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Powerlifting Over Age 40

You love powerlifting but you've just hit 40. It's time to hang it up, right? A younger poster at Monster Muscle keeps hearing that he won't be able to continue to lift at a high level once he's 40. He says:

I'm 26 and have been lifting weights for 11 years and powerlifting for almost 5. I'm sick and tired of finishing a heavy set of squats or deadlifts and hearing older people (not necessarily powerlifters) say things like "...must be nice to be young" or "...you better enjoy it now because you won't be lifting like that when you are my age". Anyway, my question is how many of you have avoided injury throughout your heavy lifting? I'm particularly curious about your shoulders, knees and backs. How have they managed after all the years of pounding the iron?

The "old" guys respond:

I will be 41 in March. I have been lifting since high school and powerlifting since college. I've suffered two rotator cuff injuries over the years, both of which were surgically repaired (bilaterally). Despite such I have continued to improve over the years...but also gain bodyweight... Gains were definitely faster as a younger lifter... An injury to my back has kept me from competing in the squat and deadlift for many years, although I still train them occasionally with very light weight... As for the age thing, you are right that it does take a toll...BUT I am a lot smarter now than I was back then...I listen to what my body tells me and I adjust to such better. Don't get me wrong...the ego still gets the best of me from time to time...but for the most part common sense wins out and I continue to make slow but steady progress. One thing I have done differently over the years is change my rep scheme as I got older. For me, I was most successful using sets of 5-6 reps as a youth. Over the last 5 years or so, I have concentrated much more on heavy singles at near maximum (90-95%) with good success... It, for me anyway, seemed easier on the joints.

I don't push myself the way the competitors do, and now going back to school[+ work, of course] has put more on my plate so the PLing is down a bit. But I don't get injuries unless it is something like a careless moment/positioning issue. All it takes is 1 wrong movement at the precise time to get hurt. I use a squat suit, straps down to help the hip area.

So PLing has been much more a positive thing for me, and keeps me chugging along better at the ripe old age of 42[in April] than before.

I'm 51. I've had only one real injury from a barbell--to an intrinsic muscle of my left hand when switching to a much wider bench grip. (I didn't even know the name of the muscle until I injured it!)

I've had injuries from a couple of auto accidents and a traumatic injury to the left knee. I've also got some osteoarthritis in the neck and the lumbar spine. In all of these cases, I went to a world-class sports physician, followed my physical therapy regimens religiously, and regarded my lifting as--among other things--advanced rehab.

In the lifting itself, I've sought feedback from people who know how to lift, who are observant, and who can articulate what they observe. They may or may not be the strongest people around, but they are the best coaches. (I always shake my head at people who think that folks who aren't the strongest have no business talking about strength. Deadlifting 800 pounds does not mean you're a good teacher of deadlifting--and it doesn't mean you're not.)

I've tried to avoid heavy lifting on an empty stomach. Ya gotta eat! Lift without enough food and your focus sucks; I guarantee you'll run out of energy at just the wrong moment. Lift heavy with no focus and you'll eventually get hurt. Which leads to another important point: lifting heavy is all about focus and attention. I've had to learn to strangle that mental chatter that runs through our heads.

I've tried to practice what engineers call failure mode analysis. In the simplest terms, you have to think about how a lift can go wrong, and figure out what you're going to do if it does--and you've got to think about this before you're dealing with hundreds of pounds.

To help my back, I practiced abdominal exercises that don't necessarily result in beautiful abs, and I've paid a lot of attention to breath, holding breath, and creating a lot of intrathoracic pressure.

While I don't really emphasize cardio, I don't neglect it. You need some of it. You need it more as the years add up. There were some good iron men who will never be as old as I am now.

Ignore the ignoramuses who tell you you won't be lifting like that at their age. They'll just drag you down. Develop the mindset that says you're in this for a long time. There are guys and gals who are older than I am who are, all things considered, better lifters than I. I've read of eightysomething powerlifters. I've met seventysomething powerlifters and sixtysomething powerlifters. There are people who are lifting like you are who are more than twice your age. Blow off the jerky naysayers, be smart, be careful and be attentive, and 30 years from now you can be one of them.

