Thursday, March 1, 2012

Muscle Marathon: Year Three: March 1, 2011 to March 1, 2012

Muscling Up!
My muscling up theory is this: if calories build fat cells and protein builds muscle cells theoretically if you eat just enough calories to fulfill your body’s energy needs and eat enough protein to fulfill your body’s muscle building needs then you should end up with a lean, muscular body with a minimum amount of fat.

In year three I tried to put that theory into practice and have had some success. I have gained more visible muscle in year three than year one and two combined. I seemed to have found the right balance with regards to my diet and my training regimen. I have a training routine that I am comfortable with, using poundage that works my muscles yet does not injure my joints. My diet keeps my body weight fairly stable at around 157 to 159 lbs. and my body is fairly lean and muscular . My skin is not as tight as it used to be and there is more of it around my belly because of vertebrae compression, but I definitely look more muscular now than I have since I started my marathon.

Apparently muscle cells don’t stop repairing and rebuilding themselves just because your body is old, just like a car doesn’t stop working just because it is old. If all the parts are still there it will still run. However if you abuse your car and neglect to put oil in the engine for example it will stop functioning as it is supposed to. The same goes for your muscle cells. If they don’t get the stimulation and the muscle building protein they need to rebuild themselves they will deteriorate. It is important for old people to understand how important exercise and getting enough muscle building protein in their diet is.

The problem I found with most old people is that they think because they are retired they have earned the right to eat as much of whatever they want - usually a lot of junk food, and do whatever they want - usually as little as possible. That combination of overeating and inactivity is the main reason old people are suffering from so many ailments, and in a lot of cases the reason they pass away before their time. Old people take in way too many calories and not nearly enough protein for their needs. That is why an ever increasing number of them have diabetes and heart problems - which requires them to take a handful of prescription drugs every day not to get healthier but just to stay alive.

It doesn’t have to be that way. Diet is the most important factor in having good health when you are old. In most cases if old people would watch their diet they would lose weight and automatically be more active. That would go a long way toward resolving many of the health problems they have.

Myself, I pay strict attention to my calorie consumption. I watch my body weight as well as my appearance. A simple thing like climbing on the scale every day and looking in the mirror can help anyone judge if their calorie consumption is exceeding their energy needs. If you are storing fat cells, you weigh more and look fat. Its simple as that. You need to look in the mirror and be honest with yourself. If you only look in you medicine cabinet mirror you only see your face, you need to look at your entire body to see if you are fat or not. Be honest and don’t lie to yourself. Saying your not fat when you are doesn’t fool anybody.

What I Eat: The GaxiDiet
Because I am trying to build muscle cells as well as starve my fat cells my diet is based on a foundation of whey isolate protein. Whey isolate protein is a muscle building meal with around 25 grams of muscle building protein. I have four meals of whey isolate protein a day. For breakfast I have a whey protein meal along with Oatmeal, flex meal, raisins, cinnamon, and nuts. For lunch I have whey isolate protein meal with non-fat milk, yogurt and raw spinach plus a fruit plate. Since I train in the afternoon I have a protein meal after working out, then one more protein meal at eight in the evening before bedtime. Besides the calories that I get in my breakfast and lunch meals I have a calorie meal around 5 PM which is usually prepared by my wife. It almost always includes vegetables and some sort of meat. We do eat out occasionally and I do eat hamburgers and pizza from time to time but I watch my portions carefully and seldom ever consume over 600 calories with this meal.

I try to find the right balance between having just enough calories to supply my body with the energy it needs but not too many so as not to store them as fat cells. I have to watch my calorie intake carefully because if I don’t get enough calories then my body will start to break down muscle cells to use for energy and I don’t want that.

I am now trying to keep my calories under 1900 which is keeping my weight in the 157-159 lb. range. In the event my weight drops below 157 lbs. I add more calories with an egg or some walnuts, raisins, and sunflower seeds, or a slice of wheat toast with peanut butter with my evening protein meal to get my weight back up. I still take photos of my food and record what I eat each day.

