T Nation

The Long Haul for Weight Lifters


When I was in my early 20s, there were two middle aged guys, an Olympic lifter and a power lifter (state champ for over 40), who were the gold standard at our gym.

Now twenty years later, the Olympic lifter is a hunchback but the power lifter recently took second place in the world power lifting championships for over 60. I wonder what they did differently.


Interested in reading about other people’s thoughts on this.

My take on this is pretty simple… They did different sports.

Weightlifting is simply harder than Powerlifting. The age category of masters for weightlifting is 35 and above. There are several divisions of masters in powerlifting, using the IPF as an example. There is masters 1 (40-49), masters 2 (50-59), masters 3 (60-65), masters 4 (65-70), and grandmasters (70+). I think it’s pretty evident that longevity plays a far bigger role in powerlifting. I recall Ed Coan discussing with a bunch of lifters in a podcast somewhere that the prime of a powerlifter is probably in their early to mid 30s.

The fact that there is a middle aged olympic lifter who was considered a gold standard at your gym just confuses me a little to be honest.


Using two guys you know personally to project over an entire population of athletes is probably not productive. Plenty of powerlifters break down long before they are 60 years old.


I’m not sure about Olympic lifter, but I think everyone is different. I’ve seen plenty of people in their late 50s and early 60s who are really strong and in great shape. In the end it might just be genetics.


they were probably two different people leading two different lives under two different circumstances


When I went to that gym, both these guys were in their 40s and in great shape. They were also the only strength competitors. The rest of the big guys used weight lifting as crossing training for either football or martial arts.


As already point out it could be allot of factors … some of which might not even be training related.


Speaking as a grey beard this is exactly the case… the only limiting factor is how long you can stay healthy. A guy can gain and maintain strength up into advance age as long as injuries dont get in the way If you look at some drug tested unequipped Feds you can see Master level guys holding their own or sometimes outperforming 20 something year old guys.

Reason you dont see that in O lifting is the fact that most men tend to loose explosiveness as they age along with some mobility which im sure your aware plays a HUGE role in being a high level competitive Weightlifter.


I’ve certainly felt some of that loss after I hit forty, but I keep doing O lift variations to slow the loss. And following O lift variations with squats does my waist line good. :wink: