Michael Headman, 72, gets ripped in 12 weeks

Bethany Beach man drops body fat to 11.7 percent
January 13, 2018

At what point does age make it impossible to burn fat, gain muscle and get in great physical shape? Nobody really knows the answer, but conventional wisdom says the average person loses 1 to 3 pounds of muscle annually after age 30, making it more difficult to get fit.

I have never been a believer in this philosophy, and I constantly preach to my clients that the aging process can be reversed with a proper diet and well-thought-out training program. Recently I had a chance to prove this theory, when 72-year-old Michael Headman signed up for my 12-week body transformation. By the time he was finished, even I was surprised by the final results.

Michael is a former elementary school principal from Montgomery County, Md., who retired to Bethany Beach 15 years ago. Although he has always been active in running marathons, playing tennis and bicycling, he wanted to see if he could take his body and health to the next level. “My goal was to be the most in-shape 72-year-old on the beach and to take my body to the next level,” he said when we first met to discuss his program.

After testing in the Bod Pod at 22 percent body fat, he revised his goals to reducing that to 15 percent, and getting abs and pipes. Pipes is a reference he uses to describe the long veins bodybuilders get down the front of their biceps, and I told Michael if he followed my instructions, he might get all those things and more.

In early September, Michael started his program, and although he already ate pretty healthy, we made three major changes to his diet. First, we required him to take in a lot more protein to build and repair muscles. Second, we dramatically increased his water intake to help him shed bloat and give him the energy to complete tough workouts. Last, we made him eat every three hours to elevate his metabolism and make his body burn fat more efficiently. Michael responded to the diet very quickly, and it was obvious that he was changing with each passing week, but we would not know for sure exactly how much until his final Bod Pod test.

Michael’s weight training and cardio routine was basic with a special emphasis on form. We started him off with traditional movements, but we made him focus on slowing down and reducing momentum so he isolated the muscles better and activated as many muscle fibers as possible to get greater results. At first it seemed counterintuitive because it was less work than he was used to, but after a couple weeks, he learned to really exhaust the muscles with each and every set. On the sixth week, when he did his halfway point Bod Pod test, the results were obvious: He had already dropped from 22 percent body fat to 17 percent. He was looking very fit and lean, but his competitive nature kicked in and he wanted more, revising his goal to 12 percent.

When week 12 came and it was time for Michael to do his final test, even I could not have predicted the results. He not only dropped from 22 percent body fat to an amazingly fit and ripped 11.7 percent, but he also shed 15 pounds of pure fat. In addition, he gained an astonishing 4.5 pounds of muscle, proving that even at the age of 72, if you eat right, work hard and use a science-based fitness program, it’s never too late to get the body of your dreams. “When the 12 weeks were over and they told me what I had accomplished, the tears rolled down my face,” he said. “I don’t think I could have done this without the support of my wife, Cynthia. Her encouragement and support made the 12 weeks go by a lot faster.”

Michael Headman had accomplished his fitness goals and is now in better shape than most of the people we test in their 20s. He truly looks ripped and in great shape. When I asked him what he learned from doing my program, he said, “If you set a goal and you stick with it, you can get there, and even at 72, you can still set goals and make them. The strongest muscle in the human body is the brain, and if you believe you can do it, you are already halfway to achieving success.” My staff and I are truly inspired by Michael’s results, and his transformation has raised the bar for what we believe the human body can achieve, at any age.

  • Chris Antonio is a personal trainer and former world-class weightlifter. He has been lifting for more than 20 years and has trained a wide variety of clients ranging from All-American athletes to the average person trying to get into shape. To send a question to the Ask the Trainer column, email Chris at or check out

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