Powerlifter survey part 3: Age is just a number

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all photos credited to: Harnek Rai

Getting survey responses like this is an interesting experience. Unlike with the numbers portion, the textual responses are very real and very human. Part of the reason I decided to share them with minimal editing (other than to ensure anonymity or correct typos) is the power and poignancy of some of the words used. There is a raw honesty to many of the quotes below that is tremendously inspiring.

The questions about aging yielded a true hodge-podge of answers that reflect the diversity of the respondents.

The general consensus is that embracing the process, enjoying the activity and using the number on the bar (rather than age) as the focus are paramount to independence, joy, passion, and confidence at whatever stage in life.

This is what they have to say about it…

In case you missed the others, here are all the posts in this series:

  1. Part 1: Female Masters Powerlifting Survey Results (the quantitative portion)
  2. Powerlifter Survey Part 2: training volume, injury, and fear
  3. Powerlifter survey part 3: Age is just a number
  4. Powerlifter survey part 4: experiences & body image
  5. Powerlifter survey part 5: I have no more words
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credit: Harnek Rai

 

Does participation in powerlifting influence how you feel about aging? How?

I feel younger I think. Maybe because I train with people several years/decades younger than myself and I hold myself to their standards. Which sometimes sucks lol. But then perspective takes over.

Such a loaded question.  Nobody wants to get older, especially when it comes with decreased work capacity and aches and pains.  The biggest difference for me is that I don’t care so much about my appearance; I would sacrifice fitting into the conventional version of physical attractiveness for some gains on my total 🙂  Actually, that is very freeing and I embrace it.  Sadly I hear about weight from someone every damn day – and I’m guilty of worrying about it too, in terms of making weight.  I’d consider going up a weight class to avoid that issue, but my total is already low.

Yes! I’m strong I can carry things as well as myself which makes me more independent and not a frail old lady

I feel wonderful. I am looking forward to lifting as an M3 in a few years.

It definitely influences my  perspective on aging.  It is both positive and negative.  Aches and pains that may be a normal part of aging impact my training and, therefore, cause more frustration than they may cause for someone else.
On a positive note, I’m stronger and look better than many women my age.   Pure vanity 🙂

Yes I can do a lot of this people my age cant do, so it makes me feel powerful, not better than them, but able to tackle anything

I refuse to age.

Overall I do not remotely feel my age. I have more energy than the people I work with that are  much younger. 28 to 40

I look much younger than my 52 years, so I am told.  I am much more nimble and mobile and am very strong compared to other women my age.  My self confidence has improved tremendously.  I continue to lose fat and gain muscle.  My relationship with food is much healthier – I see it more as fuel for my body.  My arthritic knees are so much better!  My overall health has improved immensely – I previously had issues with Type 2 Diabetes, high blood pressure and cholesterol.  Thanks to powerlifting, diet and medication, all of my blood tests are in the “”healthy”” range.  My doctor is thrilled!  I love to work out – it is the highlight of my day.  My social circle now includes my powerlifting family – awesome people!

I feel both broken all the time (stiff, achy muscles), and also as though I’ll be young much longer than my non-lifting peers…because I hope to be able to lift at least my bodyweight, for as long as possible.

I know right now that I might not be able to powerlift at the level I would want – for ever. That said, I know I will be able to powerlift forever.

This is a lifetime sport!

Yes. Keeps me feeling young since I train with younger lifters and they treat me like one of them.  I regularly hear comments You can’t possibly be 65, and you lift how much?  On the other hand powerlifting reminds me that I am aging when I don’t make any increases in a year and injuries take forever to heal!

I feel young, healthy and fitter since powerlifting

Reverses aging!

Yes.  I feel much more in control of the aging process.

Yes, I feel strong and fit for my age.  Age is not an issue, as I continue to gain strength.  So, in general, powerlifting makes me worry less about aging overall.

Yes — in both good and bad ways.  I am proud of what I can do and accomplish but it is frustrating to see how I compare with the “”younger”” women.  I always want to do more but “”my brain writes checks that my body can no longer cash””.  Things take longer to accomplish than they did 10 years ago.

I feel better in my 40s than I did in my 30s

Yes. I don’t feel as I’m getting “”older”” and all the baggage that comes with it. I feel as if this is a sport that I can continue to do (and see progress) as I get older, whereas with soccer, what I did prior to an injury made me quit, I saw my performance decrease and recovery time increase.

Yes, as I am still seeing strength gains in lifts that I wasn’t sure I would see as I have been lifting so long. I think the raw division has given much more life to masters lifters, and is keeping us in the sport. I don’t feel my age…I don’t think!

Define ‘aging’?  Its only a number.

yes i do not feel my age

Yes. I feel that I am in better shape now than when I was in my late teens and active in sports. I feel VERY empowered and still amazed that this is what I do. I embrace my age!!

Don’t have a problem with aging

Wished I had taken it up years ago

 No.

I feel stronger and healthier — like I’m giving my body the best chance to age well.

I do not have any negative feelings about aging.

PL makes me feel bad ass and hot.

40 isn’t so bad when you move better than most 30 year olds 🙂

Yes. Keeps me feeling young since I train with younger lifters and they treat me like one of them.  I regularly hear comments You can’t possibly be 65, and you lift how much?  On the other hand powerlifting reminds me that I am aging when I don’t make any increases in a year and injuries take forever to heal!

YES.  I’m younger at 40 than I was at 25.

When I’m out of shape, I feel old and hurt. When I feel strong, I don’t think I’m old at all.

I feel younger and stronger now then I did even two years ago.

Helps me feel like I am fighting off some of the effects of aging, ie, osteoporosis, etc.

Yes.  I have never been bothered too much about aging, but since I started powerlifting I’m actually looking forward to it because as time is passing I am getting no stronger and more confident in my abilities.

Yes, makes feel younger in that I can still compete with younger girls and rank high. I’m told frequently that I look younger than my age or people are surprised to learn my age. My body looks better than most of the younger lifters

Yes!  It makes me feel younger, more energetic!

I do not put much thought into aging, never have, as it happens it happens, why worry about it? I do know that Powerlifting is a sport with longevity as at my first competition there was a 97 year old man competing…… Age happens, we all age, we all die, sitting around and thinking about it is a waste of time…… I have lifting to do.…. but I have always thought about aging that way, so again really no different…except I do think every now and then that I am ensuring my mobility as I age…..

Yes. Vastly more positive: I am stronger and fitter than I have been in my entire life, and feel younger than I did ten years ago because of it. I love that PL can continue past the youthful cut off points of most sports–that competition is still a valid option into my 50s, 60s, even beyond.

Yes, it makes me feel more alive

Yes, I feel much stronger and more able to deal with obstacles. My bone density is off the charts, so I don’t worry about osteoporosis.

Yes! I feel younger than other women my age. I am making goals to get stronger. 

I used to dread aging, but now that I know that I can be a part of something significant as I get older, I don’t so much. I love the community of lifters of all ages and training with younger and older people both keeps me younger (I feel) and gives me the benefit of a wide range of experiences.

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credit: Harnek Rai

Has your attitude towards powerlifting changed as you have aged? If so, how?


After the knee injury I had a talk with my tiny ego and it chose to lift for a long time and perhaps not be competitive as opposed to forging ahead despite injuries, potentially making them worse, to go for the records. Lifting is a huge part of how i identify myself so to not be able to do that scares me – long term. I’d rather just plug along and get what I get and enjoy the process.

I am more determined than ever to keep going.  Because I get out of it what I put in.
I’ve wanted to give up once or twice.  Lasts about two minutes.  I work hard and my gains are slow.  I train more regularly than my training partner, for instance, and she outperforms me time after time.  So I’m learning to accept things as they are and stop comparing myself to everyone else.  Other than pre-comp to my competition in order to be prepared and to psych myself up (hasn’t worked yet).

I started at age 61 so my attitude hasn’t changed

No when I first started lifting I automatically got all of the records. Now I usually come in last but I still strive to get my best at each lift. I find powerlifting gives me a reason to take care of myself, It keeps me going to the gym because if I miss a workout I might not do well.

I’ve only competed as a master lifter so it’s tough to gauge.

No I’m still passionate about it, but I have to be careful in training, no sudden or aggressive movements always slow and steady

Just keep doing it. I would like to see older lifters acknowledged. I was disappointed last year that Nationals had no award for M3 as it was combined with M2 which I do not feel was fair.( Ageism)

The main reason I powerlift is for my health.  The fact that I happen to absolutely love it is a huge bonus!  My mental and physical health have both improved tremendously. It is a tremendous stress reliever and a healthy way to redirect frustration, anger, etc. Being surrounded by like-minded people who strive for excellence is a positive and inspiring environment.  As I get older, I do appreciate all of the positives that powerlifting has brought into my life.  I am increasingly aware of how important it is to look after myself, train properly and listen to my body.  I love to compete and the goals I set help to keep me motivated.

Nope – actually… I always wanted to give pl a go. So in 2010 I trained for 6 weeks, got on the platform and hit some numbers that I had previously hit in my early 20’s during a strength training cycle (while bodybuilding). I thought that I would never powerlift again… I got bitten by the bug after Linda M. thought she’d give this sport a go… Its been go time since 2012! Now I see powerlifting as a powerful tool for aging better!

Not really. I started as an M2, so was already a mature lifter.  I think what stands out is that the physical ability is limited but the mental toughness lets me overcome more.  At my age I still learn something every time I compete so there is constant growth.

Not yet! I don’t see my age against my lifting.

Less wrinkles

Have only been doing it 3 years so can’t really say

Not really–I’ve always been impressed by strong women.

I have always believed in proper technique at all times, but the more I see young people in the gym training poorly, the more I want to help and fix. I never thought I would lift and compete this long, but as I said before raw lifting makes it more possible. I have also seen the sport kind of die out–at the height of all the gear and no lifting, and now make a huge come back. I have always loved the sport, and have competed both equipped and raw.

Yes, just to training smarter, think and plan training cycles.
Its experience and being wise, not ‘age’.

it hasn’t i enjoy it more over time

Happier now I am in masters. Feel I can now compete

 Yes, I  have learned to love the process and the training, as opposed to simply being focused on my next competition or PRs.

compete against myself mostly.  i cannot control other people, just how hard i train

Not really. I started as an M2, so was already a mature lifter.  I think what stands out is that the physical ability is limited but the mental toughness lets me overcome more.  At my age I still learn something every time I compete so there is constant growth.

I try to train smarter, not harder. Listening to my body and not pushing past pain.

I enjoy it. I don’t want increasing age to decrease my strength, so I feel challenged always to do better.

I knew nothing about the sport prior to a couple years ago…now as I age I am inspired by getting stronger as I get older.  I am excited about the benefits to my body and mind as I age.

I see it as a positive outlet, and continuing to help me work on my fitness goals

I’m more in love with the sport

Well, I only started a year ago, but I have enjoyed it more and more.

It hasn’t I never really thought about powerlifting until one day I was like, I think I will do that, I think I will compete……

Yes, I enjoy seeing my muscles and getting stronger.

I’m a little conscious that I’m in this for the long haul so my attention to injury risk and my attention to my body has increased to avoid burnout and injury.

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credit: Harnek Rai
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