Site icon Conor Kelly

Should you lift heavy weights if you’re older?

A few weeks ago I celebrated Easter in the traditional way – by drinking Tequila, and smoking Cuban cigars with my Irish Dad.

As the aromatic tendrils of cigar smoke swirled about us, he let fly a bombshell of epic proportions.

It turns out my Grandmother’s paternal Grandfather was English.

After some not-so-quick math I realized this makes me one sixteenth English.


(As one client, also of Irish descent put it, “I’m sorry to hear that.”)

All those years of obsessively watching The Black Adder and Fawlty Towers suddenly make sense!

The upshot is I can now legitimately add British insults to my already formidable arsenal of putdowns.  And according to, it’s scientifically proven that any insult is 100x better when spoken with a British accent.  The website lists classics like twit, wanker, and lazy sod, as well as lesser known beauts such as trollop (a lady of questionable morals), and my personal favorite, Cheese Eating Surrender Monkeys (The French).

While the kettle boils for me tea and crumpets, let’s dig into today’s content, shall we?

A client reports:

“I’ve had two people this week tell me ‘you shouldn’t use heavy weights if you’re older.’”

First, let me point out that the client in question is strong, lean and fit-looking, and you’d have to be daft as a bush – crazy – or a complete tosser to criticize his health habits.

Second, older is broad.  What does that mean?  For our purposes I’m gonna say *over 50*.   (I’ve gotta draw the line somewhere.  Don’t get your knickers in a bunch.)

Third, heavy compared to what?

I’d never suggest anyone, regardless of age, lift beyond what they can achieve with good form.

But, other things being equal,  I’ll sing the sweet praises of  progressive resistance training (done correctly) until the cows come home.  That’s because there’s a whole lotta legit science certifying the benefits of heavy-for-you lifting as we get older.

It maintains hormone levels, bone density – even cognition and memory.  It lowers bodyfat, and prevents most forms of degenerative disease.  It combats inflammation responsible for achy joints, chronic fatigue and depression.  And strength holds everything together, allowing you to move the way you want to and minimize injuries.

One of the world’s leading anti-aging experts, Dr. Michael Colgan, regularly trains with near max weights.  He’s 77, 10% bodyfat, and does one-arm pushups on stage at speaking engagements!  Jack Lalanne was known to pump iron on the daily until he died at 96.

Even big Hollywood stars are in on the action.  Clint Eastwood could chest press 100 pound dumbbells for 12 reps at age 75!

In fact, research indicates that you can’t get the same results with cardio or light weights.

That’s because they’re less effective in building muscle, which you MUST do in order to accomplish all of the above.  We lose on average a quarter of our lean muscle between the ages of 20 and 80.  It’s a BIG factor in the waning vitality that comes with age – if we accept it.

So don’t accept it.

Hit the weight room with enthusiasm.

And the next time some twit suggests you take it easy, you have my permission to tell him to *bugger off*, that he’s *mad as a bag of ferrets*, or *not batting on a full wicket*.

Then go back to the squat rack and bang out your next heavy set – for the Queen’s sake – and don’t be a lazy sod like those cheese eating surrender monkeys.

Anybody who disagrees with me has lost the bloody plot.

If you’d like to maintain vibrant health with advice based on the latest findings – instead of confining yourself to a rocking chair – check out my Lean For Life talk at Physiomed on April 25th:

Discover how to cheat aging and defy the odds by staying lean for life.

It should be a jolly good chin wag…

Anyway, hope to see you there.


Conor Kelly

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