Building Muscle at 50 Something

By: Tom Witt
Magazine 8 #2

My Chest Workout

This is a routine I use during the gaining phases of my diet. I will increase the weights progressively throughout the gaining phase in small increments on thefirst exercise especially.

Also, I alternate the first exercise from week to week from incline to flat or decline presses and from DB’s to machines.

Generally keeping track of my progress through my increases on DB’s
Incline Bench DB Press
1x 50 pounds x 10 reps 60 second rest
1 x 65 pounds x 10 reps
Working sets
1 x 80 pounds x 10 reps
1x 90 pounds x 8 reps 90 second rest
1x 100 pounds x 6 reps 60 second rest
Finishing set
1 x 50 pounds x 10-12 reps
Hammer Strength Wide Chest
Press superset with Pec Deck
(Alternate Flat DB Flyes):
Wide Chest Press:
Warm-up set 1 x 180 pounds X 10 reps 90 second rest
between supersets
Working sets
1 x 230 pounds x 10 reps
1 x 270 pounds x 8-10 reps
1 x 270 pounds x 8 reps
Pec Deck:
4 x 100 – 180 pounds x 10-12 reps
(Flat Flyes DB @ 30-50 pounds x 10 reps)
Cable Cross-Over:
4 x 50 – 100 pounds x 15-21 reps
(high, medium and low range positions alternated)

I’m a partner in large architectural firm doing work worldwide, so travel, stress and long frustrating meetings go along with the job. Ten years ago at age 48 I joined a gym, found a trainer to get me past my initial "intimidation" and taught me to train smart and eat better.

The past 18 months have been an experience of learning, collaboration, challenge, success, great satisfaction and great gains

After this I was on my own for a few years making little or no progress until I started training with my current training partners and friends. Shawn, a trainer and competing bodybuilder himself, encouraged me to compete in the over 50 masters class in a fall 1998 Texas show. Not that I had size, but my conditioning alone gave me the first place trophy at my first competition.

Tom Witt Over 50 Class Winner
Almost a year to the day after starting with Beverly, I won the Over 50 Class at the NPC Northern KY. I was led through a series of progressive diets and training suggestions to rebuild lost muscle size, refine my conditioning, and finally compete.

After getting over my initial hesitation to get up on stage, I now had the “bug” to continue competing. I loved the sport of it, looking better, the friends I made and most of all, the challenge to accomplish something totally foreign to my architectural profession. My later contests produced some second and third place trophies, but no more wins. I needed to add some muscle to advance. It's tough enough being 6′2″ tall and having a fast metabolism, but throw in 58 years old and, yes, the challenge is real!

My progress had already stalled, and then I had an even bigger curve thrown at me. After being taken to the emergency room with severe bronchitis, it was discovered I had developed a blood clot in the upper chamber of my heart! I was alarmed at the life threatening condition and at the same time angry that any training and certainly any bodybuilding competition was out of the question now and possibly forever – I’d just as soon they’d shot me then! A great doctor, medication, prayers, and patience got my heart back to normal in four months, but my training and diet took a big hit.

As it turned out though when I was at the Arnold Classic helping at a nearby booth, I met Roger at the Beverly International booth. He first explained to me what Beverly is all about. You don’t have to be a World Class Bodybuilder to get their full attention - you just must have the desire and discipline to reach your own genetic potential. After he took some notes on my condition - pretty sad at the time – he worked with me to set goals to get into top condition and enter competition again later that year.

Previous advice always jumped from one person to another, never with any consistency or measure of success. Now I had someone I trusted to advise me all along the way. During the next six months I was led through a series of progressive diets and training suggestions to rebuild lost muscle size, refine my conditioning, and finally compete. The lessons here are twofold:

  1. First, you’ve got to have consistency in diet, training and supplementation; no more advice from half a dozen different "friends and trainers" never being able to quantify what’s actually working since there were so many trials based on someone else’s conditions.
  2. Second, I had no idea before how important the relationship is between diet and training or the quality of supplementation. It became apparent as I went through the initial rebuilding phases with Roger – results were quickly reflecting themselves in the progress photos and bodyfat stats exchanged biweekly. For example, the leaner I got the more carbs I could tolerate. Similarly, once I was able to drop the initial bodyfat and maintain my conditioning with training and diet, cardio became less critical for me – say 200-300 calories per week (except pre-contest).

My comeback was complete with a first place win in September of 2001. The same month I was given the all clear by my doctor – mo more medication. With my conditioning better than it had ever been, I reset my goals for 2002. Roger and I began by using the experience we had gained from last year to make further refinements in my diet, training, and supplementation for the coming year. This meant greater intensity in training, more protein, either Ultra Size and Mass Maker during the gain periods and Muscle Provider in the hardening phases, adjusting the carbs and fat up or down to suit. I was always amazed at the results and Roger’s ability to apply the right combination for me. The final week before a competition still leaves me in awe of the extreme evidence of how sensitive our bodies are to not only what we feed them, but also when; I learned how important timing is to the diet and training relationship.