I am 60 soon to be 61 yrs young and I have more injuries and surgery then most of you guys are old. The bottom line is I love to lift and I also love to compete on the platform, I did not start to really power lift until I was in my fifties so my injuries are from a tough life not from lifting... I love this sport. My motto is I would rather wear out then Rust. Guys trust me when I tell you, don't use your age or genetics or any other excuse that you can't do this. Belief in yourself and you can achieve anything. Train smarter not always harder.Oh Yea... and use any gear that is available and allowed in your fed of choice.

I will be 41 in May...I am stronger now than ever in my life... I Lift smart, eat fairly good, don't drink or smoke, have never done drugs, and take lots of vitamins and supplements. I am not saying I don't hurt from time to time, but I have had no real injuries to speak of from PLing! I love the sport and fully embrace the gear. I do believe it will prolong your career. I am not bashing the raw lifters...it is their choice and I respect it! I just know that as you get older your risk of injury goes up. I plan on setting PRs for at least another 5 to 6 years and being competitive for many more after that. I will get my elite this year, that is something I have wanted since I started this. I get told all the time by people that I shouldn't be lifting heavy at my age...I just tell them thanks for the tip...I will think it over next time I am getting ready to attempt a 600lb bench! Lift hard and get strong!

I am 45 now and have been competing since my late 20's...

Powerlifting has been great to me but I have also suffered injuries involving my sciatic nerve, bulged disc's in the neck, surgery on the left shoulder and will possibly have the same procedure on my right shoulder.

I always thought I would get burned out competing long before I would experience problems with my body. However, my mind still has the desire and intensity (If not more so now!) but my body does not take the pounding as good as it once did. As a result, I have had to change the way I used to prepare for meets (Less sets, reps and eliminate some exercises and add new ones).

Injuries go hand in hand with being an athlete. The athletes that recognize and accept that their bodies will change over time (and make adjustments in their training) will be the ones who will be able to extend their competitive careers over a longer period of time.

More sets, fewer reps, on 3 to 5 exercises.

20 sets per body, not per body part

High reps kill joints

Keep weights fairly heavy

Stop trying to maintain over organized weekly schedules, such as Monday-this, Tuesday-that, etc, 4-5 days a week. Give yourself extra rest days when your body tells you to.

I still train about 3 times in two weeks. I'll be 69 years old Monday.

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Im 50 yrs young and hold wr in the bench over 600 sure i have aches and pains but the love of it fuels the desire Im determined to do what i set out for and push beyond.this year I will Raw bench well over 500! to you younger guys keep yourselfs going get inspired by someone and dont ever quit, I just dig the hell out of going to the gym putting on 405 and repping out 10 strong ones the look on my younger bros faces is priceless. for me I am a lifer, 40 yrs of lifting since 10 and man o man i will keep going till im 6 ft under. live to lift >lift to live.......

50 and a 500+ raw bench is a great achievement. Congratulations!

Powerlifting truly is a lifelong sport. For many, the love just doesn't seem to diminish at any age.

Hello to all, I'm 39 and have been lifting for twenty years, went from the a 155 bench to 425 raw, paused 470 with a shirt and yes, things hurt more now. Have torn both rotators twice, ruptured my left pec, have had acl reconstruction and have some degenerative things going on in my neck. But I believe in time and tendon strength. Despite these injuries and diminishing natural returns I can still do inclines with 120's and hit 315 ten times strict. Am stronger now at this age, simply do not lift as heavy as often, but as with a previous post I also find I do better emphasizing singles and doubles in the heavy movements instead of fives. All of the benches I've done I've always seen older men win, men in their middle and late forties. And I do expect to get stronger in the coming years, just train smarter and listen to my body more. Have a good one!

Lots of great advice in your post as well as in the thread about throttling reps back a bit as one advances in age.

Do you have any less thirst for lifting today than 20 years ago? Do you see yourself lifting the rest of your life?

Why is it most powerlifters have to post their numbers in every post? WTF? I feel like most of these guys are used car salesman when it comes to the self advertising they do. Get a grip. The numbers are for yourself. If you are that damn good, others will know you, or of you. If not, shut the hell up, no matter what age you are.

