If you think you’re too old to start training, much less step onto a bodybuilding stage, don’t tell it to Robert Drapkin, M.D.

“I didn’t start working out until I was 50,” says the competitive bodybuilder, who decided to pick up weightlifting after a vacation photo of his body shook him to the core. “I didn’t like what I saw and knew something needed to change.” Two years later, with the help of a personal trainer, Drapkin began prepping for his first competition.

His learning curve was steep, and there’s no denying he was off to a late start, but Drapkin was able to increasingly reverse years of inactivity with each rep and every protein shake. “There’s nothing like a contest to get you into your best shape,” he offers. In 2004 he entered the NPC Tampa Bay Classic over-50 class, and won it. Since then he’s placed in the top five in all but one of his last eight shows, and won the 2005 NPC Southern States over-60 class, the 2008 NPC Tampa Bay Classic men’s bantamweight class, the 2014 NPC Southeastern USA over-70 class, and most recently, the 2015 NPC Orlando Mid Florida Masters over-70 class.

“If you take care of your body, it will show as you get older.”

“Around the age of 30, you start losing 1% of muscle mass per year,” says Drapkin, explaining that by the time a person hits 60 they may have lost up to 30% of their muscle. “But you can see that aging athletes will have the same muscle density as younger athletes, because activity keeps the muscle cells healthy,” he says. Drapkin is living proof of this, looking better today, at 70, than he did in his 40s. “If you take care of your body, it will show as you get older,” he adds. He understands; however, the importance of working within his body’s limits and to not overtax it. “Rest and recovery are crucial,” he says.

Drapkin’s inspiring transformation translates to his oncology practice in Florida, where he helps recovering cancer patients get back to a normal life after chemotherapy. “Helping my patients was just another stimulus to make me study nutrition, exercise, and performance. When they finish their treatment, I help them get back to healthier conditions than before,” he says.

Drapkin is hungry for more definition, gains, and wins. “I was very frustrated about coming in second (in last year’s NPC Nationals over-70 class), but I’m determined to be better and do better next year. I won’t give up. My plan this year is to continue training so I can win.” – FLEX