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Over 40 Bodybuilder of the Week: Suzy Heney

Over 40 Bodybuilder of the Week: Suzy Heney! - Pics and info and more!

  • Name: Suzy Heney
  • E-mail:
  • Age: 56
  • Where: Pickering, Ontario
  • Height: 5' 6"
  • Weight: 138 Lbs., Contest: 119 Lbs.
  • Years Bodybuilding :5
  • Favorite Bodypart: Legs
  • Favorite Exercise: Legs
  • Favorite Supplements: Tribulus

How Did You Get Started?

As I moved into my 50's, I found that the staircase seemed to be getting longer, and my clothing seemed to be getting smaller. I had stopped taking care of myself as many moms do, always meaning to join a gym or start running. Finally, when looking in the mirror became something I dreaded, I decided to join a gym and give it a go. I figured I had nothing to lose except some pounds and lots more to gain.

My health had not been very good up until that time, and I suffered from very high blood pressure, and had experienced a heart attack that was brought on by a medication given to me for my severe asthma. I was having regular visits every 6 months to my cardiologist, and he agreed that I could begin a program if I was careful. I decided to do most of my workouts with a personal trainer so that I would do it right, and the benefits would far outweigh the costs.

At the beginning, I worked out with weights 3-4 times per week, and followed each session with about a half hour of cardio. I had heard somewhere that if you do something 21 times, it would become a habit, or be fully ingrained in you and you would become comfortable with it. I think that is exactly what happened with me - I vowed to not miss a session until I had worked out 21 times and then re-evaluated how I felt about the whole thing. A marvelous thing happened - I realized that weight training and visiting the gym was no longer something that I had to drag myself to, but rather it had become my "sport" and chosen type of recreation.

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As the "meat suit" started to fall away, I became even more driven to train, because my health improved by leaps and bounds. As of today, I no longer have need to visit the cardiologist, and my blood pressure medication has been cut in half. My weight on the day I joined the gym was 176 lbs - my body fat was 35.9% - my clothing size was 14 and 16's.

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After about a year at the gym, my weight was reduced by 52 lbs., and I was wearing size 3-4. It was around that time that my trainer suggested that perhaps I would want to try and enter a competition. AT the time, I thought that maybe I would just train and prepare for one, never thinking that I could actually make it happen. I have had 4 amazing trainers, all of whom have taken me through an additional plateau during my time with them. If it wasn't for them, I would still be wheezing on my way upstairs, dressed in my size 16 sweats, and driving my car to the mailbox in stead of walking. They have literally given me back about 15 years of my life that I wasted.

I think personal trainers are highly underpaid for what they have to put up with, - all the whining, complaining, and handholding they are subjected to. My current trainer, Ryan, seems to know exactly how my head works, and can motivate me no matter what king of day I am having. He would kill me for saying this, but he kind of reminds me of my grandmother. Getting her mad at me was never as troubling as disappointing her.

What Type Of Personal Trainer Do You Prefer?

Soft Spoken.
Loud And Intense.
All Business.
Drill Sergeant.

What Workout Plan Worked Best For You?

Because I was totally out of shape in the beginning, my workout plan was just to do a general full body moderate workout to sort of wake up my sleeping muscles. They didn't like it much by the way! Gradually, as I began to see muscles emerging, things were stepped up a notch. My fondest memory of the early days, was asking my daughter, Stephanie who was very into weight training and rugby, about the strange dent in my arm and asking her to look at it. She started to laugh and said, "That's a muscle Mother, and it's called a tricep!" Who knew? I know much more now.

As I got a little stronger, I found that my best plan was to pick 2 muscle groups to focus on at each session, - for instance chest & back one day, then move on to 2 more the next day, covering all the large muscle groups throughout the week. In between sessions with my trainer, I would work on calves, and abs and any other muscle groups that we had decided needed extra help. It changed every couple of weeks, not only to keep it interesting, but also to continually challenge my muscles and work them from every changing angles and directions.

Ryan (my personal trainer), has an incredible ability of coming up with the most amazing programs that not only get great results, but leave me feeling like I have given everything and then some. I try to follow each session with at least 30 minutes of good cardio. Because of my health issues and my age, I have to confess that my workout plan was left in the hands of trained professionals who constantly modified my program, and monitored my progress to ensure that I got the best results possible, and that my health was never at risk.

Personal Trainers:

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What Nutrition Plan Has Worked Best For You?

I found out right away, that weight training was only half of the picture, if I wanted to compete. Many acquaintances would ask me, "Wow, how did you do it?" They always seemed to be looking for some sort of magic pill. They would tell me how much they worked out - some more often than me, but they could never lose the weight around the mid section. My answer was never a popular one.

Proper nutrition, and I don't mean just dieting, was the answer. At the beginning of my journey, the trainers told me that I was basically "starving myself fat." I was concentrating on low fat everything, and such small portions, that my body was going into crisis mode and hanging onto everything that it could. They told me that by increasing the amount of "clean" food that I put into my body, I would speed up my metabolism, and actually lose more weight.