Tom cable cross-over chest training
At age 59 my training is intense as it has ever been

Cycling the diet just as your training, never letting the body become accustomed to a particular routine or to stagnate, will stimulate change. I experienced this first hand during this past year competing 3 times (March, early June, late July). A short rest in diet and training after each event and my body was like a sponge absorbing the higher calorie/protein diet and progressively heavier training – each time going into a competition fuller and harder than before. The same strategy applies by cycling gain and hardening diets with simultaneous changes in training. It makes our routines far more interesting as well. Each new goal, while the principles remain the same, calls for a new creative strategy. Roger has made sure that I learned the principles to where I can now formulate my own programs – just sending them to him for review or any adjustments. The beauty of the Beverly product line is in their interchangeability for a variety of custom diet strategies.

Now, as I near my 60th birthday, I have plans to compete in the over 60 class at the 2003 NPC Nationals. With this my goal is to add 8-10 pounds lean weight. So, we will test some new diet/training strategies and I will gain some new experience by having several months without competition diets/training to interfere. Needless to say an 8-lb. lean weight gain is a “tall” order with my 6′2″ frame and high metabolism. At this stage I'm on a high calorie/moderate high carb diet using Mass Maker incorporating Ultra Size in the gain phases and Muscle Provider in the hardening periods. In tandem progressively higher muscle building weights for gain and lower weights, higher reps for hardening. I’m already showing positive results.

Tom Mandatory front pose
Competing has opened my eyes to ways of gaining the appearance of greater size. Training, nutrition and posing are all geared to creating this illusion. I continue to get bigger and leaner. These photos was taken after 15 months - and a net gain of 17.5 lbs.

My training has also been refined to target weak points, focusing on improvements to give greater symmetry and balance. Competing has made this necessary but also opened my eyes to ways of gaining the appearance of greater size. I’ve learned that, at my age, while it’s tough to add significant mass, I can certainly refine what I’ve got. On stage that can make the difference and compensate for mass. In my case, being tall, means I need to look wide through the back, lats, shoulders and do whatever I can to give my long legs some dimension. I added 3-5 sets of chins and rear delts at the end of every workout and incorporated an extra 5 sets of lying leg curls supersetted with calves a couple days away from my normal leg day. This had a noticeable effect on my symmetry and appearance of width to height.

My weekly routine begins with legs and rear delts on Sunday; Monday off with cardio and abs; Tuesday heavy chest, light back, light arms, rear delts, chins; Wednesday off, cardio and abs; Thursday heavy delts and arms, chins, abs; Friday heavy back including dead lifts, traps, light chest, 5 extra sets of lying leg curls with calves. As a note, doing abs after cardio seems to have been more effective for me in burning away any fat in my abdominal region.

Finally, there are many experiences to relate from the past 10 years of first walking into a gym completely baffled, to mistakenly following the muscle mags for advice or "anybody" who looked like they knew what they were doing to eventually hooking up with two great training partners, the bad luck of a serious heart condition, to meeting Roger at Beverly and finally seeing some real results. For me the past 18 months have been an experience of learning, collaboration, challenge, success, and great satisfaction. Many thanks to the Beverly Team and the quality of their products. Many thanks to Roger for his straight talk advice, his encouragement and for asking me to share these experiences. This has been an essential part of my life and my family’s.

Tom Witt’s Current Gaining Phase Nutrition Plan
I alternate this plan with periodic hardening phases. The goal is to add lean mass before my competition prep 6 months away. It is working great. My most recent body composition analysis revealed that my weight was up to 205 at 5.48% body fat.

I gained an additional 5.76 lbs. of muscle
bringing my total lean mass gain to 16 lbs. of muscle in 18 months.
Meal #1
1 whole egg + 5 egg whites
8 oz. Turkey breast
1 cup oatmeal before cooking
Meal #2
2 scoops Ultra Size, 4 scoops Mass Maker, 18 oz. water
Meal #3
10 oz. chicken (before cooking) or other meat
8 oz. sweet potato or 1 cup cooked rice
2 cups vegetables
Meal #4
2 scoops Ultra Size, 4 scoops Mass Maker, 18 oz. water
Meal #5
10 oz. sirloin steak (lean) or other meat
6 oz. sweet potato or small baked potato
2 cups vegetables
Meal #6
On workout days – (as a Post Training Meal) 1 scoop Muscle Provider + 6 scoops Mass Maker in 14 oz. water, 2 Antioxidant
Non– workout days: 2 scoops Ultra Size, 2 scoops Mass Maker, 18 oz. water
Meal #7
2 scoops Ultra Size, 1 scoop 100% Egg
5 oz. turkey breast or very lean beef, 6 egg whites
(can add omelet vegetables to this to make a big omelet)

Volume 8 #3

  • Ron Ashbaugh
    My Pillar of Support in an Unpredictable Life.
  • Lara Sloan
    Things I’ve Learned Along the Way.
  • Dennis B. Weis
    Secrets of Gaining Maximum Muscle Bulk & Power!.
  • Mark Ritter
    Nutritional Strategy I Used to Gain 15 lbs of Lean Muscle Mass.
  • Beth Simpson
    Bodybuilding – It’s Part of Living Life to its Fullest.  ©  Beverly International   1-800-781-3475 Top