Over 40 Bodybuilder of the Week: Lou Salzano

Over 40 Bodybuilder of the Week: Lou Salzano! - Pics and info and more!

How Did You Get Started?

My dad had always encouraged me to workout so I started lifting weights in college and maintained a somewhat consistent regimen most of my adult life. I went to various gyms in Orlando, Florida and there were some real big guys at some of these gyms, some of who were natural and some who were obviously not. However, I never really got serious about bodybuilding until a couple years ago. I go to an LA Fitness gym in Orlando and quite a few of the gym members, who I have since gotten to know and have become friends with, are competitive bodybuilders. These guys inspired me to get more into the bodybuilding aspect of training/working out and as a result, I gave some thought to perhaps competing one day.

In spring 2009, I thought I would "mess around" and diet down to see how lean I could get with respect to perhaps competing some day. For about 16 weeks, I performed a simple cutting cycle, not really being too serious about the whole thing. By July 2009, I was getting a bit ripped and was somewhat satisfied with the results. So then in September of 2009, I made the decision that I was going to compete in a natural bodybuilding competition in the summer of 2010. My goal for the rest of 2009 was to bulk up and gain as much weight/muscle as I could and then start cutting in early 2010.

I did just that and went from about 168 lbs in September 2009 to a bulky 197 lbs in February 2010. Then in late February 2010, I started my cutting cycle, managing my diet very meticulously and keeping my training hard and heavy all the way up to the week before my competition.

I chose the INBA Sunshine State Classic Natural Bodybuilding Competition in Orlando, Florida as my first competition. I had some help from my gym buddies in preparing for the competition the last couple of weeks and this help was so beneficial to me since I had never prepared for a competition before. The contest was held on July 17, 2010. I entered the Masters class (40-49) and since I never competed before, I also entered the Novice class and was put in the Novice Short class. To make a very long story short, I placed 2nd in the Masters class and 3rd in the Novice Short class.

I was ecstatic with these results since this was my first ever competition at 48 years old. In the audience, I had the support of my family, friends, and coworkers and that made all my efforts and results that much more rewarding. By the way, my contest weight was approximately 155 lbs and although I was one of the smaller competitors, I had much better definition than most of the other competitors in my classes. Overall it was an awesome experience that I would recommend to anyone who is considering competing. For me, it's not a question of if I will compete again; it's a question of when...

Lou Salzano.
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Lou Salzano.

What Workout Plan Worked Best For You?

For the 6 months leading up to my competition, I maintained a pretty consistent training routine of mostly one body part a day and training 6 days a week. Training one body part a day allowed me to keep my training sessions short so I could fit my cardio in at the end of my workouts. I train early in the morning during the week and get in the gym by 6AM and perform my weight training first and then move on to cardio. I also ride my bike 3 miles to the gym every day I train. This allows my body to get warmed-up first thing in the morning before I hit the weights and allows me to cool-down post workout as well.

My philosophy on training is always train hard and heavy, even while preparing for a competition (except for the final week of course). Some folks are under the impression that while dieting down you should use lighter weights and do more reps. This can't be further from the truth. If you want to hold on to that hard earned muscle, you need to train for competition the way you train in the off season. My reps therefore are always in the 6-12 range.

The following is my optimum training plan:

A breakdown of this training plan follows:

Day 1: Chest/Triceps

Day 2: Back

Day 3: Legs

Day 4: Shoulders/Traps

Day 5: Chest/Triceps

Day 6: Legs/Biceps/Forearms

Abs:

Abs work is normally performed at least 3 days a week after weights. Inside the 4-6 weeks prior to competition, abs are performed everyday. Favorite abs exercises include:

Cardio:

Cardio is very tricky to nail down. You want to do enough to lose fat but not too much to lose muscle. Early on during my contest prep, I did High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) on the Stairmaster about 4 days a week for 20-30 minute sessions after weight training. Once I got down to the 4-6 week mark, I eliminated HIIT and went to Low Intensity Steady State (LISS) treadmill work of about 30-40 minutes after each weight training session.

Lou Salzano.
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Lou Salzano.

What Nutrition Plan Has Worked Best For You?

For my contest preparation, I came off a bulk cycle of eating approximately 4500 calories a day that consisted of 550+ grams of carbs, 350 grams of protein and about 80 grams of fat per day. I slowly dropped the calories/macros (primarily carbs and fats) periodically, along with adding in cardio work, to ensure optimum fat loss where I was losing approximately 1 - 2 lbs per week. For about the final 12 weeks prior to my competition, my caloric intake was about 2500 calories consisting of 250 grams carbs, 310 grams protein, and 30 grams of fat per day spread over 6-7 meals. Since I train in the early morning, most of my carbs were consumed early, around my workouts, and then tapered off as the day went on. I never did any carb cycling and never went below about 225 grams of carbs per day all the way up to peak weak. For contest preparation, I always consume complex, slow-digesting low glycemic index carbs.

