T Nation

RT_Nomad, How Do You Train?

Love the stories

How the hell do you remember all those little details, :laughing:

It wasn’t what I did. It was who I was.


Sounds like a Cybex Multi Hip machine.

1994 had come and I would face three changes in my perspective to competition.

  1. The first is that at 45 years of age I realized that I wasn’t improving enough to keep up with the Over 40’s in a national contest. I could make small incremental progress is some areas and some regressions in areas where injuries were holding me back a little.
  2. To this point in my competition I had never competed against another competitor who had noticeably used GH and insulin. This year’s Master’s Nationals I was up against a couple noticeably larger men. Though I took GH, I had never known the formula to add insulin safely.
  3. And lastly I was beginning to notice that the medial head of my gastrocnemius was wasting away from the ankle toward the knee. This became very noticeable. And the origin of my lower pecs was wasting away from my sternum. This was much less noticeable, probably to anyone but me.

I did my normal three or four contests that year, but I failed to place in the top 5 in the 1994 Master’s Nationals. I did get trophies in the lesser contests. By then I was only competing in Over 35 and Over 40 contests, for the very most part (maybe an occasional Open.)

I was healthy enough to train all body parts. My legs and back strength stayed strong.

Not much changed from this trend until 1997, when my whole life made an abrupt change…


I’ll skip Thanksgiving before I begin 1997. There is a training subject that I unintentionally skipped over - Pre-workout Stimulants

From 1968 through 1976, I never used pre-workout stimulants. In fact I never used any stimulants. As 1977 rolled around and a few guys were dieting for contests, I had gone to lunch after our Saturday post-workout meal at Morrison’s a block and a half down the road. Everyone was getting coffee, so I decided to give it a try. I added a tableside bag of saccharine to help me gag down the black stuff. It was bearable and as the weeks went on I had weaned myself down to not need any sweetener, and actually was growing to appreciate the taste of the hot drink.

I found that a cup of coffee was a great crutch between meals during intense contest dieting. (I also would occasionally eat a head of iceberg lettuce like an apple between meals just to feel something in my stomach.)

By 1978 (29 years old) I was using a mug of coffee as a pre-workout caffeine boost for some of my workouts. This continued until I turned 40 (1989), when I started always using coffee as a pre-workout boost. Soon thereafter I added ephedrine (I believe 25mg to start) to the caffeine boost. Because I had a day job (7:30am to 4:00pm) I usually had a tall mug of coffee with 25mg of ephedrine Monday thru Friday. We all worked out at about 10:00am on Saturday mornings. Then I would take 50mg of ephedrine with the tall mug of coffee. A few times I tried 75mgs but I felt like I was vibrating until about mid afternoon on those Saturdays. I gave that idea up.

A couple years later I heard that nicotine (I have never smoked) was a good pre-workout substance in low doses of, like, 2mg of Nicorette gum. It was suppose to have a glycogen sparing property that made fat burning more likely. But one problem was that your body down regulated very quickly. I decided to use it on Monday and Friday workouts. So, as I left work for the gym I had my thermos of coffee and a piece of Nicorette gum. What a shock that first time, after a few chews I felt like I was going to puke. I took it out of my mouth for a while until the puking urge past and put it back in. After a few removals and replacements the urge passed. I suppose the nicotine had left the gum. (I used the nicotine more as a pre-contest drug than a pre-workout stimulant.) On Wednesdays and Saturdays I did ephedrine and caffeine.

[I should add that the few years I powerlifted I used Biphetamine 20mg (Black Beauties) on the day of the meet. I took one after weigh-in and then one right after the Bench Press to be “amped” for the Deadlift. I never trained on Black Beauties.]

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The effects of age (onset of sarcopenia)? I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised, since you had pushed yourself to the limits of what was possible with your genetics. And in other sports, declines happen before age 45. But still, I am not accustomed to thinking about this kind of problem becoming evident in early middle age.

At the time I noticed the muscle wasting, I had no idea what was happening. I too thought 45 was too young to be noticing what I thought was a problem that only occurred in old age, over 60, at least.

The 1997 chapter of my bodybuilding life I am going to tell the story only giving you the information I knew as the year transpired.

I started 1997 with my sights on goals:

  1. The Southern States Over 40
  2. Working toward the first year I qualified for the Over 50 Master’s Nationals (1999)

The Southern States had become widely known as the 5th Nationals. It was always held in Ft Lauderdale, FL. A good many very good bodybuilders were there to compete in front of mostly National Judges.

If I am not mistaken it was held in July in 1997. I started, or I should say, continued training with the mind to peak for the Southern States. I was about 7 weeks out from the contest and noticed my strength was not quite what I expected and I didn’t notice the striations that I was usually getting this far out from the show. So I added an additional 78mg of Parabolan (I believe Parabolan came 78mg/cc). I had been using 1cc of Parabolan per week. And I added from 20mg of Anavar to 30mg of Anavar per day.

