Everyone wants the results, no one wants to do the work. This is a thought that all bodybuilders have when they are told by people everyday, “I just don’t know how you do it”, or “I wish I had the time”, or one my favourites “you’re so lucky to have those genetics”.... Ummm, false, false and false. I am anything but the average athlete when it comes to sport of choice, highlighted by my age when I discovered my passion for training at a competitive level. I want to debunk the myth that people hold that you can’t get serious about bodybuilding in your 40’s and share my personal opinion on how to be successful. Everyone assumes you needed to have started young, and if not, you’re a lost cause. Wrong.
When you imagine a bodybuilder, what picture comes to mind? Is it classic Arnold? Is it a modern day Olympian with cartoon proportions and tanned skin? Is it me? A 40+ year old female athlete, and mother of 2, having started this journey at middle-age? Likely, your answer is “no” to the latter. But you’d be wrong in concluding that I’m not a large portion of the norm. A significant sample of the athletes in this sport are 1) female, and 2) 40+ years of age.
True, this sport is generally dominated by much younger competitors; but it comes down to a few basics, no matter the age. 1) Commitment, 2) Discipline and 3) Consistency. I firmly believe you can start and continue this sport at any age, and I encourage you to do so. I was scared and unfamiliar when I began at 40 years old and here I am, proving folks wrong on the National stage and pushing through the common excuses and barriers…. and feeling AMAZING doing so. Let’s walk through the areas of common failure points, and a few mitigation tactics to remove your excuses and stresses, and find success.
First: Find Discipline in scheduling - We’re all busy in life in some form or another and as we get older and are building careers, having families and volunteering our time to various groups; our personal time becomes very precious. This is where the challenge is for most. Everyone “wants” it, but no one puts in the literal time. As a mother of two very active teenagers in sports, along with a busy career (where I travel a fair amount) trying to craft an appropriate balance of training and life can be crazy sometimes... or all the time. It requires commitment, dedication but most of all PLANNING!!! You’ve all heard that you should schedule your workouts if you’re struggling to get to the gym - that couldn’t be more accurate when you’re in a situation like mine. Just as you plan into your day/week/month to attend your kid’s activities, work and overall general life you need to plan in your workouts as well. It requires a delicate balance of the calendar and an unwavering commitment to following through. As an example, when traveling for work, I scope out the gyms in the area ahead of time. I’m familiar with their business hours and locations and leave no excuse available to stop my training program.
This is where most people who choose to compete will find it hard. Not only is dieting itself so difficult but when you have to plan and prep every meal alongside juggling your busy life, you have to be really organized. The likelihood that people will get discouraged, frustrated and give up is here. Meal prep, keep it simple, pack your food everywhere you go, prep it a week at a time, leave nothing to chance.
Second: Have self-awareness of your body and maturity - Bodybuilding at 40+ is considerably different than at age 25. In your 20’s, even 30’s your body responds well to change, injuries are less common and your recovery is significantly faster. Of course as you age, all of the previous mentioned are viewed by a different lens. As you age, your muscles take longer to change and grow, your recovery is slower and you can be more prone to injury. These are not hindrances by any means just something I’ve experienced, as may others. Get adequate rest, work with a coach to ensure proper form, weight and rep range and learn that your ego has no place in being successful in lifting. Rely on your patience and depend on cohorts and resources to build muscle, strength and discipline slowly but surely. Listen to and care for your body with nutrition, hydration and rest.
Third: Remove excuses - the formula to be successful at this sport is not a secret. You need to repeat the same positive behaviors, in the same order, every damn day. Commitment and consistency. With maturity, you will be able to take responsibility for your life and thus, the outcomes. When you understand what true discipline is and the level of laser focus it takes to be elite in this category every other noise will fade into the background and allow for you to reach the goal post without notice of others around you. ONLY with age will you find this skill!
When I started on this journey, I had no idea where it would end up, how I would feel, how it would change my life. I am healthier, fitter and feel the best in my own skin than I did when I was 20. An area which isn’t spoken of as often as I wish in this industry is the confidence and evolution of self which comes along with success and consistency in bodybuilding. Naturally, as you transition from your 20’s to 30’s to 40’s, you care much less of what other’s think, and how others live. When you take on a sport like bodybuilding, this process is exemplified and accelerated beyond what I can explain. I admire women who are fit, at any age, but it never dawned on me prior to this journey just what it means for one’s true inner self. The women who start/continue later in life to compete or just exercise to be healthy are the ones I have the utmost respect. For the most part, they have to take so much more into consideration to have all of the moving parts aligne. Finding a balance of life, motherhood, careers, social stigmas and self worth is an art and science which mature female athletes master. I’m very proud to be part of this tribe.
So what are the takeaways? 1) Strip down your goals to what level you’re willing to commit, to find discipline, to remove excuses and to stay consistent. 2) Don’t use your age as a barrier to start. 3) Take serious notice of the internal transformation physical output can bring you, and share this power with those around you.
I’m a testament that you can really can start at any age and continue to be fit in body and mind, however that looks like for you. That you can achieve some balance between life and sport, and that you can be the reason someone else chooses to start.………
So, go get it girls. I support you 100%!!!!