Lift..., what else?
I will turn 50 the day before I lift in a bench meet scheduled in March. After years of abusing alcohol, cigarettes and drugs and a general unhealthy lifestyle (nutrition,little rest and no exercise), I returned to lifitng. Like others in this great sport, I was a high school athlete. I however, gave into weakness and literally set out on a path of self destruction while trying to convince myself I was having fun. Yea..., right! Face up to that when your doctor tells you to quick drinking or you will die or the bemused look on the face of a cardiologist when you argue that you were once in great shape.

I got back to work on improving my health and found this great sport through a friend (10 years younger than me-thanks Brad!) in 1991. Along with him as my mentor/coach and especially thanks to life-long lfiters who had many years in the sport, including those who are 40 and over, I had continue to strive to improve each day and am proud of my lifting numbers, as anyone else in this sport should be. I don't have numbers that double, triple or quadruple my body weight, but I have been competitive (finishing first or second) in most of the meets I have participated including setting a couple of State records along the way. But more importantly, I have a clean bill of health and everyone marvels that I look great. Anyone can do it and that is what is so great about our sport. And like another writer before me, they will bury me in my lifting attire (or singlet)when my time comes. With a well developed approach, paying attention to your body and sharing of others successes, I feel anyone can lift long into the later years. I plan to!

With a well developed approach, paying attention to your body and sharing of others successes, I feel anyone can lift long into the later years. I plan to!

Your formula for a life of lifting and results from turning your life around are another testament to the important role powerlifting can play, not just as a sport, but as a fully integrated part of ones life.

And like another writer before me, they will bury me in my lifting attire (or singlet)when my time comes.

If powerlifting could just find something other than the singlet then being buried in it might be an option.;)

I'm 39 and still making gains in all
3 lifts.But I still worry about lifting as I get older. Reading about older lifters
and the numbers being reached really helps
me not to worry about geting older but to look
forward to it. So keep posting your numbers, It shows me and others that hard work at any age
will pay-off.
Newb
P.S My pine box ware will be my best red
Westside Barbell T-shrit.

That's a bit more fashionable.

I am 18 and have been lifting for a few years and I want to start powerlifting in hopes of competing. I have had reconstructive acl surgery and only have about 20% of my medial meniscus left in my knee. I was wondering if anybody knew any precautions I should take or what I can do to prevent reinjury or further damage.

Josh, perhaps the best place to ask this question would be at one of the forums listed on the left hand side of the page. There are many good people at those forums who can point you in the right directions. Good luck.

I started learning how to pLing at the age of 52. Weight training in my younger years wasn't considered ladylike! :) Now I don't care I just love getting stronger. Doctor told me I was a candidate for knee surgery on both knees and had never done a squat EVER! Now I am learning how and my knees feel great! My personal trainer is a great guy who doesn't care if I am old enough to be his mother. I can squat 140, bench 120 and my deadlift is 280 all raw! I picked 415 off the lower pins of the rack yesterday and locked it out what a rush! I hope to compete someday if I can learn to do a respectable squat! It's an ageless sport and all about personal best.

I think much about lifting at 40+ years, is how you train. I am still making gains at 42. I turn 43 in August. I have never been stronger than I am now.

I turned 45 last september. Never have been injured, never have aches and pains, no surgeries. Started olympic lifting at age 11 and did my first power meet at age 16. Ran college track, took up powerlifting on a whim, competed alot until 1990 when I went back into olympic lifting. Started competing in masters track and field in 1998, sprints, jumps and throws. I still do a power meet every couple of years and am planning on lifting in one this spring. The only thing wrong with my body is that I have a hard time straightening my right elbow from all the years of throwing the javelin incorrectly. My workout works good for me. Squat-all singles over 80%1RM, bench-sets of 5-8 until 3 weeks out from the meet, deadlift singles all the way up to sets of 10. I like to use many different deadlift grips and rack heights. Assistance work- I use DB's when ever possible since it is harder to get body leverage/lean with DB's. I train and compete raw, too cheap and lazy to bother with gear. Been clean since 1985. Like weighted dips and pullups once in a while, big on assistance work, I only bench with a barbell once a week and squat every 10 days or so but deadlift or do a variation of the deadlift 3 times a week. My recovery ability is not quite as good as it was 20 years ago, and I know of few clean/raw lifters that can push the squat and deadlift hard at the same time. Since the deadlift works more muscle and more variations of it are possible, I push the deadlift more. Alot of how your body responds to stress is genetic. I also play tennis, basketball and do pilates and yoga. Word of advice: take the time to warm up and cool down properly.

