Over 40 Bodybuilder of the Week: Susan Wilkerson

Over 40 Bodybuilder of the Week: Susan Wilkerson! - Pics and info and more!
  • Name: Susan Wilkerson
  • E-mail: sue@fitnesscrush.com
  • Age: 52
  • Where: California
  • Height: 5'5"
  • Weight: 115 Lbs
  • Years Bodybuilding :10
  • Favorite Bodypart: Quads
  • Favorite Exercise: Leg Press
  • Favorite Supplements: Creatine, Glutamine, BCAAs

How Did You Get Started?

Soon after I turned 40 some friends invited my husband and I to come over for a pool party. The thought of wearing a bikini- or any bathing suit for that matter -- absolutely terrified me. I was the mother of three, and although I had been skinny all my life I was now what is called "skinny fat." No muscle tone. Gushy, saggy skin everywhere. Cellulite glued to my thighs. A total nightmare when the clothes came off.

Then I saw an ad for a Body for Life Transformation Challenge. I asked my husband if he would like to enter as an over-40 couple (he was in about the same shape as I was) and he was up for the challenge.

I embarked on a journey of learning while doing. We bought a weight bench and free weights for the garage and made sure we worked out at least five days a week. I did every type of cardio including HIIT and going to the park to run wind sprints. I took up karate and got my butt kicked three times a week.

I studied nutrition diligently and learned how to eat to maximize fat loss while adding lean mass. I also learned the importance of protein and other supplements to the transformation process and made sure they were a part of my everyday routine.

By the end of the sixth week I knew we were on to something. I started to feel firm and strong and saw muscles where there had been none before. The cellulite started to melt and the sagginess was vanishing.

The Transformation Challenge ended (we didn't win, at least not the contest!) and I found myself with single-digit body fat and not an ounce of cellulite to be seen. My back had definition, my biceps popped and my butt looked better than it had in my entire life. My husband looked amazing as well. That was the start of a new way of life for me. I continued my quest for knowledge and became a Certified Personal Trainer and Certified Specialist in Sports Nutrition. Already a writer, I started writing articles on fitness, bodybuilding and nutrition and have been published in numerous national fitness magazines such as Oxygen as well as on Bodybuilding.com.

Susan Wilkerson.
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Susan Wilkerson.

What Workout Plan Worked Best For You?

I weight train a minimum of three times per week and strive for five, usually doing two body parts per work out. Since I work full time and finding time to work out can be a challenge, I have learned to maximize my efforts by doing short bursts of cardio or crunches between sets. This way I get all of my ab and cardio work in while working other body parts. Occasionally I get my cardio by doing 20 minutes on the treadmill, setting the incline as high as it will go.

Day 1: Legs/Glutes

Day 2: Rest

Day 3: Shoulders/Back

Day 4: Chest/Triceps

Day 5: Rest

Day 6: Legs/Biceps

Day 7: Shoulders

Susan Wilkerson.
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Susan Wilkerson.

What Nutrition Plan Has Worked Best For You?

I do very well with five small meals per day consisting of lean proteins, complex carbs, nuts, seeds, leafy greens and fresh fruits. I try to stay away from all processed foods, sugars and sodium. Eating out can present a challenge, but I have learned to order "off the menu" to avoid the saturated fats, sugars and vast amounts of added salt. I love to cook, so preparing fresh, wholesome meals is joy. Favorites are chicken with artichokes, soy-ginger flank steak and lemon-garlic shrimp and scallop kabobs. Side dishes are usually baked yams or sweet potatoes, brown rice or whole-grain pasta tossed with olive oil, pine nuts, feta cheese and basil and of course a nice big green salad.

I will generally have one cheat meal per week, which may be tacos or pizza or a bunch of frozen things like taquitos and chicken fingers. There are times when a cheat meal does not appeal to me though and I find the thoughts of a nice spinach salad seeming very appealing.

Meal 1: Breakfast

Meal 2: Mid-Morning Snack

Meal 3: Lunch

Meal 4: Afternoon Snack

Meal 5: Dinner

Meal 6: Post Workout

Throughout the day I drink at least a gallon of water, more on hot days or when training especially hard.

