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Over 40 Bodybuilder of the Week: Gordon LaVelle

Over 40 Bodybuilder of the Week: Gordon LaVelle! - Pics and info and more!

  • Name: Gordon LaVelle
  • E-mail:
  • Age: 40
  • Where: California
  • Height: 6'
  • Weight: 235
  • Years Bodybuilding :25
  • Favorite Bodypart: None
  • Favorite Exercise: None
  • Favorite Supplements: Creatine

How Did You Get Started?

I was always very athletic, and was interested in sports and exercise going back as far as I can remember. I had particular interest in individual feats of strength and endurance. I played organized sports until about the age of 15, when I took the weight training class that my high school offered.

Although it was an organized class, there was no real instruction. They just turned us loose in the weight room. I didn't have the foggiest idea what I was doing, but I was nevertheless able to add a few pounds of muscle. That got me hooked. I left organized sports behind, and concentrated on solo weight training. I've been lifting consistently ever since. I later competed, and did very well in NPC contests. I retired from competition in 1996.

Gordon Lavelle.
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Gordon Lavelle.

What Workout Plan Worked Best For You?

The following is my current training regiment. For each exercise, 1-4 warm-up sets are performed, followed by a single high-intensity set (taken to or beyond failure).

Day One: Quads

Day Two: Chest And Triceps

Day Three: Rest

Day Four: Back And Abs

Day Five: Hamstrings, Glutes, Inner Thighs

Day Six: Rest

Day Seven: Shoulders

Day Eight: Biceps, Abs, Lower Back, And Calves

Day Nine: Rest

Gordon Lavelle.
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Gordon Lavelle.

What Nutrition Plan Has Worked Best For You?

I never follow a hard-and-fast nutritional plan. However, I do follow my own set of general guidelines:

1. Eat Enough Protein

    A generally accepted rule-of-thumb is that bodybuilders should eat one gram of protein daily for each pound of bodyweight. Some have disputed this claim, saying that such an intake is excessive (while others advocate eating a far greater amount). Whatever the case, many have built a high degree of muscle mass by following this rule.

2. Several Meals

    Eat several meals at even intervals throughout the day. The human body can only metabolize so much protein at a time. If the subject weighs 200 pounds, using the above guideline he will be consuming 200 grams of protein per day. If he eats all 200 grams in a single meal, most of it will go to waste; it will be excreted, stored as fat, or burned as energy. On the other hand, if he eats six meals per day, averaging 30-35 grams of protein per meal, he gives his body much more opportunity to convert that protein into muscle.

Also, the most direct way to stimulate the metabolism is by eating. Eating every few hours keeps the metabolism moving; eating a small number of large meals slows down the metabolism, which will incline the body to store fat.

3. Macronutrient Ratios

    Allow for sensible ratios of macronutrients. It is reasonable to assume that a hard-training, 200-pound bodybuilder with a relatively low percentage of body fat can make good gains by consuming about 3200 calories per day. (Of course, there is a very wide range concerning what is ideal, depending upon the metabolic particulars of the individual; some will need more, some less). Since there are four calories per gram of protein, an individual eating 200 grams of protein per day will be eating 800 calories' worth of that macronutrient-or 25% of his daily calories. That leaves the other 75% to be distributed between carbohydrates and fats. It is sensible and effective to allow 60% of the entire compliment to be composed of carbs (480 grams; at four calories per gram, that's 1920 calories), the remaining 15% being fats (53 grams; at nine calories per gram, that's 480 calories). It can also be okay to reduce carbs slightly, maybe down to 50%, while bumping up protein and fats (to something like 30 and 20 percent, respectively).

4. Carbohydrates

    Carbohydrates are your friend. The carb-bashing of the last decade somehow found a solid footing in the bodybuilding community, despite the fact that carbohydrates are required to achieve full, hard-looking muscles. Low carbohydrate intake will cause the muscles to be flat and flaccid, and will make them weak. At the same time, however, all carbohydrates are not created equal.

Refined sugar should be avoided as much as possible, since it will quickly be used as energy or stored as fat. The intake of refined sugar will also cause uneven blood sugar levels, resulting in periods of very high and very low energy levels. It is best to favor the intake of carbohydrates that do not cause rapid increases in blood sugar levels. Complex carbohydrates tend to fall into this category, as do most vegetables and fruits. Refined foods, especially including those high in sugar, tend to raise blood sugar levels quickly-with a corresponding "crash" afterwards-and should be avoided.

5. Be Aware Of Your Diet

    I continue to be astonished by the number of aspiring bodybuilders that are unaware of the amounts of calories or macronutrients they are taking in. Worse still is the group of low-level bodybuilders that, even when preparing for competition, do not even know how many calories they are consuming on a daily basis. These people are almost universally dissatisfied with their results, and little wonder.

6. Be Consistent

    Proper nutrition is critical, but to get results, one must eat well; the less deviation, the better.

7. Water

    Drink lots of water. Muscle is 70% water. Plus, it's very healthy to do so.

8. No Cheat Days

    Avoid " cheat days." Cheat days, which allow for the consumption of large amounts of junk food (usually on a weekly basis), are not a good idea. They will make you fat. Some feel that they help psychologically. They do not. They hurt psychologically. The idea that it is okay to eat for psychological purposes opens up a huge can of worms. One should endeavor to completely disassociate emotion from eating.

Food should be viewed as a tool by which one can optimize his efforts and enjoy the best possible results. Falling in love with food or eating can only lead to bad things, food obsession not be the least of these. This does not mean that one should not enjoy his food. Food can be very enjoyable. This is why there are so many fat people in all but the poorest of countries. But there are other things in life that enjoyable as well. Focus on these instead. Being in shape is one such pleasure. To paraphrase a recent 15-minute celebrity, "nothing tastes as good as being in shape feels." Consciously planning a cheat day is tantamount to admitting that your emotions control you, rather than the other way around

Gordon Lavelle.
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Gordon Lavelle.