Just wondering if users have more injuries than ono-users. The 45yr old saying he has never been hurt but has been clean for 23 yrs makes me wonder if luck is on his side or if he quit using steroids and saved his body alot of trouble. I would think people using the heavy gear would get hurt more since over loading your muscles with weights they clearly couldn't lift raw is not normal. Then when they go heavy raw do the ligaments and tendons get injured because the joints are not used to the loading the muscles are? I would rather lift heavy shit and chance getting hurt than be a wuss golfer or chess player.

Kate wrote:
I started learning how to pLing at the age of 52. Weight training in my younger years wasn't considered ladylike! :) Now I don't care I just love getting stronger. Doctor told me I was a candidate for knee surgery on both knees and had never done a squat EVER! Now I am learning how and my knees feel great! My personal trainer is a great guy who doesn't care if I am old enough to be his mother. I can squat 140, bench 120 and my deadlift is 280 all raw! I picked 415 off the lower pins of the rack yesterday and locked it out what a rush! I hope to compete someday if I can learn to do a respectable squat! It's an ageless sport and all about personal best.
Cool Kate, I can't get my wife to get her ass off the couch. You go girl!!

jon wrote:
You love powerlifting but you've just hit 40. It's time to hang it up, right? A younger poster at Monster Muscle keeps hearing that he won't be able to continue to lift at a high level once he's 40. He says:I'm 26 and have been lifting weights for 11 years and powerlifting for almost 5. I'm sick and tired of finishing a heavy set of squats or deadlifts and hearing older people (not necessarily powerlifters) say things like "...must be nice to be young" or "...you better enjoy it now because you won't be lifting like that when you are my age". Anyway, my question is how many of you have avoided injury throughout your heavy lifting? I'm particularly curious about your shoulders, knees and backs. How have they managed after all the years of pounding the iron?

The "old" guys respond:I will be 41 in March. I have been lifting since high school and powerlifting since college. I've suffered two rotator cuff injuries over the years, both of which were surgically repaired (bilaterally). Despite such I have continued to improve over the years...but also gain bodyweight... Gains were definitely faster as a younger lifter... An injury to my back has kept me from competing in the squat and deadlift for many years, although I still train them occasionally with very light weight... As for the age thing, you are right that it does take a toll...BUT I am a lot smarter now than I was back then...I listen to what my body tells me and I adjust to such better. Don't get me wrong...the ego still gets the best of me from time to time...but for the most part common sense wins out and I continue to make slow but steady progress. One thing I have done differently over the years is change my rep scheme as I got older. For me, I was most successful using sets of 5-6 reps as a youth. Over the last 5 years or so, I have concentrated much more on heavy singles at near maximum (90-95%) with good success... It, for me anyway, seemed easier on the joints.

I don't push myself the way the competitors do, and now going back to school[+ work, of course] has put more on my plate so the PLing is down a bit. But I don't get injuries unless it is something like a careless moment/positioning issue. All it takes is 1 wrong movement at the precise time to get hurt. I use a squat suit, straps down to help the hip area.

So PLing has been much more a positive thing for me, and keeps me chugging along better at the ripe old age of 42[in April] than before.

I'm 51. I've had only one real injury from a barbell--to an intrinsic muscle of my left hand when switching to a much wider bench grip. (I didn't even know the name of the muscle until I injured it!)

I've had injuries from a couple of auto accidents and a traumatic injury to the left knee. I've also got some osteoarthritis in the neck and the lumbar spine. In all of these cases, I went to a world-class sports physician, followed my physical therapy regimens religiously, and regarded my lifting as--among other things--advanced rehab.

