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February 12, 2018

Myths about Muscle: Reality vs the Freak Show

cartoon huge FBB

There are a lot of crazy myths about muscle.

Women in particular seem to be negatively affected by it. Have you ever heard a woman say she wouldn’t touch a weight for fear of looking like a man? 

To be certain there are women like my wife who know differently and hit the weights with gusto and with no side affects at all — except trimming fat, looking sexier and feeling healthier.

But lots of people are avoiding a tremendously healthy practice thanks to disinformation and utter nonsense. For that, we can of course thank the internet, that great purveyor of fake stuff and junk.

To be sure, there’s also some ugly truths out there. Steroid abuse has transformed some bodybuilders, both Male and Female, into bizarre looking freaks. And on top of that, there’s a weird subculture in web-world that likes to take a photo and blow it up with photoshop type programs. These muscle nerds worship the pretend creations with fervor.

And when you ask Google something about bodybuilding, all of this gets mixed together and could easily leave you with the impression that merely touching a weight might transmogrify you into a monster.

So, let’s clear it up. Here’s the not-so-skinny on what is real and what is pure fantasy and myth. Using photos pulled from Google searches…

This is what Natural looks like

Ladies first. Here are a few photos gathered from the web that show real, natural women who train hard. The first shows how training can trim fat and reshape the body. The next examples show natural competitors in dieted-down contest shape. They all look great and healthy.

Fat loss, body re-shaped

63 years old in 2013

77 years old in 2014

Next the Natural Guys.

These photos also come from the web. These are natural bodybuilders who train hard and eat right — but don’t take steroids. Notice that while they are muscular, they are not freakish in proportion. In other words, they look strong, but not like a Marvel comic book character.

Not Natural Guys

Staying with the guys for a minute,  the first photo juxtaposes a current era steroid monster vs a mostly-natural bodybuilder from the old-school Muscle Beach days. The second photo shows a legendary hardcore steroid monster from the current era vs. a natural bodybuilder from today.

Notice how the two natural guys on the right of each photo look pretty comparable — even though these photos were taken several decades apart. Of course, the two steroid monsters look pretty comparable to one another, too. But they are both from the modern era and definitely not natural.

The Freaks

Here we go, full bore into the Freak Show.

Let’s start with the ladies again. Remember, these are extreme examples of human beings who have changed their body chemistry with heavy drugs and hormones. There are many sad stories about these women. Some basically become men thanks to all the added testosterone. Deeper voices, enlarged private parts, facial hair, body hair and more.

There is a subculture in bodybuilding that believes anything is worth the added muscle, consequences be damned. It often leads to a tragic end.

Let’s look first at the case of a famous female bodybuilder as she was at the start, then after taking heavy drugs and finally what she looked like after it all came to an end. None of these photos are doctored. The obvious moral — don’t do drugs.

Before steroid use

At the height of steroid use

After it all came crashing down


Staying with the ladies, let’s look at some extreme female bodybuilders who use lots of steroids and god-only-knows what else.

Before and after heavy steroids use

Before and after even heavier steroid abuse

On steroids, then after stopping and returning to normal size.

The Really Freaky Super Freak Show

Here’s where the ride gets wild. There will be some photos upcoming that you may find a tad revolting, if you haven’t already had that reaction.

Starting with the silly side of the freak show — photo manipulation or ‘morphing.’

Why do these guys — it’s almost universally guys — do this hobby?  I’m no shrink, but it seems to have obvious ties to a desire to be dominated by gigantic amazons and comic book super men. Maybe its connected to the modern gaming, cosplay and fantasy craze. I dunno, but it is all over the web whenever the subject is bodybuilding.

To see for yourself, Google pretty much anything about “bodybuilding” and then click the “Images” menu item. You’ll see a whole bunch of all this stuff mixed in together with “real” photos. Good luck trying to find a photo that has not been altered.

Ladies first… These women are all enhanced via steroids and hard training — then someone takes the photo and blows it up even further with “morphing” software.

Distorted and enlarged

Super distorted

Insanely distorted

Now some guys…

Real photo of steroid monster then…

…Same guy “morphed” with software

Straight to cartoonville

Beyond Freaky and into the Truly Bizarre…

At some point in the last decade or so, a new craze hit the subculture of bodybuilding. It’s called “Synthol” and it is an oil that some inject directly into their muscles to force them to swell up.

In some cases, pro bodybuilders have been accused of using this stuff to touch up a weak spot. But the most bizarre cases are guys who aren’t really even body builders,  but have taken this shortcut to blow themselves up to extreme proportions. They look silly, ugly and bizarre.

