T Nation

Do You Want to Reach Retirement or Die Young?


I have been reading on the forum for a few days and I am shocked to say the least. The number of people who take drugs or are going to start taking drugs to help them to get bigger and stronger for sports and bodybuilding is alarming. I will probably get called an old idiot but I don’t care. Here is my story for anyone who wants to learn.

I am a 68 year old man from England who started the journey into physical culture in 1961. I used to go to the local mall to look at the American bodybuilding magazines Muscle Power and the British Health and Strength one.

I was amazed at the pictures of Bill Pearl and Steve Reeves. I decided I would do all I could to look like them. I sent off for the Charles Atlas course. After doing all I could with it I decided that I needed weights. I was still at school so I didn’t have the money to buy them. My dad got me a chest expander but again it wasn’t good enough. I had to wait for five years to buy my first set of weights and another year to get my weider bench. I then joined a health club, which was few and far between in my country at that time. After training for three years my friend and I decided to go to the NABBA Universe in London. The year is now 1970 and I was blown away with the experience of it all. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Frank Zane and his beautiful wife Christine were staying at our hotel and actually eating at the next table to us. (Girls were natural in those days, no need for any type of drugs.)

Arnold won the Professional Mr. Universe and Frank Zane won the Amateur section with Christine winning the women’s figure contest.

I got back from the Universe and thought deeply about what I should do to improve my build. Drugs were starting to make their way into bodybuilding and I realized that if I wanted to compete I would have to bulk-up. I persevered for another two years and with supplements I managed to put on some weight but not enough make any real difference. Then one day a guy came to the gym with his manager. The guy was big and obviously on something other than supplements. There wasn’t much info around about drugs in those days, but we knew that all the top stars were on them. I made a big decision to stop trying to compete with the people who were serious about competing and just do it for the love of the sport. I have been a lover of bodybuilding for fifty odd years. I am saddened by the relaxed way in which people openly talk about injecting and doing cycles. I have never taken any sort of drugs and I am here to tell you to stop taking them if you want to make it to my age. I am strong enough and healthy enough to enjoy everything. I am happily married and now live in Thailand.

The only real health problem I have is to do with knee joint pain probably brought on by being a postman for 20 odd years and walking 40,000 miles. What I am saying is your joints are a weak point in weight lifting. Ronnie Coleman is a prime candidate. He has had many operations over the years through lifting too much. Don’t make it worse by covering up the pain with drugs. The bottom line is do you want to live and be happy in retirement or live fast and die young. Look at the statistics. Look at people like Trevor Smith and his Train to Failure system. People are training to death not health. I don’t want to list anymore names of people who died of drug use and abuse as they are online for all to see. Look in the mirror and see yourself as Soul and not just the body. You can get strong and stay healthy all your life without drugs.
I hope the moderator will put my post up and I hope people will take notice.

Be happy and live your life drug free.


Wow this came at a perfect time for me. After reading through the thread ‘whats strong for a natural’ I was actually a bit surprised with some of the members here that are happy to push through injuries and continue to use huge weights that can’t be good for anyones joints.

I understand that people lift for different reasons and that may mean putting up with a whole range of side effects but it still made me think.

I was actually going to make a thread asking the older folks on this side that have been lifting 40+ years how there bodies are holding up, if they had any regrets about pushing through injuries and just general insight from the more ‘well travelled’ crowd.

I don’t really have any opinion on the drugs side of things. I personally will never take them but I lift for health, longevity and career reasons.


@trooper48 can I ask what weights you were lifting back in your prime and if you ever had injuries throughout your lifting career?


Very interesting topic, and I very much appreciate your story and insight. I competed drug free for years, and now, in my mid-40’s, I’m feeling the effects of almost 25 years in the weight room.

Is it from being stupid?
Is it from improper techniques or diet?

Sadly it’s just how the human body works. Anyone who engages in anything repeatedly, especially any type of weight bearing activity, is going to feel some effects eventually. When I started getting the typical middle age lower back issues, my dpt brother informed me flatly that no one who has done “anything” makes it to their 40’s without a few aches and pains, most notably no one even semi-athletic escaping the lumbar disc stresses.

Does that mean we should live as sedentary lifestyles as possible? Of course not, but I do think a bit of forethought would do many people, notably gym goers, some good. :slight_smile:



Have you read CTs “4 seasons” stuff? I’m planning on incorporating some seasons into my training for exactly this reason.


My goal for many years now has been to maximize the integral of strength over my lifespan. That largely mean staying healthy and strong in later life, even if I have to sacrifice some short term strength.


Being “saddened” at the “relaxed” nature that people converse about these things is the exact problem in this kind of discussion. Drugs exist in this industry. It is a fact that is unavoidable. It is part of the sports we all love. It is built into the very fiber of it and keeping it in the shadows will only drive people to use improperly and dangerously. Take a look through the Pharma section what do you see in the responses? “You’re not ready” “that stack is horrible for you” “you can do X because it will effect X this way”. The more education experienced and safe users pass out to those curious results in A). people running safer and more logical cycles when they’re serious and B). weeding out those who are not ready for it. It will aid the ones who will use no matter what, or it will drive them away. Of course you are going to have idiots that don’t listen. But the amount of posts that end with the OP saying “wow thanks guys i realize now i am not ready, i will hold off for now” is honestly incredible to me, in the best way possible.

I have never taken any enhancers, I most likely never will. But if used properly, and with the most education and quality materials possible, what is the difference to you? There are tons of people who live long and healthy lives AND use enhancement because they did so properly. Steroids and PEs will ALWAYS be around this sport.

It is very simple to me, and this goes for ANYTHING in life: educate yourself as much as humanly possible. If you still want to and have the means to do so properly, then do it. If not, don’t. The more education about proper use the better. No need to hide from truths that we all know in the back of our mind are there.


Everybody ends up at the doctor’s office. Your just deciding if it’s going to be the orthopedic or the cardiologist.


Dear Irish,
I got up to 250 0dd lb on the squat and around the same on the bench, I
realized that by pushing to the limit that I was doing something inside
myself. They called it ‘Instinctive Training’ then and so I decided to just
train for myself and for the love of the sport and not for the 'Big Boys’
who were around at that time. It was all about image and is even more so
now. I joined the British Army after that (Airbourne.)
The weight training helped me a lot. I have never injured myself with the
weights because I never lifted heavy. Just do it for the love of the sport
and yourself and not the crowd. If you want the adulation and fame you will
be disappointed. Be your own man and you will enjoy health and strength for
life. Keep to the middle path as they say in yoga.
Best wishes,