In the lifting itself, I've sought feedback from people who know how to lift, who are observant, and who can articulate what they observe. They may or may not be the strongest people around, but they are the best coaches. (I always shake my head at people who think that folks who aren't the strongest have no business talking about strength. Deadlifting 800 pounds does not mean you're a good teacher of deadlifting--and it doesn't mean you're not.)

I've tried to avoid heavy lifting on an empty stomach. Ya gotta eat! Lift without enough food and your focus sucks; I guarantee you'll run out of energy at just the wrong moment. Lift heavy with no focus and you'll eventually get hurt. Which leads to another important point: lifting heavy is all about focus and attention. I've had to learn to strangle that mental chatter that runs through our heads.

I've tried to practice what engineers call failure mode analysis. In the simplest terms, you have to think about how a lift can go wrong, and figure out what you're going to do if it does--and you've got to think about this before you're dealing with hundreds of pounds.

To help my back, I practiced abdominal exercises that don't necessarily result in beautiful abs, and I've paid a lot of attention to breath, holding breath, and creating a lot of intrathoracic pressure.

While I don't really emphasize cardio, I don't neglect it. You need some of it. You need it more as the years add up. There were some good iron men who will never be as old as I am now.

Ignore the ignoramuses who tell you you won't be lifting like that at their age. They'll just drag you down. Develop the mindset that says you're in this for a long time. There are guys and gals who are older than I am who are, all things considered, better lifters than I. I've read of eightysomething powerlifters. I've met seventysomething powerlifters and sixtysomething powerlifters. There are people who are lifting like you are who are more than twice your age. Blow off the jerky naysayers, be smart, be careful and be attentive, and 30 years from now you can be one of them.

I am 60 soon to be 61 yrs young and I have more injuries and surgery then most of you guys are old. The bottom line is I love to lift and I also love to compete on the platform, I did not start to really power lift until I was in my fifties so my injuries are from a tough life not from lifting... I love this sport. My motto is I would rather wear out then Rust. Guys trust me when I tell you, don't use your age or genetics or any other excuse that you can't do this. Belief in yourself and you can achieve anything. Train smarter not always harder.Oh Yea... and use any gear that is available and allowed in your fed of choice.

I will be 41 in May...I am stronger now than ever in my life... I Lift smart, eat fairly good, don't drink or smoke, have never done drugs, and take lots of vitamins and supplements. I am not saying I don't hurt from time to time, but I have had no real injuries to speak of from PLing! I love the sport and fully embrace the gear. I do believe it will prolong your career. I am not bashing the raw lifters...it is their choice and I respect it! I just know that as you get older your risk of injury goes up. I plan on setting PRs for at least another 5 to 6 years and being competitive for many more after that. I will get my elite this year, that is something I have wanted since I started this. I get told all the time by people that I shouldn't be lifting heavy at my age...I just tell them thanks for the tip...I will think it over next time I am getting ready to attempt a 600lb bench! Lift hard and get strong!

I am 45 now and have been competing since my late 20's...

Powerlifting has been great to me but I have also suffered injuries involving my sciatic nerve, bulged disc's in the neck, surgery on the left shoulder and will possibly have the same procedure on my right shoulder.

I always thought I would get burned out competing long before I would experience problems with my body. However, my mind still has the desire and intensity (If not more so now!) but my body does not take the pounding as good as it once did. As a result, I have had to change the way I used to prepare for meets (Less sets, reps and eliminate some exercises and add new ones).

Injuries go hand in hand with being an athlete. The athletes that recognize and accept that their bodies will change over time (and make adjustments in their training) will be the ones who will be able to extend their competitive careers over a longer period of time.

More sets, fewer reps, on 3 to 5 exercises.

20 sets per body, not per body part

High reps kill joints

Keep weights fairly heavy

Stop trying to maintain over organized weekly schedules, such as Monday-this, Tuesday-that, etc, 4-5 days a week. Give yourself extra rest days when your body tells you to.

I still train about 3 times in two weeks. I'll be 69 years old Monday.

