T Nation

Need a Little Ammo....

Not sure if I should post this in Powerful Women or here, or if another forum might be more appropriate, but seems like I will get the most readership here. Well, other than on SAMA and I am not sure how to stretch the definition enough for this post to be appropriate there. Or should I say, it is not INappropriate enough to belong there.

Here’s the deal. My lifting buddy is my 71 year old mother-in-law. She trains hard and really works on her form to make sure she is training safely. She competed in her first meet last March, setting a state record for her weight and age in the bench.

We trained together all summer while our trainer, her son/my husband, was out of town doing his internship. We trained together four times a week, so I know first hand just how careful she is with her training. Our trainer is excellent as well, has been lifting heavy over 25 years without a significant injury, which goes to show me that he knows how to lift safely.

She recently got back from a week at her daughter’s house, who had surgery and needed some help. Her daughter and son-in-law took her out to dinner one night and practically had her in tears, chewing her up one side and down the other, telling her that her weight-lifting is dangerous and she should not be doing it at her age, and especially because she had shoulder surgery and back surgery.

The back surgery was years ago, and is completely stable. The shoulder surgery is why she starting lifting in the first place. Her surgeon told her she would lose range of motion, her physical therapy was a joke and she was not improving. She went to her son, my husband, and told him that she was not willing to accept loss of range of motion as an answer. He responded by helping her rehab her shoulder with a weight lifting program. Through slow and careful work, she regained almost 100% of her range of motion.

She benches and deadlifts without pain, and continues to improve and lift heavier all the time. She is in excellent shape, probably the best shape of her life. She has had to cut the amount of blood pressure medication she is taking several times as her blood pressure gets lower. She is on I think a QUARTER of a pill, and probably is going to be weaned off even that. At a recent physical, her doctor declared she had the body of a 50 year old, not a 71 year old!

This woman is a dynamo and continually works me under the table. Her typical day begins with an hour on her stationary bike, followed by hours of mowing lawns or digging ditches (kidding about the ditches, but she is constantly busy), running around and remodelling half the town’s yards and bathrooms. Literally–she has learned to do these things for herself and often helps her neighbors and her church members. I joke that if anyone ever tied her to a chair and FORCED her to sit still, she would explode!

So, how can you help me? I would like some good links to send her, that she can forward on to her daughter. I told her just to blow her off and ignore her, but she is really upset by this.

I would like some links to articles that show the physical benefits of lifting weights, particularly for women, and particularly for older women. I found a fantastic article awhile back about lifting and the elderly and cannot seem to locate it. Seems like it might have been in an AARP publication. It talked about a study done in, I think, Canada, with very elderly folks prone to falls. They had given them a course of weight-lifting and tested them afterwards, with the goal of improving their stability and making them less prone to fall. One of the HUGE benefits they found was that across the board, these folks had a 14% improvement in cognitive functioning.

I will continue to search on my own, but if any of you have any useful links, that would be fantastic! I would especially be interested in articles from a medical and/or physical therapist point of view, as the daughter is a physical therapist and the son-in-law is an anesthesiologist.

Thanks in advance,

Linette, crusader for the elderly, and weightlifters everywhere!

PS: sorry, cannot help the information-gathering impulse. I am a librarian and it is a biological imperative for me!

Here you go…from the American Senior Fitness Association, an article on strength training the elderly by Dr. Wayne Wescott.


Your mother-in-law sounds awesome.

Maybe aside from educating your sister-in-law in the benefits of strength training…you might also want to educate your mother-in-law on the concept of toxic people.


I don’t know if that is necessarily the case with your sister-in-law. But even if it’s not, your mother-in-law probably will deal with that kind of toxic resistance from others.

Much like the overweight person who has been overweight for a long time deals with this when they start getting in shape, I could see how someone your mother-in-law’s age might deal with the same thing. Once you are 70 years old you have been “old” in everyone else’s mind for a while. And most people are going to think there is something wrong with someone that age lifting…especially if they themselves are 35 years old and they know their ass should be in the gym as well.

THanks! I found some other pretty good articles, too, including one from AARP.

As far as my sil being toxic, I have not met her in person, but from what I understand she has always been a difficult person. I am not sure if her objections are based on her profession and its misperceptions(physical therapy) or the fact that she and my husband (her brother) have never really gotten along well and she can’t give him credit where credit is due.

My mil is totally awesome! She actually can get a tad overzealous–she told me once that men should never have days off because they just get lazy and into trouble when they have too much time off, haha. She also will shame you into working your butt off, which is not necessarily a BAD thing.

I work an hour from home, so by the time I leave, work, and get home, I am gone 12 hours a day. One evening, I got home later than normal because I had a few errands to run. I was exhausted, and made myself a pizza for dinner. There I was, eating pizza, watching TV and drinking soda when all of the sudden, the mower fires up in the yard. Yep, she was mowing my LAWN whilst I was lazily parked indoors. Ohhhh the guilt…

I will take a look at the toxic people thread. For the most part, she gets a LOT of positive attention for her weight lifting around here. THey even did a really great article about her in the local paper when she did the meet last year. The daughter…well, she lives halfway across the country.


Read the article beginning on page 12.

