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Old 10-12-2009, 03:11 PM
james bond james bond is offline
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Default Competing at 74 years old? Oh, yes!

By: John Pasco

In my last article, I responded to those who believe that they cannot afford the time and expense required to be a bodybuilder. Now I will discuss rising from the level of working out for reasons of exercise for well-being to the level of being a competitor in bodybuilding contests.

"I'd never dare to compete," one who is regularly working out has written me. Others have said the same thing, wondering how I was able to enter my first bodybuilding contests less than a year after starting regular workouts. I suspect, with some justification, that when a person begins to see muscular development appear after starting working out, he instinctively wants others to notice as well. I know that was true for me.

Attending Contests

In the arena of life chosen when beginning to workout, you come in contact with other bodybuilders, some of whom are competitors. You also have opportunity to learn of local bodybuilding contests, and may attend some of them as a spectator. Then, the human facility of projection comes into play.

By that I mean that in your mind you see yourself as one of the competitors. It really excites you, motivates you, to think of being on stage as a competitor yourself. Deep within yourself you want to show the world, more importantly yourself, that you can compete. You want to be a bodybuilding competitor. You want to be on the stage at a bodybuilding competition.

The specter of fear that you would not look as good as others, that you would be embarrassed by the comparison, at this point may arise to cause you to draw back from your desire to compete. Justification then begins with such thoughts as "I'd never be good enough" or "I'd never dare to do it." Even such thoughts as "Those bodybuilders are just too muscular to be attractive," enter the mind. Your mind seeks to comfort your fear that you will not be good enough by offering plausible excuses.

Setting Goals

But your fears are groundless. One of my favorite quotes is from Shakespeare's Hamlet in which the bard wrote, "This above all, to thine own self be true". If you admit from your heart that your "own self" wants to be a competitive bodybuilder, be true to that self. Go for it! Accept as your immediate goal, standing on the stage at your first bodybuilding competition. Once you have accepted that as your goal, focus fully upon it.

Find all the time and funds necessary to move toward the goal. If at all possible, find and engage as your trainer one who is or has been a competitive bodybuilder. If that is not possible, then choose a trainer who is knowledgeable about what is required in competitive bodybuilding. I shall deal in a later article with the necessity of having a qualified trainer.

Fear you won't look good enough? Good enough for what? Good enough to take first place? Not good enough to be on the stage? Not good enough to be thought worthy of competition? All of those thoughts went through my head as I prepared for my first competition after less than a year of working out. I could see that I had come a long distance in a short time from the emasculated skeleton I had been. Still, when I compared my physique to that of others who likely would be in a contest, I felt that I would be seen as out of place against them.

Still, I wanted to compete. Sure, I recognized my limitations, but in spite of them, I wanted to be on that stage. If I were to wait until I was as developed as the others who had been at it longer than I, it would be a long time, longer than I wished to wait. I also listened to my trainer who reminded me that, no matter how much I'd like to place well, I would not be there primarily to beat others, but to beat myself.

Use It As A Learning Experience

I would show others as well as myself what my months of strict diet and workouts had produced. It would also be a learning experience for me, which could be obtained in no way other than in the competition. From his own experience as a competitor, he assured me that, far from ridiculing my physique, the other competitors, the judges and the audience would show me the respect due me as one who was striving to improve himself and be a worthy competitor.

My first contest day arrived. The contest was one limited to those who did not use prescription drugs to enhance physique, and I was entered in the class of those over 50 years of age. Since there were none closer to my age of 73, I had to enter the younger age's group. At the weigh-in the night before the contest and in the pump room preceding the judging, I experienced the camaraderie of all the competitors. My trainer was right: I was accepted by them with admiration that, "at my age" I was there ready to compete. At last I was where I believed I should be. I was what I wanted to be. I was a competitive bodybuilder, and it felt so good!

On stage for the pre-judging, that portion of a bodybuilding contest devoted to judging the symmetry, definition and routine poses of each competitor, I was aware of my deficiencies. My movements were too hesitant, my poses not forceful enough. Yes, my trainer was right about this too. It was indeed a "learning experience" and it showed me what must be corrected before the next contest. (See, I was already anticipating being on the stage at another show!)

Implementing Yourself

At the Finals, the evening show in which posing routines of the top five competitors in each group are done in music, I did my routine. Wow! I had made it to the top 5! Looking back now at that evening through seeing the videos made of it, I am embarrassed, for my routine was so hesitant with several glaring errors. Yet, when the final standings were announced, I was awarded the second place trophy. I believe that high placement was given because my symmetry and definition were quite good due to the diet and exercise in my training. That made up for any deficiencies in my routine posing. I vowed to correct those deficiencies and further improve my physique for the next contests.

What about you? I have related my own personal experience because I want you to understand that you should, and really ought to, prepare for competition and enter contests if you want to do it. If you have the desire, you can and should become a competing bodybuilder. I don't think anyone has ever waited to compete until he had developed a physique equal to those of those who have worked out and competed for years. The only thing that should hold you back from competition is the lack of desire to compete.

You Must Have The True Desire

If you have the true desire, you will do all that is necessary to be as ready as you can be for the stage. The experience of competition and the motivation it gives to intensify your focus on your training will produce the physique improvement that you desire. Notice that I did not write that you will "try" to do everything necessary. There is no just "try" to it. You will take pleasure in reorganizing your life so that your full attention is given to the proper diet, proper exercise and sufficient rest required of a bodybuilder.

Fear to be a competitive bodybuilder? If it is what you really want, there is no fear about it. I dare you to begin preparing for your first competition. Take the dare!

John Pasco, 74 years old competitive bodybuilder
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