Beware, I’m including a shot of what happens when one of these things go wrong and has to be drained.

No photo manipulation here. This guy started out with steroids and then added the Synthol injections. His arms later infamously “blew up.”

I don’t know this guy’s story. But there are tons of Synthol users just like him out on the web. Notice how his forearms are stick-like compared to his biceps, pecs and traps.

This is the ugliest part, when the oil causes abcesses or infections and must be drained. Sadly, there are tons of pictures like this out there, too.

So now you know…

If you’re wondering where I fall in the above lineup, I’m totally natural and always have been. I started lifting at the age of 12 with my brother’s hand-me-down iron set.

I am naturally big. By the 9th grade, I was 6′ 4″ and 245 pounds. A few years of football and several decades of working out followed. Today, in my early 60’s I’m 280, mostly muscle gained over 5 decades of staying with it. I do not have a ‘contest’ shape but do have muscle mass.

I’ve been accused once or twice of using steroids. The truth is, I have never even seen one. When I first started out, they weren’t even around, at least not where I grew up. Maybe if they had been prevalent back then, who knows? But I’ll never find out. Today, with heart issues and a hope to live long and healthy with all the years I have left, I’d never touch the stuff.

Just for the heck of it, here are some photos that remind me of way back when I first started working out. Back then, Photoshop and Synthol were completely unknown. And while it turns out the “pros” were beginning to dabble in the juice, it was nowhere near the insane levels of abuse we see today.

1969: legends Betty Weider and Larry Scott on the beach

A very young Arnold, skinny legs and all

Female pioneer “Pudgy” Stockton on the beach

Old school great Vince Gironda

Click here to the get the 5 Keys to Feeling Stonger Right Away — Free! Supercharge your workouts and get results you can really feel. Free Video, Checklist and special reports on how and why lighter weights and higher reps is the best way to build muscle.

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Best Workouts: Women

woman with dumbbells

The idea of working out has become enormously complicated these days. If you search for the best workouts for women, you’re going to come across 100’s of different answers. It’s so confusing.

This site is devoted to Baby Boomers building muscle as we age. It’s estimated that fewer than 25% of Boomer women workout regularly. Meanwhile study after study has shown that strength training has tremendous health benefits for all of us, women and men, especially as we age.

Resistance training will:

  • Reverse sarcopenia – age-related loss of muscle that begins fairly early in life but really accelerates in later years — if you fail to do something about it.
  • Prevent Type 2 diabetes and promote a healthy metabolism. Muscles store carbs and burns them for fuel when you move. The only other way your body stores carbs is with fat.
  • Control obesity by burning those carbs as fuel. Muscle even burns fuel while at rest. In fact, strength training burns calories for many hours after you’ve finished.
  • Reduce loss of bone density due to osteoporosis. Bones stay stronger that are put under loads like strength training exercises.

Fat, frail and wasting away. Very scary stuff. No one wants those things.

But why won’t we get off our butts?

A recent study in the UK by Sport England with large numbers of women aged 14-40 found that fear of judgement by others was the biggest factor holding them back. Even though a large percentage — 75% — said they would like to exercise, the fear stops them.

The two biggest fears were being judged by how they look and for their lack of skill in doing the exercises. Even experienced women said they feared being judged as being too manly because they were good at it and therefore unfeminine.

Those were younger women. What about Baby Boomers? Web MD put together a list of “myths” that hold older women back. Among them were:

  • It’s pointless, I won’t get any benefit — not true, see the list above
  • Not safe, I could get hurt — you don’t have to do Cross Fit or jump around
  • I’ve never done it before, it’s too late — it’s never too late, ever
  • No time — you can do a workout in as little as 30 minutes
  • Can’t afford it — there are very affordable ways to get started

It’s Complicated

And if you throw the fear of being judged on top of all that, it’s a lot to overcome. It’s no doubt pointless to lecture someone who feels that way. It’s not really the facts, in this case, it’s all about perception and feelings.

So, rather than attempt a lecture on self-esteem, I’d like to direct your attention to a recent post of mine that focused on Simple Workouts you can do at home. The post will walk you through inexpensive equipment and a workout routine. 

If cost is a major issue, you can do this workout with just resistance bands. Quality sets of these can be purchased for around $30. The article also shows some additional equipment that is nice to have but not completely necessary.

The Best Workout for Women

The best workout is the one you will actually do on a consistent basis. 

