Become a Gym Vet

The sport of competitive bodybuilding is a game of adapting our training and diet to manipulate our physical appearance. As our bodies approach age 40 and beyond, there is inevitable muscle loss that will occur. Coupled together with the possibility of decreased testosterone production and ailing joints, there are a few things to consider when competing into your 30s and beyond. The following are a few important things to remember for ALL bodybuilders, but particularly those of us who have arrived at, or even passed through the 30 mark.

Train by Feel, Not Numbers

As you have hopefully passed beyond the need to throw obscene amounts of weight around, it’s important to realize that not only will you get better results from training by feel, but you will also tend to put less pressure on your joints. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still crucial to train to failure in the 6-8 rep range using compound lifts. Those types of lifts are important, but they are not the focal point of every routine. Use intensity-building techniques such as rest pauses or dropsets, to recruit more muscle fibers.

Train Around Injury

Let’s face it: injry risk increases with age. Furthermore, when you’re injured, it takes longer for you to recover and eight weeks out of commission is a lot more of a life-altering event now then it was in your 20s. When something hurts, the wrong kind of hurt, either train around it by doing exercises that do not cause more pain, or take off all together.

For example, I had some nagging tendinitis in my brachioradialis (forearm muscle) and doing hammer curls was unbearable. So, I swapped those in for standing alternating dumbbell curls, preacher curls, ez bar preacher curl and standing cambered bar reverse curls with light weight. For shoulders, I have a slight tear in my left shoulder and when it’s aggravated, I avoid all pressing movements all together. Focus on side/front laterals and rear delt movements. As for knees, not allowing my knees to come out pass my toes on squats takes the pressure of the part of my knee that gets sore. Also, a few minutes on the Stairmaster Stepmill is a good way to get the knee joint warmed up and ready for work.

Focus on Nutrition

At this point you have to learn exactly what effect certain foods and supplements have on your body. Meal prep and macronutrient counting become more of a priority since mistakes made in the kitchen can be hard to reverse with a slower metabolism Try using cinnamon and chromium to keep your blood sugar stable.

Time your meals according your schedule, for instance having fast digesting carbs as soon as you are done training. Keeping your diet as simple as possible allows you to switch one macronutrient to see what’s working and what isn’t. This way there are fewer margins for error.

Rest Your Legs Longer

It’s common practice for bodybuilders to back off training legs a week out from their competition, but this changes as you get older. Increase recovery time after a leg workoutleg exercises to 10-14 days. Intense cardio beats them up also, especially toward the end of prep, when you’re depleted.

If you notice your legs are flattening out and losing volume from a lack of training towards the end of a contest prep, do cardio that’s easier on your legs such as Wii boxing. It works very well to get your heart rate up without beating your legs into the ground.

Say Bye-Bye to Bulk

The days of gaining 80lbs during the offseason are over! Your skin and your organs can’t handle that anymore, if they ever could. Expanding midsections and stretch marks are not cute. Neither is hanging saggy skin.

You want to add size? Add two ounces of protein and two ounces of complex carbohydrates to each meal for four weeks. Eat big, but eat right. If that works, add a little more. Ben and Jerry’s ice cream never kicked anyone up a weight class, mostly just kicked a lot of belts out a few notches. Try to keep cheat foods to designated cheat days when you’re in the off-season. If for no other reason then, if you eat stuff you don’t need, you will be too full to eat the stuff you really do need when you need it.

Posing Wins Championships

Here’s one for those of you who still compete. One of the most important things about professional bodybuilding is the way you present all that hard work and sacrifice when you get on stage. You want to pose in a way that hides your flaws and accentuates your strengths. If you want to see those flaws and strengths clearly, take pictures of your poses and when you look at them, cover your face. Sounds silly but it allows you to be more objective. Now, you may want to enlist the help of a credible posing coach to hone in your routine.

Check out this video series lee labrada presents posing pro from bodybuilding legend Lee Labrada via our friends at FLEX for expert posing tutorials.

Don’t Get Rattled

If you’ve been competing for 5+ years, there is a quiet confidence that comes from knowing what you bring to the table. If it’s your first time, don’t allow yourself to get rattled. Nerves cause cortisol to shoot up, which causes water retention and all kinds of other unwanted issues. If you’re well prepared and you have done all the hard work, it’s time to enjoy the fruit of your labor.

The one thing you should try to do throughout the whole process is enjoy it. Include people you are close to an be patient and kind to those who are helping you.

Competitive bodybuilding tips hands and feet is a labor-intensive sport that requires a lot of self-discipline and determination; remember that you’re a volunteer not a victim.