Scott Herd - Bodybuilding Battles Time
At age 49, Springfield, Massachusetts native Scott Herd took up the sport of bodybuilding as a personal challenge. Initially, he just wanted to see what it would take to whip his 5"-10", 188lb body into competition shape.
But almost two years later, this visibly very fit 51-year old, who now has three competitions and a second-place Grand Masters medal under his belt, says pumping iron and competing have not only reshaped his body but his outlook on life.
"It's the health aspect of it…the fact that looking better makes me feel better," Herd said, explaining why he's stayed with what's often considered a younger person's sport.
And, Herd said, he's finding there's benefits to lifting weights that extend beyond the stage.
"I believe, finally, that if you maintain good health and a good physique you can stay competitive in all areas of life", Herd Said. "It's always a battle against Father Time, "he added.
He'd also dabbed with working out at the gym, but never got serious about weightlifting.
That was until he found himself approaching 50. The milestone birthday sent this aging athlete - he'd already blown an Achilles tendon and spent a summer sidelined by an injury not long before his epiphany - looking for a new fitness challenge. Herd said he seen those bodybuilding infomercials on TV - the ones with the before-and-after pictures - and was intrigued by the idea of trying to mold his muscles into competition shape.
"I never knew quite what it took and the discipline that was necessary," Herd said of his self-directed efforts at shaping up with weights.
Ultimately, Herd said it was watching his longtime friend, David Cordero, transform his physique with the help of a personal trainer that pumped up his interest in bodybuilding.
Cordero began working with local fitness trainer and champion all-natural bodybuilder Luke Malone of East Longmeadow, MA in 2002.
Natural bodybuilders perfect their physiques through the use of targeted muscle work, proper nutrition, protein powder supplements and vitamin supplements. All natural bodybuilding competitions conduct some form of testing for steroid use.
He became more and more intrigued by the sport as he watched Malone whip Cordero into shape for an upcoming bodybuilding competition.
"David had been working out for a long time, and I saw the transformation in him," Herd said. "I saw his arms get bigger, his abs get tight…I saw his food change…I thought if he can do it, I wonder what I would look like."
Inspired, he set out to find out all he could about the sport of natural bodybuilding. By August of 2002, Herd was also working out with Malone.
Six months later, the 164lb Herd took the stage in a skinny, speedo-type costume. He'd dropped 24lbs. His body fat weighed in a mere six percent.
And in his first competition Herd took second place in the Grand Masters class, third place in the Masters, and fifth in the Novice Lightweight class at a spring show.
Not bad for a guy with no previous bodybuilding experience. "True bodybuilding incorporates not only how you work out, but what you eat and how much rest," Herd explained.
"You can do a million sit-ups but if you still have a big tub around your middle you're never going to show the muscle, you have to cut calories and eat the right foods."
Especially during the 12-week "diet down" training period before a competition that is when you eliminate many non-nutritive foods…you eliminate many fats, sugar, and most carbohydrates.
Low-fat proteins such as skinless chicken, tuna, egg whites, salads, oatmeal prepared without sugar and protein powders become diet staples of the natural bodybuilder.
So does eating "five or six times a day" to help stoke your metabolism to burn body fat and fuel muscle growth.
But that doesn't mean that because he's a bodybuilder. Herd leads a 24/7 life of diet deprivation, or he spends hours at the gym every day.
What he's learned in his two-plus years as a competitive bodybuilder is that, just as in life, this sport requires balance.
"Following a bodybuilders diet doesn't mean you can't go out and enjoy some cake and ice cream and sweet foods occasionally, he said, stressing that such treats are a definite no-no during the 12-week diet down. "But you have to be disciplined."
The same principle applies to working out. "You train year round," Herd said, "I'm in the gym five days a week." But his five day-a-week regime only keeps him in the gym about an hour each time - not much than most people who hit the gym to shape up.
"You should only work on one-to-two body parts a day," he explained. "You must do chest and biceps (one day), shoulders and triceps (next day), calves and back, and then legs. Muscles, he explained need time to recover in order to increase in size, doing their actual growing during the rest phase of training.
And Herd did admit that an hour a day is not including cardiovascular. When Herd starts his 12-week competition training, he ups it to 30 minutes of good intense cardio.
It's all designed to reduce the weight, he said, explaining that all a bodybuilder wants to do to show on stage is "skin, bone, and muscle."
"But you don't want to do too much cardio; you'll tear down muscle," he said. After all, the goal isn't just to reduce body fat but to be as hard, lean and ripped as possible for a show", he said.
As Herd gets ready to start the 12-week diet down and training for his next competition and asked why he keeps it up?
It certainly isn't for fortune or fame, as Herd pointed out. "There's no money in competitive bodybuilding. It is largely done for the competition and the passion of the sport," Herd said.
And bodybuilders do become passionate about their avocation. "To me the sport of bodybuilding shows a lot of discipline. It sets a goal for you," Herd said. "You can grow with the sport…it has the ability to keep you focused."
And Herd said that focus and discipline helped him manage so many things in his life.
"It reduces my stress level and gives me a positive attitude on life, which I think is vital," Herd said. "To me, working out is part of life…as long as I'm able and blessed with good health, I want to continue bodybuilding."
Though Herd maintains his own routine in the off-season he still taps the expertise of his original trainer, Luke Malone, to prep for a show.
Working with a trainer, as Herd put it, makes all the difference. And it is where he thinks any novice should start.
"Hire a personal trainer if you're not knowledgeable about bodybuilding," Herd said. "Most gyms have a trainer who can get you going in the right direction."
Herd's next show is Musclemania Atlantic. He started his training around the second week of January. He said this time around he's been concentrating on building his leg muscles which he feels are his weak point.
"I have very tall legs." He said. "In Musclemania if you have weak legs it takes away from the judging process." "My goal for Musclemania is to look better, to look strong, and to have more size and more muscle mass and still weigh under 175lbs", he said.
But even if he doesn't medal this time, at the half-century mark, Herd can still boast that he is in better shape than he was in his 20s. Not too many guys can claim that.