If you start with a simple plan in the comfort of your own home, you can avoid the concerns about judgement entirely. And who knows, once you’ve built up some confidence, you just might want to join a gym.

If you’re a Baby Boomer, please start a strength building program. It’s never too late to begin.

If you don’t want to be judged at the gym, try my simple plan at home. It will work. It may feel awkward at first, so start slowly and just stay with it. The benefits for you life can be huge with just this simple, fast and efficient workout plan.

And to read more on the health benefits, please see this post.

Please share your thoughts in the comments below. Or drop me a line, I’ll answer any questions you may have and help you get started: Brian@BoomerMuscle.com.

Click here to get your FREE copy of the 5 Keys to Feeling Stronger – Right Away! You’ll get immediate access to a video and accompanying checklist, along with a report laying out the proof behind lighter weights being the best way to build muscle — especially for people our age.

Get Rid Cellulite Thighs

woman bands lunge

If there were an easy solution to get rid of cellulite thighs, the inventor would be the richest person in the world and there’d be no need for this post. Unfortunately, there is still no magical answer.

And this article is not going to try and sell you snake oil creams or potions. But it will provide a simple method you can use to dramatically reduce the appearance of cellulite on your thighs and lower body. 

This condition afflicts almost entirely women. And it can affect any age or body size. Even thin, young models sometimes have to deal with it.

What is it exactly? It’s not just fat. It’s fat pressing through your connective tissue (collagen). According to Prevention:

“Everyone has strands of connective tissue that separate fat cells into compartments and connect fat to the skin. In women, these fibers form a honeycomb-shaped pattern, so any increase of fat tends to bulge out like stuffing in a mattress. You see less cellulite in men because their fibers run horizontally, forming a criss-cross pattern that prevents bulging or dimpling.” 

So, cellulite is fat pushing through this honeycomb, collagen web of connective tissue. Fat is very soft, unlike muscle, so it can bulge out through this honeycomb.

Virtually none of the beauty creams and potions for sale have any real impact. And even expensive surgical solutions like liposuction can actually make things worse because they do not address the top layer of fat.

However, most experts agree that building muscle while reducing fat can have a significant impact on cellulite. Simply losing weight alone does nothing to strengthen that fibrous connective tissue. Working out will strengthen it and have an impact on how much fat can bulge through. So the simple plan is this:

  • Build up the muscle in those areas
  • Eat a healthy diet low in processed carbs and sugar
  • Stay hydrated

If that wasn’t enough, women are also especially prone to the effects of sarcopenia as they age. This is the wasting away of muscle that happens to many people as part of the aging process. Experts argue about when it starts. Some say 30 some say 40. Regardless, it can rob you as much as half your body’s muscle by 70 — if you do nothing about. 

So building muscle has many benefits for women. In addition to improving conditions like cellulite, it can also have a tremendous impact on your body’s muscle and bone health. It improves your overall appearance, happiness, and freedom as you age.

Don’t worry about hulking out as you build muscle. It’s not going to happen unless you also take massive amounts of male steroids.  Also, many of the freaky photos you see on the internet of hulked-out female bodybuilders are photoshop fakes.

Building Muscle Burns Fat

Building muscle is also the most effective way to burn fat. While it’s true cardio burns slightly more calories while you’re doing it (12 vs 10 for weight training), a muscle will burn calories for much longer. In fact, some estimate that you will burn calories for a full 38 hours after a strength training workout!

If you’re not already working out, odds are you’re not going to suddenly join a gym or spend hundreds on home equipment. Ha! I gotcha covered. Here is a simple workout plan you can do with an inexpensive set of Resistance Bands and/or a dumbbell or two. No excuses.

It’s a good place to start and if you follow it, you will build muscle in the right places and make great strides in controlling that cellulite.

Muscle does burn fat, click here to learn more.

To read more on sarcopenia and its effect on our muscles as we age, please click here.

I’d love to hear your opinion on the fight against cellulite. Please share it below, or drop me a line: Brian@BoomerMuscle.com.

January 4, 2017

What is the Beachbody Scam?


It’s that time of year again when millions of people make resolutions to get fit. Where do you turn to find that miracle workout routine that will transform you quickly?

There are a ton of aggressively marketed programs available. One of the biggest is Beachbody. You might find yourself asking, what is the Beachbody scam?

Beachboy is the juggernaut of online workout companies selling P90X, P90X3, Insanity, and Tai Cheng DVD workout series (among others), plus “Shakeology” protein drinks and all kinds of fitness gear. Beachbody sells online and via infomercial and makes hundreds of millions of dollars. 

