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Over 40 Amateur Of The Week: Iron Workhorse!

Joe went through hell and high water to become a brute beast at age 42. See how he used every ounce of expelled energy to build a brickyard body!

Name: Joe Rubino
Email: jrubino@watsondwyer.com
BodySpace: jrub
Location: Crystal Lake, Illinois
Age: 42   Height: 5'5"   Weight: 178 lbs
Years Bodybuilding: 26

Q
How did your fitness journey begin?

I had two older brothers growing up who worked out in the basement. My brother Mike was overweight throughout grade school and junior high and started lifting regularly. I saw him go from an out-of-shape fat kid to Hercules. He started going to a real gym and I inherited the old Weider bench in the basement.

At age 16, my father bought me a lifetime membership at a health club and it didn't take long before I benched more than most kids at high school. My family has a history of large chests and backs. At age 18, I weighed 154 pounds and benched 360 pounds at a local YMCA bench meet. I powerlifted for a bit, but never got abs or the level of leanness I wanted. I have a very slow metabolism. I look at food and put on weight. However, the ability to put on weight is a blessing in disguise.

I didn't know much about nutrition in my late teens and early 20s. In 1992, an old friend who had experience living with professionals in California moved back to the Detroit area and we became training partners. He was really strict with his diet and I had never seen someone so militant about it. I asked him to put me on a diet and recall my words: "Tell me what to put in my mouth and when and I'll do it." He put me on a simple diet that consisted of 1000 calories of protein and 600 calories of carbs per day diet. It put me in the best condition of my life and I did my first show in 1992.

My friends thought I was crazy and thought I was smoking crack when my face started to get drawn. They didn't know what was going on underneath my shirt. I took fourth place. I came back to do the Michigan Novice in 1993 and won the lightweight class. I competed at the Michigan State in June 1994 and placed a disappointing fourth at 153 pounds. I decided to diet longer and did the Central States in September. I came in fuller and harder at 163 pounds and competed as a middleweight. I took third place and my hopes of qualifying for nationals were squashed.

I got depressed at that time and developed bad habits. Lots of bodybuilders were taking a substance called Nubain at that time, a synthetic form of morphine that was supposed to have anti-catabolic properties, but people got high from it. That was a gateway into harder things and I became a full-blown junkie and heroin addict from age 23 until 25. My all-time low was when I drove to South Padre Island for spring break with the crew and needed a fix so bad I drove to Mexico, only to end up in a nasty bathroom in a city off the beaten path away from the tourist area. I injected what I thought was heroin, but that turned out to be cocaine, and thought I was going to breathe my last breath. All I could hear was a loud ring and my heart beating about 300 miles per hour. By the grace of God, I'm still alive.

I lost my job running a health club and decided to move to Chicago, start over, and get away from bad company. When I was clean, I realized a huge weight was lifted and I made sure to stay in the gym. During my trials and tribulations, I was never a man of faith. I had small beliefs, but they were nothing like today. I know God kept me around for bigger and better things. The gym has always been my outlet, the place I went to keep me in line and out of trouble.

It took a long time to get my self-esteem back. I often wore long sleeve shirts so no one could see the track marks on the crooks of my arms from the needles. I had a decent physique, but was self-conscious about it and stayed covered for five years. After I cleaned up my act, I started work as a recruiter at a headhunting firm and remain there today. I'm now the general manager. I met my wife there and got married in 1999. I have a 13-year-old gymnast son who developed a back like mine and a 12-year-old daughter who's a musical wonder. I'm blessed beyond belief.

Until 2011, I lifted regularly, but without real goals. I ate whatever I wanted and blew up to 222 pounds with a 42-inch waist. In December 2011, my old training partner suggested I read about his workout, the principles behind it, and I gave it a go. I never sweated so much in my life. Three months later, I started to see a glimpse of my abs and my waist went from 40 to 36 inches. I got the itch. When the fall came around, my waistline hovered around 34 inches and I decided to compete again. I wasn't sure what my wife's reaction would be when I told her I was going to compete. The only thing she said was, "Better train those frickin' calves!" That was the affirmation I needed; the equivalent to Adrian waking up from a coma and telling Rocky Balboa "WIN."

