Throughout his life, Dennis Fanucchi had been no stranger to excellence. Owner and operator of the Granada Bowl, a bowling alley in Livermore, California, he was inducted into the Bowling Hall of Fame, selected as the Person of the Decade in the 1990s for the entire bowling industry, and rated as the sixth best bowling alley owner in America by Bowling Industry Magazine.

Not too shabby considering 67 million people bowl at least once a year in the United States!

Excelling in the varnished fast lane might have felt like enough for somebody with less personal drive than Dennis, but as retirement loomed and the day-to-day obstacles of running a business were no longer pressing, all that appeared to be left for him was his rapidly aging body.

So, Dennis did what he'd always done when faced with an obstacle: He grabbed a 15-pound urethane ball and aimed for a nose strike, only the pins this time around were the lined-up years of poor eating habits and lack of exercise.

Dennis rebuilt the business of his body and went from 130 pounds of skin and bones to 200 pounds of muscle and meat.  

This is Dennis' story.

Dennis Fanucchi: Before

Age: 54, Height: 5' 10", Weight: 130 lbs., Body Fat: 6%

Dennis Fanucchi: After

Age: 74, Height: 5' 9.5", Weight: 201 lbs., Body Fat: 5%

Was there a particular event that motivated your transformation?

Yes. Right before I started working out, I weighed about 130 pounds. I was a really skinny man. For a while, I thought I looked good like this. One morning, while shaving, I realized that I was starting to look kind of sick. I was getting old. I didn't want to be like many other men who just wither and fade away. My thought was that I needed to attempt to slow the aging process immediately, so I joined a gym that same day.

What has motivated you to continue with bodybuilding for so long?

My motivation as a bodybuilder has been one simple thing: not wanting to get old! With that driving force behind me, my life has changed completely. At age 74, I have the physique of somebody much younger. Trainers and managers at my gym have told me that I am the most asked-about lifter in the gym. I draw a lot of looks whenever I enter the gym. That people are asking about my physique before they ask my age tells me my hard work is paying off.

Dennis Fanucchi Transformation

Transforming at your age is an incredible feat—how did you do it?

I was dedicated and determined to change my life.

When I first started bodybuilding, I was working with a personal trainer. Within about two months, I had hired a nutritionist to help me achieve the physique I desired. I used to only eat one or two meals a day, but my nutritionist educated me about the importance of giving my body the fuel it needs to grow and transform.

I changed my diet, first by going up to four meals a day, then to between four and six, and finally getting seven or eight meals in daily.

I kept seeing my trainer, six months out of the year, for four years, until I was satisfied with my form and had expanded my exercise inventory.

At the end of that process, the mirror was all I needed to continue to harvest my inspiration. Just seeing the changes I made was enough to send me back to the gym every day.

Dennis Fanucchi Transformation

What are some supplements that have helped you on your fitness journey?




Before Bed

What does your diet look like on a typical day?

Meal 1
Egg Whites
Turkey Bacon
2 slices
English Muffins (toasted)
Meal 2
Protein Shake
Meal 3
Ground Turkey
8 oz
Brown Rice
1 1/2 cups
Green Vegetables
1 1/2 cups
Meal 4
Ground Beef
5 oz
Corn Tortillas
Turkey Chili
1/4 cup
Mozzarella Cheese (nonfat)
1/4 cup
Meal 5
Protein Shake
Meal 6
8 oz
Brown Rice
1 1/2 cups
Green Vegetables
1 1/2 cups
Meal 7
Protein Shake

Note: I also drink 100 ounces of water daily.

What's your training plan like?

I do a lot of core exercises with a stability ball and hit the obliques, upper abs, lower abs, and serratus, often referred to as the "piano keys" at the side of your core. You have to be about 8-percent body fat or lower to really see those, and I do a lot of seated bends to make that happen.

For the rest of my body, I do a lot of high-rep isolation exercises, and I hit my cardio a couple of times a week. But I really force the issue with my core, probably four or five times a week to stay tight. I train Monday through Saturday, and on Sunday I take a rest day and go to church.

What's the biggest challenge in the gym?

Plateauing is easily the biggest villain in the gym. I keep myself from plateauing by making sure that every rep of every exercise I do builds the mind-muscle connection. I isolate each body part and attack the muscle core so that I'm always making progress.

Dennis Fanucchi Transformation

What about the biggest challenge outside of the gym?

Food! For decades, I basically had only one or two meals a day. In order to become the best bodybuilder I could, I had to learn about nutrition from the ground up. I learned to shop for food, read nutrition labels, prepare balanced meals, and count calories and macros. I measure and weigh my food and make sure I always have snacks or a meal with me. My nutritionist worked me up to seven or eight meals a day, and I stick with that diet.

What are your plans for the future?

I've competed in eight different shows between ages 64 and 69, and I took five first-place titles during that time! So, it would be great to return to the competition stage, and I'm considering doing that again at age 74. Ultimately, my goal is to maintain my physique. At my age and with what I've achieved, that's an accomplishment in its own right.

How did help you reach your goals?

Once I decided to transform my body, I knew that I would need outside support. My first stop was, where I found the help to achieve my transformation dreams. Also, reading the transformation stories of others helped to motivate me. Overall, has been a source of professional information, training plans, nutritional guidelines, and workout routines.

Do you have any advice for aspiring transformers?

I am living proof that it's never too late to start bodybuilding.

Transforming your body isn't easy. You must be dedicated, disciplined, and determined, and you have to really want the transformation. Transforming isn't just a one-off event. It's a complete lifestyle change ruled by nutrition, proper exercise, and developing the right state of mind.

To improve your chances of success, seek out the help of a nutritionist and a personal trainer, even if only to get started. In my experience, such professional help is necessary to make sure that you're fueling your body well and using the best technique possible in your exercise routine.

About the Author

Nick Cesare

Nick Cesare

Nick Cesare is a writer and rock climber from Boise, Idaho. He loves climbing at local crags like the Black Cliffs and the City of Rocks, and works in the gym to improve his strength...

View all articles by this author

Meal Plan Transformation