The following is a typical day's meals for the 12 week period at 2500 calories.

Meal 1: 1 Hour Pre Workout

Immediately Pre Workout

During Workout

Immediately Post Workout

Meal 2: 1 Hour Post Workout

Meal 3:

Meal 4:

Meal 5

Meal 6:

Meal 7: Before Bed

Lou Salzano.
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Lou Salzano.

What Supplements Have Given You The Greatest Gains?

The supplements that have given me the greatest gains are those that are most basic:

Whey protein - whey protein gives me the fast digesting protein I need around my workouts and is loaded with amino acids. BCCAs - BCCAs are essential to helping maintain muscle mass, especially around your training sessions. Creatine - Another basic supplement that helps provide fuel to your muscles during hard, grueling workouts.

Why do you love Bodybuilding?

I love bodybuilding because I have complete control over how I look by the way I train and the way I eat. When I am training in the gym, I am in my own world and push myself harder to get the results I want. Most of the time, I have a training partner and I have to say that having someone around to keep pushing me was instrumental in training for my first competition. In addition, there's more to bodybuilding than just getting in the gym and throwing the weights around. I've learned that there is a lot of science involved, especially in the nutrition aspect of dieting down for a competition.

What Motivates You To Follow A Healthy Lifestyle?

I'm approaching 50 years old and I still find that hard to believe! I feel that I am in better shape now than I was 20 years ago and I know that I'm in better shape than most people my age and even a lot of people younger than me. Too many people in this country are overweight, thanks to the availability of fast food on just about every corner and the fact that most don't get enough exercise. I want to be the exception, not the norm for people my age when it comes to how I look and feel.

Plus, I'd like to be around for a while to be able to spend the time with my family and see my son's have some kids of their own some day. My father died at the young age of 55 and I missed out on having him around when I got older and had kids. I don't want my kids to miss out on the same thing.

What Made You Want To Achieve Your Goals?

I've set physical goals for myself in the past like lifting a certain amount of weight or getting six-pack abs. But then I decided a wanted a goal that wasn't easily achievable, a "lofty goal" if you will. I decided that competing in a bodybuilding competition would be a very lofty goal that many people may set out to do, but never follow through with. This goal takes training and diet consistency, lots of hard work and a level of commitment and dedication that few people can endure.

When I made the commitment and got down to the final few weeks, I got a lot of support from not only my family and friends, but some of the other gym members where I train as well. Some of these folks were my age, some younger, some older, but all of them were impressed by the level of commitment I was making and some even mentioned how I inspired them. I heard similar comments after my competition as well. Those comments helped me achieve my goals and made the final results that much more rewarding.

What Are Your Future Bodybuilding Plans?

Looking ahead, my current plan as of late July 2010 is to try and gain as much lean mass as I can before the end of the year, adding as much bulk as I can without adding too much fat. Last bulk cycle, I gained a bit too much fat and definitely ate too much, even though most all the food I ate was clean. Once the end of the year (2010) comes around, I will make a decision on whether I will compete in 2011. Next year will be a difficult year competing in the Masters group as I will be in the very top of the age group.

Looking further ahead, I am less than 2 years away from turning 50! So in 2012, I will look to compete in the Grand Masters class and will be at the bottom of my age group. I may just have to compete in a couple of shows in 2012, God willing. A friend of mine told me of his plan for him and me to compete in the 2012 Masters Nationals in Pittsburgh. We'll just have to see about that...

Lou Salzano.
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Lou Salzano.

What One Tip Would You Give Other Bodybuilders?

My advice to other bodybuilders is simple. If you want to become a bodybuilder or even just look like one, consistency, hard work and dedication is the key to getting good results. Lift hard and heavy, keep on a good diet and get enough rest. If one day you do decide to compete, remember that it is a commitment that you will have to stay with and it will not be easy. However, if you work hard and run the course, it will be one of the best experiences of your life. And one more thing, keep a good balance between your bodybuilding life, your family life and your work life. Bodybuilding is a sport/hobby and it should not take precedence over everything else that is also very important in your life.

Who Are Your Favorite Bodybuilders?

One of my favorite bodybuilders is Kai Greene. He looks incredible and I met him at the 2010 Europa Show of Champions in April 2010 in Orlando, Florida. Kai was taking pictures with the fans and signing autographs and was spending time answering any questions that were asked. Kai is definitely a super nice guy. I was lucky enough get a picture with him as well.

Since I am an older guy, two of my other favorites of course are Arnold Schwarzenegger and Lou Ferrigno.

What Features Do You Use On Bodybuilding.com?

I use the forums quite a bit and of course, spend most of my time in the Over 35 section. I also have a BodySpace page that I put up before my first competition to track my progress along the way. I have to say that I've had a lot of good comments and encouragement from other BB.com members. I also use the Supersite for all the great articles and well as the store for a lot of my supplements. I think that's everything, isn't it?!