T Nation

Powerlifting in my 40s

I’m 42. I started powerlifting about a year ago. I did a charity lift back in May, decided it was awesome and am planning on going to an APF meet in December. I’m loving this.

When I say I started powerlifting, I don’t mean that I have been lifting and transitioned to powerlifting. I mean I’ve never lifted anything in my life until now. Basically, I read all the articles and info I can find on this sport and they’re all written by guys in their 20 and 30s or guys my age who have been lifting for a few decades. The gym I go to has plenty of guys I can ask about form and training and such, but I have tattoos older than some of these guys.

I guess what I am hoping to find here is anyone who, like me, that has never lifted anything other than a beer before their 40th birthday and is now in this sport. What can I expect? What sort of training differences will there be? What should I be acutely aware of at this age? I recently did a 405lbs squat, which was exciting.I’m so close to a 315 bench press I can taste it. My deadlift has been stuck at 435 for a minute.

Anyway, if there are any guys that started this sport late in life also, I’d love to hear from you.


I love reading stuff like this. Not sure how much guidance you need, especially if you haven’t been stuck for a while. I’ve seen lots of gym rats in their 20s fall short of your numbers. Keep up the good work.

1 Like

i am 49. not exactly aiming for powerlifting but i want to get my dead lift to 200 kg (450 pounds). my current best lift is 180 kg. been training the dead lift since jan 2014 but i have been sick or injured a lot. guess i have slightly less than 2 years of training.

congrats on your numbers, you are progressing at a rate that make me envious.

1 Like

There is a Polish lifter named Mariusz Hadrysiak (not to be confused with Pudzianowski) who holds the Masters 2 (50+) 120kg and 105kg equipped bench records in the IPF. Apparently he only started lifting at 40 years old.

1 Like

Likely the only thing you need to be extra cautious of is likely recovery and hormones. Huge chance your hormones are on the lower side, so extra sleep and maybe a few Dr visits to make sure everything is good.

What’s your current training look like and diet?

Those can affect your progress.

1 Like

Not a guy but I started lifting in 2007 (first time I ever joined a gym in my life) and did my first meet 2008 at 43. Since then I’ve done somewhere between 25 and 30 meets. When I started I could roll very easily from meet to meet. However, as I got better at competing, recovery between meets was more difficult. Now, at almost 53 recovery is in the forefront of my mind during training.

Your best bet is to start/continue competing and meet more people that way. We have a shit ton of masters lifters in our federation most of whom I’ve met during competition. You can build a great network that way.


Thanks. I’ll check him out. Hopefully he has a blog or something.

That’s awesome. Thanks for the tip. I’m hoping to meet a few more people my age at this upcoming meet. Get tips and pointers from folks my age with some more age specific advice. You’re absolutely right about recovery. It takes some serious rest after heavy squat or dead lift.

Thx. Pretty sure my hormones are doing alright just now. My diet is strictly a whole foods diet…except for the occasional slice of bread I stick to unprocessed foods…and I lot of it. I eat vegetables at every meal. Nearly 3 pounds of veg a day. My proteins I eat roughly 200g a day.

Training is Wendler’s 5/3/1 method. Meet prep I will be borrowing from Ed Coan. Using his training model, but making some adjustments because I’m older and won’t be hitting it that hard. If I get injured it’s gonna take a while to recover. I’m not 20 anymore.


Congrats and bloody awesome work getting into it mate, some decent numbers there too
Like stated recovery and hormones are going to be the thing to watch.
I think you’ve done the right thing going with 5/3/1 as it’s got a nice slow progression without an overload of work. However, have you tried any other programs to see how you react as we are all different?

You’re never too old, I did my first strongman competition when I was 53. Only thing I’ll say is to reiterate a previous comment that as we get older rest, recovery and nutrition become much more important, that is the thing I concentrate a lot on nowadays.
Just go for it and enjoy the camaraderie in all powerlifting and strongman comps!!

1 Like

I’m 56 and recently returned to powerlifting after an 8 year layoff. I learned the following:

  1. If I had to come back all over again I would have trained with a bodybuilding split at moderate poundages for a year or two. It would have prevented some nagging injuries.

  2. Be careful with lower body recovery. I used to follow Ed Coan’s method but can no longer recover enough from the Friday deadlift day to squat heavy on Monday. I chose to follow westside and my recovery is better now. You can also try the Lilliebridge Method, the Cube Method or read mark Rippetoes Practical Programming for Strength Training.

  3. Keep the ego in check. Injuries take longer to recover from when you’re older.

  4. If you choose to compete single-ply or multi-ply watch your blood pressure CLOSELY. The tight suit and the bench shirt will raise your blood pressure dramatically and you need to be in good shape to compete this way and if not, compete raw.

I’m 49 and have been lifting since 45. I did lift a bit back when I was in my teens, but nothing serious. So, a complete novice, 5’9" 174 lbs and reasonably lean.

I got on T cause my levels were low back in 2011, then later started training with a powerlifting focus. I battled a lot of weird issues the first 18 months. Inflamed hip joint, mid back, lower back, shoulder, etc. I felt like humpty dumpty. Every time I fell, it took a village of professionals to put me back together again (chiro, deep tissue, AIRROSTI, trigger point, acupuncture). Figured out what worked and what didn’t, stayed away from anti inflammatories, and today, I have very few issues as long as I pre-hab aggressively. I’m a big fan of body tempering and fascial work 2x/month.

Now I’m a bit soft at 18% body fat and 210 lbs, but I hit a 500 lb squat, 550 lb pull, and, well my bench is shitty at 285.

I feel great. My mom (visited her this week) says I’m too bulky and need to trim down cause my neck is 18.5" and I have a noticeable powerlifting belly. But other than than I’m pretty jacked according to my girlfriend and others.

Been having a blast. Just take care of those aches and pains, and not with drugs.

1 Like