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The Next Step: Senior Bodybuilding

They are rapidly taking over with their nose rings, combat boots, baggy clothes, and they do wear baggy clothes, those lazy attitudes and shallow aspirations. Yes, it's true Generation X is overwhelming, and their future looks mighty scrawny...

By: Curtis Schultz

They are rapidly taking over with their nose rings, combat boots, baggy clothes, and they do wear baggy clothes, those lazy attitudes and shallow aspirations. Yes, its true Generation X is overwhelming, and their future looks mighty scrawny. But, the future looks pretty pumped-up for our nations seniors. They are retiring out of the business suite, after 20 years of working behind a desk, donning on little Speedos, taking in the tanning booth, and spreading on posing oil for the competitive bodybuilding stage. And if that isn't enough work for them, they are throwing the chalk around, clanging 45 pound plates together, and setting American and World records on the competitive powerlifting platform.

The seniors of today are not just retiring and heading south for the winter anymore. No, they are heading into the gym and pumping some serious weight. Poundage's that would make a normal man or woman of 25 years young quiver and brake! In some cases, the seniors who are throwing that chalk and pushing up these tremendous poundage's are top elite powerlifters. Yes, you heard me right, I said elite. And these elite lifters are over 55! That's right, over 55, and getting more like 505! I am not talking age here either, but rather five hundred and five pounds. I admire the old muscle of yesteryear and respect the new muscle of old today. That may sound redundant, but it's true. I have the highest regard for the seniors that go on stage posing in front of hundreds of people in those little posing suites, and for those men and women of powerlifting who are in their sixties, lifting some extremely heavy iron, and sometimes out totaling me. Now, that's great!

Powerlifting and Bodybuilding

Powerlifting and bodybuilding training are very similar. But, they are as different and wide apart as the Grand Canyon too. What makes these two sports very beneficial to the senior is very apparent with benefits such as dedication, patience, timing, tremendous health factors, nutritional guidance, supplementation, generating muscle tone, and strength. Other benefits for seniors are the competition itself, making friendships, and the bonds developed as a powerlifter or bodybuilder with piers are numerous. The great thing about these two types of activities is you do not have to compete in a sanctioned event. Just lifting weights and maintaining either of these two activities in the gym is a tremendous health gain. If these are not enough reasons to become involved in the powerlifting and bodybuilding seen, then maybe the socialization, accumulation of new friends, and the self-esteem generated from accomplishments transpired through these two lifting sports are beyond what can be found at the work place or any bingo night. A lot, of your Master's competitors are church going also. The diversity of people you will meet is just, well, how should I explain...I got it, FUN!

Powerlifting

Powerlifting consists of three exercises in order; the squat; the bench press, and the deadlift. At a competition you are given only three attempts in each lift to record your highest attempt in those lifts and then record a total from those three best attempts in each category to establish a winner in each weight class. Powerlifting is done by weight classes; 11 for men, and 10 for women. There is a catch though, if you miss all three attempts in any of the three lifts, let's say you miss all three squatting attempts then you are disqualified from the competition and cannot lift any longer. Rest assure, it happens. Being a powerlifter is not easy, and the stress from the weights an individual experience through training is enormous. But, the self-esteem generated after nailing a 3 reps set of your 90% max on the bench press when your 3 weeks out from the state championships, or when you go 9 for 9 at a competition and win your weight class is beyond receiving that gold plated watch for 20 years of loyalty given to a company who, at times, didn't even know if you existed. Now, is the above more to your liking? I thought so.

The powerlifter is a breed of their own, an outcast of the gym, a mystique sometimes feared by gym owners and misunderstood by your recreational lifter in the gym. Why? Because, the powerlifter exudes emotional powers and an intense self-esteem that most mistake as being cocky, or a little crazy. And from normal individuals point-of-view they cannot understand the reasoning behind these grunting and emotional explosions, and they do not understand the mental focus you must have to lift all those 45-pound plates. I mean common, please be quite in the gym I'm trying to listen to the music, which is putting me to sleep. This is not why you became a powerlifter, or a bodybuilder. The goals that you will continually make and break in the gym through lifting and presenting a better physique then what you had 20 years ago is what lifting is all about. The emotion of living life to it's fullest. Being serious and dedicated to something that is just for you, and you only, are why powerlifting and/or bodybuilding are your new work. When you pull a record deadlift and set a new American record for the 60-65 age group in the 181's...Just sit back light up that fine Cuban cigar (If you smoke) and reflect on the fine day you just experienced.