Weighing In
I weigh myself twice a day. I weigh myself first thing in the morning when my body is essentially empty, then again in the afternoon when my body is filled with food and drink. There is usually around 6 lb. difference, depending on if I have gone to the bathroom, have taken a walk, or was otherwise active beyond my workouts. I have tracked my body weight everyday for over three years now and keep charts. On January 15, I cut my daily calorie count to below 2000. If I can stay at around 1700 that would be ideal. I want to keep my fat weight as low as possible. I am trying to keep my weight in the 157 to 159 lbs. range. If 1700 calories a day keeps my fat weight stable then the only weight I put on over the next four years should be muscle weight.

In spite of what you probably heard around the gym, a lot of weight is not needed to have lean well defined muscles. When I weighed 175 my arms were a little over 16 inches and my waist was 36 inches. But after losing over 20 lbs I found I still had 16 inch arms but my waist had dropped to 32”. In other words one can lose body fat without losing muscle size. I never would have believed that fifty years ago when I was first working out. Back in the 60’s the golden rule for bodybuilders was to gain all the weight you could because without weight you couldn’t have big muscles. That was wrong then and it is wrong now. You don’t need to gain twenty pounds of body weight in order to have a pound of muscle. What you need to do is just gain a pounds worth of muscle cells.

Fat Weight and Muscle Weight
When I started my third year last March I weighed in at 165.5 lbs. Today at the end of year three I weigh 158.5lbs. (morning weight)

From what information I have gathered the ideal healthy body weight for a non-training 5’ 7” male, with no excess fat, is a lean 143 lbs. So if I have trimmed off all the excess fat from my body through a low calorie diet this past year it means I have gained about 14 lbs of extra muscle through weight training and my high protein diet.

The question then is, if I continue doing what I’m doing how much more muscle weight can I hope to gain? The maximum muscle gain through weight training for me, at my age, is probably around 20 -25 lbs. That means I should weigh 163 - 168 lbs when I reach maximum muscle gain. How long should that take? Typically I think it probably takes 3 to 5 years for a young man. Seeing how I am 75 years old, it could take 5 to 7 years to reach my maximum muscle growth. I think that by the end of my marathon I will have gained all the muscle I ever hope to gain. There is also the possibility that I could lose muscle size too as I age, so I’ll just have to wait and see how things develop.

In April I decided that I wanted to see how much I had to lose in order to see my ab muscles. I started a new diet of around 1500 calories. I began to lose weigh right away and by August I hit a low of 151.5 lbs and my abs looked pretty good. However, my wife thought I looked too skinny and drawn at that weight so I started to put back some weight. At 154.5 lbs. I still had some ab muscles showing so I decided to get a tan and take some photos. (I also took a video)

Out of a possible 313 workout days in year three I missed 24 days due to injuries (most of them knee injuries) or travel. I still have some shoulder pain but nothing major, just some discomfort in certain positions when I’m sleeping. My hands still suffer from arthritis and I can see that as a problem in the future. For now I am taking over the counter Ibuprofen to ease the pain. Eventually my muscles will be capable of lifting more pounds than my hands will be able to hold so I’ll have to cut back on the poundage, but I‘ll cross that bridge when I get to it. Right now I am lifting just about the maximum for muscles and hands. Overall though my joints are pretty good shape because I use only dumbbells for most all exercises.

I am still precipitation drug free and, as I have said before, I do not take any kind of steroids or other human growth hormones. My bodybuilding gains are all from Whey Isolate Protein, Creatine, and L-Glutamine.

Training Routine
My training routine changed a bit form year two as I stopped all overhead pushing motions. I also stopped doing barbell bench presses. My shoulders joints can’t take the punishment. I made adjustments in my workout schedule so that now my routine is “old body” friendly. I put extra emphasis on my arms, back and abs to help with my posture and to get that wide tapered look.

