Over 40 Bodybuilder of the Week: Randy Leppala

Over 40 Bodybuilder of the Week: Randy Leppala! - Pics and info and more!

How Did You Get Started?

I didn't step foot into a gym until I was 37 years old. Approaching 40 years old and recently divorced I found myself feeling very fat and very much out of shape. I started dating a woman (who later became my wife) who worked out regularly. She was missing her workouts because of our dating so one day she dragged me into the gym with her. I never looked back...

I have been blessed with great God given genetics and have made gains somewhat easily throughout my bodybuilding career. When I started competitive bodybuilding it was at the urging of people at the gym who recognized my potential. I never realized in my wildest dreams how far this journey would lead me.

My goal in the beginning was to be in the best shape of my life by the time I reached 40 years of age. I accomplished that task by competing in my first show at age 39 and placed second as a bantamweight in the 1995 Mr. Minnesota show. In 1996 I placed first in the same show as a Bantamweight. At that point I started thinking about competing on the National NPC stage just to see how I would do. I figured if I didn't do it I would always wonder "what if?"

In 1998 I competed in the Mr. Minnesota show (which was then a drug tested show) as a Lightweight and finished first as well as taking home the Overall Masters title. Three weeks later I headed to Las Vegas to compete in the NPC USA show as a Bantamweight. My dream was to place in the top five and figured I might have a chance since there typically only about 9 competitors in the Bantamweight class. That year there was 18 competitors in the class and I was shocked when, as a first time national level competitor, I placed first in the class and did it with a perfect score.

Randy Leppala.
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Randy Leppala.

In 1999 I competed in the NPC Nationals and placed second as a Bantamweight.

I retired from the competition stage until 2003 when I competed as a Lightweight in the Over 40 class in the NPC Masters Nationals in Pittsburgh. I took first in the class with a perfect score even though I suffered a pinch nerve in my neck halfway through my contest prep which severely limited my training.

In 2006, at age 50, I again returned to the NPC Masters Nationals stage and competed as a Middleweight in the Over 50 class and competed against the younger guys in the Over 40 class as a Welterweight. I took home first place in both classes, again with perfect scores.

At this point I decided to quit competing while I was ahead. I had won four National NPC titles in four different weight classes and all of them with perfect scores. That accomplishment is unprecedented in NPC bodybuilding history.

What Workout Plan Worked Best For You?

While starting out I made the mistake the nearly everyone makes of working out too much and doing way too many sets per body part. I had some of my best gains using the philosophy of Max-OT training which involved heavy weight and low reps and limited sets.

The hard part about this type of training, especially for us older lifters, is the tremendous pressure it puts upon our joints and tendons. Sufficient rest between sets and workouts is essential for realizing the most from this type of program.

I am a big believer in: "More isn't better. Better is better." You don't have to do a lot of sets or reps to gain muscle. You just have to do it effectively. Get the most out of your workout and then get out of the gym. You don't grow muscle in the gym, you grow muscle when you feed and rest it outside of the gym. My workouts are limited to 45-60 minutes.

My workouts are typically compound type exercises and start with a fanatic warm up period to make sure the bodypart I am working is thoroughly warmed up to avoid injury. From there I proceed to the heaviest workout exercise as my body will have the most energy in the beginning of the workout.

I also typically only workout one bodypart per day and start with my strongest bodypart in the beginning of the week and transgress to smaller body parts as the week progresses. This habit follows my contest prep plan of lowering my carbs during the week and thus I typically had less energy towards the end of the week. A typical week would be:

Abdominal muscles are typically only done during contest prep workouts 2-3 times per week.

As I've gotten older I've also added higher rep exercises to my workouts along with low rep, heavy weights to give both my slow and fast twitch muscle fibers a good workout.

While heavy squats and deadlifts I feel were responsible for adding a lot of muscle mass to my frame they also become harder or impossible to do if you suffer from a bad lower back as I do. My chiropractor gave me the advice in 2005 of either to squatting or walking. I have since utilized heavy leg presses to alleviate pressure upon my spine.

