This is dedicated to all of you who have been told time and time again that you’re “too old” to do something. Does that sound familiar? In reality, using age as an excuse not to do something is just a cop-out. If your heart, mind, and level of determination are in the right place, you can achieve absolutely anything at any age, as all older bodybuilders will tell you.
Let’s focus on bodybuilding. People often think it’s a young man’s or woman’s game, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Just like any other skill or craft, you can pick something up and become well-schooled at pretty much any age. Sure, you might have to work a little harder than someone younger, but it doesn’t mean you’re out of the loop.
What happens to your body as you get older?
The sad reality is that your body goes through physiological changes as you get older. Balance starts to become compromised, bones become weaker, muscle starts to deteriorate, and aerobic capacity begins to fade. Now that we’ve got all the negative stuff out of the way, let’s smile and talk about the opposite end of the spectrum.
People who are getting older are constantly advised by their doctors and caregivers to ramp up their workouts, pump some iron, and attend yoga classes. Hello! Not only can this help you age gracefully, but it can all but reverse the ill effects that age can have on your body. Even doing a baseline amount of training will give you benefits.
If you want to take it seriously, bodybuilding is definitely a worthwhile pursuit. If you’ve ever attended a competition, you will have seen that there is a Masters division geared towards older bodybuilders. Why not be one of those people walking proudly onto the stage?
Aside from the physical challenges you might encounter, there’s something else that older bodybuilders need to take into consideration. That is the changes in your body’s chemistry. Testosterone is the master hormone responsible for muscle gain and preservation, energy, sex drive, and mood. As men get older, this hormone starts to tail off, and that’s one of the big reasons why muscle goes away as well.
Women have this hormone as well, but to a lesser degree. The bigger problem they face is menopause, where their hormones start to change in correlation with the end of their menstrual cycles. This can lead to weight gain, lack of energy, sleep disturbances, and mood swings.
Sure, it sounds as though bodybuilding might be an uphill battle, but don’t be fooled. Where there is a problem, there is a solution.
First, let’s look at lifestyle. You can do a ton of justice to yourself by following a healthy diet geared towards boosting your energy levels and balancing your hormones. More specifically, a diet high in quality protein and healthy fats while low in processed carbs can work wonders.
It’s also a good idea to avoid large amounts of alcohol. Not only does excessive alcohol intake contribute to weight gain, but it also blunts testosterone levels and slows down your metabolism. You are best served by leaving the bottle of wine on the shelf.
If you clean up your diet, work hard in the gym and still struggle to get the results you’re looking for, it might be time to talk to a doctor. Find someone specifically trained in age management medicine. They can run tests, see exactly where your hormones might be lacking, and prescribe supplements and lifestyle modifications that will turn things around.
In case you’re not yet convinced that you can succeed as a bodybuilder at an older age, let’s meet Ernestine Shepherd. At the age of 56 she started training with her sister Velvet, both hoping to get into better shape for bikini season. Shortly afterwards, Velvet tragically passed away, leaving Ernestine to carry on the weightlifting mission on her own.
It became her passion to honor her sister, and she completely changed her life around. Through strict dieting, aligning herself with the right mentors, and spending a metric ton of hours in the gym, she won multiple bodybuilding competitions and schooled many women who were decades younger than her.
Her first victory was at 71 years of age! She’s even listed as the oldest competing female bodybuilder in the Guinness Book of World Records. If she can dominate her field at that age, why can’t you?
Follow your game plan
When all’s said and done, bodybuilding later in life is not out of the question. Just realize that you can’t get away with what you did when you were younger. You absolutely have to honor your diet to a tee and work as hard as you can on a daily basis. But if you follow the game plan, you can achieve the same type of success as Ernestine and feel fantastic while doing it.