Three Quarters of a Century and Still Getting Strong(er)

TAGS: Jim Wendler UGSS, how to breath, how to wrap knees, gaining strength, aging powerlifter, deadlift program, squat technique, bench program, Jeff Guller, 531 training, powerlifting

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Holy hell! Three quarters of a century has snuck up on me and I don't know what to do. I can't even say the number, much less write it.

"It's only a number" they say, but it's a big-ass number. While I am certainly not as old as most people my age, I have knees, shoulders, and a hip that beg to differ, and a heart that has been through hell and back. The event was celebrated by a gathering of family and friends with great food, good bourbon, and good cake. The scary part was that there was only one person there older than me and there are only a few others that I know that are older. I am the only one of my peers, however, who is getting stronger.


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I was going to list all the things that did not exist three quarters of a century ago that we now take for granted. That list, however, would take my whole article and consume more room than eiltefts would allow. The most important of those, in my opinion, are the personal computer (including the smart phone), television, and air conditioning. However, I will tell you what some things cost the year I was born:

  • New House: 4,075.00
  • New Car: 850.00
  • Rent: 32.00 per month
  • Gasoline: 0.12 per gallon
  • Average Income: 1,777.00.

My training has been going so well, I don't know how to act. I have reached PR after PR. I have exceeded my best in all three lifts. I have no idea how long this can continue. I am my own experiment. Is there a point at which an individual cannot keep getting stronger? At what point does the body deteriorate such that it can no longer get stronger, no longer improve? I don't know. I hope never do, but I realize that is not realistic. My training is relatively simple, but not that simple.

Actually, I use a different type of program for each lift. I have to keep track of my progress in each one so I can reach a peak for meets. My squat is a cross between Wendler's 5/3/1 and the things I learned from Donnie Thompson. It begins as a percentage of my one-rep max, but then I increase the weight by 40 or 50 pounds until I reach my work sets. Then I do 5 sets of 5 until I can no longer do 5 reps. As the weight of the work sets increase, I do three reps, then two reps, and, on occasion, singles. The fewer the reps, the more sets I try to do. As I have said previously, "I don't always do all I plan to do, but I always do all I can do."

Dave and Jeff

I'll start talking about my bench press by saying it sucks! There are physical reasons, but there are no excuses. Nevertheless, it has improved markedly in the last year. That is probably, in part, because I have devoted two days a week to it: a speed day and a max day. Because there is not a great deal of difference between my warm-up and my max, I do more work sets on speed day with as much speed as a little old man can muster. I use the same rep philosophy: the greater the intensity, the fewer the reps. My deadlift program is percentage-based. It involves deadlifting three out of four weeks and is the Matt Kroc 12-Week Deadlift Program. Simple, but not too simple.

I am a competitive person. If we are keeping score, I want to win. I've always been that way. While not the most gifted athlete, I have been willing to do the work necessary to be the best I can be. I have tried to apply those principles to my powerlifting. I am the only one I know that beats his own ass in the gym. As I have said, there is no time that we can't give 110% to our training — good day or bad day, trying for a PR or doing repetition work sets, 110% is what we must do to get better.

This sense of competition has pushed me in my powerlifting. My greatest competition is what I have previously done. The spirit of the sport and the good people therein also contribute to my enthusiasm. But my teammates at elitefts do more to inspire and energize me than anything else. At the last UGSS, I met some of the most amazing young people and renewed acquaintances with others. Just being around them and watching them, I always learn a great deal. I also got specific information from Dave Tate on a pressing exercise that I can actually do with this bum shoulder.

I learned a bench press lockout technique from Molly Edwards, she's of Westside fame. Casey Williams taught me a breathing technique that has helped all my lifts, and Brandon Smitley showed me a different way to wrap knees. Everyone else was just as nice and helpful as they could be, especially the crazy guys from Memphis. Being around these wonderful young men and women gives me more energy than ever.

So, how long will getting strong(er) continue? I don't know. At what point, or age, or condition does deterioration begin? I don't know. Am I racing a clock, and is my time on the platform limited? I don't know. I am not concerned about the answers to these questions. The answers will be forthcoming in time. Until then, I can only go as hard as I can go for as long as I can. If I can do this at 90 or older, I shall. Inasmuch as I am my own experiment subject, I will keep you informed. In the meantime, I'll keep lifting heavy stuff until they stop making things for me to pick up.

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