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The Rest of Draper's 40+ Advice

Here’s the rest of today’s Draper’s column:

Q. I am 49 and have just started bodybuilding. My biggest question is what
will my skin look like once I am built? Like most my age, my skin is
starting to sag. Will building help tighten it or will it just sag over my
muscles?

A. The same two truths mentioned above need to be reviewed.

The skin generally will benefit from the physical stimulation and the
circulation of life-giving blood offering nutrients and oxygen to its
tissues. Furthermore, system detoxification and its positive affect on the
body accompany hearty weight-bearing exercise. The skin is not the least
of the benefactors to this welcome gain. Health is improving before your
eyes.

Added muscle and tone from your bodybuilding can be expected to swell
within the skin and improve the age-related looseness. On the other hand,
the loss of excess fat might counter the skin-tightening effect of the
muscle. Don’t despair.

Remember this: If skin tone and wrinkles are the primary interests in your
bodybuilding quest, you might become disappointed and miss the grander
acquirements of the lifting experience. Given time, everything improves.
More often than not, most of the improvements are not what you anticipated
or sought: inner character strength, systemic health, bone density,
fortified immune system, balanced hormonal activity, improved blood-fats
and blood-sugars, and a general glow and structural rightness you’re too
close to see… and more are on the list.

Q. How long does it take to start losing the muscle you have gained, i.e.
when off for sickness or unable to get to the gym to train for a period?

A. This depends on the quantity and quality and maturity of the muscle you
carry on your frame, and on your genetic background. Those fortunate
trainees who are predisposed to natural muscle development will lose
muscle slowly. Sound muscle mass is basic to their structure. Those, like
most of us, who train hard for every quivering tissue lose muscle more
readily. Stay strong. Do not fret.

Lifters having dedicated several years to serious muscle building often
experience minor muscle loss in the first two to four weeks of forced
layoff. The tissues lose their general fullness and fitness from lack of
use and stimulation, a cause of undue depression, but regain vitality in
several intelligent workouts.

Unscheduled layoffs should be and often can be avoided. Make every effort
to assure training consistency, even if partial workouts or fewer workouts
per week substitute your full training regimen. One missed workout leads
to another and another and you fall into a training gap that is hard to
recall. Smart training sessions modified to accommodate special
circumstances, minor illness or injury work wonders to carry you along the
crooked way. Be creative. Be steady.

Q. I am a 47-year-old bodybuilder and have been working out on and off
since my teens. Are the older bodybuilder’s protein requirements the same
as for a younger bodybuilder? Or are they less than younger bodybuilders’
due to the slower metabolism that comes with age?

A. I suggest musclebuilders of all stages and ages accentuate their
protein intake to assure muscle development and tissue repair. The muscle
you’ve achieved over the years and your spirited efforts to continue to
grow hard and strong depend on a plentiful supply of those amino acids.

As the metabolism is not firing away as it did as a kid, it follows that
the system is not as efficient at absorbing and utilizing amino acids to
satisfy our bright and hopeful needs. The overall volume of food intake
might require down adjustment, but let’s keep the protein high, the
nutrient-packed carbs and the good fats fortified with essential fatty
acids medium. Get stronger every day.

Note: Protein is not toxic; you can’t get too much and certain amino acids
combine to provide energy.

Q. Is it to old to compete when you’re in the 40s?

A. Not if one wants to compete and assesses oneself worthy of the effort
and display. Folks compete successfully into their 60s, 70s, 80s at
lifting and physique contests arranged for their age group. Some of our
best champion bodybuilders have amazed audiences with their fine
development in their mid-40s and 50s.

Q. How can I make my face look as young and powerful as my body?

A. A strong visage often comes from the look of authentic confidence that
accompanies training and the qualities one acquires through the training
process. Strength in back, the courage to gain it and the humility knowing
someone around the corner is stronger and bigger exudes a powerful and
impressive glow of its own.

I’ve heard of facial isometric and isotonic exercises, but have not seen a
program outlined or demonstrated. You could design your own routine with a
little creativity – cheek-crunching and jaw-stretching and eye-widening
for x sets of x reps every other day for 15 minutes. I really doubt these
are worth the time and effort. Just think of the tense facial expressions
(exercises, essentially) we make throughout a tough workout or within any
given day. Our faces should be ripped.