I work downtown Chicago and commute daily by train. As a busy dad, when I get home from work at 6:30 p.m., training is difficult because of family obligations, so I have no choice but to leave on a 4:45 a.m., be on the gym floor by 6:30 a.m., and at work at 8:30 a.m. The minute I come out of the locker room and onto the floor, nobody trains as hard as me.

In March, I did the Mid Illinois Novice and was in good condition leading up to the show only to fail Bro Science 101 by trying last-minute tricks. My carb-up failed miserably. I was disappointed with my condition but thrilled about placing my fifth place out of 10. I dieted six more weeks and incorporated my version of HIIT cardio for the Illinois State show. With the show approaching, I reached out to my good friend Brian Melancon of C620 Nutrition, who was highly recommended by Layne Norton. He responded, had me send photos, and made suggestions that were golden.

Brian got me in the best condition I could ask for in the amount of time we had. He was a true blessing sent from above. I took second place and my longtime dream of qualifying for nationals became a reality. With Brian's help, I'm reverse dieting and am currently maintaining my weight about 7-8 pounds over contest weight and training my legs twice per week to bring up my hams, calves and glutes, areas that needs improvement.

What workout regimen delivered the best results?

The older I get, the more prone to injury I am, so I don't go heavy every session. When I do go heavy, my joints pay the price, but I do have a lower rep range day 2-3 times per month. I can't discount the results I made this past year by following a plan that revolves around pre-exhausting, time under tension, supersets, and being militant about resting only 30-45 seconds between sets.

Day 1: Chest/Back
  • Barbell Bench Press - Medium Grip Barbell Bench Press - Medium Grip

    Barbell Bench Press - Medium Grip

    4 sets of 10 reps; 1 dropset to failure
  • Superset

  • Incline Dumbbell Flyes Incline Dumbbell Flyes

    Incline Dumbbell Flyes

    3 sets of 10 reps
  • Incline Dumbbell Press Incline Dumbbell Press

    Incline Dumbbell Press

    3 sets of 10 reps
  • Resume Regular Sets

  • Cable Crossover Cable Crossover

    Cable Crossover

    4 sets of 10 reps
  • Butterfly Butterfly

    Butterfly

    5-7 sets of 10 reps
  • Superset

  • Straight-Arm Pulldown Straight-Arm Pulldown

    Straight-Arm Pulldown

    3 sets of 10 reps
  • Wide-Grip Lat Pulldown Wide-Grip Lat Pulldown

    Lat Pull-Downs

    3 sets of 10 reps
  • Resume Regular Sets

  • Bent Over Two-Arm Long Bar Row Bent Over Two-Arm Long Bar Row

    Bent Over Two-Arm Long Bar Row

    4 sets of 10 reps
  • Superset

  • Seated Bent-Over Rear Delt Raise Seated Bent-Over Rear Delt Raise

    Bent-Over Rear Delt Raise

    3 sets of 12 reps
  • Seated Cable Rows Seated Cable Rows

    Seated Cable Rows

    3 sets of 10 reps
  • Superset

  • Dumbbell Shrug Dumbbell Shrug

    Dumbbell Shrug

    3 sets of 10 reps
  • Upright Cable Row Upright Cable Row

    Upright Cable Row

    3 sets of 10 reps



Day 2: Legs
  • Leg Extensions Leg Extensions

    Leg Extensions

    1 set of 50 reps (pre-exhaust); 3 sets of 10 reps
  • Barbell Squat Barbell Squat

    Barbell Squat

    4 sets of 6-10 reps
  • Leg Press Leg Press

    Leg Press

    4 sets of 20, 15, 10, and 10 reps
  • Stiff-Legged Barbell Deadlift Stiff-Legged Barbell Deadlift

    Stiff-Legged Barbell Deadlift

    4 sets of 10 reps
  • Seated Leg Curl Seated Leg Curl

    Seated Leg Curl

    4 sets of 8-10 reps
  • Hyperextensions (Back Extensions) Hyperextensions (Back Extensions)

    Hyperextensions (Back Extensions)

    4 sets of 10 reps
  • One-Legged Cable Kickback One-Legged Cable Kickback

    Glute Machine

    3 sets of 20 reps (shown using a cable)



