Strength training is the closest thing we have to a fountain of youth. Hands down the benefits it provides are well documented and far outweigh the benefits of other fitness activities.
Being active, and exercising are great and important but none of that activity has as many benefits as strength training. Don’t get me wrong, I am a proponent or physical activity of any kind as most adults do not get anywhere near the recommended “weakly” amount of 2.5-5 hours of moderate activity and “some” strength training.
If you prefer to walk, swim, bike, take a class or run (yeah I am looking at you Fritz) JK Mad Props for you commitment & Dedication to the Mile a Day Club
I am all for it. Being active is far better and healthier than the alternative. I would encourage all of you who have already created the habit of activity to add some form of strength training to your weekly routine.
Exercise and activity are good. Strength training is better. There is a reason it is called training. With exercise you are getting hot and sweaty, and it is about what you do today. Many people who are lifting weights are exercising and not strength training. Training involves a plan, a process and an effect over time. It is not about the workout and how you feel today, it is about causing an adaptation and achieving a desired outcome (losing weight, increasing your squat by 30lbs, jumping higher or for the athlete of aging getting off the toilet, out of the chair and up the stairs easier and safer). Strength is the foundation of life and strength training is an investment in your future.
#10. IT IS MOTIVATING
Motivation is important but it does not last. “…Well, neither does bathing – that’s why we recommend it daily.” Zig Ziglar
We all know the statistics on how many New Year’s resolutions are achieved. Discipline is important to overcome the times when you are not motivated. I am reasonably disciplined and motivated but still continuously training week in and week out can be challenging. This summer I was not especially motivated. I still got up early and strength trained at least 2 days a week and walked at least 2 days to maintain the consistent habit. I did not lift heavy, but I was training. When I saw the master lifting meet I was intrigued but figured SDSU would have a home game or my daughter would have volleyball. When I realized SDSU was on the road and the Bobcats were idle I signed up.
Immediately my training was better. I was motivated to train and demonstrate the discipline necessary to achieve my goals.
#9 It provides Discipline, Direction, Focus and Goals for Your training
When you sign up you will create goals for yourself, and it gives those goals a deadline.
Goals direct and focus training. I signed up for the 102kg weight class and continued strength training 3x/ week now focused on an Olympic weightlifting meet. I had to cut body weight to make this weight class so that required more focus and direction. As I trained, I thought back to what I had done in my last meet 12 years ago and to what I had done 1.5 years ago when I maxed out for my 47th birthday. I trained specifically for the meet for 9 week and as I progressed, I dialed in my goals for each lift.
#8 IMPROVED HABITS OUTSIDE OF TRAINING In order to make weight I improved my eating habits. I ate more vegetables; improved my protein intake; snacked and drank less. I lost over 15lbs of body weight, increased the hours of sleep to improve my recovery and increase my cardio and conditioning to help effect the weight loss.
#7 IT MAKES YOU FEEL ALIVE
I enjoy strength training because it makes me feel alive and young. I know that the long-term benefits are HUGE in staying active, functional and being able to live an independent life. That in and of itself is
but in the short-term interacting with my environment, pushing myself and straining make me feel Alive. I was once an athlete who loved to compete, now I am an “Athlete of Aging” competing against father time. I know I will lose, but I will go down swinging and training to compete makes me feel ALIVE instead of just existing for another day. It connects me to my physical self. In today’s modern world you can survive with out interacting or doing much of anything physical, but you will not thrive.
#6 I DID IT BECAUSE I BELIEVE/KNEW I COULD.
Many people say that is awesome for you and are amazed. The implications is that they could not do it. Sorry, that is BS.
I can do it because I first believed I could. I talk about that here. Then I chose to work and continue to train. Somehow, we believe that as we get older, we should just stop moving, challenging ourselves and attempting to grow. YOUR NOT DEAD YET, ACT LIKE IT! A study done back in the 90’s showed that women over the age of 90 could gain muscle mass and strength when engaging in regular strength training. You need to remind your muscles, your brain and your soul that you are still alive and they need to continue to ACT LIKE IT!