This is the training routine that I used for most of the year and will continue to use (with slight adjustments if needed) in year four.

Push-ups ………………………………... 3 sets of 15

Dumbbell Flys……………………… ….. 3 sets of 12 reps

Dumbbell Curls …………………….…...2 sets of 10 reps - 1 set of 8 reps

Preacher Curls……………………………3 sets of 10 reps

Seated Dumbbell curls …………………..3 sets of 10 reps

Dumbbell half curls……………………... 4 sets of 12 reps

One Arm Triceps Cable Push-downs ….. ..3 sets of 12 reps

Two Arm Triceps Cable Push-down ….…3 sets of 12 reps

Barbell Triceps push-ups………………... 3 sets of 10 reps

Cable Lat Pulls ……………………….…. 3 sets of 12 reps

Dumbbell Lateral Raises ………………...3 sets 10 reps

Bent over Lateral Raise…………………..3 sets of 12 reps

Shrugs……………………………….........4 sets of 12 reps

Leg Extensions……………………………4 sets of 12 reps

Dumbbell Squats………………………….3 sets of 10 reps

Calf Toe Raises……..……………………..4 sets of 20

Abs Crunches………………………………4 sets of 15 ( with weight plates)

Abs Sit-ups ………………………………...4 sets of 25

My legs have always been my weak point. Back in the 60’s when I was power lifting I could bench press more than I could squat. My biggest fear now is that my legs might give out and I will become immobilized. For that reason I have been extra careful during my marathon to use lighter weights for leg exercises. I know that means less muscle gains on my thighs but since this is about health and not ego, and the fact that I am not competing anymore, it’s OK. In December my knees began hurting a bit while doing dumbbell squats. I quickly stopped all leg exercises until they were better. I began again in January but with very light weights. I am very careful now and at the first sign of joint pain I will stop again. I don’t know if strengthening the muscles around the knee joints will keep them from going bad but I am hoping the extra muscle strength will help take some of the strain off of them. I have also doubled my Glucosamine Sulfate dosage to see if that will help strengthen my joints.

While I am very pleased with my progress so far I realize that there has to be a point where old age wins the battle and my body will no longer make gains and will finally shut down. No matter how much I train or how much protein I ingest my body will refuse to respond. I have no idea when that will be, hopefully at least twenty years from now, but all the same I accept that as a natural part of life. Right now however I see no signs of that happening as the trend continues to be toward even more gains. But more gains are not important, I will be happy just to maintain what I have for the rest of my marathon. If I am able to maintain my current level of health and fitness into my eighties I will be happy.

In the meantime I want everyone to know the truth about what I’m doing, how I’m doing it and the results of my effort. There are too many people out there making all sorts of exaggerated claims about building muscles some easy way using this or that product. There is no shortcut, it takes work, discipline, and a good diet.. Anyone can be healthy and fit if they take care of business. And the best way is the natural way without taking steroids or some other drug that has the potential to kill you. You don’t have to take drugs in order to be healthy, muscular, and fit.

So with that I’ll close year three and begin year four. I’ll see you here at the end of year four on March 1, 2013. In the meantime I wish you much health, love, and happiness.

(If you want to know what I did in the forty years between my first bodybuilding  days in the 60's and my Marathon you can go to my art website at:   - I am also on Facebook under Maestro Gaxiola and Gerald Gaxiola)


  1. Very inspiring. I too, after a 23 year lay-off from bodybuilding, restarted bodybuilding in December 2011 at age 71 and a half. Weight 202 pounds with a 42 inch waist. After 3 and a half months weight is 192, waist is 40 inches. I have started off very slowly and consider the first year as "introductory." I immediately noticed that I am incredibly weak, however strength is slowly improving. All exercises are using "free weights" in my home gym. I am currently lifting 3X per week at around 45 minutes per session. I also walk 3 days a week on a 3 mile course. I'll write you again in a few months.

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