There are several powerlifting organizations here in the good old U.S. of A., and here is a partial list of some of them. USA Powerlifting, formally the American Drug Free Powerlifting Association (ADFPA), the United States Powerlifting Federation (USPF), the World Natural Drug Free Powerlifting Federation (WNDFPF), the American Athletic Union (AAU), the American Powerlifting Federation (APF), the WPC, NASA, and IPF. Again these are just a few, the list goes on and on, and they all have a Master's division for men and women. In the USA Powerlifting organization their are approximately 1030 plus men registered in the 40 and over category with about 130 plus women registered in the 40 and over divisions. "The masters divisions is a continually growing field in powerlifting because the lifters of yesterday are finding themselves getting on in age" Explains Mr. Overdeer, President of the USA Powerlifting organization. "We always associate strength with youth and this is not always the case in powerlifting!" He also goes on to say that these master competitors are still making American records and breaking World records too.

Bodybuilding

And then there is bodybuilding. It is the most common expression in gyms across America and even in Europe. Where do you think Arnold "The Terminator" Schwarzenegger came from? It sure wasn't Kansas or the Land of Oz either. Bodybuilding is sculpting your body into a shapely, muscle assembled physique for you to place on view like a Greek statue from Mount Olympus chiseled by the hammer of Michael Angelo, or more to the point, chiseled by the iron and machines of your trade. The number of Master competitors that have engulfed the competitive bodybuilding stage is staggering. The number of Master competitors who are members of the National Physique Committee, which is the main body for amateur bodybuilding, number in the thousands. Not to mention the large numbers in other smaller organizations all over the country. Bodybuilding, in simpler terms, is performing different exercises for each body part for muscle hypertrophy, symmetry, and balance. Muscle hypertrophy is basically the means to increase your muscle volume or muscle size. This in-turn transforms your physique into Greek and Roman statues. And for you women out there, I would like to explain a myth to you. A myth designed by our society. You cannot and will not become a man if you become a bodybuilder or powerlifter. Remember, we all have muscle under our skin. Having muscles does not make a man, now does it ladies.

Positive training developments are cutting through the gridlock of aging flesh. These Masters of the iron are just that, and they have the ability to develop quality mature muscle and strength. How do they do it? By lifting free-weights in the gym and eating high protein nutritional meals. Nothing fancy, just old fashion determination and hard work. Becoming a powerlifter or a bodybuilder could be the two best weight lifting commitments for the elderly to get involved with. Why? Well, first there is the main reason and that is the development of a healthy lifestyle. As a powerlifter or bodybuilder you learn how to eat what is good for your body. This in turn develops better eating habits and healthier nutritional eating habits. And lets not forget the supplement's you are required to take as a powerlifter and bodybuilder. When we discuss supplement's we are talking about vitamins, minerals, protein powders, and amino acids. Many vitamins, minerals, and amino acids become deficient in our bodies because of aging. So, we must replenish these nutrients and odds and ends back into our bodies. Some of the other factors that hinder us when we get older are that we eat less, eat incorrectly, and for the most part, the majority of retired individuals regulate their movements to going to bingo. Now, I'm not saying bingo is a bad thing, but unless you win you don't get up much.

Benefits to Senior Women

Powerlifting and bodybuilding let you get involved with all facets of nutrition, muscle building and toning, anatomy, and much other interesting diversity. For women who might be hesitant in getting involved with powerlifting or bodybuilding you might want to re-think that, as weight training helps promote the prevention of Osteoporosis. Furthermore, for men and women, powerlifting and bodybuilding helps slow down the process of bone deterioration. I have personally seen several women over 50 start bodybuilding and make outstanding progress. Age is a matter of mind, and if you don't mind, it doesn't matter! The body has an enormous capacity for change. Your own personal levels of definition, flexibility, shape, strength, and muscle can undergo dramatic changes within weeks of getting into powerlifting or bodybuilding. These two areas of the iron kingdom are not just for you, but your whole family can get involved too. Powerlifting is a big family event. Whether I am judging or competing in a powerlifting meet I have always seen son's lifting with Dad's, daughters lifting with mom's, and master competitors bringing the whole entire family.

Most of us are all looking for the fountain of youth. Well, stop looking, it exists in all of us and it is waiting for you on the bodybuilding stage and powerlifting platform. Even if you never did any sports when you were younger, it doesn't mean you cannot achieve the ultimate in life and become a Masters State, American, or World Champion. Become more energetic with the zest of life shared between all iron pumpers...So, invade your local gym and retire into the Powerlifting Zone! Good luck, good lifting, and give me one more rep.

Retirement Competition
behind_the_iron@yahoo.com

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