Whether working out to gain mass or during a contest prep mode I keep my training the same. As heavy weight as I can do with high intensity.

Randy Leppala.
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Randy Leppala.

What Nutrition Plan Has Worked Best For You?

A proper diet is the most important factor in gaining muscle mass or losing body fat. I see way too many people in the gym busting their butts and making minimal, if any, gains in their physiques. 95% of the time the problem is in their diets and not in their training methods.

I typically eat a clean, low carb diet to help build and maintain my muscle mass and to help keep my body fat in check. In the past I used to eat a lot of food and bulked up a lot but found a high percentage of my bodyweight gain was fat and not muscle. Recently I have made a lifestyle adjustment to eat cleaner, which for me, means leaner and consuming fewer carbohydrates while maintaining a high input of protein sources at EVERY meal.

I'll typically have at least 6 meals per day and start off every day with 1/2 to 3/4 cup of oatmeal with 1 to 2 scoops of Champion Nutrition whey vanilla flavored protein powder. For my morning break and lunch I'll have a grilled chicken breast and during the afternoon (before my workout) I'll again have a bowl of oatmeal with whey protein powder to power my upcoming workout.

With 30 minutes after my workout I'll have 2 scoops of vanilla whey, mixed with Glutamine, some Dextrose, and 16 ounces of orange juice. This is followed by a solid food meal within an hour.

Additional meals or protein drinks are consumed throughout the evening as required.

Randy Leppala.
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Randy Leppala.

What Supplements Have Given You The Greatest Gains?

Whey protein is my main source of supplement. Out of all the supplements out there I still feel creatine is the most effective supplement out there.

Although you may not notice the effects of Glutamine as much as you would creatine I feel it is an important product in helping your body restore itself.

Why do you love Bodybuilding?

For me, bodybuilding has given me more self confidence and made me feel better about myself. Because I have always been short for my age I always felt inadequate because of my size while in school and sports and throughout my life. Bodybuilding gave me the opportunity to compete against people of my own stature successfully.

While bodybuilding can be a very selfish sport I also found satisfaction in helping others achieve their goals. This included providing nutritional, training, and posing instruction for many bodybuilding and figure competitors throughout the years. I also served as an NPC judge and traveled throughout the Midwest judging NPC shows.

In 2008 I also realized a dream to promote my own bodybuilding show with my wonderful wife Julie. The NPC Heartland Natural Classic proved to be a very successful show. However, the difficulties we experienced with the local NPC chairperson made it difficult to continue the production.

I have since then walked away from all facets of bodybuilding and only workout to maintain my own personal goals.

What Motivates You To Follow A Healthy Lifestyle?

Realizing that I can look and feel better about myself because of what I do gives me internal satisfaction.

Randy Leppala.
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Randy Leppala.

What Made You Want To Achieve Your Goals?

Setting a goal to be the best shape of my life by the time I reached 40 was my first goal. Since then I have tried to maintain short and long term goals to achieve. These goals kept me focused and consistent with my training and diet.

I often set my sights on a show over a year out and used it as motivation to eat right and train hard. I told myself that my competition was doing the same thing and if I wanted to do well against them I couldn't slack off in my quest.

What Are Your Future Bodybuilding Plans?

I have no further plans to compete.

What One Tip Would You Give Other Bodybuilders?

Learn to eat properly to achieve your goals. Above all, a proper diet is essential for obtaining muscle mass or losing body fat. Also have patience and realize that Rome wasn't built in a day.

Randy Leppala.
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Randy Leppala.

Who Are Your Favorite Bodybuilders?

I have always admired the classic bodybuilder frames of Frank Zane and Flex Wheeler. Their aesthetic look and posing style represent a look that is pleasing to the eye.

What Features Do You Use On Bodybuilding.com?

I am a frequent reader and contributor to the Bodybuilding.com forums, especially in the "over 35" section. The pages of Bodybuilding.com are packed with informative pages of information. If you can't find your answer on here, you probably don't need to know it! I also utilize my BodySpace page to track my progress and keep abreast of others in the fitness industry.

Randy Leppala.
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Randy Leppala.