Beginner Powerlifting Over 50 – Introduction
Can you begin powerlifting over 50? And if yes, how do you get started?
Powerlifting is often viewed as a young person’s sport.
While the world’s best powerlifters are quite young, age does not have to be a barrier to participation.
Powerlifting is a sport for all ages!
This article covers the top benefits of powerlifting for over 50 exercisers and provides you with a novice routine to get you started.
Top 8 Powerlifting Benefits for The Over 50s Lifter
Not sure if you should start (or continue) powerlifting into your 50s and beyond?
Consider these amazing benefits and then decide!
#1. Increased muscle mass and strength
Muscle mass and strength tend to peak when you’re in your mid-thirties and decline gradually after that.
However, lifting heavy weights consistently will reverse this trend.
While some age-related muscle and strength loss is inevitable, powerlifting will mean that this is minimal.
Severe age-related loss of muscle mass and strength is known as sarcopenia and can be debilitating.
In contrast, strong muscles can be the difference between living an independent, active life and spending your golden years sitting in a chair.
Powerlifting is the real fountain of youth!
Just ask Shirley Webb how the deadlift changed her life.
In fact, she is known as the Powerlifting Grandma who first started to deadlift at the age of 77 and incredibly regained her mobility.
At 82 she is still competing and racking up medals.
She is an inspiration for older adults everywhere to start building muscle through resistance training on a regular basis.
82-year old Weight Lifting Granny is a World Champion
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#2. Increased bone mass
Like muscle mass, bone density tends to decline with age.
This is a process called osteopenia.
If left unchecked, bone mass can decrease to such an extent that the bones become porous and brittle, which is a medical condition called osteoporosis.
Your muscles respond to your workouts by getting stronger, and so too do your bones.
Stronger bones are less likely to break in the event of a fall.
Powerlifting can help prevent bone loss and even increase bone strength, making your skeleton stronger and more resilient.
#3. Better joint stability and mobility
A joint is anywhere in your body that two or more bones come together to form a union.
Most joints are freely moveable or should be!
With age and lack of use, joints can stiffen up and become less mobile.
Immobile joints can affect your ability to carry out your daily chores and can also cause pain.
Similarly, joints should be stable.
That means they don’t wobble unnecessarily.
Unstable joints are prone to excessive wear and tear, leading to arthritis and joint pain.
Being stronger can help reduce your risk of back pain, improve your posture, and make existing joint issues such as osteoarthritis more manageable.
Many powerlifting exercises can be modified to make allowances for existing joint issues, such as doing box squats instead of regular squats, rack pulls instead of deadlifts from the floor, and floor presses instead of bench presses.
#4. Lower your risk of chronic diseases
Some of the less obvious effects of powerlifting include:
- Lower blood pressure
- Lower “bad” VLDL and higher “good” HDL cholesterol levels
- Increased insulin sensitivity
- Better circulation
- Improved cardiovascular health
- Lower risk of cognitive decline, dementia, and Alzheimer’s disease
- Better immunity
These physiological changes offer powerful protection against numerous chronic diseases, including those that are often associated with aging.
Improvements in medical care mean that a lot of people are living longer, but they aren’t necessarily living better.
Powerlifting means not just potentially adding years to your lifespan but making sure you’re fit and well enough to enjoy that extra time.
#5. Improved cardiovascular fitness
Lifting weights is an anaerobic activity.
That means it involves short bursts of intense work alternated with periods of rest.
However, despite being anaerobic, lifting weights also benefits your cardiovascular system, that is, your heart and lungs.
This is not just good for your health but also your cardiovascular fitness.
The fitter you are, the easier things like climbing a flight of stairs or walking up a hill will be.
Most lifters should still do 20-30 minutes of cardio 3-4 times a week, but it’s nice to know that your weightlifting workouts are also good for your general fitness.
#6. Weight management
However, while regular aerobic exercise can help you lose or maintain your weight, so too can strength training.
In addition, strength training improves insulin sensitivity, which promotes fat burning and minimizes fat storage.
Cardio IS an essential type of exercise, but strength training exercises are every bit as helpful for long-term weight management.
My opinion on The Best Exercise for Overweight Beginners will shock you if you are up for it!
#7. Increased testosterone levels
One common concern among older guys is the gradual decrease in testosterone levels.
A study published in the journal PLOS ONE has shown that low testosterone levels can have a significant negative effect on the health of men over 50. ¹
This study from Georgetown University Medical Center found that low testosterone levels were associated with an increased risk of death from any cause, as well as an increased risk of death from heart disease or stroke.
The authors also found that low testosterone levels were associated with an increased risk of developing diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and obesity.
These conditions can all lead to serious health problems such as heart disease and stroke.
While these changes are to be expected as a man ages, the good news is that there are things you can do to help maintain healthy testosterone levels.
And that is where powerlifting comes in.
As Navy surgeon, commander, and author Dr. Richard Jadick says:
“Research has shown that lifting heavier weights is the best form of exercise to boost testosterone,” says Dr. Jadick. “As muscle mass increases, it will trigger the body to produce more testosterone.”
He suggests performing two sets of three to five reps at 95 percent of your one-rep max targeting larger muscle groups, like the quadriceps, hamstrings, back, and chest.