What Supplements Have Given You The Greatest Gains?

Creatine. This is the best supplement I've tried, hands-down. Creatine can give you added size and strength in just a few days' time. I also get the majority of my protein from whey sources, such as protein powders and even protein bars.

Why do you love Bodybuilding?

Ha! Define "love." I sometimes wonder about this myself. I've been lifting seriously for 26 years, so there must be something I love about it, right? Well, look at it from this angle: From a health standpoint, everyone should exercise, and everyone should lift weights. I adhere to this advice, so I lift weights. I simply took it to the next level, and use a strategy of training optimally designed to increase muscle mass.

Nevertheless, I really look at myself as being no different from people I know that concentrate on other forms of exercise, like running, cycling, or swimming. Weightlifting is just the type of exercise that suits me best, physically and psychologically. Thinking about it further, I would say that rather than bodybuilding specifically, it is exercise itself that I love. When I take breaks from lifting, I always substitute some other form of exercise.

What Are Your Future Bodybuilding Plans?

I'd simply like to keep doing what I'm doing. I have no plans to return to competition. I'm frequently asked about this. My response is that nowadays I just write books on the subject. In that regard, I suppose you could say that my plans include continuing to promote my first book, Training for Mass. I did want to leave some sort of mark on the world of bodybuilding, and writing a book seemed to be a good way to accomplish this. Beyond that, however, I feel very strongly about the material covered in the book.

Over the years I have gotten-and I continue to get-very good results from my training. At the same time, I employ a style of lifting that's unusual, one that contradicts conventional training "wisdom." The type of training I use has a strong theoretical foundation, it is without question effective, and it has allowed me to train for decades without mental or physical burnout. Yet almost incredibly, very few people know about or work out this way. I therefore decided to share this knowledge. I feel so strongly about it-that a style of training could be both extremely effective and almost totally unknown-that I wrote an entire book on the subject.

Gordon Lavelle.
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Gordon Lavelle.

What One Tip Would You Give Other Bodybuilders?

Intensity is the only important exercise factor for muscular growth. Realizing this and fully incorporating this concept into your training will give you the best possible results, in the shortest possible time, with the lowest risk for injury. Intensity is everything. Scientific research has demonstrated this-and this concept is the basis of my book.

If you perform typical (in other words, long) weight training workouts, your intensity will be limited. Long weightlifting sessions will most likely give you suboptimal or even poor results, they'll increase your risk of injury, and they'll probably leave you mentally burned out. If you never come to understand the importance of intensity-what it is how to apply it-and you never acquaint yourself with the theoretical foundation of high-intensity training, there's a good chance you'll end up disappointed with your results.

Intensity: Learn it. Know it. Live it.

Who Are Your Favorite Bodybuilders?

I tend to like the previous generation of competitors, those who competed before the virtue of humility had been largely forgotten-and before the aesthetic ideal of symmetry and balance had been replaced by the prevailing though mindless size-at-all-costs attitude. Curiously, both changes in bodybuilding-those regarding personal conduct of the individual, as well as those of aesthetics (which is after all the whole point of the activity)-took place at around the same time. It is as if the mindful segment of bodybuilding who favored the aesthetic physique, noting the change in what is rewarded at physique competitions, collectively moved to call it a day. The cause of this exodus seemed to coincide with the realization, which took place sometime in the 1990s, that bodybuilding would not ever be accepted by the general public, much less recognized as a sport. It was therefore doomed to exist on the fringes of public awareness, little more than a freak show.

Television ratings offer pure and honest testimony to this claim. Bodybuilding on TV is a rarity nowadays, supplanted on the sports channels by things like poker, and very noticeably by bodybuilding's upstart cousin, strongman contests. Bodybuilding, now left in the dark, shrouded from the public eye, shrugged its collective shoulders and got on with the business of (rather happily it seems) obliging the "freak show" moniker. This it was good at. It's now more a "cult" than ever. I would hope to think that some of the bigger names of the 80s and before, had they been born two decades later, would have nothing to do with it. These would be guys like Lee Labrada, Berry DeMey, Frank Zane, Bob Paris, Mohammed Makkawy, and even Steve Reeves.

However, my all-time favorite has to be Mike Mentzer, though not because of his physique. He was physically very large for his time, but his lines weren't particularly pleasing. He's my favorite because he introduced science to world of weight training. Though Arthur Jones formulated the basic concepts that Mentzer later refined, it was Mentzer who spread the word. Until those two came along, there was almost no scientific rhyme or reason behind the training routines of the typical bodybuilder-only the "Weider Principles" voodoo.

Mentzer was the man. This might sound trite, but his writings changed my life. Unfortunately he and his ideas were-and continue to be-the victims of the worst collective marketing campaign the world of bodybuilding has ever known. His teachings therefore never really took hold, and to this day very people know who he is, much less what his ideas were. What we've been left with, then, is an army of people who devote countless hours to the pursuit of building muscle-who are nonetheless unaware of the single most important factor required for muscular growth. The typical bodybuilder still follows the Weider gospel. Granted, a few people actually get good results from it, which has misled people into believing that the Weider system has a logical foundation and that it can work for everyone. Mentzer proved that neither assertion is correct-and for those few who listened, those who wanted science and not voodoo to become the cornerstone of their workout planning and execution, it was quite a revelation. But most people never listened, because they've never heard of Mike Mentzer. It was for this purpose that I wrote Training for Mass: to revive high-intensity training, and if nothing else, to encourage people to question the logic of their approach to weight training.

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