Questions & Answers From Babyboomers, By Babyboomers.

Learn how to keep making gains after you hit 40, what you need to know about carb cycling, why doctors recommend and more...
Questions & Answers From Babyboomers, By Babyboomers.

Dear Diane and Richard,

Being 56 years old and having competed naturally, I have noticed in the last 6-8 months that a carb cycling type diet seems to work much much better for me than usual same total calories every day. I was wondering if you had a program like this or what your thoughts on carb cycling were.

Much appreciated,
Jack C.

Hi Jack,

Many competitive bodybuilders and figure champions have had success using a carb cycling program. Low carbohydrate diets, while successful in terms of decreasing scale weight due to water depletion, decrease energy levels.

High levels of fatigue associated with low carbohydrate dieting reduce the optimal gains during a resistance training and/or cardiovascular session. Some people complain about feeling dizzy, lightheaded and/or fuzzy during periods where carbohydrate levels are low, but few realize that the brain, like other organs in the body requires energy in the form of carbohydrates.

To further complicate matters, during periods of zero or low carbohydrate levels, a process called gluconeogenesis takes place. During this process the lack of available carbohydrates for fuel forces the body to convert protein to glucose. However, when protein is lost during gluconeogenesis that hard-earned muscle gained during those muscle building workouts is lost.

Since lean muscle mass provides the strength for essential functional movements it is critical to set goals of gaining additional mass. Just how important is functional strength? Strength is the crucial variable that allows a babyboomer to live independently in the upcoming senior years. Moreover, in a baby boomer's battle to reduce the amount of muscle tissue loss due to normal aging, it is contraindicated to further reduce muscle loss through dieting.

At this point, Jack, you may be thinking it's in your best interest to avoid low carbohydrate diets at all costs. Not so fast, my friend! The reason that low carb diets are favored by many in the fitness field is the success in achieving a tight, muscular and vascular physique. In fact, the difference between a good physique and a great physique is probably found in a low carb diet.

Another issue that must be considered is the basal metabolic rate (BMR) which drops as a result of long-term, strict dieting. That dreaded plateau hits almost all successful dieters because of this drop in the BMR.

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Carbohydrate cycling provides an environment where you take advantage of the benefits of low carbohydrate diets in terms of weight loss, while sparing maximal levels of muscle while dieting.

In a zigzag fashion, carbs are cycled back into the nutrition plan before too much damage is done to that hard earned mass. It also helps many dieters stay motivated because the short, tough, low carbohydrate cycles last on average two to five days, followed by one or two days of higher carb intake. When a nutrition plan is cycled into short chunks of time, it is much easier for the dieter to hang in for another day or two, knowing that the rewards of higher carbs are just around the corner.

An important caveat to remember is that you must control both the quantity and the quality of the carbohydrates at all times. That includes the higher carb days. This is not a cheat day!

When you are adding in the additional carbs, please choose wisely - oatmeal, brown rice, melons and berries, and/or sweet potatoes will go a long way in achieving your legendary goals.

What Are Your Goals?
>Lose Fat
>Build Muscle
>Improve Energy

Richard and Diane

Dear Mr. Baldwin,

I have been at the iron game for over 35 years, as a powerlifter, bodybuilder, and strength coach. At my age (55), I seem to be able to maintain my size at 205 lbs @ 6'. But maintain is all I can do!

Chest is great at 48, thighs - 27, but the old arms are only 17. A young personal trainer at my gym said "forget it, at your age, you can't make any more gains in size, just stay in shape". Is this true? Thanks for your terrific section on


Your measurements are impressive for any age. At 55, most people who have been training most of their lives will find it much more difficult to make gains than someone just starting, yet it is possible.

You have to ask yourself, are you sleeping 8 or more hours per night, eating only nutrient dense foods (no junk), training at such an intensity that you are just able to recuperate in time to look forward to your next workout with the excitement of a teenager, making sure your stress levels are low, paying careful attention to periodization training cycles of your workouts so that your mind and body don't get stuck in a rut, and making sure your micro-nutrients are adequately present for the maximum biological environment for an anabolic state?

Food Nutrient Database
Find out how many grams of protein, carbs and fat are in the foods you eat, along with the full vitamin and mineral profile. This database contains data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service.
[ Click here to learn more. ]

If you answer is "no" to any of these questions, you won't find out whether you can make more gains in size until the answer is "yes" to every one of them.