Team Beachbody is the offshoot. It is a multi-level marketing program using aggressive sales techniques. Their system allows individual “coaches” to sell the Beachbody programs to friends utilizing social media channels like Facebook to reach out. Coaches make a cut off sales, and off the sales of new coaches they recruit.

Scam is too harsh a word to describe how Beachbody does business. Some people have mislabelled it a “pyramid scheme.” And it’s not really.

It is estimated that today there are more than 300,000 coaches, and three-quarters are women below the age of 40. One of the criticisms is that to become a coach, you don’t need specific training in nutrition or exercise. Basically, they sell their own experience with the product, relying heavily on before and after pictures as visual proof of the program.

Many of these coaches become evangelical in their devotion to the products and sell hard. That alone can be a big, annoying turnoff to many people, but it doesn’t necessarily make it a scam or illegal.

The Better Business Bureau distinguishes between a Pyramid Scheme and Multi-Level Marketing this way: Pyramid schemes don’t sell product but primary recruit investors. MLMs sell product and recruit others to sell.

What about the actual workout?

From my standpoint as a Baby Boomer, the biggest problem with Beachbody is the workout itself. It is designed for people under 40. It features a mix of weights, cardio and yoga.

If you’re a Baby Boomer and can still handle that level of ‘insanity,’ more power to you. Give it a shot.


But I think most of us are best suited to a sensible program to build muscle and defy the aging process. We don’t necessarily need to become ‘ripped’ bodybuilders,  just stronger and healthier versions of ourselves. And we need a program that fits in our lifestyle and can be maintained for the long term.

We can build muscle, burn fat and get in good shape without insanity or pain. Please see these posts for more on Baby Boomers building muscle:

On Women Building Muscle after 50

A Workout Routine: Resistance Training to Build Muscle Burn Fat

Can Women over 50 Build Muscle without becoming Bulky?

What are your thoughts on Beachbody? Please share below in the comments. Or drop me a line: Brian@BoomerMuscle.com

December 21, 2016

How to Increase Sex Drive: Women

sun graphic

There are natural ways to increase sex drive women, and for men, too. And some of them are downright delicious.

Let There Be Light

I’m writing this on the Winter Solstice, Dec. 21st, the darkest day of the year in the northern hemisphere. So, let’s focus first on the impact of light.

Absorbing light is something we take for granted in the summer months. But for those of us who live in snowy places, sunlight is a sparse commodity in the dark, gloomy, frigid, winter months.

It has been proven that sunlight is one of the best ways to encourage our libido, in both women and men. It’s thought that this happens because light increases our alertness and energy production and by stimulating Vitamin D synthesis.sun art

That in turn helps increase the production of testosterone, which is the driving force in sex drive for both men and women. Researchers have found a direct link between levels of Vitamin D and testosterone.

The problem of course, is that during the winter the sun is a rare sight. And some 90% of our Vitamin D comes from sunlight contacting our skin. Where I live, it gets dark around 5 pm and doesn’t get light again until around 8 am. Plus it’s freakin’ cold out there! That alone is enough to bring on the winter blues.

So what can you do about it? Lightbox therapy has been around for some time now and has proven benefits for seasonal affective disorder. There are numerous products readily available, with some quality options in the $50 range.

These devices recreate natural light and it is advised you use them for 20 – 60 minutes in the morning.  That may seem like a hassle, but if you can fit the therapy into your lifestyle, it has proven positive effects.

Huffington Post has a nice article on the things to look for when shopping for a lightbox.

Light Helps Men Too

In fact in a recent, small study in Italy on men, it was found that light therapy had a positive impact on increasing testosterone, according to the L.A. Times.  Testosterone is the key ingredient in our sex drive. In this study, the men showed dramatic improvements in only 2 weeks of daily light therapy for 30 minutes each morning.

Again, sunlight provides our bodies with Vitamin D and there is a link between those levels and testosterone.

Exercise Releases Feel-Good Hormones

Regular exercise not only makes you feel sexier and more positive about yourself, it releases endorphins into your bloodstream for a powerful, natural high.

It is believed that endorphins stimulate the release of sex hormones. Those hormones reduce your heart rate, improve digestion, lower blood pressure and cortisol levels and just relax the body.

Endorphins are also released by other positive activities, like orgasm and laughter.

Surprise! Dark Chocolate is Good For You

Dark chocolate — that is at least 70% cocoa —  has several proven healthy benefits. It can improve your mood since it stimulates the production of endorphins. It also contains serotonin, which acts as an anti-depressant.

