Vic Seipke: Bodybuilder over 40!

Submitted by Mr.Berg on Thu, 02/06/2020 - 08:32
vic seipke bodybuilding

During 1976 the AAU began sanctioning an annual Mr. America contest for men past 40 years of age. The first winner was Vic Seipke, a fireman from Detroit, Michigan. At 44, Vic is typical of the recent Renaissance in past 40 competition. He began entering physique contests in 1952 at the age of 19, placing seventh that year at the Mr. America show. By 1955 Seipke had improved enough to win AAU Junior Mr. America. He placed third in the Mr. America that year and fifth in 1956. At that point he dropped out of competition.

Bill Reynolds met Vic at the 1976 Gold's Classic Physique Show and they picked up the thread of his story.

Just to start off easy, Vic, what are your height and weight?
Seipke: I'm 5'9" and I weighed 195 before training for this contest. When I'm cutting down for a show, I don't like to take measurements or weight myself, because the losses are too discouraging.

Why did you stop training for contests back in the fifties?
At the time I came in fifth at the 1956 Mr. America contest, I was engaged to be married. Priorities changed and I decided to devote more of my time and energy to marriage and raising a family. Of course, I still worked out, but I didn't get into competition again until 1962. That year the Mr. America was being held in Detroit, so no travel was involved. I placed fifth then.

But then you dropped out for a considerable time. What caused you to make a comeback?
Seipke: That's right, I didn't train for contests again until January of 1976. I was motivated by the new Mr. Past 40 contests, and my first recent competition was at the Mid-America bodybuilding championships, where I won the Master's division. Then I entered the Mr. America contest, more or less as a tune up for the Mr. America Past 40. Finally, in Florida, I was fortunate enough to win over Cliff Ford in a very close contest for the Mr. America Over 40. I consider myself very lucky to have won.

Just for the sake of curiosity, at the time you weren't actually competing, you did train with weights to some extent, didn't you?
Seipke: Oh, yes. I trained at least twice a week all of that time on weights, and I also do quite a bit of running. I feel that as a person gets older, the cardiovascular system becomes very important. Of course, when I'm training for the last month or so, because it's too fatiguing to be able to concentrate sufficiently on the bodybuilding.

How much running do you do?
Seipke: I usually try to go three or four times a week and each time I try to run three or four miles at a clip. I like to keep up 6:30 to 7:00 minute per mile pace, which I feel stimulates the system enough that I'm getting a good workout.

In general terms, how do you set up your bodybuilding workouts?

Seipke: Being a Detroit fireman, I work every other day and get three days off on my second alternate day. So, I train three times a week and I break each day into three sessions. In the morning session I get my shoulders, chest and back. During the afternoon I train a little more back, legs, calves and abdominals. Then my evening session is usually on the arms. I have to do it this way because of my work, but I would split it up more conventionally if I could.

So do you actually train at work, or at home on your off days?
Seipke: I do it at home, because I feel that at work you just can't get yourself mentally ready for a good workout. Imagine dashing off to a fire in the middle of a workout! At home I have a barbell and dumbbell set, a flat bench, incline bench and a Scott curl bench. I can also do chins and there's a college close by with a Universal Gym where I can do my leg presses and lat pulley work.

Would you give me in detail a workout for one of your favorite bodyparts?
Seipke: Let's take the back as an example. I start out with heavy barbell rows, the weight used fluctuating according to how I feel. On a good day I may warm up with 195 and go up to 250 in five sets, usually for eight to 12 reps. I try to keep rests down to a minute on heavy exercises like this. When I get into lighter movements like on arm dumbbell rows, I try to cut down to 30 seconds rest between each of my five sets. Then I'll do five sets of lat pulldowns behind the neck, doing anywhere between 180 and 200 pounds, again trying to hold to the 30-second rest period. After a two-minute break, I go into the same five-set sequence of pulldowns in front with a narrow grip, resting 30 seconds between sets. This is a typical back workout for pre-contest. It's usually 15 to 25 sets three times a week.

You've spanned what we would call several generations of bodybuilders. Can you tell me how your training has changed from the early 1950s to the present day?
Seipke: The biggest change has been in nutrition. At this point I'm firmly convinced that nutrition is responsible for 75 to 80 per cent of a bodybuilder's success. The training itself is more intense. Years ago you would do a set and maybe rest a minute, or as much as three. There wasn't today's constant pushing for short rests and peak muscle contraction, with the resultant muscle density.

What's your diet in the off-season and how do you modify it for a contest?
Seipke: On my regular diet I try to keep carbohydrates down to about 100 grams a day and my protein up to at least one gram per pound of bodyweight. With a contest coming up I cut down for the last two weeks to as close to zero carbohydrates as I can comfortably get.

I don't believe in going to total zero, because it depletes my energy too much, and I lose strength and endurance I need for my workouts. So, my intake probably ranges between 20 and 25 grams of carbos per day just before a show. At the same time I also increase my protein intake up to over 250 grams per day. I eat mainly beef, chicken and turkey for the protein, staying off the powders before a contest.

What supplements do you use?
Seipke: I like desiccated liver, kelp tablets, vitamin C, digestive enzymes, plus choline and inositol to emulsify fat. usually I take these supplements three times a day.

From where do you receive your inspiration and your training impetus?
Seipke: In my position, you can gain a lot of inspiration from the younger guys, because the caliber of physiques has gone up considerably. The men from years ago just can't compare. As you get older, it becomes a little harder to pattern yourself after the younger guys, but it is a challenge that I accept. As long as I have my health I will keep training and I'll remain in competition until the desire isn't there anymore. Right now I like it.

Will you tell me a little about your life outside of bodybuilding?
I'm a member of the Detroit Fire Department and have been for 24 years. I will retire in July of 1977. In the meantime I've also been going to college and I will get my degree in fire science at the end of this semester. Then I'd like to go into industrial fire protection or maybe into small town fire department.

And your family?
Seipke: my wife Marge and I have two teen-aged children, a daughter Chris and a son Steve. They attend high school, where my son is on the track team and runs cross country. He's also getting interested in weights. This pleases me, because I didn't want to push him. He had to discover it on his own, and this is what has taken place.

My wife, children and I attend a local Baptist Church and I think this is one of the three points a man should have - physical fitness, mental health and a spiritual life.

What about hobbies?
Seipke: Years ago I used to build model airplanes and later I did intricate dental lab technician work. But since I've been going to college, Bill , the only hobby I've had time for is my bodybuilding. The training suits me in every way.