In a previous article this has been touched on, but it’s something worth expanding on. If you are under the impression that lifting weights is only for young athletes, you are wrong. If you believe that once you reach a certain age that you will have to stop lifting heavy weights, then again, you are wrong. Every person who has dedicated themselves to improving their body physically should make it a goal to continue to lift heavy weights for the rest of their lives. Having the ability to lift heavy weights well into the elderly years will have profound benefits on a person’s quality of life. It is imperative to maintain at least a base level of strength forever.
Stop me if you’ve heard this before, “You’ll regret what you’re doing when you need a knee replacement when you get older.” Anyone who has ever participated in a rigorous strength training program or competition has probably been told this at least a hundred times. There exists this belief that lifting heavy weights will inherently lead to an injury when we get older. Yes, it is true that as the human body ages, things do get more difficult. For example, it becomes harder to recover and bounce back from a hard training session. It may take longer to recover from an injury that does happen. More time will have to be dedicated to warming up before lifts because the risk of injuries can increase as we age. We may have to be a little bit more disciplined with our diets because we won’t be able to shove down a dozen spicy wings and not feel like our chest is going to explode the next day. All of these things may be something we will likely face one day, but none of it means that lifting heavy is unhealthy and something we need to stop doing. While I am specifically talking about lifting weights, you will hear the same kind of stuff about people who run marathons, participate in triathlons or Iron Man competitions. Many people say that intense exercise will lead to a harder elderly experience. The reality is that working to maintain and progress physical fitness, especially strength, is going to be greatly beneficial for us when we are old. One of the biggest health concerns that physicians have for their older patients is their muscular strength. Have you ever been to a commercial gym early in the morning? Have you noticed the high concentration of elderly people working out? That is because their doctor told them they need to hit the weights in order to maintain a decent quality of life. Their muscles have atrophied over the years, and now they have trouble performing routine and menial tasks like carrying groceries into the house. I can’t tell you how many times someone I know told me this, “I used to do all that heavy lifting when I was your age.” My first response is usually, “Well why did you stop?” If we do what is necessary to take care of our bodies and stay strong now and for the entirety of our adult lives, then wouldn’t that mean we won’t have to play catch up when we’re old and start having problems? I get it, as we get older life becomes more stressful, our responsibilities increase and we don’t seem to have the time to get in any exercise. My answer to that is, “Bullshit.” There is always time. Even if all you can do is twenty minutes of bodyweight exercises before you have to get ready for your early morning work shift, do it. Although it is quite nice to have access to a 7,600 square foot gym, it is not necessary to maintain a strong and active lifestyle. The avenues to being fit and strong are limitless. Have the discipline to do the work now, so that you don’t have to pay the price later.
If you’ve been watching any of the Olympic weightlifting events, you’ve likely seen this guy. Lu is a Chinese Olympic lifter who just won gold in his third Olympic event. At the age of 37, Lu still competes at a world class level. Why is he worth mentioning? Most world class athletes involved in sports that require a high level of power and explosiveness don’t make it to the age of 37 in their careers. For example, the average NFL career is roughly four years. With Lu, you are witnessing something pretty amazing. For someone at the age of 37 to be able to win gold in an Olympic weightlifting event is nothing short of spectacular. He is now the oldest man to win gold in his event. With a 375 pound snatch and a 450 pound clean and jerk, he took the gold and set a new Olympic record. And it looks like his knees are working just fine. So how is Lu’s performance relevant to the average joe trying to be strong? It means that the human body is capable of performing at a high level for a long time. We may not have the same genetics or physical talent that Lu has, but you can’t tell me that we can’t push ourselves at least to some extent when we’re older.
“But Lu is only 37. That’s not old.” Fine. How about someone older? Have you ever heard of James Harrison? If you haven’t, that’s a shame. James Harrison was one of the most intimidating linebackers to ever play the game of football. With the reputation of being a quarterback killer, Harrison had an effect on the game that very few do. As an integral part of the Pittsburgh Steelers’ defense, Harrison’s unmatched ferocity and head for the game put the fear of God into the hearts of many quarterbacks. At the age of 39, Harrison retired from football as a two time Super Bowl champion. Even into his late thirties, Harrison played at the highest level in his sport and will likely be in the Hall of Fame. If you think he has quietly drifted away to age like sour milk, think again. At the age of 43 years old, James Harrison is still an outright monster. If you haven’t checked out his Instagram page, you are really missing out. This man is absolutely destroying the weights in his gym. Just recently, he posted a video of repping 545 pounds on the bench. Many people seem to think that 40 is that magic age where everything falls apart and nothing works right. Well, three years into his 40’s, Harrison looks like he could return to the NFL and knock off a few more quarterbacks.
If you need further proof that age is just a number, check out Rudy Kadlub. Rudy is the co-owner of Kabuki Strength. At the ripe old age of 55, Rudy began his competitive powerlifting career. He is currently the holder of twenty five American records and twenty four world records. At 72 years old, Rudy competed in the USPA Drug-Tested National and took first in his class. Rudy was able to showcase a 430 pound squat, a 308 pound bench and a 501 pound deadlift for a 1,239 pound total. Not too shabby for a grandpa. There are few sports that are as physically taxing as powerlifting. For a man, who we would all call old, to go out and dominate in his fashion, it is truly impressive. Granted, he’s not competing against younger men who can certainly dwarf his total, but I would be absolutely thrilled to one day find myself lifting that much weight at 72 years old.
If people like Lu Xiaojun, James Harrison and Rudy Kadlub can find a way to persevere and stay strong, why can’t we? I will not deny that those three men are exceptional, and to hold them as the standard is probably unfair. But how close can we get? Strength training and fitness in general is a lifelong program. Thinking about any of this in terms of a sixteen week program is truly inhibiting your potential. Instead, think about what you’ll want to accomplish in four years. Then think about ten, fifteen or twenty years. How much better will your life be when you’re old if you do the work across those decades? In less than two months, my daughter will be born. More than ever my personal strength and fitness has become a priority. One day she will be an adult, and I will be an old man. My lifelong program, so to speak, is to be as strong and fit as I possibly can be so that one day I will still be mobile, healthy and active so that we can still do as many things together as we possibly can.
If you’re an old geezer and you want to feel like a stallion in his prime again, send an email to email@example.com to schedule your next visit to the Atlas Strength Shop to check out our impressive collection of strength equipment and our 7,600 square foot facility. Be sure to like our Facebook page here, and follow us on Instagram here. If you need some quality energy supplements to help you drag yourself out of bed in the morning, check out veteran owned strikeforceenergy.com, and use promo code ATLASSTRENGTH to get 20% off of your order.
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“If you’re an old man, like me, and you haven’t gotten on track yet, get on track, get on it now...No complacency...No backing off...No slack whatsoever...Fight that ticking clock with everything you’ve got!” -Jocko Willink