Interview: PNBA Philip Ricardo Jr. Discusses Training After 50 and Why He Has One Cheat Meal a Week Pre-Contest

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In a Generation Iron interview, 4x Natural Olympia Men’s Bodybuilding champ Philip Ricardo Jr. discusses training after age 50 and why he includes one cheat meal weekly pre-contest. 

Professional Natural Bodybuilding Association (PNBA) Philip Ricardo Jr. shared some information about his workouts and nutrition with the Generation Iron team. Ricardo Jr. has been competing in natural bodybuilding for decades and won his first Natural Olympia in the Men’s Bodybuilding division in 2007. He won 3 more after that and is the reigning Natural Olympia champion in the Men’s Bodybuilding Grand Masters category.

In the questions (Q) and answers (A), Philip Ricardo Jr. dived into how training has altered for him after turning 50 and why he includes one relaxed nutrition day a week early during pre-contest. He also disclosed his favorite natural bodybuilding exercises.

Below is an Instagram post of Philip Ricardo Jr. at the 2022 INBA PNBA Pro/Am Philip Ricardo Legends International.

Q and A

Q: What’s your training routine look like – how many days do you work out, what split do you do, and what exercises do you do, including reps and sets?

A: My training split varies from month to month. Now that I am 50, I have to be aware have different training splits so that my body can heal up from heavy lifting for longevity. So, I rotate from a PHUL training style with heavier weights, followed by a Hypertrophy phase, then a volume phase, and lastly a de-load/high rep phase. Each phase lasts around for 4-6 weeks, depending on how my joints and tendons are holding up.”

Q: How does your nutrition look in-season? 

A: “Pre-contest is more structured and I avoid sweets, dairy, and high glycemic carbohydrate sources in my nutrition plan 6 out 7 days a week, but allow a relaxed day early in my contest prep. Since I prefer to do a longer contest prep (20-24 weeks) it allows for events like birthdays, holidays, and other special occasions to eat more relaxed meals guilt free if needed. My physique responds well to the shock it receives from a higher sugar or sodium meal once a week if I eat very clean during the week.”

Q: What are your favorite exercises? 

A: Since I love training all body parts, my favorite exercises tend to be tailored to my focus areas through the seasons of my career. 

  • When I first started training, Squats became my favorite because I had to focus on building my legs, which were my weakness at that time.
  • After me legs became a strength, I wanted a wider back so Lat pulldowns and pull-ups were my favorites
  • My shoulders also needed more development, so side laterals and rear delt movements were my number one exercises.
  • At this stage in my career, I have seen that my legs are starting to decline compared to my younger years, so I have been focused on Step-Lunges and straight-legged deadlifts to awaken the dormant muscles in my glutes and hamstrings without injuring my back with heavy squats.”
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