Q & A From The Babyboomers - We Get Better Each Year!

Greetings Baby Boomers! Our mailboxes are filled to capacity with your questions, so we thought it was time to answer a few that hit upon some key baby boomer issues.
Richard and I continue to receive great emails from our readers. It has been increasingly difficult to answer them all, but we try. Remember we are both full time teachers and at times, particularly during midterms and end of the semesters, we are really busy.

We thought our readers would like to read our answers to some of the problems of other readers, since all of us baby boomers are struggling with many of the same questions and problems.

[ Q ] Dear Richard,

I have always heard that a person cannot gain muscle mass beyond the Age of 40-45. I am one of those people that have weight trained on and off what seems to be my whole life.

Now at 52, I have just had a BMI test done and the results were that I have had a fairly good increase in muscle mass.

What Is A BMI Test?
The body mass index (BMI) is a calculated number, used to compare and analyse the health effects of weight on human bodies of all heights. It was developed by the Belgian polymath Adolphe Quetelet in the course of working out his system of "social physics", between 1830 and 1850 (and is therefore also known as the Quetelet Index).

Overweight is defined as a BMI of 27.3 or more for women and 27.8 or more for men, according to the Nation Institute Of Health.

Calculate Your BMI.

Enter Height In Inches

Enter Weight In Pounds


I had been training with the intent to just not loose mass so I have had a pleasant surprise. What is your take on this?

Hank A
Augusta GA

    Dear Hank,

    Congratulations on your gains!

    My take is that you were incorrectly informed. There have been studies that showed people in their 80's able to increase muscle mass at a fairly impressive rate. It's just that the older we get, the natural testosterone and human growth hormone levels decrease that disallow our gaining as quickly and to the degree that is possible in our 20's and 30's.

    Keep up the good work,

[ Q ] Diane,

I have been a distance runner for 27 years. I am 51 years old. The last 2 years I have noticed too much sagging and not enough firmness when I wear my jog bra... yuk. I don't want to diet because I only weigh 107 lbs. and am a small frame 5'3".

Everything goes to my waist though. It never did before. I take 7 mg spray of DHEA 3 to 4 times a week and there is a good change in my hormone readings from the doctor so I will stay at those levels.

I also use a progesterone and estrogen compound from a compounding pharmacy but is there anything else one can do to stay firm? Most of my exercise time is spent running and competing. I can run 30 miles a week comfortably at this age. I have a marathon coming up the end of September and would like to do some weights to firm up the mid section and the arms.

You mentioned supersetting. What is this and would it benefit me?

Thanks for listening,
Jill C
Allendale Michigan

    Hi Jill,

    You've entered that dreaded era of menopause, when female hormone levels fluctuate rapidly and metabolic systems tend to slow down. Many women find themselves in situations similar to yours, where weight gain, failed diets and negative physique changes are common.

    However, you do have the ability to make a choice to fight some of the physiological changes due to aging and redefine the look of women in their fifties. Overcoming the obstacles on the path to physique development once over the age of 40 is difficult at best, but the rewards are sweet.

    Take a look at Margaret Smith, one of our Bodybuilding for Baby Boomers readers. Margaret 50, is shown here posing during a figure competition.

    Look for more inspirational photos of Margaret and her amazing weight loss transformation in an upcoming article.

    In your case, Jill, with current low bodyfat levels, a thickening torso section can be helped through diet and resistance training. Most runners consume large amounts of carbohydrates to fuel this activity.

    While ample amounts of complex carbohydrates will continue to be a necessity for you, a gradual and small shift towards a higher percentage of lean protein will be helpful to regain a trim midsection. Keep the brown rice, sweet potatoes and oatmeal as part of your daily nutritional intake while adding additional grams of protein through egg whites, chicken and whey protein.

    While making small dietary changes, the addition of resistance training will help build lean muscle mass while speeding up your slowing metabolism. You are not looking to add bulk because of your marathon goals; however sets of 12-25 reps with light to moderate weights will help with your physique transformation.

    Supersetting is a method of weight lifting that combines two different body parts in a long continuous set, without rest. Many lifters utilize supersetting to gain the benefits of pre-exhaustive techniques, as well as time efficiency.

    Gym rats often mistakenly refer to grand and/or giant sets as supersets combining several sets of exercises for the same body part without rest between the sets. This method of resistance training is also beneficial in making gains in a time efficient manner.

Superset Video Guide

View The Video:

Choose your version:

    For comfort when running or jogging try wearing two high quality sports bras at the same time.

      View High Quality Women's Clothing Here.

    Please keep me posted on the results of your next marathon through emails and pictures.

