How to Build Those Mature Muscles

Dale Haas worked out with a dumbbell at Anytime Fitness. Photo by Sam Arendt
Ozaukee Press staff

Dale Haas of Port Washington hammed it up for the audience at the Wisconsin State Fair’s annual Flex at the Fair.

He did the famous Hulk Hogan ear wave and made like he was pumping up a balloon with his thumb in his mouth and his arm rising higher with each breath, calling for more cheers. It was all to Steppenwolf’s famous “Magic Carpet Ride,” and it worked to perfection.

“I was blessed to do this,” Haas said. “The crowd treated me like a god.”

At 162 pounds and 5% body fat, he looked like one, what with ripped abs, a huge chest and muscles and veins popping everywhere.

He almost didn’t go through with it. His sons had to talk their father, who was about to celebrate his 61st birthday, into doing another bodybuilding event, and he finally agreed.

But when he got to the 2017 State Fair, he was told everything was open class and not divided by categories as in years past. He would be competing against people half his age and younger.

“I decided to stay in. I had come this far,” he said.

Haas’ two competitors were 22 and 45. He knew he had the “smooth” younger one beat. “I thought, ‘Well, sonny, welcome to bodybuilding.’”

But the 45-year-old was a well-defined specimen who took home the title.

Haas may have taken second in the competition, but he won in other ways. The champion, after inquiring about Haas’ age, told him he was his new inspiration.

Ladies stopped Haas and asked to take a photo with him. “I would be humbled,” he said.

Haas asked if he should take his shirt off or leave it on. They said it didn’t matter. He took it off.

“I’ll never have abs like this again,” he said.

More rewards were to come minutes later, after months of training were over.

“What a great feeling. I could have anything I want to eat,” he said, “and what a place to eat at State Fair.”

Haas promptly devoured a pulled-pork sandwich.

“That was the start,” he said.

The car was a long walk away, and the route took Haas and his family through the Wisconsin Products Pavilion. He had a grilled cheese sandwich and got ice cream to go.

It was his third stint competing at the fair. In his 30s, he did it for himself and took first in his class and second overall. When he turned 40, he competed for his wife. This time, it was for his sons.

All times involved a strict training regimen and eating schedule for several months.

Going to the gym wasn’t a problem. Haas had been going regularly before fitness centers caught on.

“It’s 42 years straight,” he said of weightlifting. “I joined my first gym when I was 20 and I never looked back.”

He still does 35 minutes of cardio in the morning and 45 minutes of weights in the afternoon four days per week.

Beyond that, training was “diet, diet, diet,” he said. “Seven days a week, 24 hours a day.”

Haas said he built up his body naturally, unlike some who use “super juice.”

His diet consisted of shredded wheat and a cup of cottage cheese for breakfast. At 9:30 a.m., he’d eat a half cup of cottage cheese and a banana.

Lunch was fish — salmon, tilapia or tuna — frozen vegetables and any type of bean — kidney, black, pinto, etc. — for a complex carbohydrate with protein. In the afternoon, he had a protein drink.

Dinner was half a chicken breast, vegetable and a sweet potato.

“I’m fortunate that I can eat chicken seven days a week,” he said.

A night-time snack was oatmeal, sometimes with artificial sweetener or raisins for flavor, and two hard-boiled egg whites.

The yolks were given to Haas’ four-legged best friend, Ford the Chesapeake Bay retriever.

“The dog knows the sound of a cracking egg,” he said.

Haas has the willpower to pull it off. At work — he’s a metal fabricator — he can take a big whiff of a box of donuts without being tempted.

“It’s mind over matter,” he said.

In summer, he would go to parties but take his own food along.

He even looked at dessert cookbooks at night and marked certain pages. During Eastertime, he bought treats and hid them in a closet to eat after his training was done.

But, he said, human nature kicked in. He wanted what he couldn’t have when he couldn’t have it. Once he could have sweets, the desire had left.

While Haas occasionally enjoys a good Scotch, he said “alcohol is the worst thing for you” because it slows metabolism and produces estrogen in men.

He still diets from Jan. 1 through Labor Day so he can look good in summer, cruising around in his yellow jeep with no doors and the top down and Ford sitting in the backseat, and he eats meals on a strict schedule. Dinner is at 5:30 p.m.

“If it gets to be 6 o’clock, I’m chewing on my wrist,” he said.

Haas got into weightlifting in his teens after (actually) getting sand kicked in his face at the beach. He got his first weight set in high school, vinyl Golden Pro. He later bought his first Olympic set and thought he was “big stuff.”

Haas started lifting in the basement of the Manchester Mall in Grafton. On Monday, Wednesday and Friday, women had the main area and free weights were off to the side. Before long, the guys had to ask the manager to ask the women for permission to lift. Some would grunt loudly and intimidate them, Haas said, and the gym eventually closed.

He found another spot to lift weights in his parents’ barn that they converted to a gym on their game farm in Cedarburg. He returned to Manchester Mall when it reopened.

Haas’ longest tenure is at his present gym, Anytime Fitness in Port Washington. He has been there since it opened.

Two of Haas’ inspirations were his uncle Rex and 1950s bodybuilder Steve Reeves.

Haas never had a personal trainer. He picked up health tips from magazines and fellow gym members.

He has learned that losing weight has to come from within.

“One hundred people can tell you you’ve got to lose weight. You won’t until you decide it,” he said.

While the best plan is to combine weights and cardio, he said if people have to pick one to take the weights. Hours after lifting, he said, muscles are recuperating and still burning fat.

While men in their 40s start to lose their hormones — “I’m probably negative testosterone,” Haas joked — he still suggests they weight train.

“You can make progress. You can still add a little muscle on,” he said.

Haas topped out at bench lifting 335 pounds. At 50 years old, he could still lift 305 with no bounce. At 60, he lifted 235, after which, “I jumped around the gym and everybody high-fived,” he said.

“I truly thank the Lord I can do it yet. I’m very blessed.”

Haas hopes to have the same influence on others that he had on the Flex at the Fair winner, which is why he agreed to share his story. He gladly talks to new gym members who aren’t familiar with working out.

“If I can help anybody out, it’s always a privilege,” he said.



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Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

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