I have heard this so many times on forums, and even more now that I live in the US. I myself have been told that I have no appreciable muscle mass, and therefore I should say nothing because I know nothing about bodybuilding. Those people may be right. When I started to workout with weights at the age of 29 I had no idea that, 30 years later, I would still be in a gym trying to achieve what I originally set out to do.
See, when I went into my first gym, it wasn’t with the intention of becoming Mr Olympia, or even a competitive bodybuilder. All I wanted to do was to look and feel better after abusing my body for too long with drink, drugs and everything else a 20-year-old does. I just wanted to be better than I was, and I still do.
My first gym had no free weights, just plated machines, and there was only 10 of them so me and my friend Mick had to be imaginative with our training. We trained 3 times a week and downed a pint of pure orange juice after each workout. (Remember, this was before the days of protein powders available at every store.) After a few years I upgraded to a better gym which had free weights and better machines. I put on some muscle, but not much, as I wasn’t interested in ‘bulking up’ . I really just wanted to look good. My eye was always drawn to people like Frank Zane, Bob Paris, Momo Benziza, Thiery Pastel, Shawn Ray, and Lee Labrada. These guys looked great, but didn’t walk around looking like an overblown potato.
During my years at this new gym, the age of food supplements began in earnest, so I decided to open a store of my own. With little real knowledge of these new miracle products, I had to read everything and anything about nutrition and supplementation, buying every book and magazine I could. As my knowledge grew I began to help guys that came in my store. I still trained hard and my nutrition got better. I knew I didn’t have the genetics to be massive even if I followed every rule in the book. I only had to look at a doughnut to put on 10 pound of fat so I ate healthy and trained hard.
Over the 17 years of owning my store I helped a lot of people with varied goals succeed in the gym. Whist getting older time began to take its toll and no matter how good my nutrition was, how hard I trained,being self-employed and working 7 days a week began to take its toll and I succumbed to other supplements. Now don’t get me wrong I was 46 years old by then so I wasn’t going to pump myself full of drugs. Being legal to take in the UK made it easy to get anabolics, but I still used such small amounts that they would be classed as HRT in the US. I wasn’t going to follow in the steps of Dorian Yates so I considered carefully what to do and, again, read every book and asked more knowledgeable people about AAS.
A year later I felt good and was cut to shreds. Although still only around 160lb I decided that next year I would compete.
One night in October my whole life fell apart. Whilst doing bench press my tendon connecting my left pec to my arm decided to detach itself with 300lbs on the bar. After a long 10 months, the surgeons decided they could operate, but told me I would never lift again and never have full movement in that arm. Luckily the operation went well, the tendons re-attached and I went through months of physio to get moving again. When I re-entered the gym I could barely lift an Olympic bar let alone put plates on it. I persevered, but as anyone can tell you who has injured themselves that badly, the mind is a strong thing in both good ways and bad. The fear of re-injuring myself left me using smaller weights and not giving it that extra bit it takes.
During this time I met my American wife and, although I still worked out a bit, my priorities changed. I got clean and life showed me something more than work and training. Eventually I let the store go and moved to the US and married her. With no immediate work I grew depressed and joined my wife at the gym until money became an issue and I stopped training. Doing so hurt so bad. For a year I didn’t care what I looked like and became a couch potato. I got a job eventually and rejoined the gym. My life had begun again. I began going to bodybuilding shows in my area and began to get the buzz back. Workouts became better and my nutrition recovered. Now I train in the gym every day with either weights or cardio and am really feeling good about myself at the age of 57. I hope to do this for the rest of my life, and will strive to become a better me than I am or have ever been.
This is aimed at all the guys on forums and FB pages that look down their noses at someone who weighs less than 200lb. You may be bigger and you may be better than me but you will never tell me I am not a bodybuilder. I probably have more knowledge than many but how I choose to use it is up to me. I don’t want to be the biggest guy in the gym, I just want to beat that guy in the mirror– the one who’s covered up and training like there’s no tomorrow. There are many people who have taken my knowledge and have done great things with it, and to them I say thank you for your trust in me.
So I think the question should now be ‘Why do you lift ?’
by Les Breen