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Bodybuilding For Babyboomers - Week Ten!

Do you have diabetes? Are you a newcomer to the bodybuilding world? Learn the secrets on how to fight diabetes with bodybuilding! Also, see the amazing transformation of a man that went from a 46 to a 32 inch waist!

Reminder to babyboomers! We are looking to feature your legendary babyboomer physiques. Send photos to or rbaldwin@MAIL.GC.CC.FL.US. See last week's Bodybuilding for Babyboomers article for details.


I have been researching bodybuilding. It seems to be overwhelming with all of the information available. What advice would you have to diabetics that want to begin a bodybuilding program? What would be a weightlifting regime for a beginner (i.e. what were some of the workouts you found successful)? Any special considerations for diabetics concerning bodybuilding?

How much cardiovascular exercising do or did you incorporate into your overall workout plan? (I still need to do daily cardiovascular exercises to process the blood sugars. Brisk walking, jogging, cycling are my favorites. Do you know of any bodybuilders that are diabetics? What continues to motivate you to body build?

I'm not sure why, but I see a lot of posts giving measurements, as they say "when in Rome, do as the Romans do". Sorry to bore you with background info, but here it is if this will help with your response:

August 2000

Weight: 297 lbs.
Waist: 44 (pushing 46)

October 2002

Weight: 172
Waist: 32

Under a doctor's care, I was on the American Heart Association's Diet (1800 Calories). I have an appointment next month to update the diet. I have exercised using primarily cardiovascular. Started out walking for a minimum of 45 minutes per day at 4MHP.

Graduated to short jogs. Up to 4 to 5 mile jogs per day intermingled with Spin classes or cycling training runs. I have been 100 mile endurance events in the Southern California area since November 2001.

I am slimmed down to a level that I can easily maintain. (The doctor wanted me at 145!...not sure that is even doable!) Thanks for your help! I will appreciate it; my wife will appreciate it; and my son will appreciate it! Again, thanks!!

Rich Duarte


Wow, am I impressed! A 32-inch waist from a 46!

I do know what you mean about being overwhelmed with all the information out there today. I hope I can help. You didn't specify why you wanted to begin a bodybuilding routine, but I assume it is to get a little more "buffed."

I can think of no single thing you could do better for yourself than to engage in a bodybuilding program. Being a diabetic means you are in a constant struggle to avoid hyperglycemia on the one hand and hypoglycemia on the other. Exercise not only helps glucose get into the cells, but also causes glycogen stored in the muscles and liver to be converted into glucose to provide fuel to muscles during low blood glucose levels. The end result: exercise actually helps maintain glucose at a more even level!

It is important that diabetics determine the time and duration of their workouts according to glucose levels. These blood-glucose-determined workouts will be longer and more vigorous the higher the glucose levels (above 120 mg/dl). Keep in mind one caveat: hypoglycemia must be a concern since exercise reduces blood sugar levels. In other words, start out slow and make small increments from workout to workout to let your body become conditioned and adjust to your new activity levels. Keep in mind that weight training is much more taxing on the body, including glucose levels, than aerobic exercises. So even though you may be in great shape aerobically, do not assume you can rush anaerobic conditioning on your body.

Hi Rich! Baldwin just asked me to take a look at your email. Due to your special circumstances with diabetes, you'll need to arm yourself with as much information as possible on the effects of resistance training on diabetes. First, start reading up on some good information about general training. Legendary bodybuilder, Dave Draper has several great articles here on that can give you training advice. In addition, his books, Brother Iron, Sister Steel and Your Body Revival, (chapter 14 deals with diabetes) are unbeatable sources of information.

Fred Hatfield's, Hardcore Bodybuilding, A Scientific Approach provides an in-depth look at building muscle. Don't let the name fool you thinking it is only for advanced level lifters, as this book should be in every weightlifters library of fitness books. The American Diabetes Association has a website containing information on exercise and resistance training for adults with diabetes.

Many bodybuilders use glutamine to aid in the recovery process after a workout program. Glutamine is a popular supplement because it aids with protein synthesis. It's a remarkable safe supplement. But, some diabetics have problems using glutamine because they metabolize glutamine abnormally. Click here to read my article on glutamine.

Back to Richard now,

You have had great success in lowering your bodyweight with your heavy aerobic routine, but aerobics don't build a shapely physique. I have never done any aerobic exercise and don't do any now. I saw aerobics as contrary to what I wanted to accomplish (build muscle!). In addition, running was the craze and I felt running was just too bad for the joints. I also realized that by doing breathing squats (15+ repetitions for several sets) I could lower my heart rate enough to keep it in the low 60s without running or bicycling.

Recent research (see the current JAMA) has revealed that resistance training is the single best thing one can do for the heart! In fact, the recent Harvard School of Public Health study determined that men who engaged in weight training for 30 minutes or more weekly had a 23 percent lower risk of heart disease than men who did not pump iron. Researches are guessing that these benefits result from reductions in blood pressure and body fat achieved through weight training.

The bottom line here is that if you want to gain muscle, you are going to have to exchange some of the cardiovascular exercise for some weight training. In fact, I would suggest cutting it in half; i.e., jog three days per week for 4-5 miles at a time and lift weights three days a week.

Yes, I know several diabetic bodybuilders who said their requirements for insulin decreased when they weight trained. Tim Belnap is probably the most famous diabetic bodybuilder who astonished everyone with a massive physique in the early 80s that earned him the title of Mr. America.

I have never cherished the thought of being a skinny old man in a wheel chair. I am therefore motivated to pursue the best insurance against that available: bodybuilding.

Diane again,

That makes two of us! Plus, Richard is so much older than I am that he needs to lift weights just to keep up with me! Back to you, Baldwin.

Well, there you have it, Rich. I hope this helps to answer some of your questions as you begin your bodybuilding journey.

All submitted photos become property of Legendary Fitness, LLC; submission shall constitute a grant to the use of your photos and information as we deem appropriate.

Copyright 2002. Diane Fields, Member Legendary Fitness, LLC. All rights reserved. The advice given in this column should not be viewed as a substitute for professional medical services. Before undertaking any exercise or nutrition program, Legendary Fitness, LLC advises all to undergo a thorough medical examination and get permission from their personal physician.

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