Just to think about turning 50 was a difficult thing for me. I am now considered middle aged, and hey - I even got my AARP card in the mail! There's no denying you've hit 50 when that shows up in your mailbox.
When I was much younger, I thought being 50 meant I was 'over the hill.' That was until I turned pro and competed against a fierce competitor in his 50's who even managed to beat me in a couple competitions. His name is Albert Beckles, known in the magazines as 'Ageless Al' Beckles, originally from the island of Barbados.
This man competed from the mid 1960's right up into the mid 90's and always did well in the pro ranks. In fact, if you watch the movie Pumping Iron, you can see Albert in the judging round for the lightweight (under 200 pounds) division of the 1975 Mr. Olympia contest, which was won that year by Franco Columbu.
I competed against him in my first pro show, the 1985 Night of the Champions which he won, as well as my first Mr. Olympia that same year where he placed second to Lee Haney. I placed 3rd on my first try at it.
Again, this man has muscle maturity as well as rock hard muscle density and great balance. And this was all in his 50's, right up into his 60's. How many guys that age are even doing any type of regular exercise, much less owning one of the best physiques on the planet and pushing guys in their twenties as myself and Lee Haney were at the time?
This shows that age is just a number, and it all really comes down to how you perceive yourself. I competed really young compared to most, placing high and winning shows in my early 20's. By the time I was in my 30's, I was already burnt out and suffered injuries that prevented me from being able to continue the grueling training required to be a competitive bodybuilder at the level I was at.
After my career on stage was over, I started my company, Gaspari Nutrition. Of course it was my first priority to get my business off the ground and growing. But being a bodybuilder at heart, I always also felt that training and being in shape were also important because I was the face of the brand. I believed I had to 'Walk the Walk' to be successful in my business and to be a good representative of my brand. It never seemed right to me to see supplement company owners who didn't seem to care one bit about their bodies.
I have always loved to train also eat healthy so that I stayed in good shape. This was both to feel good and also be a great representative of my brand. Recently at age 48, I decided to give it a crack to get back into true competitive shape for the first time in 15 years.
It wasn't to compete of course, but to show myself and my fans that there are no excuses for not getting in shape. I was always in good shape anyway, and especially for my age; but I wanted to show you can get into great condition at any age. My goal was to be in even better shape than before, and show I could still make gains in my late 40's as I approached the milestone age of 50.
I was able to get back in shape, and got the cover of Ironman magazine, a publication I had last graced the cover of a full 20 years before! I did this for myself, but also as a representative of men my age. It was important to me to accomplish it for all of us over 40 to show that a great physique doesn't have to be only for the young guys.
Now that my cover and getting back in shape is history, I've made it my quest to continue to improve and get in even better shape at 50. Since my photo shoot almost two years ago now, I have continued to train and eat healthy. I've also continued to make gains in the gym because I love to do it and it is my passion.
Being 50 is not that bad. I have learned to adapt to training smarter.
Unlike in my 20's, I know my body better and have learned new ways of training to make gains without having to use mega-heavy weights all the time. For example, I now love to use bands in my chest workouts and some of my shoulder training to help with additional negative resistance. With some past injuries, I needed to train smart and to prevent myself from getting hurt further.
There are no excuses that at age 50 you can't train hard, but you have to train smarter, using better form and respecting your joints and connective tissues.
I have also found my recovery is lower than in my younger years, so I get away with doing less and still make gains in muscle.
I had a great experience in the UK. I was there on my 50th birthday, and my distributor was considerate enough to have a cake and a small party for me. But the highlight of my stay in the UK was training with two 30-something year-old bodybuilders who asked if they could train legs with me. We did, and they thought "well Rich was a great champ back in the old days, but surely he's had to slow down in his workouts." I had to prove that age is just a number, and I put them both through one of the hardest workouts of their lives! They both couldn't believe the intensity I still had as I pushed them well past the point of failure! Both guys dropped to the floor during the workout and afterward said they had the best workouts of their lives. I loved it and it showed I still had it at 50, and I was proud of it.
I always love a challenge and still love to train with 20-year-olds who believe they can tame this old lion, but they have another thing coming thinking that! My secret was using my products of course before we started with my SuperDrive, GlycoFuse, and Aminolast!
Believe it or not, I would think my metabolism would be slower but what I have found was that it's still like it was in my 20's, when I did very little cardio to get ripped. This is not the way it happens for everyone in their 50's, so you may have up that cardio to keep your six pack. What is most important is to just do it and not make excuses not to.
My passion is health, fitness, and bodybuilding; and it is the same passion I had as that young lion bodybuilder then and even now, but doing it smarter today thanks to decades of experience. Remember 50, is just a number and it doesn't mean it is the end - only the beginning!
My list of daily anti-aging supplements:
Anavite: 2 tablets in the morning, 2 in the evening
Baby Aspirin: 1 to keep blood thin and as a safety measure to prevent clotting as you get older.
Glucosamine Sulfate: 1,500 mg
Chondroitin Sulfate: 1,200-1,500 mg
Coenzyme Q10: 200mg
Vitamin C: 2,000 mg
Omega 3 Fish Oil: 4,000mg