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Sam Shampanier
How I Decided to Get Fit at 48 – and Keep Going Strong at 66

Sam Shampaniers Stats When We Talked with Him 💪

Russia and United States
66 years
183 cm
(6 ‘)
80 kg
(176 lbs)

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👋 Hi! Tell us about yourself and your training

I am Sam Shampanier and I am 66. I am from Russia but now I’m living in Pasadena, CA, staying with my daughter and her family(husband and two daughters). Long ago I graduated from the Moscow Institute of Telecommunications.

As for now, I have been teaching English or now and then Bridge(Duplicate). My major accomplishment is my daughter and two very lovely granddaughters.

With my 50th birthday approaching, I started attending my friends‘ birthdays parties and was taken aback by the way they looked, realizing that I was looking at myself! It was ground zero. I bought Arnold’s ‘The New Encyclopedia of Modern Bodybuilding’ and started going to Planeta Fitness by 5:30 in the morning.

Arnold and his partner and friend Franko Colombo started their sessions at 7:00 and by that time quite a few guys were already in the middle of their own sessions. So I tried to follow these heroic patterns before I soon realized that I happened to live in cold autumn Moscow, not in sunny CA were to get up at 5 am is much easier.

When I started, I was 48, now I am 66. In university, I played basketball, later did a lot of cycling. I had also served in the army for 2 years.

There is another hobby of mine, Duplicate Bridge, which I used to have been playing regularly for a number of years and from time to time have students or sometimes classes. Two times I and my team-mates went to European Championships and once – to a World Championship.

Back to the subject. What do I like most about bodybuilding? If you have heard from someone that it is lifting weights, do not believe it.

Of course, the process is great but the best part of the whole idea is the way you look, the clothes you can afford(not financially!), the cars(I mean not super expensive ones but still quite exotic), the special glances of girls passing by, etc.

And of course, I haven’t forgotten to say a few words about people I‘ve come across in the gym and some of them have become my friends with whom, every now and then, I meet at pubs and restaurants. But the negative aspect is about to stick its chin out.

Especially if you are a beginner, don’t hurry to make friends in the gym for it will distract you from the training. I know it’s difficult but try to find a happy medium.

⏱ Describe a typical day of training

I have never had a training log. It takes time and distracts you from your workout.

Start your day with a hard workout! It is the hardest part of your daily routine, no matter what your occupation is. The rest of the day will seem much easier for you!

In my training course, I follow the advice of the great Rony Coleman who had been doing the same splits throughout all his career sometimes changing the order of the exercises!

I also add, but quite rarely, some new exercises, never abandoning the old ones though it lengthens the total time of the session. (But then you always have your blender with BCAA and L-Carnitine mixed).

And don’t forget to vary tempo from one session to another, counting seconds between sets and exercises so that muscles do not get used to the same routine. The essence of this approach is in a higher quality of your doing exercise.

You learn to feel the work and functioning of muscles, repeating the same exercises day after day, month after month. And the growing perfectness of workout rendition will prevent you from getting bored!

My splits are standard:

  • Legs(only blocks)
  • Pectorals(plus 2 or 3 exercises on triceps(3 sets each))
  • Back(plus 2 or 3 exercises on biceps(3 sets each))
  • Deltoids(a lot of drop-sets on all groups)
  • Arms(4 supersets (biceps/triceps), plus two more exercises on biceps)
  • Abs wind up each second session
  • Cardio(2-3 days a week)

I train 5-6 days a week for about 2 hours. Sometimes 10-15 minutes less or more.

My favorite exercises are the shoulders. The absence of belly and the presence of broad shoulders give you looks!

Now to the training philosophy or you can say life philosophy which is very closely intertwined in this case. I often think to myself after the session ‘Now you have the right to get down to some vices. You earned them. Of course, don’t take it for the ultimate truth.

But the fact is, you must earn everything including delicious but unhealthy food, sex, fun in life, the boost of your inner drive, etc. The day of the party with your friends and a whale of food and spirits, the first thing in the morning is a hard cardio session, followed by a routine training workout the next morning no matter what it costs.

