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Over 40 Bodybuilder of the Week: Richard Sullivan

Over 40 Bodybuilder of the Week: Richard Sullivan! - Pics and info and more!

  • Name: Richard Sullivan
  • E-mail:
  • Age: 59
  • Where: Hilo, Hawaii
  • Height: 5'9"
  • Weight: 180 lbs
  • Years Bodybuilding :47
  • Favorite Bodypart: Other than the obvious one, I'd say arms.
  • Favorite Exercise: Bench Press
  • Favorite Supplements: Protein powder and Creatine

How Did You Get Started?

I had mild scoliosis, and my family doc had me doing weight exercises at age 12. I upped the ante as I got older, but didn't get serious until I was 34. Since then, working out is just a part of my lifestyle like anything else.

Debilitating back problems in my early 30s, including degenerative and herniated discs that prevented me from walking more than a few blocks without pain, went away when I got serious about my workouts.

Richard Sullivan
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Richard Sullivan.

What Workout Plan Worked Best For You?

Working one bodypart per workout made a huge difference. Your body needs a week or more to fully recover and rebuild from a workout, so it made sense to put all my efforts each day into just one bodypart. My concentration and form improved knowing that, for example, after a grueling back workout I didn't have to THEN grind out a bicep workout right after...which would certainly get short shrift because I had nothing left.

For example, and not necessarily in this order:

I split legs into two days if I expect results, as I poop out when I have to do an entire legs routine in just one workout. Separating quads from hams with a 3 or 4 day buffer allows recovery so the next legs workout can be intense. I work abs first, at the beginning of at least every other workout.

Richard Sullivan
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Richard Sullivan.

What Nutrition Plan Has Worked Best For You?

No fast food. I eat at McDonald's maybe 3 times a year only out of necessity, and then I only order a grilled chicken sandwich and yogurt. I love snacks, so I never keep them in the house. The only grab'n'go foods I keep around are fruits and vegetables.

Anything crunchy, salty or sweet I will gobble up, so I just do not buy them. The couple next door are incredible bakers and are often sending blueberry pie, brownies, scones, home made ice cream and such over here in small portions, so I do eat that. But when they don't bake, I do not miss it or crave much. What I REALLY crave is having the kind of physique I've pictured in my mind, and have never really attained, which I think is a good thing, as I never rest on my laurels. I just keep chuggin' along.

People have themselves convinced they're making some phenomenal sacrifice not to be shoving every kind of junk food down their gullet. I love the media's coining phrases like "unattainable body ideal" and the like, you know, to help people justify their complete lack of self-regard.

Nobody's tying people to the couch in front of the TV and cramming Reese's Pieces down their throats. People are searching for every justification not to take care of themselves, and there are certainly plenty of them to be found.

Richard Sullivan
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Richard Sullivan.

What Supplements Have Given You The Greatest Gains?

Remember, they're called supplements, not substitutes. These guys who hang around the gym, just talking for an hour, then spend $200 at the front desk for exotic supplements? What a waste of cash. They are literally pissing away their money. Unless you're doing the work and eating right, forget about supplements.

When I am doing everything right, the workouts, food, rest, supplements, etc., then NO2 is very beneficial. But if I'm slacking, I see no appreciable results. It's expensive, so I only buy it when I'm really chugging along with a definite goal in mind, such as meeting up with old friends in Waikiki, visiting friends and family on the mainland, going to the Mr. O in Vegas...some event where I want to really look good.

I drink protein shakes daily, even when I take a few days off, since your body needs a week to rebuild. It really helps to figure out the vost per gram of protein when deciding on a brand; this will really surprise you. Forget about all that serving size mumbo-jumbo. Its purpose is to confuse you.

Creatine makes a definite difference in creating the "look". It's the best and cheapest supplement out there.

Richard Sullivan
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Richard Sullivan.

Why do you love Bodybuilding?

I author a series of guidebooks titled Driving & Discovering Hawaii that require me to hike long and far into some of Hawaii's most beautiful areas and challenging terrain, and staying strong through bodybuilding is vital to not only my safety, but my ability to keep doing this kind of work well into the future.

My website is full of Hawaii travel advice if any of you are thinking about visiting, and lots of terrific photos: Stress management is an instant benefit of strength training for me, especially when I challenge myself to take shorter rest periods between sets, to adhere to strict form in order to avoid injury, and make bodybuilding an integral part of my schedule so I can reap the ongoing benefits.

Whatever's bothering me when I walk into the gym doesn't matter anymore when I'm walking out. Looking great is very uplifting, especially when other areas of your life may not be going as you'd like. Compliments or special treatment from strangers at unexpected times can do a lot for your mood and morale.

I hate traveling, especially airports, but I can recall many times being treated preferentially at airports just because I have a buffed physique. People treat you differently because they admire what you do and tell you so. And my being older makes me all the more a kind of novelty for people, I think.

Richard Sullivan
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Richard Sullivan.

What Are Your Future Bodybuilding Plans?

To be in contest shape more often. Sometimes, life just gets in the way and we have to attend to more crucial matters. When I lived in LA it was comparatively easy to be diamond-cut, but here on Hawaii's Big Island, the gym is a 38 mile round trip drive, and the gym conditions are very challenging.

I have been searching online for someone who wants to open a Gold's or other good gym on the Hilo side of the Big Island. The so-called "best gym" here is substandard in many ways. Anyone looking for a sure-fire successful business and who may want to buy into a franchise, keep Shipman Industrial Park in Keaau in mind as an ideal crossroads location for a top-notch gym.

Richard Sullivan
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Richard Sullivan.

What One Tip Would You Give Other Bodybuilders?

Fix Yourself.

Working thru the pain is for morons: when your body says lighten up, slow down, or stop, then do exactly that. Rehab whatever needs it. I injured my ankles badly in January 2007 and I could not work calves for almost a year: it took THAT long to heal. Only then could I start all over, lightly and slowly. Slow and steady wins the race.

Take others' advice with a grain of salt, including mine: what works -or what they claim works- for them may not be right for you. A young guy at my gym was going to enter a Hawaii state contest recently, and was listening to others' advice, and going crazy because of it. He was shrinking right before my eyes; he was carb-starved and often in a bad mood, and exhausted.

Finally, he decided it wasn't worth it, and stopped contest prep. Within two weeks of eating carbs and cutting back on grueling workouts, he looked spectacular and gained 15-20 lbs of beautiful quality muscle.

The number of people who hire personal trainers who look like they have never worked out a day in their lives a never ending source of astonishment for me. That's like asking investment advice from the guy who's begging for spare change outside the 7-11.

Richard Sullivan
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Richard Sullivan.

Who Are Your Favorite Bodybuilders?

It runs the gamut, from Steve Reeves in his teen years, who to this day still outshines almost everyone who has EVER come after him, to the amazing Bob Paris during the 80s and early 90s, to Rusty Jeffers and Stan McQuay today. I think Charles Glass is a freakin' genius and is a great example of a trainer who walks the walk and looks as awesome today as he did as a competitor in the 80s.

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