My strength was stable, but the striations just never materialized. By 5 weeks out during a cardio walk around the neighborhood (2 miles) I noticed that around my finger nails the skin was red and sensitive to the touch. I wondered what was going on. Was something bad wrong with me???..

I had no idea what might be happening. No matter how hard I dieted or added cardio the striations just didn’t get much better. I had decided to enter the Southern States regardless of whether I could get in my best shape or not. My workout partner was entering the Open and I wasn’t going to have him go it alone.

Side note: My workout partner owned the gym and also took trips to Europe to acquire our AAS, GH, and Clenbuterol. He went mainly to Spain and France. And mailed back boxes of stuff.

The day of the show, the best I could be, I was there to be weighed in. I weighed about what I had been weighing at weigh-in, so that was okay. But I definitely lacked the conditioning that I had relied on to beat the competitors that were bigger than me. I knew a few of the Over 40 Heavyweights and had beaten them previously. The show went on.

My posing music had lately been The Steve Miller Band, Abracadabra. I was about anything but “abracadabra.” I failed to place, but that was no surprise to me.

Back home I immediately got off all AAS’s. And went back to the gym as I normally would. It wasn’t much more than a week and I noticed my strength was dropping very rapidly. When I squat with even light weight my quads ached. Once they started aching they never seemed to ease much even a few days later. My behind the neck press strength was down to 135lbs and very difficult to get 10 reps.

Each week I was getting weaker and still noticed the redness and tenderness around my finger nails. It was the beginning of September, with me believing that I must have something like cancer, or who knows what. As much as I didn’t want to admit it, it was time to get a medical opinion.

I had an acquaintance in a small group of my wife’s friends who was a dermatologist. I thought considering my redness and tenderness around my finger nails, maybe the dermatologist friend might be a good place to start. I made an appointment…

Next post I will reveal the diagnosis…
(A few months ago I mentioned the diagnosis in another thread)


I’m sorry to hear you caught an illness here. Can’t remember reading about it elsewhere…

An inflammatory rheumatic disease? An autoimmune disorder? Not a paramalign phenomenon I hope?

Inflammation as part of a disease would definitely complicate musclebuilding, both in terms of direct response to training as well as recovery.

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There does seem to be an association between auto immune conditions and increased risk of sarcopenia.

The dermatologist friend I went to see also lifted weights. He saw me and I asked if he knew what might be causing the redness and tenderness around my finger nails. I added that I sure was getting much weaker in the gym. He looked at my fingers and pressed. Then he said hold my elbows up to the side parallel to the floor. He pushed them down. Then he said hold them at my side. He placed his hands on the sides of my elbow and said, now lift them to parallel.

He said he thought he had an idea what was causing the problem, but he’d like me to get a blood test first. He arranged a blood test and a follow-up appointment later in the week. I went straight to the lab.

The lab trip had its humor. I was at the lab first thing the next morning. I didn’t wait long before a lab tech called my back. She looked at my arms and said, “I don’t know if I can do this.” I looked at her like she was nuts. My veins were as big as a garden hose. I said no one has ever had a problem before. She said, this is the first time I have drawn blood on my own. I said, “Try not to miss the vein.” A ball of nerves she was, but managed to pull a vial of blood.

I went back for my follow-up with the dermatologist. He said that the blood test results confirmed his initial diagnosis. He wanted to see what my CPK (muscle enzyme) was. CPK is creatine phosphokinase. My CPK came back as 18,000 mcg/L. Normal is less than 200 mcg/L. It is an indication of muscle dying. His diagnosis was dermatomyositis. The finger tip redness was the “dermato”, an effected area of muscle is “myo”, and the weakness is the “sitis” or inflammation.

My dermatologist friend said that he did not treat dermatomyositis. He said he had a specialist that he would recommend who was a rheumatologist. He said that a rheumatologist would be the specialist that I needed for treatment. He arranged an appointment for me the next week.

I go to see my rheumatologist that week…

(Much happened between then and when I got back into the gym, and quite a bit is interesting. Some of the details of the events influenced my future decisions. Would you like me to continue with the details or skip over this?)


I am interested in hearing more.

Hell yea man! I think I speak for everyone when I say we want to hear anything and everything you are willing to share!!

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This reminds of when I was a kid and was watching batman and was left with a cliffhanger and they told us to tune in next week, same bat time, same bat channel

Keep the stories coming


I would like hearing more details. Shit happens that you can’t control, and stories about how people cope with that are worth retelling.

This does seem like a particularly cruel twist of fate: a guy with decent genetics, a passion for bodybuilding, and notable accomplishments in the sport suddenly laid low by a muscle wasting disease.

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Please continue!

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By all means, please continue!

When they were in nursing school, both my daughter and my wife practiced starting IVs on me for precisely this reason. When she heard about it, one of my daughter’s classmates came over to practice as well.

(It was a second career for my wife. No, my wife and daughter were not classmates.)