This is why I love this place. We come together and help those in need:D. Wish I could be of help. I think pm and jp got you covered.

Best of luck and who is her daughter and son-in-law to tell a sound woman who has lived on this planet far longer what she can and can’t do?

I hope this can help you. I know it’s limited, but it’s still something :wink:


Thanks, everyone, for your articles. I know my MIL is feeling quite vindicated, and most likely just needed to blow some steam when talking to me, but I think she very well might send these on to her daughter.

There is a lot of stuff on Stumptuous.com, particularly in the reader mail, but try:

I am constantly trying to get my mother into lifting but it’s a no go. I hope I am still lifting at 71. Good for her!!

Has she considered just challenging them to an arm wrestling contest to see who wins?!!

[quote]SmilingPolitely wrote:
There is a lot of stuff on Stumptuous.com, particularly in the reader mail, but try:

I am constantly trying to get my mother into lifting but it’s a no go. I hope I am still lifting at 71. Good for her!!

Has she considered just challenging them to an arm wrestling contest to see who wins?!!

Damn it…SP beat me to it. I was coming back to post the Stumptuous article she suggested.

I dont have any direct links, but if you goodle “University of Alabama at Birmingham, and elderly weight training or resistance training” you will find a plethora of articles… we have numerous professors / researchers here at are constantly looking at weight / resistance training with the elderly and all of its benifits…

From a paper I saw a few months ago they found that resitance / weight training increased bone density - always a good thing…

At the age of 94, Jack LaLanne continues to work out every morning for two hours, spending 1 ½ hours in the weight room and ½ hour swimming or walking. LaLanne and his wife Elaine (83) live in Morro Bay, California. [10]

When interviewed by Katie Couric on NBC’s Today show, LaLanne declared that his two simple rules of nutrition are “if man made it, don’t eat it”, and “if it tastes good, spit it out.” He often says, “I cannot afford to die, it will ruin my image.” Interviewed on his 93rd birthday, he said his feat of strength was going to be “towing my wife across the bathtub.” In a June 2007 interview, he said that for his 95th birthday, he’d like to swim to Santa Catalina Island from the coast of California, a distance of approximately 20 miles (32 km).[11]

Jack was an Inaugural Inductee into the National Fitness Hall of Fame in 2005.[12]

On December 15, 2008, in a ceremony presided over by California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and Maria Shriver, Jack LaLanne was inducted into the California Hall of Fame, located at The California Museum for History, Women and the Arts alongside 11 other legendary Californians.[13][14] Jack LaLanne’s exhibit at the museum features his original work-out equipment and videos of his TV appearances and is on display through 31 October 2009.[15]

[edit] Timeline: Jack LaLanne’s feats
As reported on Jack LaLanne’s website, and as documented contemporaneously when they happened:

1954 (age 40): Jack swam the entire length of the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, underwater, with 140 pounds of equipment, including two air tanks. A world record.
1955 (age 41): Jack swam from Alcatraz Island to Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco while handcuffed. When interviewed afterwards he was quoted as saying that the worst thing about the ordeal was being handcuffed, which reduced his chance to Star Jump significantly.
1956 (age 42): Jack set a world record of 1,033 push-ups in 23 minutes on You Asked For It, a television program with Art Baker.
1957 (age 43): Jack swam the Golden Gate channel while towing a 2,500-pound cabin cruiser. The swift ocean currents turned this one-mile (1.6 km) swim into a swimming distance of 6.5 miles (10.5 km).
1958 (age 44): Jack maneuvered a paddleboard nonstop from Farallon Islands to the San Francisco shore. The 30-mile (48 km) trip took 9.5 hours.
1959 (age 45): Jack did 1,000 star jumps and 1,000 chin-ups in 1 hour, 22 minutes and The Jack LaLanne Show went nationwide.
1974 (age 60): For the second time, Jack swam from Alcatraz Island to Fisherman’s Wharf. Again, he was handcuffed, but this time he was also shackled and towed a 1,000-pound boat.
1975 (age 61): Repeating his performance of 21 years earlier, Jack again swam the entire length of the Golden Gate Bridge, underwater and handcuffed, but this time he was shackled and towed a 1,000-pound boat.
1976 (age 62): To commemorate the “Spirit of '76”, United States Bicentennial, Jack swam one mile (1.6 km) in Long Beach Harbor. He was handcuffed and shackled, and he towed 13 boats (representing the 13 original colonies) containing 76 people.
1979 (age 65): Jack towed 65 boats in Lake Ashinoko, near Tokyo, Japan. He was handcuffed and shackled, and the boats were filled with 6,500 pounds of Louisiana Pacific wood pulp.[16]
1980 (age 66): Jack towed 10 boats in North Miami, Florida. The boats carried 77 people, and he towed them for over one mile (1.6 km) in less than one hour.
1984 (age 70): Once again handcuffed and shackled, Jack fought strong winds and currents as he swam 1.5 miles (2.4 km) while towing 70 boats with 70 people from the Queen’s Way Bridge in the Long Beach Harbor to the Queen Mary

This is always a favorite link of mine: http://www.citypaper.net/articles/2006-08-03/naked.shtml

This post was flagged by the community and is temporarily hidden.