Wishing you more size gains in the months to come,


I am 57 years old and about 50 lbs. Overweight. I tried the "Body For Life" training program but it was too much - sets & reps., for me.

I like your web site & there is a need for us babyboomers to get advice for our age. At the gym the young p.t.'s only know about exercise needs for 'young' clients. My p.t. trainer had me doing lateral raises for the med. Delt's with 40 lbs. & shoulder presses with 20 lbs…?


Hi Buddy,

Finding a personal trainer that has the qualifications to adequately provide a training program for a babyboomer is very difficult. However, the personal training industry is currently in the midst of radical changes in terms of accrediting the certification companies and creating a national standard of certification for trainers.

Currently, there is little regulation in the industry, but legislative action in three states that threatened licensing programs lead to the creation of the National Board of Fitness Experts, You can check out my article here on that details the current state of the industry.

In the meantime, Buddy, you need to get an education on resistance training, nutrition and cardiovascular exercise. Right here on Bodybuilding for Baby Boomers, we have almost 70 articles that will provide a solid foundation on which you can build. After reading the articles, you will have a base on which you can interview trainers and determine their qualifications to meet your needs.

Babyboomers Main Page.
This section of will focus on improving your physique through nutrition, cardiovascular exercise and resistance training.
[ Click here to learn more. ]

In addition to determining trainer qualifications, an education in resistance training will help you to develop an understanding of the physiological changes that you hope to achieve. Let me put it this way, in order to maximize the effects of a particular lift, you MUST understand the biomechanics of the lift and the effect on the worked muscle group.

Yes, you can get benefits if a trainer runs you through a routine, but you need to contract the muscle to the fullest. You need to understand the line of pull that places the greatest stress on the worked muscle. And you need to determine if an exercise is ineffective for YOU!

Many great workout books can be found on bookstore shelves to help you in your quest. A few of our favorites include, Dave Draper's, Your Body Revival, Blair Whitmarsh's, Mind and Muscle, and Gold's Gym Encyclopedia of Bodybuilding, for the wide variety of exercises.

Good luck,


Hi, I am a 59 year old female who would very much like to get some information about specific weight exercises to do to tone my body. I am 5' 6" and weigh 155lbs. I walk approximately 2 miles per day - some times more and I also do aerobics and palates 2 days a week.

Do you have a book of any kind giving guidelines to the proper weight training I should do to tone my body. I went to the doctor just today and he said that I should go to and I am hoping to get some answers from you. Thank you. My name is Sharon M. and I live in Lake Forest, California. I would greatly appreciate any help you can give me.

Sharon M.

Hi Sharon,

While we don't have a book out yet, we are working with to put out an e-book in the upcoming months. Stay tuned for details here on this site, through our newsletter, and our website,

First of all, congratulations for finding a fabulous physician who is sending you to the right source for information geared specifically to the needs of babyboomers. Here we will provide you with a source of information on resistance training, supplements, cardiovascular exercise and sound nutrition.

You are off to a good start with your physician's approval and an established routine of cardiovascular exercise. The addition of resistance training to your routine will provide many more benefits.

Not only will you begin to build lean muscle tissue, but also you will create an environment where you raise your internal basal metabolic rate. In essence, Sharon, resistance training will turn your body into a fat burning machine.

Now, I know that you mentioned "toned" muscles. This is a misnomer, as it is impossible to tone a muscle. But, you can build muscles. Many women mention toned muscles because they are afraid of piling on huge amounts of muscle mass like the current crop of female bodybuilders.

Achieving that level of muscularity is impossible for females without the use of anabolic steroids. Low levels of hormones in females make it extremely difficult to build small amounts of muscle mass. But, this should not serve as a source of frustration.

Remember, what you can't see in terms of definition should be realized in terms of higher levels of weight loss due to the rise in the metabolic rate.

Gains will be achieved quicker if you get on a sound nutrition plan and stick to it! Couple good nutrition with four, high quality resistance training programs and three to five cardiovascular sessions each week, and you will be well on your way to achieving your desired goals.

Train hard, train smart and make it a legendary week!
Diane Fields, Member. Legendary Fitness, LLC.
Richard Baldwin, Member. Legendary Physique, LLC.

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Copyright 2004. Diane Fields, Member. Legendary Fitness, LLC. All rights reserved.

The advice given in this column should not be viewed as a substitute for professional medical services. Before undertaking any exercise or nutrition program, Legendary Fitness, LLC advises all to undergo a thorough medical examination and get permission from their personal physician.