#5 IT IS INSPIRING
This speaks to the Soul I just mentioned. Not the spiritual soul but the heart, what makes you you! This meet was a masters only meet which means that you had to be over 35 years of age to compete. Now 35 is not old but in Olympic weight lifting that is the line in the sand. When they sent out the list of competitors, I noticed there was one guy who was signed up in the 70+ age group. I was very interested to watch him lift because this could be inspiring to me and others. At the meet I learned that he is 84 years old. The top age group just starts at 70+ that is the line in the sand on the other end. I also learned that his first Olympic meet was in 1966. Think about that. It was an honor to watch him lift. 20 years ago I remember watching a 60 year old pole-vaulter compete in an open track and field meet at the University of Houston and I had the same feeling. At that same time in Houston our Women’s tennis coach was over 50 years old and held some 50+ record in track & field. As someone who has never pole vaulted in my life, I don’t see myself entering any open track meets anytime soon. So I do understand how someone who has never done Olympic lifting may feel. I am not saying you should sign up for an Olympic lifting meet but find something to sign up for and challenge your “Athlete of Aging”. Maybe it is a powerlifting or strength lifting meet, a 5 or 10k. Find something to focus your training and push you outside of your comfort zone.
# 4 THE SENSE OF COMMUNITY AND ENCOURAGEMENT
Yes, it is a “competition” but at this level it is more about competing with yourself, the barbell and the platform and encouraging others. At these local level meets everyone is cheering for everyone. I met some great encouraging people. It was fun to watch them compete and even though we will continue to train hours away from each other there is a sense of community. I already plan to see them at the next meet in May of 2023.
I had family and friends who came to support me. That allowed us and opportunity to get together and see each other. Something I did not get to do too often when working in college athletics. I doubt, we would have all gotten together on some random weekend in October if it were not for this meet. I was able to see all but one of my siblings (don’t feel too bad for her, she is retired and living full time on a Sailboat in BVI) She will get over it., my best friend and my mother.
My mother is 76 with double knee replacement and has been strength training consistently for over 3 years. I know she will never do an Olympic lifting meet but I believe she was inspired and it will help her in her own training. She is close to squatting 100lbs and has already deadlifted 177lbs. Hopefully this inspires her to keep fighting and stay consistent. You can read about her story here and here
#3 THE CHANCE TO PUSH MYSELF MENTALLY
Going to the gym or for a run can be challenging but for the most part you can shut your brain off, listen to a pod cast or music and relax. This is how it can be a stress reliever for some. I do push myself and when you get under the bar with 4 plates on it requires focus, determination and mental preparation. You cannot check out while under a heavy load. The act of training for 9 weeks and pushing my limits of my strength while losing weight is a mental challenge. However, the preparation for the meet and the work of mental imagery, focusing on my process and visualizing myself have success was/ is an exciting part of the meet process. You can see that on my missed last attempt on the clean and jerk. Even though I cleaned it and missed the jerk I missed the lift before I even started. In the video it is the only time I stepped back from the bar after approaching it. I did not like how I approached the bar and that little deviation in my routine cost me. Going 5 for 6 on the lifts is a very successful day and I know the mental process I used helped me get what I did. The process of visualizing the lift before I stepped on the platform was fun and challenging part of the day I did not appreciate before. Focus on the platform; approach the bar; square up the feet; Wrap the right thumb and hand in the hook grip, then the left hand, feel the knurling in your hand, set your back & hips and begin. You can hear the emotion and fire when I miss the last lift. That is ok, I am not upset, it shows that I care and it is ok to care. I trusted my training, my process and it lead me to success. I can credit another great friend for help in this area over the years. Dr. Andy Gillham is the Senior Sports Performance Specialist at Sanford in Sioux Falls South Dakota working with athletes, coaches and corporate professionals on how to improve their mental process and performance. I affectionately prefer to call him the “Mental Guy”
# 2 IT'S FUN
I had an absolute blast with all of it. Hearing this 84 year old guy tap the chalk bucket and say “Come on old man get after this” as part of his process was awesome and relates back to #4 “It is Inspiring” and #6 “It makes you feel ALIVE”
#1 THE BEST REASON IS I GET TO WEAR A TIGHT SINGLET AND EMBARRASS MY TEENAGE DAUGHTER.
I mean who doesn’t look good in a singlet? As fashion trends have taught us you can wear skintight clothing at any size and feel good about yourself. What dad wouldn’t want to embarrass his teenage daughter.
It is a
Thank you to all those involved in putting on the meet and especially Mi5 Fitness for hosting.
Please reach out if you are interested in beginning your Strength Journey