How Many Meals Do You Eat Per Day?

10 Or More.

Once again, because of my age and health conditions, I put myself in the hands of trained professionals. The dieting and eating plan was of course difficult to get used to at first, but as soon as I started to see my mild celiac condition abating, and my fat falling away, accompanied by the tightening of my skin, I was hooked. Eating clean became routine, just like showering. I became so driven to eat properly, that my most difficult part was having to have a cheat day. My trainer would get perturbed with me because instead of eating the usual junk food to shake up my metabolism, I would just eat lots more of the clean food.

Most of my friends and training buddies, thought I was very anal about the dieting, but I had an amazing amount of support from my trainers and especially my daughter Stephanie. She would help me stay on track with my food preparation, and was always there to provide knowledge about nutrition because she was studying Kinesiology at University and had ready access to the facts.

What Supplements Have Given You The Greatest Gains?

Supplements were a bit of a confusion for me, because aside from the occasional vitamin pill over the years I hadn't really paid much attention to what was out there. With my age being over 50, there were naturally some issues that needed to be addressed. The main one affecting any "bodybuilding" hopes was that at my age the growth hormone release was pretty much non-existent in my body. As far as building more muscle, it was literally what you see is what you get.

I had to ensure that I hung onto what muscle I had during the dieting, while maximizing the look. I experimented with various powders, which were supposed to make my body react as it if was still producing Human Growth Hormone. I didn't notice any results, nor did anyone else, and my very knowledgeable daughter researched it and found that the only way HGH could actually benefit the body was by injections - illegal by the way. We stopped taking the powder and started with Tribulus, and I believe that it helped. Also Arginine several times a day along with Glutamine worked in around my workouts.

Why do you love Bodybuilding?

Wow, where do I begin? If anybody had told me 1- years ago, that I would be doing this I would have fallen down laughing. What started out as a get fit plan, mushroomed into something that virtually saved my health, and my sanity. I had been married for 28 years, and had just found out that my services were no longer needed in that area. Not something that anybody wants to deal with at any time. Because I was already visiting the gym regularly, I was able to use it as my temporary escape from stress. I was surrounded by an amazing support group there, and was able to lean on them. I think the main thing that happened, was that I was able to see that I had the power to do something positive, and that nobody could tell me that I wasn't going to succeed.

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I could take a break from feeling sorry for myself and my kids, and concentrate on being the healthiest and happiest single mom that was possible. I think bodybuilding has shown me that my life isn't half over, but that the possibilities are still just lining up. When things are falling down around you, there is nothing like challenging yourself and succeeding to make you feel like a survivor. A secondary benefit that I have derived from my bodybuilding adventure is that I pursued my own personal trainer certification about 2 years ago, and have thoroughly enjoyed volunteer teaching weight training at my son's high school. The kids are amazing, once they get over the idea that the teacher is as old as their grandmothers.

What Are Your Future Bodybuilding Plans?

My near future plans are to compete in London, Ontario on November 24th, 2007 - but this time it will be in the Figure category. I want to be able to see how I stage up against my own age group and Figure has it where bodybuilding didn't. In my first competition (April 2006), I had to go into the Masters and Open categories, because there wasn't a grandmasters category. I didn't do badly being that my only goal was to "Not Suck."

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In the Masters I came 4th and in the Open I was 5th. Unfortunately, I think this will be my last attempt, due to my deteriorating issues with my hands (osteoarthritis), which is making pain during training a large issue.

Who knows though, I have just ordered the straps that leave your hands free so maybe there will be a future for me. It would be great to come back at age 60 and do even better. Maybe I can move back into the bodybuilding category and incorporate a walker into my routine. In the longer term, I think my main recreation location will always be the gym.

What One Tip Would You Give Other Bodybuilders?

This question is tough for me. I don't even begin to assume that I am even qualified to give advice, because I am still learning about the sport. You have such amazing articles and people on this website that I am still very much on the receiving end of tips. Those I would like to address any "tips" that I have to are women like myself, who have reached a certain age, and think that they are done as far as physical development and progress in their health and confidence.

Training Tips:

Aside from having my children, there has been no other things in my life that has brought me as much satisfaction of a job well done. Out of venturing into the gym, I have gained confidence, health, a huge network of caring friends, and respect from many people involved in the sport. Anybody out there who thinks that they can't go into the gym, because they are too overweight, and don't want to be seen in the condition they are, should drop those thoughts immediately and get started.

I can say in all honesty, that anyone I have seen in the gym who is a beginner and is struggling with weight and weights, has always been treated with respect and compassion by the regulars, because they know how difficult the journey is. Do it for yourself, do it for your kids, and just do it because you won't regret it. Whether you are working towards a competition or just to get into that bathing suit it will be well worth it. It is an incredible "high" for me when my son no longer asks me to stay in the car when I pick him up after school, but says, "Mom get out here and flex for the guys."

Who Are Your Favorite Bodybuilders?