What Can Age Do For You?

I got a great question yesterday from one of our members, Sandy Laines. Here it is:

“Should I think at age 70….75…. I can still lift the same weight I can at 60? Are there factors that will limit my ability no matter how much I try the older I get?”

Now, essentially she is talking about performance. Can you do the same things as you get older?

I think this is a great question and I’m actually very happy that Sandy, in particular, asked it. Let me tell you why.

Sandy is one of our powerlifters at Castro Valley Fitness. She’s getting ready for a meet in about 5 weeks. In the past month she’s deadlifted 290 lbs, squatted 240 lbs and benched 140 lbs. By the way, Sandy is 63. I would hazard a guess and say that Sandy is stronger than the vast majority of people, men or women, of any age out there.

I tell you this because, to answer her question, of course age does things to us. It would be silly for me to deny that. However, Sandy started with us 7 years ago at 56 years old. If I were to tell you that someone in her mid-50s would be significantly stronger in her early 60s you probably wouldn’t have believed me if all you thought about was age.

Yes age matters, but in my opinion it’s incredibly over-rated as a factor in people’s health. I’ve trained people of all ages and I’ve heard people in their 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s, 70s and 80s all complain about their age. The biggest line through all of this is this: the ones who use age as an excuse most often are also the ones who get the worst results.

Posture, strength, mobility, activity level, diet and overall mentality ALL have a MUCH BIGGER EFFECT on your condition than age.

It may surprise you but I put absolutely no thought into someones age when I write a program for them.

I think about their goals, injury history, exercise history, posture, mobility, mentality, likes and dislikes and age doesn’t enter into it at all. What kind of service would I give someone like Sandy if I just gave her some stock “Age 63” workout program?

Well, this is a pretty long answer to a question I’m not 100% sure Sandy even asked, so let me answer her question quickly and directly.

Age certainly changes things in our body that we can’t control, but many of those changes can be mitigated partially or even completely through diet and exercise. How this will affect individuals is very difficult to say as there are many factors that vary from person to person.

Whether you will be able to lift more weight later in life may have as much to do with your overall talent level, dedication, and general health than age itself, although age will  certainly be a factor. I guess what I’m trying to say is that it’s really impossible to say exactly. There are things working against you but everyone is different in this regard. The one thing I can tell you from my own experience, as I am a powerlifter who has probably maxed out his talent level to a large extent, is to try not attach so much significance to sheer numbers. I know how hard this is because this is what we powerlifters judge ourselves by, but do your best to just enjoy the process of lifting.

After all, we don’t HAVE to lift. We GET to lift. It is a privilege to be able to do that. I wish more people could understand that. If they did then I really believe that age would cease to be such an easy excuse.

Anyway, that’s what I have to say about it. What questions do you have about age?

Mitch Rothbardt, CPT, PN Level 2 Lean Eating Coach, FMS
Castro Valley Fitness
2861 Grove Way in Castro Valley
Mitch@CastroValleyFitness.com
510-755-9191