Day 3: Shoulders/Biceps/Triceps

    Superset

  • Power Partials Power Partials

    Power Partials

    3 sets of 10 reps
  • Standing Dumbbell Press Standing Dumbbell Press

    Standing Dumbbell Press

    3 sets of 10 reps
  • Resume Regular Sets

  • Cable Seated Lateral Raise Cable Seated Lateral Raise

    Cable Lateral Raise

    3 sets of 20 reps (each side) shown seated
  • Upright Cable Row Upright Cable Row

    Wide-grip Upright Rows

    4 sets of 10 reps (shown with regular grip)
  • Leverage Shoulder Press Leverage Shoulder Press

    Leverage Shoulder Press

    3 sets of 20, 15, and 10 reps
  • Superset

  • Triceps Pushdown Triceps Pushdown

    Triceps Pushdown

    3 sets of 10 reps
  • Push-Ups - Close Triceps Position Push-Ups - Close Triceps Position

    Push-Ups - Close Triceps Position

    3 sets to failure
  • Resume Regular Sets

  • Triceps Pushdown - Rope Attachment Triceps Pushdown - Rope Attachment

    Triceps Pushdown - Rope Attachment

    4 sets of 10 reps
  • Machine Triceps Extension Machine Triceps Extension

    Machine Triceps Extension

    4 sets of 10 reps
  • Machine Preacher Curls Machine Preacher Curls

    Machine Preacher Curls

    3 sets of 10 reps
  • Incline Dumbbell Curl Incline Dumbbell Curl

    Incline Dumbbell Curl

    3 sets of 10 reps
  • Concentration Curls Concentration Curls

    Concentration Curls

    3 sets of 10 reps (shown with dumbbell)
  • Incline Hammer Curls Incline Hammer Curls

    Incline Hammer Curls

    3 sets of 10-12 reps
  • Superset

  • Seated Dumbbell Palms-Up Wrist Curl Seated Dumbbell Palms-Up Wrist Curl

    Seated Dumbbell Palms-Up Wrist Curl

    4 sets of 10 reps
  • Reverse Barbell Curl Reverse Barbell Curl

    EZ-bar Reverse Curls

    4 sets of 10 reps (shown with barbell)



Day 4: Rest
    Day 5 Calves/Abs
  • Standing Calf Raises Standing Calf Raises

    Standing Calf Raises

    5 sets of 25 reps (each leg)
  • Seated Calf Raise Seated Calf Raise

    Seated Calf Raise

    4 sets of 6-8 reps
  • Calf Press On The Leg Press Machine Calf Press On The Leg Press Machine

    Calf Press On The Leg Press Machine

    4 sets of 10-15 reps
  • Hanging Leg Raise Hanging Leg Raise

    Hanging Leg Raise

    3 sets to failure
  • Standing Rope Crunch Standing Rope Crunch

    Hammer Strength Crunches

    3 sets of 10 reps (shown standing with cable)



Day 6: Legs
  • Barbell Deadlift Barbell Deadlift

    Barbell Deadlift

    4 sets of 6-8 reps
  • Leg Extensions Leg Extensions

    Leg Extensions

    1 set of 50 reps (pre-exhaust); 3 sets of 10 reps
  • Barbell Squat Barbell Squat

    Barbell Squat

    4 sets of 6-10 reps
  • Leg Press Leg Press

    Leg Press

    4 sets of 20, 15, 10, and 10 reps
  • Stiff-Legged Barbell Deadlift Stiff-Legged Barbell Deadlift

    Stiff-Legged Barbell Deadlift

    4 sets of 10 reps
  • Seated Leg Curl Seated Leg Curl

    Seated Leg Curl

    4 sets of 8-10 reps
  • Hyperextensions (Back Extensions) Hyperextensions (Back Extensions)

    Hyperextensions (Back Extensions)

    4 sets of 10 reps
  • One-Legged Cable Kickback One-Legged Cable Kickback

    Glute Machine

    3 sets of 20 reps (shown using a cable)




Amateurs Of The Week Main Page

Amateurs Of The Week
Main Page

Bodybuilding.com honors amateurs across all categories for their hard work, dedication, and great physiques. Learn how our featured amateurs built their bodies and hit their goals!
What nutrition plan fueled your body?
Meal 1
Meal 2: Post-workout
Meal 3
Meal 4
Meal 5
Meal 6
What supplement schedule gave you the greatest gains?
With Meal 1
Pre-workout
  • Driven Sports CRAZE

    Driven Sports CRAZE

Intra-workout
Post-workout
With Meal 5
Before bed
How did your passion for fitness emerge?