“A resistance training program can boost testosterone because it promotes:
- Muscle growth. The more muscle you have, the higher your testosterone levels.
- Weight maintenance. Research has found that reducing your body fat and improving your body composition can raise your testosterone.” ²
And which strength exercises use the largest posterior chain muscles and upper body muscles?
A lot of workouts are “no brainers.”
You turn up, do your thing, and go home.
There is nothing to measure, your progress is uncertain, and you may not even notice any benefits.
With powerlifting, every workout is quantifiable.
You’ll see your progress as your weights increase or you are able to do more reps.
You’ll be able to measure your improvements in pounds on the bar, and that can be very motivating.
If you want a goal-driven workout, where your efforts are rewarded with measurable progress, powerlifting is an excellent choice.
That doesn’t mean you need to sign up for powerlifting meets, although you can if you want.
Instead, you can compete against yourself, always striving to do better.
So, all in all, powerlifting is not just a suitable workout for people in their 50s and beyond; it’s actually one of the most beneficial types of exercise you can do.
Getting Started – Over 50 Powerlifting Routine
There are several good workouts you can use to start powerlifting in your 50s, including:
But, to save you from trying to choose between different workouts, here is a simple powerlifting routine designed for the over 50’s lifter.
This program involves alternating between two workouts – A and B.
You can hit the gym two or three times a week depending on your energy and the time you’ve got for training, for example:
Powerlifting Over Age 50 Workout Routine
Prepare your major muscle groups and joints for each workout and avoid the risk of injury by warming up before you start.
Do 5-10 minutes of easy to moderate cardio followed by dynamic joint mobility work and flexibility exercises for your entire body.
Start each exercise with 1-2 light sets to “get in the groove” and practice your technique.
10-12 per leg
Over 50 Powerlifting Routine – FAQs
Q1. How much weight should I use for each exercise?
Because you don’t know how strong you are yet, I can’t tell you how much weight you should lift.
However, you should be able to complete all the designated reps and still have a little gas left in the tank.
In other words, don’t push yourself to failure.
To determine your weights, on your first workout, start with an empty bar and do the prescribed number of reps.
Rest a moment, add a little more weight, and repeat.
Continue this process until the last couple of reps feels somewhat challenging.
Make a note of this weight and use it for all your sets when you do the workout again.
After that, try to increase your weights by 2.5-5.0 pounds whenever you feel able, but never sacrifice proper form to lift more weight.
Q2. Can I change any of the exercises?
After all, they ARE the three power lifts for the sport of powerlifting!
However, the other exercises can be switched if necessary.
However, if you DO make changes, make sure the exercises are similar.
Replacing lunges with step-ups is okay, but doing biceps curls instead of overhead presses is not.
Stay true to the spirit of the workouts.
Q3: Do I need a weightlifting belt, knee sleeves, or elbow sleeves
As an older lifter, you too may benefit from these items of ancillary equipment, but they’re not compulsory.
Save the belt for when you start training with heavier weights.
Q4: Can I do powerlifting workouts at home?
One of the great things about powerlifting is that you don’t need a lot of machines to do it.
Of course, if you have access to things like leg press and hack squat machines, your workouts will be more varied, but those exercises are not essential.
Q5: What should I eat for powerlifting?
It’s beyond the scope of this article to give you detailed dietary advice.
But here are some tips for eating clean, to help you succeed at over 50 powerlifting!
- Focus on real foods
- Eat one gram of protein per pound of bodyweight
- Get plenty of fiber
- Eat at least five servings of vegetables and/or fruit per day
- Cut down on sugar and processed food
- Drink about five pints of water per day
Q6: Should I enter a powerlifting competition?
While you can be a powerlifter without ever competing, entering a competition can give your training some extra focus.
Because of the weight and age group categories, you’ll be pitted against people that are very similar to you, so being 50+ is not going to be held against you.
Some competitions are especially for novices, that is, those that have never competed before.
Powerlifters are a friendly bunch, and if you do decide to enter a meet, you’ll be made to feel very welcome.
If you still aren’t sure if you want to compete, go along to your first powerlifting meet as a spectator so you can see how things work and decide if it’s something you want to do.
Powerlifting Over 50 – Wrapping Up
Powerlifting has a lot to offer the over 50 exerciser.
While elite powerlifters are usually in their 20s and 30s, many competitors are still going strong in their 50s, 70s, and even 90s!
Age is not a barrier to participation.
You can train for powerlifting in almost any gym, and setting up a home gym is also a viable option as you don’t need much space or equipment to build impressive strength levels.
The exercises themselves are relatively easy to learn, and simply working out with weights is good for almost every aspect of your health.
So, rather than ask yourself if you should start powerlifting over 50, ask yourself why not?
It could be the best workout you ever do!
If you are more interested in generic strength training over 50 – see Strength Training for Men Over 50 + Full-Body Workout for more details.
- What Is Powerlifting? A Beginner’s Guide To A Sport For All
- Best Beginner Powerlifting Program for Fitness and Strength
- One Great Powerlifting Program for Intermediate Lifters
- Powerlifting vs Bodybuilding; Differences, Pros + Cons
- The Best Powerlifting Exercises for Beginners + Workout