There’s no specific program, just the splits, and exercises listed above, which according to what I see in the mirror and people’s comments give good results. And I must tell you that the best indicator of the shape you are in is not the scales but a mirror. If you like what you see there is no need for weighing.

I do not take part in competitions but I try to look decently throughout the whole year. That is why I don’t need any fat loss techniques, just the sensible approach to food will do the right thing and your body will do the rest. You want abs – eat properly, you want separation – eat properly, etc.

I train alone (and I have already explained the advantages of it) and when I need some advice I always can ask a question or two from a standby coach!

When I need help, which occurs once a week I ask a colleague. Just promise him the same help with the first rep, allowing at least 15% of extra weight, and he is yours!

My training day starts with a protein shake (My favorite brand is Optimum Nutrition).

Then on my way to the gym, I eat a banana and, 20-30 minutes before the session, I drink my pre-workout. Now it is Pre Jym and 2 scoops (1500mg) of creatine (Con-cret) mixed in one blender. (Together with creatine in Pre Jym, it gives you 3.5 g, which is quite enough for the first month and a half, then take a pause).

30 minutes after the session commences, I start drinking BCAA (XTEND) and L-Carnitine LS3 (3000mg) mixed in a blender, keeping drinking throughout the whole session.

After the gym, I have a protein shake.

There’s standard equipment in my fitness bag, including deodorant and eye cream.

As for the cardio, I prefer running and cycling for 40-50 minutes but sometimes I got lazy and try to skip it, though when I am not able to do the workout I always do cardio. When I am in the right mood I come back to the gym later in the afternoon and do cardio even if I have already done my workout in the morning!

I have never had a training log. It takes time and distracts you from your workout. Everything will be in your head just after a few weeks of training!

It always makes me smile watching guys wasting half the time of their session writing down something in their training logs.

👊 How do you keep going and push harder?

What makes me go to the gym? What makes you brush your teeth?

One of my friends rather skeptically stated that once I stopped doing exercises I would miss out on muscles, hence, looks, etc. I objected quite sympathetically that once he stopped brushing his teeth he would soon lose all of them!

Your exercises must become your modus vivendi. Quite a few of my gym colleagues and coaches say that bad health makes and motivates people to go to the gym. I believe that bad health makes them go to see the doctor and bad looks motivate them to join a gym. Then you start worrying about your health as it starts slowing your progress.

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Going down the tough way of workout your body starts to reveal its weakest points and you start to undertake appropriate measures. Now you can go see a doctor! Don’t confuse cause and effect relation. You start looking more closely at what you eat (and it’s 60-70% of the success), buying such supplements as Omega-3, CLA, glucosamine-chondroitin, etc., you cut severely on carbs and add all kinds of protein!

But the biggest motivation is curiosity. I want to know (though I know the truth) who will win. You or nature which believes that after you have accomplished all most important (from its point of view) deeds you can be laid to rest and it (nature) starts to nudge you unmercifully and unceremoniously down that way. And the last but not the least here is not to live till 100 but to live till decent age, not as a vegetable.

I have managed to keep training for so long because I have saved that curiosity and drive which is the most difficult challenge of all.

As for injuries, I must say that concentration and focus throughout the whole session especially at the moments of re-racking weights will save you a lot of health.

I can advise you to read a lot and do a lot of self-teaching, thus letting the champions’ experience float through your mind. Even the best coaches are not able to do the mental work for you. Read, think, work.

About making time for my training, I usually go to the gym early in the morning when I’m in no need to anyone. But just in case…Hm…I always leave my cellphone in the locker.

And the last in this paragraph. I have never met any challenges in my gym life. All have been fun and when my colleagues ask how I am doing, I always answer that I am great, otherwise I would be in some other place, not gym!

🏆 How are you doing today and what does the future look like?

If I could start over my fitness career I would change nothing except starting a little earlier.

Every 5 years, I invite my friends with their families to some fancy restaurant to drink and eat to my health (but mostly to theirs). At the end of the last party, I said, ‘Look at me. You will never see me in such a form’.

And they got it wrongly, I reassured them in a second: ‘In 5 years I’ll look better’ We all had a good laugh and raised another toast to our long-standing friendship!

Though I must admit that with years one has to train more with increased intensity to give a boost to decelerating metabolism, which is still a much easier challenge than to keep up your inner drive.