Fitness has always been in my blood. It was dormant for a long time until a new workout plan was introduced.

What/Who motivated you?

What motivates me lately is the thought of what I went through as a young adult. The thought of unfinished business drives me to be the best I can be today. Watching the original Rocky also motivates me to keep pushing.

Where did you go for inspiration?

I get thoughts of my father standing over me saying to "get up, let's go." He passed in 1999. At age 11, I had a newspaper route that my father helped me with on weekends. Not once did I call in sick or try to back out. He instilled a work ethic in me, personally and professionally, to never to half-ass it.

What are your future fitness plans?

I plan to spend the offseason bringing up my hams, glutes, and calves by training them twice per week. I plan to start my next contest prep with Brian Melancon of C620 16 weeks out. This time around, I'll be at most 10 pounds more than competition weight.

What is the most important fitness tip?

My biggest tip is to put your ego in your gym bag or locker. If the weight feels too heavy, it probably is. Go lighter and lift weight you can handle.

For young bodybuilders, there are no free lunches. You want to dance, pay the band. Hard work pays off, so be patient. Put in time and you will see gains. Don't let the weight control you.

Who is your favorite bodybuilder/fitness athlete?

Lee Labrada. I love the amount of muscle he showed at less than 6 feet tall. He has beautiful symmetry.

How did Bodybuilding.com help you reach your goals?

The encouragement I get from BodySpace members is terrific. It's a reminder to keep pushing. Layne Norton's info couldn't have come at a better time. His articles and videos showed that I don't know as much as I think. Most importantly, I wouldn't have met Brian Melancon of C620.

Competition history
1992 Michigan Natural - 4th Place Lightweight
1993 Michigan Novice - 1st Place Lightweight
1994 Michigan State - 4th Place Lightweight
1994 Central States - 3rd Place Middleweight
2012 Mid Illinois - 5th Place Masters 35-45
2012 Illinois State - 2nd Place Masters 40 and Over

Thanks
- To my wife, Kim, for putting up with me during prep, my mood swings,
  and my self-centeredness.
- To Bill Tocco for his support and guidance throughout the years. I couldn't have
  made it here without you, brother.
- To Brian Melancon of C620. Big things are in store, my friend. Keep at it!
- To Layne Norton. The info you put out there for everyone changes lives.
- Thanks to God. He's the master architect and has me right where he wants me.

Joe's Top 5 Gym Tracks
  1. "Scream and Shout" by Will.I.am
  2. "Rockstar" by Rihanna
  3. "Sad But True" by Metallica
  4. "Gonna Fly Now (Rocky Theme)" by Bill Conti
  5. "Burn It To The Ground" by Nickelback

Photo credit: Chris Benjamin


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Our Amateur Bodybuilder of the Week has the extraordinary qualities to endure the pain and discipline of bodybuilding. Enter here and win!

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michaelr575

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michaelr575

I love how candid this article feels! An individuals struggle with drugs is usually a very private and secretive affair, I am humbled by your ability to talk so openly about it. I spent a year "experimenting" a decade ago and am very happy and feel lucky to have gotten out of it alive and well. The gym helps me stay focused and motivated, not only in the present, but towards the future as well. Thank you and best of luck moving forward!

Aug 8, 2013 7:20pm | report
jdrub

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jdrub

Awesome that you overcame! Not many do, it's grabs you and pulls you into a black hole free falling! Good for you man, keep hitting it!

Aug 10, 2013 6:13pm | report
judge218

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judge218

A HUGE thank you for sharing your story. It is a testament that God ALWAYS has something(s) great planned for us. I too agree with you on the gym being an outlet and help you with staying out of trouble. God bless...

Aug 9, 2013 1:01am | report
jdrub

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jdrub

You're welcome. He is so good!

Aug 10, 2013 6:16pm | report
gutierao

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gutierao

The transparency you share your story with is very admirable. As a college student, I always think I'm pressed for time going 5X a week to the gym but here's a a great example of being able to make time regardless of an odd schedule. Keep it up! Good luck at nationals!