Dark chocolate also contains flavonoids. These act as antioxidants and protect your cells from harmful free radicals, that can cause cell damage that leads to heart disease. Flavonoids can also help lower blood pressure and reduce bad cholesterol.

In addition, studies have shown that dark chocolate (70% or higher cocoa) increases production of phenylalanine, which in turn increases the level of dopamine in the brain. That helps block certain types of pain, like seasonal depression, from the nerve endings.

Plus, it tastes great. Always in moderation, of course. But how often does science tell us to eat something great like dark chocolate?

But Wait, There’s More Good News

Good news from some more of those sex-mad Italians: Red Wine in moderation is a big libido booster for both women and men.

In women, red wine causes stronger sexual urges than any other form of alcohol, say the Italians. They found that the compounds in red wine increased blood flow to a woman’s erogenous areas, which increased levels of desire.

Red Wine is Good for Guys Too!

With men, they found that red wine has a compound that blocks the excretion of testosterone. As always, the more testosterone present, the stronger the sex drive.

Again, the benefits for both men and women are lost beyond a couple of glasses as the negative effects of alcohol settle in.

Seeking out the light

If you’d like to consider a lightbox, check out this link to NatureBright SunTouch on Amazon. Amazon carries  a wide variety. This one has the highly recommended 10,000 Lux light rating but only costs around $50. There are more than 2,500 reviews on this model, with an average 4.5 star rating out of 5. 

In the Meantime…

Try to get more light in your life and exercise on a regular basis. In the evenings, enjoy a nice piece of dark chocolate and a couple of glasses of red (remember Moderation)… and you’ll be taking positive steps to beat the winter blues. Good sleep helps a lot, too.

Please share you thoughts below in Comments. Or drop me a line: Brian@BoomerMuscle.com

December 14, 2016

Women Building Muscle After 50

woman boxer

There was a time when the idea of women building muscle after 50 would have been unimaginable. Heck, there was a time when a woman building muscle at any age would have been deemed pure insanity.

Not so much today. In fact, women over 50 can probably benefit more than anyone by building muscle. Men and women fall prey to sarcopenia, the age-related loss of muscle that literally takes muscle away from us. By 70, we can lose as much as half of all our muscle — if we don’t do something about it.

But wait, there’s more. Throw osteoporosis (bone loss) on top of that and you can see why so many elderly people look as if they are wasting away… frail shells of their former selves.

You can fight back

Resistance training can reverse both. In fact, Medical science has proven that, through resistance training, we can reduce the risk of:

  • Heart Attack
  • Stroke-
  • Diabetes-
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Rheumatoid arthritis-
  • Parkinson’s Disease-
  • Cancer
  • Multiple Sclerosis

We’re not talking about joining a weight-lifting team or an insane Cross-Fit H.I.T. bootcamp.

We are talking about adding muscle to offset and reverse sarcopenia so that we can enjoy our advancing years with a greater degree of freedom. Things like lifting a grandchild easily, or putting a piece of luggage in the overhead bin.hulk female

Don’t be turned off by pictures of female bodybuilders who look like hulking males. Many are on huge doses of male hormones. And lots of those pictures are “morphed” with photo editing software to look even more extreme.

Without tons of drugs, there’s little to no risk of turning into She-Hulk. Instead, you can expect to feel better, look better and maintain your freedom longer.

What have you got to lose?

This site is devoted to people our age-fighting back against aging. The workout routines you’ll find here are designed by us for us. And they work! Please browse the site. There are lots of articles on how to do it. You can work out at home alone or in a gym. I’ll help you learn how to do it, regardless of where you go.

And if you’re just starting out, don’t belong to a gym or have any equipment, check out these inexpensive resistance bands. It’s an entire gym that fits in a small travel bag. No excuses! Get going now, it will be one of the best gifts you’ve ever given yourself.

For more on the impact of muscle loss and why older people can indeed gain muscle even in their later years, please see this article. It includes links to information on the subject from the University of Michigan and the University of Alabama Birmingham.

There is a menu section on this site devoted to women. You can see some of the posts from it if you scroll through the bottom of this article. Thanks for stopping by! Please feel free to comment below or drop me a note at: Bri@BoomerMuscle.com

And check out the Boomer Muscle page on Facebook. The content is unique and features current articles I find and share on nutrition, workouts and more.

Click here to get your FREE copy of the 5 Keys to Feeling Stronger – Right Away! You’ll get immediate access to a video with an accompanying checklist, plus a report that lays out the proof behind the idea that lighter weights are the best way to build muscle — especially at our age.