My plans for the future are clear and transparent. They deal with bodybuilding/fitness, my daughter Kristina, and granddaughters, Sarah and Nataly, lovely little creatures who need my constant attention. And I very much hope to restart playing bridge.

If I could start over my fitness career I would change nothing except starting a little earlier. On the other hand, I remember as long ago a thought struck me. I used to read ‘Muscle and Fitness’ and once I read in an editor column ‘You are 20 and sure enough, you are dreaming of biceps of 40-45 cm’.

I laughed heartily at that statement because when I was 20, I was so great looking that there was no need in 40-45 cm biceps and my thin arms quite nicely matched my thin body.

🤕 How do you recover, rest and handle injuries?

My idea of recovering is switching to some other activities like reading, bridge, teaching English which is actually my basic occupation!

If I do have some light injuries I go to the gym and all take care of itself. If there are serious injuries I take a break for a week, never longer.

Traveling is not a problem. You can always find a fitness club.

🍎 How is your diet and what supplements do you use?

I have already said a few words about my diet. Actually there is no any specific diet. I don’t count calories. Just get rid of carbs and add protein. That is simple!

My usual day starts with a protein shake (ON (Optimum Nutrition) to be exact), then my pre-workout and in-workout supplements (see above) with protein shake immediately after the session.

My first meal of the day (in addition to a banana in the car on my way to the gym in the morning) is at about noon when I go to the cafe and ask for an omelet of 6-7 whites and one yolk.

At 2:30 I have 150g of chicken breast with cucumbers, at 5:30 another 150g of turkey breast. I very often have these meals while driving from one student to another. And traffic jams are all you need to have these nice meals.

At 8-8:30 in the evening I have a cold supper of salad of cucumbers and onions and a can of tuna (no oil).

An hour before bed (11-11:30) I usually drink a Casein shake (again, my favorite brand is Optimum Nutrition). You can afford green apples any time a day, even before bed.

During parties with my friends I ignore any diet and have meals and drinks (preference-vodka) like all of them or else you will lose friends. You can name these days to cheat days. They happen 2 times every 3 weeks.

I try to limit coffee to one cup a day, to let the pre-workout do its job.

👍 What has inspired and motivated you?

I have always considered books or magazines as sources of knowledge helping on my way to the results. What motivated and inspired me is these results as well as my friends’ opinion and the newly opened opportunity to another level of clothes, reaching a desired image outwardly or inwardly.

My guide in the world of fitness/bodybuilding has always been ‘Muscle and Fitness’.

While lifting, I prefer no music, trying to concentrate on what I am doing at the moment, which helps avoid injuries. When running I listen to heavy metal.

The best advice I have ever received came from myself, ‘Go to the gym!’.

✏️ Advice for other people who want to improve themselves?

Become a gym member, buy sports clothes (no need for anything fancy), and start leaving your comfort zone behind. Then you will begin quite naturally to pay attention to what and how much you eat.

Don’t forget to read special magazines to pick up your own complex of exercises. Feel free to ask experienced colleagues for advice and help. Everybody likes to offer advice.

What people do wrong in the gym is taking notes in their training logs, which takes a lot of precious time, and creates a false feeling of achievement. Another issue is talking. There are many more pleasant places for making friends than amid barbells and dumbbells and strange looking machines.

And the last but not the least here. Remember. You come to the gym not to become strong, which will come true anyway, not to become the world champion in powerlifting, which will never come true, but to create a decent facade.

🤝 Are you taking on clients right now?

It depends. It’s like in the bridge. The future client must call you incessantly, disturb you any time a day, remind you of herself/himself for you to start to believe that it’s very much important to her/him. Only then we could discuss the matter involved.

More than that, I must be free to call her/him or even drop by at any time to check on her/his meals(like WADA officers), mood, etc.

I am not a genius, which makes me a good teacher and I know your problems, doubts, and hidden fears maybe even better than you do!

And, of course, no online clients as I must see your eyes.

The most common question I’ve gotten is, ‘How old are you?’ And you know the answer.

📝 Where can we learn more about you?

Search for Sam Shampanier on Facebook or Instagram.

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