Aug 9, 2013 8:29am | report
jdrub

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jdrub

Thanks Bro, just keeping it real. When people say they dont have time. Im like, no time eh....let me tell ya about time!

Aug 10, 2013 6:17pm | report
brosiedon

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brosiedon

"put your ego in your gym bag or locker. If the weight feels too heavy, it probably is. Go lighter and lift weight you can handle."

Terrific quote. I see so many people at my gym "lifting" more weight than they can handle. Incorrect form. Potential injury, and a terrible rep count. Well said sir.

Aug 9, 2013 9:39am | report
jdrub

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jdrub

Yea, I always say that YOU control the weight, don't let it control you!

Aug 10, 2013 6:18pm | report
Unquit8239

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Unquit8239

Seriously inspirational dude, I'm getting out of an "experimenting" phase myself right now... Unfortunately, I'm a lot younger, so it seems a little hopeless to me, I don't know if anyone understands... but it's always a breath of fresh air to hear someone who not only made it out, but crushed it. Thanks for your honesty man, I bet you're a great parent!

Aug 9, 2013 9:43am | report
jdrub

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jdrub

Thanks for your sharing man, I know it seems hopeless, I found a two page letter I wrote in 1992, I was 22 about feeling hopeless and had the ***** everyone mentality. I tell ya, we all fall short, Im not the perfect parent, but I'm not the worst. Sounds like cheese but Stallone portraying rocky nails it here:

Let me tell you something you already know. The world ain't all sunshine and rainbows. It is a very mean and nasty place and it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it. You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. BUT IT AINT HOW HARD YOU HIT; ITS ABOUT HOW HARD YOU CAN GET IT, AND KEEP MOVING FORWARD. HOW MUCH YOU CAN TAKE, AND KEEP MOVING FORWARD. That's how winning is done

Surround yourself with guys that are driven that will challenge you to be better, hold you accountable to it. Feel free to reach out bro.

Aug 10, 2013 6:27pm | report
AHawley

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AHawley

As a recovering herion addict myself this is really inspirational. It gives me a lot of hope for a future of bodybuilding. Thank you!

Aug 9, 2013 11:16am | report
jdrub

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jdrub

Thanks man, there is hope for the sport, with educated coaches and a proper way to prep, the days of water depletion and hours of cardio are fading. I drank 1 1/2 gallons of water up until the day before.....I just needed to be a little leaner...point Im maklng is that the sport is changing

Aug 10, 2013 6:30pm | report
Mudvayne24

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Mudvayne24

Those are some ridiculous traps... I'm totally jealous. Keep beastin' it man.

Aug 9, 2013 5:39pm | report
jdrub

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jdrub

HAHA, thanks man HEAVY BARBELL SHRUGS..

back in high school there was a guy named Dan that had traps started at his ears. Worked out with him once in his garage just to find out and I subtly asked...so what do you do for traps? He goes to the squat rack and puts ungodly amt of weight on there and goes gonzo...not the best form but hey, from that day on it was heavy shrugs....admittedly not the best form...not the worst either. I went up to 435 last traps workout, used straps.

Aug 10, 2013 6:34pm | report
Samsdaddy0525

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Samsdaddy0525

Thank you for sharing your very inspirational story. And, best to you in your future.

Yes, only by the Grace of God!

Aug 12, 2013 3:09pm | report
jwethall

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jwethall

Amazing Joe! Very impressed my man. I also look at food and get fat. I've found that combating that with eating ALOT of fat and moderate protein while keeping carbs close to zero worked wonders for me. I strip fat very quickly and I get very vascular while staying pretty full. I do carb up once a week to keep thyroid and leptin up. Just something to look into.

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Aug 13, 2013 1:57pm | report
jdrub

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jdrub

Thanks Jwethall, Ive been doing the high fat breakfast per Ben Pakulski protocol but have been doing well with my macros pretty high

Aug 16, 2013 2:05pm | report
damandsave

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damandsave

Fantastic! Congratulations on your achievements. Very motivating for me.

Oct 5, 2013 11:26pm | report
jdrub

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jdrub

Thanks!!

Oct 19, 2013 7:17pm | report
Showing 1 - 19 of 19 Comments

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