Leanness, a goal of bodybuilding, is eventually realized in the face,
accentuating the bone structure and often translating into a rugged look.
Seek leanness through hard training and right eating.

In other words: Train hard, eat right and look tough.

Q. How do I begin exercise safely over 40 without risking health and
unnecessary strain?

A. The best way is to be a kid again… with an adult brain. Revive your
curiosity, playful spirit and willingness to jump right in without painful
self-consciousness and binding pride. Have fun and trust in your efforts.
This doesn’t mean make a fool of yourself or charge forward with unbridled
eagerness. It means use your energy, enthusiasm, heart and commonsense.

There are different ways to begin your over-40 training program. You can
power-walk in your neighborhood daily. As you are able, go longer
distances and add jogging to your walking regimen. Learn and practice
simple rules of smart eating behavior and consider future training plans
that include resistance exercise.

Join a gym, hire a knowledgeable personal trainer for three basic sessions
and apply his or her teaching regularly. Continue your wise investment,
knowing time and consistency will certainly bring you to your fitness
goals.

Training and eating right are not rocket sciences, and instincts, sound
thinking and simple observation will guide you along the way. Safe and
wise steps will unfold. Eventually, you’ll know yourself and your limits
and have the will and means to surpass them. Risk and strain and the
over-40 mentality will evaporate like steam from an old kettle on a
potbelly stove.

Q. What is the most important muscle group to work after 40? I think it
may be the legs since that is what hurts me the most.

A. You don’t want to neglect any muscle group and it’s true, legs get us
from place to place and contribute to our independence.

Something else: A decent leg workout provides systemic benefits. That is,
due to the mass of the muscles under load and the vast amount of blood
moved through the system, comprehensive enzyme and hormone activity takes
place and the entire muscular system is urged to respond, to grow,
accordingly.

Bingo. Leg training hits the jackpot.

Throw in some supersets – chins and dips, dumbbell inclines and seated
lat rows, bench presses and lat pulldowns to keep a grin on your face.

Q. Reducing body fat, losing lower abdomen fat and maintaining lean mass
whilst cutting: How do I do it? I need single figure bodyfat percentage to
show my abs off.

A. Have you tried chanting to Zeus?

This small miracle requires lots of time, patience, courage and
perseverance mixed generously with leg raises, rope tucks, crunches and
hyperextensions and a tad of aerobic exercise. Of course, the perfect
application of your basic musclebuilding movements from squats and
deadlifts to barbell curls and dumbbell inclines are a must. Don’t forget
to combine volume- and power-training sufficiently. There’ll be no turning
back, letting up or laying off… ever.

Now, about your eating habits and nutritional plan: Start with slabs of
protein, smaller meals frequently throughout the day… mmm… Why don’t
you have a seat, sit back and relax… it might be the last chance you
get.

Q. Can you ever get rid of cellulite on arms and body by doing aerobic
activity every day and lifting weights? Right now it seems like the more
I work out, the more 'baggy" my arms are getting, yet I know I am getting
stronger. Does this stuff really go away if one works out hard and long
enough on a daily basis?

A. Let’s just say that no other plan of attack will work better… or at
all. You face a monumental problem, if the loose skin on the back of your
arms becomes your only focus and reference for achievement. Your regular
smart training and right eating will continue to improve your health day
by day. Be confident of this.

Building muscle is your most important achievement. Train to build muscle
and fat burning will follow. Sometimes training intensity has to be
increased if one wants to see more impressive improvements take place.
Where moderate exercise is healthy, it might not be enough to affect the
changes you seek. You might consider increasing your set-to-set pace or
the amount of weight you use in each exercise or the level of input in
each set and rep. Supersetting exercises is a most effective training
method for muscle building and fat burning. Try HIIT-style aerobic
training (High Intensity Interval Training) for more dynamic fat burning
and cardio health.

Keep your training fresh and interesting, but don’t change it too often.
Never give in, never give up.

That’s all she wrote, skydivers. And I’ve been over-40 barely 23 years.
Youth is a good old friend, musclemakers; never let him go.