There really is no age limit when it comes to competing.
In fact, we’ve seen competitors as old as 82! Ray Moon, who is in his early 80’s, is a well-known bodybuilder in his home country of Australia. And “godfather of fitness” Jack LaLanne advocated competing at any age.
The Aging of America
Being fit is not just for the young anymore—it’s increasingly popular with the young at heart! For example, the most popular age range at the Arnold Sports Festival used to be 18-24 year-old males. Over the years, it’s risen to the 25-45 age group.
In 2008, the NY Times reported the World Natural Sports Organization had 44 competitors over 60 in their 2007 competition—up from only 2 in 2000. And in the 5 years before the article, the number of women and men in their 60’s and 70’s competing in the United States Bodybuilding Federation show doubled.
You can see it in your own gym too—more and more older people are hitting the treadmill and weight machines. This is partly due to demographics, since people over 50 is the fastest growing age range. But it’s also due to more awareness these days about how important fitness is to staying healthy for the long haul.
New Division Offers More Opportunities for Older Competitors
The NPC added a new division in 2011—Men’s Physique—which will be searching for contestants who display the best shape and symmetry as well as muscularity and overall condition.
The vibe is different as well. Contestants will be asked to walk in board shorts, entering the stage shirtless and barefoot. Judges look for stage presence, poise and personality.
Since it is not a bodybuilding contest, extreme muscularity is actually awarded lower points. This category may be just the ticket for older competitors who don’t have the massive size to compete.
Tips to Get Started in Your 40’s & Beyond
Although it is harder to gain muscle later in life because the anabolic hormones in your body are starting to slow, it is possible.
Furthermore, adding muscle mass may be even more beneficial for you than it is for a youngster—muscle built now will serve you well in later years.
Here are some things to keep in mind about getting ready for competitions when you’re over 40:
- You may need to reduce training volume because your body cannot recover as fast as a younger person. Limit workouts to 3 times to 4 times a week.
- Start slowly—give your body a chance to work up to the heavier lifting sessions.
- A good trainer should supervise and direct your first weight sessions. You may only need them after that for check-ups and fine tuning.
- Work on nutrition—diet is as important as pumping iron when it comes to bodybuilding.
In short, whether competing in the full-on bodybuilding or physique division, there are plenty of opportunities for competitors of all ages.