Susan Wilkerson.
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Susan Wilkerson.

What Supplements Have Given You The Greatest Gains?

I take AST Micronized Creatine for every workout, in addition to Optimum BCAA's and Glutamine. EAS 100% Whey Protein has been my favorite for years due to its low sugar and calories and it tastes great. I drink Nature's Best Perfect Isopure everyday to ensure I get the protein. Occasionally I will use Gaspari SuperPump250 if I need a little boost of energy prior to a workout.

Why do you love Bodybuilding?

There is no way that at 52 I would look and feel the way I do without bodybuilding. It not only gives me health, it gives me a confidence in my body and in myself that I never dreamed I would have. And a by-product is that people ask me for help and guidance in reaching their goals. And when they do I feel like a proud parent...nothing could give me more satisfaction than that.

What Motivates You To Follow A Healthy Lifestyle?

I feel fantastic each and every day. I haven't been seriously ill in years and have more energy than when I was 30. Not to mention that bikini shopping (and wearing) is now a highlight for me! So many women don't want to tell their age. I want to shout it out to everyone and say "You can look and feel as young as you want to! A healthy lifestyle is the only lifestyle!"

I also love to help others achieve their personal goals of fitness and weight loss. Nothing is more rewarding than when a person changes their life for the better and you helped in some way. I became certified as a Personal Trainer and Specialist in Sports Nutrition so that I could have the knowledge and ability to train myself. This in turn has allowed me to help many others. I don't do personal training as a profession, never have, but love the opportunity the knowledge gives me to share it with others.

I am often amazed by people's perception that being over forty equates to being overweight and out of shape. Nothing could be further from the truth. You are what you choose to be at any age. If you choose to be in great shape and work toward that, you will definitely be showing the world that age really is just a number. Losing weight and adding muscle may not be as easy for a 45-year-old as it would be for a twenty-something, but anything worth having is worth working for. Make up your mind to do it and then git 'er done.

Long story short, it is all these things that motivate me to be as healthy and fit as I possibly can.

What Made You Want To Achieve Your Goals?

Being 40 and feeling like I was an old lady. I started doing karate and was huffing and puffing a few minutes into the warm up. I thought "this isn't right. I'm not overweight and I'm not that old." It was definitely time to do a major overhaul on the body and the eating habits. And I hated the thought of having to hide behind a cover-up at the pool or beach...that's no fun.

When I started I had no idea what the outcome would be, I only knew that I wanted to look and feel better as I got older. I lost my sister and mother to disease and I vowed to become as healthy a person as possible. I might not live any longer, but I would certainly live better. I really had no idea that bodybuilding would be so beneficial and become so addicting.

What Are Your Future Bodybuilding Plans?

While I have never competed professionally I would like to someday, maybe in figure. I just have to find a way to fit it all in my busy schedule. And of course I want to make even more improvements to my body...I want to look amazing when I'm 55, 60 and beyond. I want to inspire as many people as possible to embrace fitness and change their bodies and lives for the better.

Susan Wilkerson.
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Susan Wilkerson.

What One Tip Would You Give Other Bodybuilders?

Never doubt yourself. Set your bar high and always reach for it. Be flexible and make adjustments that will allow you to reach your goals without being sidelined by failure or unforeseen bumps in the road. Above all, praise yourself when you have accomplished a milestone. Achieving a high level of fitness takes commitment and you should pat yourself on the back once in a while. You are, after all, in an elite group of people who won't settle for poor health or an average body. Be proud of it!

Who Are Your Favorite Bodybuilders?

So many come to mind; old-time gals like Cory Everson and Rachel McLish who I've always admired, and younger faces like Ava Cowan and Jamie Eason as well.

What Features Do You Use On Bodybuilding.com?

I use everything. I write articles for the SuperSite. I have a profile on BodySpace. I blog and occasionally post on the forums. And I communicate with friends on Bodyspace on a daily basis to share encouragement, motivation, ideas and the love of iron. And I order all my supplements from the Bodybuilding.com store because you can't beat prices or the super customer service.