Over 40 Amateur Of The Week: Ageless Wonder

The gym is an extension of Melissa's life. She loves bodybuilding, competing, and being in control of her body, but most of all, she wants to be a better mother, hygienist, and Christian.

Name: Melissa Tucker
BodySpace: melvininaz
Location: Tucson, AZ
Age: 44  Height: 5'4"  Weight: 135 off-season, 125 competition
Years Bodybuilding: 5

How Did Your Fitness Journey Begin?

I ran track, played volleyball, and swam in elementary and middle school. In high school, I was fascinated by wrestlers due to their conditioning and self-control to make weight. I remember a wrestler's aunt, who was a bodybuilder, came to our school and gave a speech. I was blown away and wanted to try lifting. Life happened, however, and that goal got put on the backburner.

I struggled with body image issues throughout high school and college; terrified to become fat and poisoned by the media's interpretations of beautiful. Then I found rock climbing. I became a competitive climber, gym manager, and helped develop a climbing area in Winslow, Arizona called Jack's Canyon. Climbing is a weight sport. I wanted to build muscle so I could climb harder. I dedicated 10 years to the sport, topped out, got bored, and moved on.

Then came yoga; another 10 years of an all-encompassing sport sprinkled with animal rights and vegetarianism. Somewhere in all of this I got married, got fat, got divorced, got fatter, and lost all drive to be fit. I was in survival mode; a condition I see in so many people; broken, depressed, sleepless, caffeine addicted, and constantly eating junk food. I was miserable and almost 200 pounds. Then, one day I had an epiphany.

I was working in a dental office around the holidays and received tons of thanks for junk food. I watched the girls gorge themselves. I identified the gluttonous behavior in them and myself, but I didn't' want to be like that. Gluttony is ugly. So, I started slow; walking in my neighborhood, Body Electric on TV in the morning before the kids woke up, and using soup cans as dumbbells.

I started at the gym doing intense cardio and lifting ridiculously light weights. With the momentum of change, I decided to make a bikini contest (Planet Beach) a far off goal. I entered the competition at 115 pounds (down from 200) and placed third at age 40. One of the judges said I'd make a great figure competitor. I had no idea what that meant, but I went to Bodybuilding.com and started researching. Less than six months later, I entered my first figure competition, placed Top 3, and continue to compete to this day.

What Workout Regimen Delivered The Best Results?

I don't think you can reinvent the dumbbell. I've tried all types of workouts: The Thrash, high intensity, high weight, supersets, drop sets, body-weight exercises, Power 90, The Firm, Fit For Life, etc. The name of the game is consistency. If you show up and lift, you'll make gains. You have to put deposits in the bank for a savings plan. The same idea applies to training.

I'm doing Dogg Crapp and DC Training currently and love it. The inventor describes it as heavy progressive weights; lower volume, but higher frequency with multi-rep rest pause training, extreme stretching, carb cutoffs, cardio, high protein intake, and blasting and cruising phases (periodization). It's a very complex program that I couldn't give a suitable description for in this article, but please research it online. It's an astoundingly productive regime.

I do HITT cardio for 20 minutes three days per week right after workouts during the off-season. For contest prep, I do about an hour of cardio per day. The other days are filled with Frisbee, bike rides, climbing, and hikes with my active family.

Monday: Chest/Shoulders/Triceps/Back

Wednesday: Biceps/Forearms/Calves/Hamstrings/Quads

Friday: Chest/Back/Triceps

Monday: Biceps/Forearms/Calves/Hamstrings/Quads

Wednesday: Chest/Shoulders/Triceps/Back
  • Decline Chest Machine Press Decline Chest Machine Press

    Decline Chest Machine Press

    3 sets to failure with 15 seconds rest, a 50-second negative on last rep
  • Upright Rows Upright Rows

    Upright Rows

    3 sets to failure with 15 seconds rest, a 50-second negative on last rep
  • EZ-Bar Extensions EZ-Bar Extensions

    EZ-Bar Extensions

    3 sets to failure with 15 seconds rest, a 50-second negative on last rep
  • Chins Chins


    3 sets to failure with 15 seconds rest, a 50-second negative on last rep
  • Rack Deadlifts Rack Deadlifts

    Rack Deadlifts

    2 sets of 6-9, and 9-12 reps

Friday: Biceps/Forearms/Calves/Hamstrings/Quads
  • Dumbbell Curls Dumbbell Curls

    Dumbbell Curls

    3 sets to failure with 15 seconds rest, a 50-second negative on last rep
  • Reverse-Grip Cable Curls Reverse-Grip Cable Curls

    Reverse-Grip Cable Curls

    1 set of 10-12 reps
  • Calf Press Calf Press

    Calf Press

    1 set of 10-12 reps, 5 seconds up, pause for 15 seconds in stretched position
  • Sumo Leg Press Sumo Leg Press

    Sumo Leg Press (shown with normal stance)

    1 set of 5-25 reps
  • Leg Press Leg Press

    Leg Press

    1 heavy set of 6-10 reps with 3-5 minute rest, 20 widow makers, 50-second deep stretch

After this six-day cycle, I return to the gym to beat the reps or increase the weight. The concept is to beat the logbook. This period runs 10-14 weeks and then I do a cruise week that basically consists of what I feel is best: light body workout, cardio focus, or rest.

