Over 40 Amateur Of The Week: Donna Extended Her Lift Life!

Heavy weights added the finishing touches to Donna's body before she competed against women half her age. See how this 50-year-old earned her place on NPC stage!


How did your fitness journey begin?

I gained 30 pounds throughout my divorce and kept trying to get into shape by lifting weights and using the elliptical machine. That kept me toned, but I didn't know how to do it properly. I spent hours in the gym working my entire body at once and then did as much cardio as my energy level would allow. I didn't lose any weight, but I firmed up what I had.

When I finished going back to school and focused more on transforming my physique, I was determined to get in the best shape possible. I started eating cleaner and hit the gym more but still wasn't lifting correctly. I managed to lose 20 pounds on my own this way.

I knew there was a better, more efficient way to work out, so I started working with a trainer who broke fitness down for me. By then, I was turned onto the idea of competing and needed to find someone who could help me. That's when I found my current trainer, David Johnston. He started me from scratch, taught me to lift correctly, and said it was possible for me to compete and do well.

"After losing fat, I intentionally put 20 pounds of muscle on and looked great."

I trained seriously with David three days per week and focused on all major body parts. I worked on abs and cardio during on the other days by myself and lost an additional 20 pounds. The plan was to see what I looked like under the remaining body fat and judge how long it would take to be stage ready.

After losing fat, I intentionally put 20 pounds of muscle on and looked great. I competed shortly after for my first time and have done four shows including two national-level NPC competitions since. I placed in the top five of every show and narrowly missed earning my IFBB pro card in each of the last two shows.

Cool Fact

Donna owns Poledance, a pole dancing business focused on exercise to make women stronger. She teaches classes at fitness centers and women's homes!

What workout regimen delivered the best results?

I do 30 minutes of cardio every day except for Friday. If I'm close to a competition, I do cardio seven days per week. I prefer to do cardio after I lift to ensure that I have plenty of energy for heavy weight training. I do cardio on the stairmaster or treadmill and use a mix of steady state and HIIT.

"I'm still a beginner, but I don't want to look like a beginner. That drives me to work harder every day."

How did your passion for fitness emerge?

I'm always looking to improve myself physically and mentally. Living the lifestyle of a physique competitor touches both aspects. As a competitor, the drive to get better is always there. It helps to have my trainer by my side. More than anything, I love to see my body change and know I'm in control.

What/Who motivated you?

Seeing changes in my body is very motivating. It helps that others can see it too and comment positively. Strangers always stop me when I'm out and about to ask questions about lifting, dieting, and bodybuilding. I don't have to say a word and they know what I do.

Where did you go for inspiration?

My trainer and friends, Bodybuilding.com, motivational pictures, and random inspiration found on Facebook helped to keep me on track.

What are your future fitness plans?

I'm definitely competing again next year at the national level with the intention to finally win my IFBB pro card. Most of the people I compete against have been doing this for years. I'm still a beginner, but I don't want to look like a beginner. That drives me to work harder every day.

I'm a licensed massage therapist and would like to work on competitors. Constant lifting can be hard on the muscles. Most big name bodybuilders get massages because if the fascia doesn't get bigger the muscle can't get bigger and has nowhere to go.

What is the most important fitness tip?

Simplicity is key. You don't need to seek out new, gimmicky routines, diets, and supplements. The basics work, and work well. It's just a matter of consistency and hard work.

Who is your favorite bodybuilder/fitness athlete?

IFBB Pro Jon Delarosa seemed really down to earth when I met him. He almost always has a smile on his face. He helped me most with my posing and really wanted to help.

How did Bodybuilding.com help you reach your goals?

I used BodySpace to track my weight and talk to others going through the same journey. It helped immensely to create a terrific support network. I also used the articles to educate myself about subjects I didn't fully understand.

Donna's Top 5 Gym Tracks

  1. "Barracuda" by Heart
  2. "Sail" by AWOLNation
  3. "Roar" by Katie Perry
  4. "Beautiful" by Christina Aguilera
  5. "Everything After" by Deadmau5
Competition History
  • 2013 NPC Baltimore Gladiator Championships -
    2nd Place Women's Physique Division Class B
  • 2013 NPC Max Muscle Classic -
    5th Place Women's Physique Division
  • 2013 NPC Teen Colligate and Master's Nationals -
    3rd Place Women's Physique Division 45+ Class B
  • 2013 IFBB North American Championships -
    3rd Place Women's Physique Division 45+ Class C

To my trainer David Johnston.

Photo Credits