Amateur Bodybuilder of the Week: Renee Young

Amateur Bodybuilder of the Week: Renee Young! - Pics and info and more!
  • Name: Renee Young
  • E-mail:
  • Age: 54
  • Where: San Diego, CA
  • Height: 5' 3"
  • Weight: 115 Lbs.
  • Years Bodybuilding :2
  • Favorite Bodypart: Back and Legs
  • Favorite Exercise: For each body part I have one or two favorite exercises.
  • Favorite Supplements: Whey Protein, Creatine, Glutamine.

How Did You Get Started?

I could see my 50-year-old body aging, so I went to my gym to observe various personal trainers operating there. If I was going to invest my time, money and energy economically, I wanted to be trained as if I were going to compete. When I saw the trainer I wanted, and learned he competed in the Natural circuit-although I had no intent to actually enter competition-I enlisted young Ivan Higashi, as my "master and mentor". Under his regimen, in a matter of days, I could feel the changes in my body and in my mind.

Ivan fine-tuned my diet, started me on a weight program and let me continue the running I've always enjoyed, a routine which saw my body go from 28% body fat to 18%! Ivan suggested I enter a competition, if only to challenge myself. I was absolutely against the idea, but I wanted Ivan to continue to train me, to see if I could get my body back to where it was in my 20's or 30's. I finally agreed to enter a local bodybuilding event, in just the Grand Masters class, even though Ivan wanted me to enter Novice and Open classes, too.

Again, I told him NO WAY would I compete with younger people, only my age group. It was bad enough to get on stage to perform in a bathing suit. But once more, becoming ever more curious, I let Ivan enter me in the competition. When I took home a second place, I believed I was anything but hooked; I told Ivan I didn't want to see him for two weeks, as the strict diet and workouts had left me exhausted. I didn't even last two weeks. I called him in five days to ask if he thought I was nuts to go from a local competition to the Natural Universe competition. He said to do it, keeping in mind I may not place, but to use it as a learning experience.

Well, I entered Novice and Grand Masters, took 2nd in each, and then I was hooked!

What Workout Plan Worked Best For You?

I don't know if it's the best for me, but with my work schedule, commuting from San Diego to LA, I have only four days at home to work out. I work two body parts each time-like chest and biceps, or back and triceps, etc. I do some abdominal work every day. I vary my workout depending on how my muscles are looking and when I'm getting close to a competition, I may change the focus from light weight increased reps, to heavy weight low reps or upper sets.

My shoulders and arms seem harder for me to develop so I may even work them two days and forget my legs or back on occasion. It all depends on how I look in the mirror. And for me, maybe because I'm approaching 55, and have to fight the typical hormonal changes all women go through, I MUST do my cardio four days a week minimum for 45 minutes, and I increase this schedule to five or six days a week for 60 minutes going into a competition. This is crucial and most important for me personally.

What Nutrition Plan Has Worked Best For You?

My "on" season diet is chicken or fish, brown rice, yams, brussel sprouts, broccoli, green beans, asparagus, oatmeal and "egg beaters". Off-season, I try to allow my favorite foods only once or twice a week. I love a good filet mignon, apples, bananas, milk, Ben and Jerry's Cherry Garcia low-fat yogurt, but in great moderation. If I see my body weight climbing above 118-119, I pull back on my "treats".

What Supplements Have Given You The Greatest Gains?

From the time I could swallow a pill, Vitamin supplements have been part of my daily menu. Now I add Flax Seed and Soy because of the hormonal changes and hot flashes or lack of sleep. I also add extra Calcium and Magnesium to prevent Osteoporosis, along with Potassium, Glucosamine and Chondroitin, extra Vitamin E, Ginkgo Biloba, and Omego-3, (I'm always on the lookout for wild Alaska salmon), and I also take BCAA's, L-Glutamine, Creatine and Whey Protein. To my mind, and my body, I believe the whole package is essential.

Why do you love Bodybuilding?

Because at times it is all I can do to find the energy, both mentally and physically to do a workout, natural bodybuilding has taught me I'm more "whole," more fulfilled, when I respond successfully to its challenges. When I go onstage to perform and compete, it is such a reward the way other competitors, and people in the audience, react when they learn that I'm 54 years old!

I actually had a woman who was competing for her first time this past September, come up to me to tell me she and her husband were in the audience at a competition I was in earlier in the year. She told me they both nearly fell out of their chairs when my age was announced. In that instant, the woman said she told her husband, "If she can do it, I can". She went to the gym the next day and got a trainer and six months later we were competing together.

What Are Your Future Bodybuilding Plans?

In November 2003, I won the Gold Medal in Grand Masters Bodybuilding at the Natural Olympia in Auckland, New Zealand and 2nd place in Grand Masters Bodybuilding at the World Cup in Melbourne, Australia. At the Natural Universe competition in Hollywood, California, I placed 1st in Grand Masters Bodybuilding & Grand Masters Figure classes. I would like to do the same in 2004, and take the Gold at the Natural Olympia but take 1st at the World Cup. I would also like to place better than I did this year in both events in the Figure and Open categories in both the Natural Olympia and the World Cup.

The Australian and New Zealand Figure women are amazing, usually dominating the top spots. I placed 6th this year in Figure. I'd like to place 4th or 5th next year. I'd also like to place higher in the Open Women short, category at the Olympia and World Cup. I want to get better and better at the sport even as I'm getting older. And I think I can; if I don't, I'll still be a winner, physically and mentally, against the aging process. And that's no small thing, to me, or to you.

What One Tip Would You Give Other Bodybuilders?

Everyone's body is different. Each of us has different genetics, different metabolisms, different ways our body responds to diet and exercise depending on our age, different

restraints on our time to workout, and different backgrounds we bring to any situation. Listen to your body; get to know it and what works best for YOU in regards to diet and exercise. Your body will tell you what it needs.

Also if you have a trainer, stick to what your trainer tells you. Otherwise, you're foolishly wasting your money and his time. Very importantly, don't allow yourself the negative mind-set of comparing yourself to others, because we all are different in so many ways. Just BE THE BEST YOU CAN BE while trying to improve yourself and be proud of those improvements. Look in the mirror, nude. This is where you find the truth.

Who Are Your Favorite Bodybuilders?

I remember in the 80's seeing a book at Gold's Gym in Venice, California with Rachel McLish on the cover. I opened it to browse and every page had Rachel. I still have that book and often look at it. She was the first woman I saw who was strong, with muscle, but very feminine. It changed my 30-year belief that women who lift weights will look like men.

Corey Everson was another. She too, was strong, muscular and very feminine. Being that my body always responded so strongly to any sport, I had always been afraid to lift weights. So it took me twenty more years to pick up a weight and build my body, but I think of these two women as the trailblazers for strong, yet feminine bodybuilders. Some of today's women bodybuilders are down right scary to me. They don't look feminine and female anymore.