I was looking through my favorite workout clothing catalogue (Athleta) and was surprised and delighted to see one of the legends of the bodybuilding world on the pages. Ernestine Shepherd is an amazing, inspiring 81 years young.
In 2010, Ernestine earned the title of the world’s oldest performing female bodybuilder. She isn’t currently competing but she weight trains 4 days a week and she runs up to 80 miles a week when she’s training for a marathon!
I sincerely enjoy watching her perform at such a high level and look forward to seeing news about her exploits when I’m reading my fitness magazines. I love that she’s doing her thing in the gym (and on the road) even though she’s not a spring chicken.
I’m not exactly a spring chicken either. One of the fantastic things about bodybuilding is that age doesn’t matter. It’s not like being a fashion model where you’re thrown aside at 25 or 30 years old. When it comes to the art of successful physique building, the older you are the more respect you get. I think it’s because anyone involved in the community knows full well how hard you have to work and how diligent and dedicated you have to be in order to get good results. That’s true whether you’re starting out at 15 or lifting into your 80’s like Ernestine. When I’m in the gym, I’m as likely to get a sincere compliment from a 23 year old as I am from a 70 year old. The longer you hang out in the fitness community the more pats on the back come your way…and that makes it a wonderful, welcoming place to practice your craft as you age.
As you know from my post yesterday, I spent some time this weekend playing around on the internet. I found my photo in a tattoo gallery and the caption writer was questioning whether I was a man going commando or a woman. Apparently, it’s hard for some people to tell because I found another photo of mine posted on a different website. The photo happened to be one of my favorites. I was number 13 in the gallery titled, “21 American Flag Bikinis To Celebrate.” The caption on the photo was quite nice…”Showing off the strength of America.” What I really got a kick out of was the comment section.
The last comment, that’s cut off in the screenshot was something like “What’s up with that dude?” It seems the consensus was that I look like a man who maybe looks like Michelle Obama or something like that. Was I upset? Not at all. I LOVE it. I felt the same way I did when a lady asked me if I did manual labor for a living because my arms were so muscular. I was amused…almost giddy with delight because it means my hard work is visible in the photo. I know the aesthetic I prefer isn’t for everyone and it makes me happy to think that someone noticed the results of my dedication enough to call me “gross” or a “man.” What’s the old expression?
That’s right! I must be over the target. BRING. IT. ON. The only bad part is that now I’m all revved up and wanting to pack more of that beautiful muscle on my frame. My workouts have been incredible the last few days and consequently, my entire body is sore. So sore. If you see me hobbling down the street, I might not be able to raise my arm to wave to you but I know you’ll understand if I just smile!
I’ve been working out on my Total Gym at home during the month of January. I’ve found ways to make it challenging and it’s been a fun change for me. The one and only sticking point I have is that I’m not able to do rows effectively with it. My back is quite strong and I tried to hold a 45lb plate on my lap to make it more challenging when rowing but it’s awkward and I gave up on that idea. I have other equipment at home that I use for rows so it’s not stopping me from giving my back good workouts.
I’ve been able to maintain a reasonable amount of muscle. I’m not very lean at the moment and that shows too. My lack of striations has everything to do with my diet and it’s easily remedied. I simply need to tone down my carb intake, increase my cardio a little and I’ll lean out. At this very moment, I’m happy and will stick to my current program for February. When March rolls around I’ll make the appropriate changes in my diet and cardio and that will ease me into summer bikini weather in a nice, smooth way.
My Total Gym workouts have been so enjoyable. They remind me of how much easier it is to get and stay fit when you truly enjoy your workout time!
I like to remind people, especially the ladies who want to tighten their physiques, that eschewing weights is ignoring a really effective tool in that quest. Doing lots of cardio without lifting definitely has some health benefits and it’s important for overall fitness but it doesn’t actually sculpt your body. If you do enough cardio, it makes you look like a smaller version of what you looked like when you started. Weight training adds the pretty curves and lines that make the critical difference in the overall look of your physique. Working to be slimmer is a good goal and can be accomplished with a concentration on cardio but lifting to add that beautiful muscle in the right places does wonders for your overall look.
(photos from Google)
I’m just completing week five of Jim Stoppani’s 12 week plan. So far, so good. I have a few thoughts regarding my experience so far.
I don’t know if anyone else would notice changes in my physique but I see subtle changes that I’m pleased with. I can’t say that I’m aware of a lot more muscle mass accruing but I’m most definitely seeing a tightening in my physique and a rounding of my muscle. In other words, I’m less stringy which is a step in the right direction.
The diet portion of the program is easy to follow. I get plentiful food and eat many times a day so I typically don’t get hungry. On the couple of occasions when I want to eat between meals (always after leg day), I eat a few nuts and that tides me over. The nutritional plan is built around a man weighing approximately 200lbs so I just cut the portions in half and that has proven to be a good way to handle the caloric intake for a person my size. This plan does not include room for “cheat meals” so I’ve added space for them on my own. Those meals usually fall on the weekend when my youngest requests pizza for dinner. I don’t deny myself a few slices. If I were planning to compete at the end of the 12 weeks, I’d forgo the cheat meals but that’s not on the docket so I think having one or two off-plan meals a week is just fine.
