by Craig Brooks Starting Strength
Three years ago, on May 6, 2016, I attended the Starting Strength Seminar at Westminster Strength and Conditioning. I wanted to deepen my understanding of the barbell lifts, so I could continue to get stronger as a lifter, and gain more knowledge as a coach. I had started my Novice Linear Progression program about three months prior to attending the seminar. That weekend, I squatted 255lbs for five reps, pressed 135lbs (failed the fifth rep), deadlifted 275lbs, and benched 205lbs.
At the time, I was 46 years old, and at 5 foot 8 inches tall, I weighed around 180-185 pounds. I had always lifted weights as a young man, and I continued to train through adulthood, assuming I knew how to do it correctly. However, it wasn’t until I attended the seminar that weekend in May that things really clicked, and I became much more efficient under the bar. I was bitten by the bug, and knew I wanted to continue getting stronger. I had finally learned how to squat, deadlift, power clean, bench, and press the correct way, and I was going to make the most of it.
Before the seminar, I was just one of those guys who looked strong but wasn’t really strong, at least as strong as I could be. After that weekend, I continued my novice progression, training three days a week, even while on vacation. And because I was so consistent with my training, eating, sleeping, and recovery, I have made some significant gains over the past three years. Since May 2016, I gradually gained more weight and strength, and continued to add weight to the bar. I have worked hard over the past three years to apply the feedback I received that weekend.
The other day, I was sitting at Fivex3 Training, where I train and coach, getting ready to lift, and I took a moment to scroll through my log book, comparing where I was in 2016 and where I am now. What I read truly astonished me. Three years later, I am now 49 years old and my body weight is around 235 pounds. I can squat 450lbs for sets of five, press 185lbs, deadlift 450lbs, and bench 265lbs. Last October, I competed at a strength meet at Westminster, and finished with a 465lb squat, 182lb press and 475lb deadlift. I won first place in Masters, and 3rd place in Open. Granted, not every training session has been perfect or gone as planned. I have had days when my body has told me otherwise, and the weight has not moved well, but I have never allowed aches, pains, or injuries stop my training. Instead, I have just adjusted the lifts accordingly, and ensured I could still train even while recovering. My continued consistency with rest, recovery, nutrition, and training has certainly paid off.
By the end of this year, I will be 50 years old. Age isn’t slowing me down or stopping me from adding more weight to the bar. I coach and train each week at Fivex3 Training, and I definitely do not consider myself “old.” True, I’m not 30 anymore, and my body likes to remind me of this every morning, but I am not “old” – I am “older.” At 49 years old, I am training better than I ever did when I was younger, and I continue to make progress on all of my lifts.
To all of those new lifters who are between 40 and 50 years old, please hear this: You are not old. You do not need three days to recover between your training sessions. You do not need to eat 5000 calories. GOMAD does not apply to you. You do need more protein than you think you do. Forty is not the new 70. You can train three, even four days a week. You can recover. You will make progress. You can and will gain muscle, and yes, for some of you, you will need to gain weight if you want to be stronger. Don’t let your age hold you back. Get under the bar today and get stronger.