspirational" and even "motivator" by youngsters who like the way I put my back into training. The gym manager soon suggested that I should consider competition but, somehow, I couldn't take this seriously. Then, trainer number 3 took over - he refined slightly what was already a successful set of routines and also brought up the possibility of competition. So, when I read about the Mr Hercules show to be run by Scott Horton and Terry Fisher at Colchester, I said I'd give it my best - very much tongue in cheek! However, instead of saying "Great!! This is what we have to do.", trainer no.3 sort of melted away and left me to get on with it. In consequence, my diet and attempting to cut back up to the day of the show was pure guesswork on my part; indeed, I got more help and ideas over the 'phone from Scott himself, than I did from my paid-up trainer. Actually, I all but chickened out but, while on holiday in Yorkshire, I sat in on the Mr Harrogate show and thought "Yes, I could handle this.." and the rest, as they say, is history.
The show was a fantastic experience. I went up to Colchester totally alone - didn't even have anybody to help me with oiling down, pumping up and all the other things you have to do before going on stage. Fortunately, I had had two coats of ProTan before hand, from a gym colleague and I can't thank Damar enough, for the time he spent with me, going through the compulsories and working out a simple pose routine for me to follow. May he do well at the All Stars show.
The camaraderie back stage was great and I had no nerves or stage fright whatsoever. When I went into my pose routine, the noise coming from the punters was so great that I couldn't hear the start of my music. Although well supported out front, it was a pity to see so few competitors - and I was with just one other Senior on stage a "young" man 21 years my junior and in training twelve years. Needless to say, I was second (i.e. last !) and felt such a fraud, walking off with a cup. But I was assured that it was well deserved; I was very flattered, even more so after the show, when I got mobbed by so many would-be wanna-bees about my performance. I learned A LOT from this first time ... and ... yes, I will do it again, God willing and a following wind. But, who can say what's in the offing, at nearly 68?
So, how had this come about? Setting aside the traumas of my first year back in the gym, my training in the 13 months up to the show has stayed very much to the same formula. Four days a week, each session - excepting Friday's quads/calves routine - preceded by CV warm-up, either on a treadmill (3 mins walk/5mins run/2 mins cool-down) or stationary bike (up to 20 mins), followed by stretches for the whole body. My routines followed the following pattern :
Monday : Chest / Biceps
1. Incline dumbbell press (1 x 15, 12, 10, 8)
2. Flat barbell press (1 x 12, 10, 8)
3. Machine flyes (1 x 12, 10, 8)
4. Barbell curls (1 x 15, 12, 10)
5. Reverse cable curls (1 x 12, 10, 8)
6. Ab crunches - chair (3 x 25)
Cool-down (treadmill - 3 mins) and Stretches.
Variations on above : Decline barbell press (4 sets) every 3rd week. Flat dumbbell press, super-sets with flat dumbbell flyes.
Tuesday : Back / Hamstrings
1. Pull-down to front (wide grip) (1 x 12, 10, 8)
2. Incline bench dumbbell rows (1 x 12, 10, 8)
3. Straight arm cable pull-downs (1 x 15,12, 10)
4. Hyper-extensions with dumbbell (1 x 12, 10, 8)
5. Leg curl (1 x 15,12, 10, 8)
6. Dumbbell stiff legged dead-lift (1 x 10, 8, 6)
Cool-down and stretches as above.
Thursday : Deltoids / Triceps
1. Cable upright row (1 x 12, 19, 8)
2. Forward raise with barbell (1 x 12, 10, 8)
3. Lateral dumbbell raise (1 x 12, 10, 8)
4. Incline d/b rear deltoids raise (1 x 12, 10, 8)
5. Triceps cable push-down (1 x 15, 12, 10, 8)
6. Narrow bench press - Smiths (1 x 12, 10, 8)
7. Ab crunches - chair (3 x 25)
Cool-down and stretches
Friday : Quads / Calves
1. Leg extensions (1 x 15, 12, 10)
2. Leg press (1 x 15, 12, 10)
3. Hack squats (1 x 15, 14, 12)
4. Seated calf raise (1 x 15, 14, 12)
5. Standing calf raise (1 x 10, 10, 10)
Cool-down and stretches