    Train hard and train smart,

[ Q ] Hello Richard,

I've read the article written by Aaron Whitten on forearms. What do you think about his opinion on wrist curls? He is against doing them stating they are more likely to injure the wrist then to build the forearm.

    View Aaron's Article Here.

There is logic in his reasoning, but still, I see everywhere that people say you have to do wrist curls to build up forearms. Like to know your opinion on this matter.

The Netherlands

    Dear Renato,

    All of the men I have known with impressive forearms have done wrist curls, and a lot of them. I, myself, have only had success in building forearms when I've focused on wrist curls. On the other hand, Mr. Whitten does make a good point when he says they can injure the wrists.

    In fact, I've recently dropped wrist curls over the bench from my workout. I still do standing (like this guy) or seated wrist curls with the arms hanging at the side.

    Click To Enlarge.

    Best of luck,

[ Q ] Dear Richard,

Please answer a few questions on soreness and recovery.

  1. Does muscle still grow even when there is no DOMS (soreness) after training?

  2. Can one still train when muscles are still a little sore (2 or 3 days after working muscles)?

  3. What is the least time needed to recover between training days?

  1. Yes. In fact, I consider soreness a sign that too much was done and damage has occurred to the muscles. I rarely ever get sore because I attempt to do what my muscles are capable of handling at that particular time.

    For instance, since last August I have been getting back into training after 4 surgeries. I have gradually increased the weight, exercises and sets, until now I am training almost as hard as some of the young guys in the gym who are competitive bodybuilders.

    I could not train like I am today a year ago. Rarely have I gotten sore because I gradually increased my training regimen while I also increased my supplements and dietary protein.

  2. Yes, but one should probably attempt to just get blood flow going to saturate the muscles with the nutrients they need to heal, rather than do all out.

  3. That is a highly individual thing that you can only determine by trial-and-error. I split my body into three parts (legs and shoulders, chest and back, arms) and train everything twice a week.

    A year ago I was only training three or four times per week. If I don't feel ready to go and fully recovered, I will skip a day or two. In other words, I try to listen to my body to determine how much rest to take between training days.

    Best of luck,

[ Q ] Ms.Fields,

I am a 58 year old female in good physical condition. I am looking for weight training information. Can you suggest any training books?

Thank you for your time.

Nancy Paul


    Certainly my section, Bodybuilding for Babyboomers right here on Bodybuilding.com with more than 75 online articles is a great place to start for training information. You can also check out my website, www.legendaryfitness.com for information geared toward the over 40 crowd that is looking to make significant physique improvements while minimizing the risk of injury.

    Several favorite training books include:

    I also like any books by Blair Whitmarsh. Gold's Gym also has several decent training books on the market.

    Good luck and keep me posted on your progress.

    Diane Fields

[ Q ] Hi Richard,

I wonder if you might give me some advise. I am new to bodybuilding/weight lifting. I am 53 years old and have been very active all my life; surfing, backpacking, working in the oil fields.

I began a program 28 days ago developed by Francesco Catano, basically five days a week that targets the entire body, I also run a couple miles about three to four times a week. This program has a diet that goes with it. I think I got that down pretty well. Ok, here goes the questions...

Will I be able to obtain a physique like some of the guys I see in magazines and on the web if I stick with it, at my age? I have tried those powders. Creatine, whey and powder egg whites, none of those sit very well with me, are they really that necessary? I have to admit that my mid section is very difficult to get rid of even with cardio and a clean diet, got any hints?

This first month has yielded very little change and really disappoints me but maybe I need more patience. When do you suppose real changes will take off? I try to go to failure when I can, unfortunately I live way out in a country town and had to make my own gym and no trainer or partner to spot me. Thanks for reading my e-mail I got my before picture and hope someday have a striking after picture.

    Dear Forrest,

    Congratulations on your active lifestyle. Now to the questions:

    Will you be able to obtain a physique like some of the guys in magazines and on the web?

    It depends on which guys you are talking about. Most of the guys you see in magazines and on the Web are taking illegal steroids or have been training and dieting strictly for years.

    I would hardly get discouraged, though, when you've only been on your current program for 28 days. Gains take time.

    As far as abs go, have you tried following our suggestions for 6 months to a year?

    Sometimes, as we age, the skin is not as tight as it used to be and the only solution is surgery.

    By the way, going to failure is not necessary to make great gains and even if you do use it, you should use it sparingly (too much tension on ligaments and tendons for us "mature" trainers).

    I've had to lower the weights on my exercises and have been attempting to recover from 4 surgeries, but I am getting in better shape by the week. You had it so right when you mentioned that it takes patience!

    Best of luck,

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 2005. 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.