I just turned 50 and I am stronger than I have ever been in my lift. I train the same as I always have (probably wrong). I use to compete in the 198 and 220's in the 90's now I am in the 242's. The most I ever totaled in the 90's in full gear was 1640, and now I lift Raw totaled 1610 back this past June,(625-400-585). Right now I am training to try and total 1700's at the end of Feb. right now I am at around 700-400-585 and my true goal is to Squat 750-800 RAW. I have been injured and everything that everyone else has, I smoke, drink and party with my wife once in awhile, don't take anything from GNC, I just say no,haha.
You are young or strong as you want to be, everything else is just an excuse. Most people look for a reason not to train, personally I look at everything as a reason to train and always have.
Nothing special about me, and there is no reason for anyone not to train, so go to the gym and put forth some effort. Jesse

Hi guys
I am 72 years old @ i feel that you can lift for a very long time if you train smart. This last year I decided that I wasn't. going to squat heavy any longer. Not because I was injured but because it no longer feels right. This next year I will set a new masters deadlift record 525 to 540 at 72 years young. Any questiones that you might have I can be contacted at Beckwith gym in GR

thats like saying sex over 40

40 is no different than 20 or 30...you should be stronger that's all

Powerlifters mention their totals because that is how performance in the sport is evaluated. I prefer to know how much these "older" lifters are putting up; it's motivating.

I'm 40 and my advice is to really work on your mobility, and for any injury see a physical therapist who works with athletes.

Best, A

Chalk one up for the old guys! I just turned 50 in July and I'm stronger now than I've ever been. As you get older you can get stronger, at 40 I went 675-440-650 at 198, at 48 I went 755-485-666 at 198. Now at 220 (210bwt) I have squatted 755,benched 501 and pulled 683.My goal at 50 is to go 800-550-705. Training partners are very important also and I have some of the best, Matt K., Josh M., Kurt K.,Chad W. all of us guys push each other to our limits and we all want the other guy to lift more. So no matter how old you are you can always get stronger, your only as weak as your mind.
Ken Richardson

Anonymous wrote:
Why is it most powerlifters have to post their numbers in every post? WTF? I feel like most of these guys are used car salesman when it comes to the self advertising they do. Get a grip. The numbers are for yourself. If you are that damn good, others will know you, or of you. If not, shut the hell up, no matter what age you are.

you are a complete doosh for saying this garbage, so these guys are proud of what they can do at their age! good for them, thanks to everybody that posted their numbers, it is inspiring. and to whoever wrote this,FU*K off

Amen^^ I'm 51 and coming back to this great sport!My last meet was in 1994 LOL. So taken it easy and working my way back slowly.

jon wrote:
Lots of great advice in your post as well as in the thread about throttling reps back a bit as one advances in age.

Do you have any less thirst for lifting today than 20 years ago? Do you see yourself lifting the rest of your life?


________________

Oddly enough it seems to be easier the heavier it gets. I like the 10x3 or if being lazy, which is most of the time, work to 80% get a rep or two.

Yes the rest of my life. Only thirst that has since diminished is intensity.

I would say today I am approx. 100 - 125 less than my best bench/squat of 25 years ago.

This is a great thread. I was doing some research on sport nutrition over 40 and stumbled on this post. We have developed a product specifically for Mature Athletes over 40. The site is www.FOCUSon40.com. I am one of you guys and believe we only get better as we get older.

After a long time off due to a bout of successive injuries I am back lifting again stronger than ever. I thing when we are younger we recover faster and the injuries heal quicker. If you take time and have perfect form we can out perform guys half our age. As you get older you lift more with the mind. The mind muscle connection is much stronger as is the nervous system more mature.

Once again, great thread.

Thanks,

Anthony Labita
Vice President of Product Development
The FOCUSon Group, LLC.
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anthony.labita@FOCUSon40.com
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I am 39 and just started really lifting (as in REAL lifting) this last year or so. I am approaching 300 on the squats and deads and a 230 bench, and I couldn't be happier (at a bodyweight of 170). Not the best in the world, but strong enough, with more to come.

I feel 10 times healthier since I gave up running (nearly altogether, except for a .25 mile warmup sprting [9mph] before weights).

I limit my calories, hit every body part every 8 days and feel great! My routine is day on, day off, squat, bench, deads, overhead, etc.