Become a professional bodybuilder

At the age of 40

BY Tom Basso
NABF Pro Bodybuilder
Magazine 7 #3

In 1974 my mother brought home the book Pumping Iron. The minute I laid eyes on it I knew what I wanted to be – a pro bodybuilder.

My story starts in a small town in Eastern Ohio called Mingo Junction, a predominately blue-collar area where steel mills and coalmines were the main source of income. Not only did everyone work hard, but we also worked out hard. We didn’t need anything-fancy back then, just the basics and some hardcore training.

I can vividly recall opening our garage door and entering another world of iron and steel, a world of home made benches, machines and old sand filled plastic weights. The bench press was made of cast iron and a piece of wood covered with a thin piece of carpet for padding. Pulleys were attached to rafters for lat and triceps work. This is where my father and his friends taught me my first lessons in bodybuilding. But once I laid eyes on that copy of Pumping Iron I couldn’t wait for my dad and his friends. I’d train on my own and if I needed a spot my mother would be right in there with me.

Tom Basso NABF Pro Bodybuilder
I used Muscularity Lean Out, GH Factor and Energy Reserve for two additional weeks and gained two pounds of muscle coming in even harder at the Ohio Supernatural

I trained off and on throughout the 1970’s and just as I was really getting back into it I met my wife to be, Bernadette. Talk about a soul mate – the first week we met she came over to my garage and worked legs with me. Soon we joined our first commercial gym. The Body Factory was an old clothing store converted into a gym, but the training atmosphere was second to none. The various powerlifters and bodybuilders training there inspired me to enter my first contest, the Upper Ohio Valley Cup Bodybuilding Championships. I took 5th in the novice – not bad for my 1st show and knew that I’d compete again. But first I had a career to work on.

During the ensuing years bodybuilding took a back seat to a college education and career in law enforcement. My career progressed and as Commander of our SWAT team here in Columbus, Ohio physical training remained a high priority but now my focus had switched from bodybuilding to police related physical competition. At the Jackson County SWAT Invitational our unit took 1st place in ’97, ’98, and ’99. For the Battle of the Badges we had to train for both strength and endurance – max bench press, max leg press, sit-ups in a minute, push-ups in a minute, sit and reach and 1.5 mile run. Speed and endurance alone was not enough. Just being strong didn’t get it either. You had to have the whole fitness package. Our department took 1st place in ’98, 1st place in ’99 and 2nd in 2000. We also won several of the individual events.

Although my training focus had changed bodybuilding was still in the back of my mind. January 2001: – I’m checking my mailbox at work when I notice a flyer for the NPC Northern Kentucky Bodybuilding Championships with the inscription, Big T, I can see you on stage, Big J (my friend and co-worker, John.) I thought to myself, You know what, I can see it too. It’s now or never. So at the age of 40, I made the decision to enter my first contest in nearly fifteen years.

The decision was made. Now it was time to get started. My first step was to hook up with Dalon Myricks, a WNBF Pro and consultant for Beverly Nutrition. At our first meeting Dalon calculated my body fat at approximately 14% and formulated phase 1 of my contest diet. I had just 8 ½ weeks to lose 9% (or 18 pounds of fat.) From then on, Dalon and I met regularly to monitor my progress.

As the contest drew near Dalon invited me to meet the Beverly staff at the Arnold Schwarzenegger Fitness Expo for a comprehensive evaluation of my progress. On Friday, March 3rd, exactly two weeks out from the Northern I met Dalon at the Arnold. The first thing I noticed was how busy everyone was at the Beverly International Booth. I thought to myself, They’ll never find time to consult with me. However, I was wrong.

Dalon introduced me to the Beverly staff. I went through a complete analysis right there on the spot – body comp, diet, and posing. My body fat was 6.3 % at 176 pounds. My diet was then adjusted with a warning, This is gonna be tough, we’re going to take you to a new level of conditioning. I understood exactly. I was ready to do whatever it took. First, my fat intake was lowered, and to make up for the diet cuts GH Factor, Lean Out, Muscularity and Energy Reserve were added to my supplement program to allow me to retain all my muscle tissue while getting ripped.

To say I was impressed is an understatement. The folks at Beverly were very busy but acted as if they had all the time in the world to help me. As far as supplements go, I’ve always been a skeptic when it comes to supplement companies. There’s too much research hype and not enough real world results. I’m not one to jump on a supplement band wagon just because it’s the latest rave. I research and observe the effects in the gym before making a decision. Remember the prohormones that were so popular a year or so ago? It seemed like everybody at the gym was using them but no one was making gains. Regardless of the research if a supplement doesn’t work in the real world I’d venture to say it’s bogus. But Beverly supplements are proven in the lab and in the real world of bodybuilding. Want proof? Read the Beverly No Nonsense Newsletter and try any of the programs – that’s diet + Beverly supplements – or give mine a try. You’ll get the same results I got. Time and time again Beverly has produced drug free athletes in excellent condition. Beverly doesn’t make outrageous claims and they don’t pressure you into purchasing their supplements. Beverly International talks the talk and walks the walk.

Two weeks after The Arnold I was in excellent condition and ready for my return to competitive bodybuilding. I weighed in early on Friday night at 1771/4 pounds, a pound and ¼ into the light–heavyweight, but the next morning I weighed in at 172 pounds. That’s right, I lost 5 pounds overnight. The supplements and diet had my metabolism moving at warp speed.