What Nutrition Plan Fueled Your Body?

I eat a low fat, moderate carb, high protein diet in the off-season that consists of whole grains, lean meats, and as many veggies as I can tolerate. I've been a vegetarian for 30 years and I'm burnt out on veggies.

My diet is boring, like most body sculptors. I rotate a few main food groups and try to disguise them as new. Oatmeal, bananas, brown rice, multigrain, vegetables, limited fruits, chicken, turkey, eggs, lean beef, yogurt, and protein powders are the basics of my diet. I eat one cheat meal a week and usually get so sick that I spend an entire day recovering and contemplating the power of the mind. I can't wait for the cheat days, but when they come, it's such a disaster.

Meal 1
Meal 2
Meal 3
Meal 4
Meal 5
Meal 6

For contest prep, I usually carb cycle (eating carbs after workouts and one day per week), but primarily stay on a ketogenic diet.

What Supplement Schedule Gave You The Greatest Gains?

I like to be fully stocked with multi-vitamins, pre-workout, BCAAs, CLA, glutamine, creatine, whey and casein protein powder. I am trying the new line by Bodybuilding.com and enjoy it immensely.

Before Bed

How Did Your Passion For Fitness Emerge?

I've been an athlete all my life. Yes, I have sport ADD/ADHD and maintain focus for a maximum of 10 years, but the main ingredients have always been there. I love the mind over body control that pushes your physical limits. There's a sense of accomplishment at the end of a workout. Call it endorphins or adrenaline, but the outcome is the same; exhaustion, accomplishment, and desire.

What/Who Motivated You?

My biggest motivator is myself. Nobody can make you want to be more than yourself. I really believe desire plus consistency equals results. I'm internally driven. I never needed trainers to cheer or push me. When I set a goal, it's on like Donkey Kong.

Where Did You Go For Inspiration?

I don't suffer from low motivation days. I love training. I remember training with a lady back in the day who despised training. It was like going to work. She told me, "Just wait, when you've trained as long as I have you'll hate it too!" Another wise lady in the gym told me, "Don't do it if it doesn't bring you joy, make you money, or teach you something." Well said.

I listen to my body. If I'm not feeling it, I don't go. However, I'm nothing without music. I love blocking out the world, days, and random thoughts that usually go through my head. Once my ear buds are in, it's like moving meditation. If I'm out of battery life, workouts can be difficult.

What Are Your Future Fitness Plans?

I'm hoping to get my pro card in women's physique. I've been to the USA's twice and missed the mark, placing 11th in 2011 and then 10th this year. I'm thinking about attending Master's Nationals and playing with ladies my own age. It's very hard to compete with girls half my age with no war wounds from child rearing.

I have realistic expectations and know I'm not going to be on the circuit, do fitness commercials, and live, eat, and breathe this industry because I have other goals that supersede my bodybuilding goals. I'd rather be a better mother, hygienist, Christian, etc. My goal besides winning is to be nicer and more balanced than I was the year before. Competing ruins many relationships. I want more for those I love, adore, and respect. I've seen it time and time again at shows, where the winner is sitting alone at dinner trophy in hand.

What Is The Most Important Fitness Tip?

Desire + Consistency = Results

Who Is Your Favorite Bodybuilder/Fitness Athlete?

Kai Greene is probably the most motivating bodybuilder I idolize. Not because of his size, reps, trophies, or diet; it's his background, intensity, artistry, and mental preparation above all others. The man came from nothing and made everything. Though he's a beast on the outside, his insides are those of a Zen Monk. He listens to self-help tapes on the way to the gym. He draws. At 300-plus pounds, he does routines on stage that rival some of the best fitness routines. He has no shame or fear of judgment. He is true to himself.

How Did Bodybuilding.com Help You Reach Your Goals?

All of my early research on diet, show prep, competing, and supplements is done on Bodybuilding.com. When people approach me and say, "I want to do this. Where do I start?" I always send them to Bodybuilding.com. It's user-friendly, informative, and provides a safe community to learn from.