One challenge I’ve run into is that I don’t have heavy enough dumbbells at home to increase the weight on certain exercises. I’m currently doing 50lb one armed dumbbell rows and that represents the heaviest dumbbell I have. I’ve done rows with 60lbs in the past so I know I’ll max out my weight next week which is way before I max out my body. I’m currently seeking a solution to this problem. I don’t really want to buy heavier dumbbells unless I find some cheap ones on Craig’s list. I might have to make a stop at the gym just for that particular exercise.
I’ve subbed out a couple of the recommended exercises to make things easier. The lying triceps extensions posed problems for me. The dumbbells I have are large at each end and managing that exercise without hitting myself in the face or popping my earring out (yes, that happened) while maintaining proper form wasn’t working. I simply switched to another tricep exercise for that rotation. The incline bench press was a problem too because of the way my bench and bar are oriented. They’re welded together so I can’t scoot the bench farther under the bar which I needed in order to get the weight off the rests and into position. The rests are too far behind my head to get the weight up safely so I substituted dumbbell presses.
I’m enjoying this program. It’s a relief to let someone else to design and plan my workouts for a while. I’ve been creating my own for many years so this is refreshing. I’m looking forward to seeing what happens with my physique over the next few weeks.
It’s time for something new! I’ve been coming up with my own workout programs for 25 years and even though I was tweaking them and rearranging them regularly, the ideas in my head were just feeling stale. I decided to let someone else do the planning for a change. I went to Bodybuilding.com and found a free 12 week workout plan that seemed fresh and interesting. Yesterday, I started Jim Stoppani’s 12 week Shortcut to Size. Yes, of course, I’m looking for more mass as always. My body defaults to scrawny very quickly if I’m not careful. This program relies on periodization. In this case, it means alternating in micro-cycles between high reps (doing a rest-pause on the last set of each exercise), using lighter weight and low reps (doing drop sets on the last set of each exercise) using heavy weight.
It’s actually refreshing to have a prescribed program like this. I’ll have to personalize it a little to make it effective. I often workout at home these days and I don’t have access to a seated calf raise machine, for instance. That’s O.K. I can figure out the few little kinks while still relying on the program overall.
This program comes with a nutritional guide which I will also customize to fit my tastes. There are sound, scientific reasons for the amount of sugar (particularly after the workout) he recommends but I don’t like to spike my blood sugar. I’ll pass on the after workout big blast and cut down on the rest of the sugar a bit too. Since the program is designed for people between 160lbs and 200lbs I’ll adjust my food intake to reflect my much lower weight. I’ll just cut the portions in half (or just above half) for now and see how that works. I’m also not big on supplements. I’ll take the multi-vitamin and the protein powder but leave the rest of the suggested supps alone. In this plan, there are no cheat days/meals and as you know, that isn’t the Lynnie plan. I’ll stick to the guide carefully during the week then allow room for some deviation on the weekends. I actually like the food he recommends and it’s not far off from what I eat anyway so I don’t expect this part to pose any challenges.
Since I started today, the end date of the 12 weeks will be close to my birthday. I always take a birthday photo to document my physique from year to year so we’ll all see if the program produces results. If I look like a doughy, skinny wreck I’ll put the workout in the circular file and re-tool. Hopefully, I’ll be pleased with the results! At the very least, it’s a new adventure in my routine.
This was what I did today (day two of the program)
I find it amusing when people, especially women, tell me they don’t exercise because they don’t want to get “bulky.” Gaining muscle mass isn’t something that happens accidentally. It takes extreme effort and dedication to sculpt a physique that’s noticeably muscular and it takes incredible stamina and unwavering commitment to come anywhere close to resembling an elite body builder.
That being said, it’s that little bit of muscle mass that most of us can attain if we work at it that makes us look toned, fit, strong, more youthful and healthy. If you take time to educate yourself so that you lift properly, you’re definitely going to be on the road to a more pleasing physique but nothing you can do (even if you try) is gong to make you look like Arnold!
I get motivation lots of places. I heard this story on a news broadcast when it first happened and it’s one of those many illustrative events that I rest my mind on when I’m feeling personally weak and uninspired.
Most of us have challenges in life that nobody else really sees. We’re not in a stadium full of people who watch us overcome or who applaud us to the finish line. Nevertheless, it’s the personal strength and determination that I enjoy watching on display in this video. It reminds me to keep pushing. It reminds me that even if everybody else around me has already reached their goal, as long as I’m still putting one foot in front of the other, I’m in the game. It doesn’t matter how fast I’m going, as long as I’m still fighting.
A photo from 2011…
One of the interesting things about having photos from a few years ago is that I can do a side by side comparison and determine if what I’m doing today is producing reasonable results. I actually find it very helpful because I can see clearly if my current workout is allowing me to stay in the acceptable zone or if I need to amend my program.
If you never photograph yourself, I suggest you do so. You don’t have to show anyone. You can keep the photos entirely private but they’re a good comparison tool and can be used for effective self-assessment.