The Northern was a great experience all around. At the competitors’ meeting we were told this was a family event and no profanity or obscene gestures would be permitted. (You don’t know how happy I was to hear this since my wife, 5-year-old son and several friends would be in attendance.) I’d entered the Masters and Open Middleweight classes. Prejudging was grueling as there were more than ten guys in each class. But I felt great both times. Then came the evening show. It was packed! The show was awesome – started right on time even though there were more than one hundred competitors. I ended up taking 1st place Masters (over 40), 1st Masters Overall and 2nd Open Middleweights. I was happy with the results but actually thought if I’d started using the full Supplement program sooner I could have made it a clean sweep. Only time would tell. I had the Ohio Supernatural Bodybuilding Championships in two weeks.

I continued the same diet along with the Muscularity, Lean Out, GH Factor and Energy Reserve for the next two weeks. Two days before the contest I met with Dalon at World Gym for a final check. Dalon asked me how I looked and I responded, I think you’ll be pleased. Dalon’s training partner and a few others were in the locker room when I went through the compulsory poses. Their eyes lit up and Dalon’s partner responded, The others might as well not show up. The change in my physique after four full weeks on the complete program was astounding – I was dialed in!

I actually gained two pounds and came in harder for this contest. At 174 I won 1st Masters and best poser, 1st Middleweights and best poser and the Open Division Overall. It had been 15 years since that first competition and what a difference! Now I was an NABF Pro - a dream come true. I know I couldn’t have done it without the help of the Dalon and Beverly International.

Before I get into training, diet and supplementation I would like to express my gratitude and thanks to two very special people in my life, my wife Bernadette and my 5 year old son Jacob. My wife is very, very understanding and supportive of my bodybuilding endeavors. Bernie helped me through the entire contest prep phase without wavering once. She prepared unique meals, helped with choreography and basically just about everything else that you could think of during contest prep. I couldn’t pry a corn chip from my sons’ hand. Every time I tried he would respond, No, Mommy said you’re on a diet.

The change in my physique after a total of 10 weeks on the Beverly program was astounding

I’m not one to jump on a supplement band wagon just because it’s the latest rave. I research and observe the effects in the gym before making a decision. Now I’m using Beverly’s Mass Amino and Ultra 40 for greater protein utilization – the real world result I’m adding more muscle and keeping my body fat level low

Muscle and Bodyfat change in 10 weeks

Tom Basso, Natural Pro

We also overcame a lot of obstacles during the 13 weeks of contest preparation. My wife was pregnant (due June 26th, it’s a boy!) and having some complications so her health became the priority for several weeks. I was preparing for two promotional boards, the stove and dishwasher huffed and our basement was being finished causing a heck of a lot of noise. It would have been easy for us to quit but we didn’t. We went toe to toe with adversity that only made us stronger. I honestly don’t think I would have done as well as I did without the support of my family. I am truly blessed.

Finally, I would like to share my dieting, supplement and training regime in preparation for the NPC Northern Kentucky Bodybuilding Championships and The Ohio Supernatural Bodybuilding Championships.

Diet (Off Season)

I am currently using Beverly’s diet recommendations by increasing my consumption of lean beef along with complex carbs such as rice and potatoes. Currently I am consuming 3600 calories daily and I intend on increasing it to 4200. My current protein intake is over 300 grams and my carb intake is over 300 grams. I’m using Beverly’s Mass and Ultra 40 to get the greatest protein utilization possible. It’s working! With this diet plan I’m getting thicker, adding muscle and controlling my body fat.

Training pre contest

  • I train 4 days out of 7, 8 or 9 days depending on the intensity of my training and recovery.
  • I utilize a half pyramid using basic exercises and starting with 12 reps and working down to 6 or 4 reps. Closer to the contest I go to 4 or 5 sets of 6 to 8 and 5 to 7 reps which seems to help me keep my size.
  • I also add a few isolation exercises to hit the muscle from several different angles.

Here is my exact precontest leg and chest workout at 5 weeks out:


Squats: 225x12, 265x10, 300x8, 330x6
Leg Press: 540x10, 630x 8, 720 x 6.
Leg Curl: 120x10x8x8x6
Seated Calf raise: 90 x 12 x 10 x 8 x 8
Donkey Raises: 400 x 12, 500 x 10 x 8 x 6.
*Closer to the contest lunges and leg extensions
are added while squats and leg press are deleted.


Barbell Incline: 175x10, 190x8, 215x6, 230x4 Barbell Bench Press: 175x10, 190x8, 210x6, 230x4. Dumbbell Incline flye: 45x12x10x10 Cable High Pulley: 90x10, 100x8, 110x6 *Alternate pullovers for dumbbell flyes ever few weeks.

Training (Off Season)

  • I stick to basic movements and develop my workout routine around the 3 big lifts, bench press, squat and dead lift.
  • I normally work in the rep range of 4 to 8.
  • I pyramid from heavy, to light to medium and change routines every 6 to 12 weeks to keep progressing.

In closing

I would like to thank you for taking the time to read my article. I hope that I was able to shed some light into the confusing world of training, diet and supplementation. Remember to stick to the basics and go with a supplement company that not only talks the talk, but also walks the walk like Beverly International. I can be reached at [email protected]

Bernadette and Jacob helped me through the entire contest prep phase. It had been 17 years since I dieted for that first competition and what a difference!

What we do upon some great occasion will probably depend on what we already are; and what we are will be the result of previous years of self-discipline.

Both contests were dedicated to the late Mary J. Basso who passed away on November 16, 1999.

Volume 7 #3