Beating a World Record in the Bench Press at 66 and the Sophistry of Aging
by Jack Maley, TeamYOLKED, World Record Holder in Bench Press
"And then one day you find
Ten years have got behind you
No one told you when to run
You missed the starting gun"
- Pink Floyd, Time
We've been conditioned to believe that getting older means a sad, creaky, inexorable decline in physical and mental prowess.
Last week I benched 358.6 lbs in a competition at the heroic Atilis Gym in Bellmawr NJ (look them up, donate!) which beat the United States Powerlifting Association world record in the 65-69 age category and 220 pound level by half a pound. I earned a shiny medal and a few life lessons. The most enlightening lesson being that, indeed, aging has been miscast as an inescapable demon, a heartless villain in this movie of ours.
“If you are pining for youth I think it produces a stereotypical old man because you only live in memory, you live in a place that doesn’t exist. Aging is an extraordinary process where you become the person you always should have been.” - David Bowie
HOW IT STARTED
This addictive, challenging journey launched 7 years ago when my college roommate, Steve Hoffman, a coach in the NFL, sent me a video of him benching 315 (about the weight of an adult gorilla) in the Tennessee Titans' weight room. Watching him hit this epic "bench mark" inspired me to match and beat his feat. I didn't set out to break a world record, I actually wasn't aware that these "old guy" records existed. I simply set out to beat Steve. Leverage the competitive spirit.
Steve and I met in 1976 at college summer football camp. We both stepped into the line for QBs (there we're 11!) which marked the beginning of 47 years of competing. We're still at it. Steve is with the Atlanta Falcons now and is still kettle belling, eating healthy, fasting intermittently, and hiking with a 30 pound rucksack. He's 64 with a strong, healthy frame and at 5'11" can still box jump and touch the rim.
POWER LIFTING SERIOUS WEIGHT
And right from the jump, the issue of "age" became a thing. Jack, you're 60, at your age there's no way you can build enough lean muscle to go from benching 200 (where I started in 2015) to 316. Plus, you'll hurt yourself and "at your age" you don't heal very fast, if at all. You're going to blowout your shoulder. Rip your pec right off the bone. And more vivid injury scenarios. Plus ... And ... But ... the rat-a-tat of negativity came from within and from with out.
There are always a surfeit of reasons to avoid risk and opt for the safe route. Take the COVID situation for example. "Error on the side of caution" was a disaster.
Like every solid marketing campaign, it's essential to have a goal (beat Steve!), a game plan, and a team to support you. Power lifting appears to be a solo sport but not at the competitive level. You need a team. I have a deeply experienced coach (Bob DeBolt, how about that name for a power lifting coach), advisors on diet and supplementation, and the active, positive support of family and friends.
Also required are the usual suspects of success: a belief set or mission, strategy, discipline, focus, working smart, persistence, managing risk, and execution.
A Belief Set: ESSENTIAL HEALTH
As we age, it is essential to maintain physical activity and strength training to promote overall health and quality of life. A favorite guru, Nisargadatta Maharaj, when asked about the purpose of life said simply, "Life is for living." Regular exercise will improve cardiovascular health, maintain muscle mass, and reduce the risk of chronic diseases such as diabetes, obesity, and osteoporosis.
It's well documented that exercise will also improve mental health and cognitive function, promote a sharper mind and reduce the risk of age-related cognitive decline. Exercise promotes a sense of well-being and can reduce stress and anxiety, promoting a more balanced and fulfilling life. Throw in a world record and who can resist?!
Discipline and Focus: GET TO THE GYM
I spend 3-4 days in the gym, an hour at a time. It's not that much time in the scheme of things. But every minute is focused and productive, thanks mostly to my trainer, DeBolt. He arrives at each session prepared with my routine and sees that I hit the marks. Every exercise we do has a purpose and a timeline. Without him none of this is possible.
Execution and Persistence: EATING AND AGING
To build muscle, fuel up. 3-4000 calories a day. 200 grams of protein. Sometimes more. At 25 that sounds like a delicious challenge. At 66 it's very difficult to eat that much. At times it feels gluttonous and gross. So all foods need to be clean (try to avoid food from boxes or bags) and nutrient dense. I live near dairy farms which is where I do my food shopping. My daily intake includes a half gallon of raw goats milk, 6-8 raw eggs, lots of red meat and chicken, yogurt, fish, pounds of grass fed butter, cheese, white rice, and the occasional treat like dark chocolate and ice cream. Very few vegetables and almost zero fruits. No evil seed oils. Scant alcohol.
With this diet most doctors will say I'm one big mac from a heart attack. My cardiologist friend @DeanOrnish is rolling his eyes. 2 weeks ago I took a Coronary Calcium test and the score came back at 38 (1000 is the top/you're dead score). My total Cholesterol is 200. I'm fine, they're wrong, again (see COVID, margarine, and the 'so bad it's funny' FDA Food Chart).
Working smart: SUPPLEMENTS AND A SECRET WEAPON
DHEA, metformin (not for diabetes, but an anti-aging play) steady intake of creatine, CBD for muscle recovery, and a magic formula called YOLKED. YOLKED is my secret weapon that I learned about when the creators came to my ad agency to help promote their breakthrough formula. Originally it was designed for senior citizens who had a muscle wasting disease called sarcopenia.
Briefly put, YOLKED depresses the body's muscle-limiting protein called myostatin. With myostatin tamped down, the body is free to build muscle beyond what God designed. Sounds illegal but really it's just fertilized egg yolks and a clever production process. (all patented of course and approved for use by the NCAA and all major leagues) A really heart-warming use for YOLKED is for older dogs suffering from arthritis and debilitating joint pain. This old dog can relate.
Sleep is crucial to the recovery process. 7-8 hours of sleep are required. You also need off days, several days between workouts to let your body recover. Build them in! The recovery process is where the gains lie.
If you're hiring and some candidates have passed the 60 year old mark, rejoice. If they've given up, your interview will reveal that right away. If they are on a focused health journey, give them a hard look ... there's a good chance you have discovered deep experience + high energy gold.
INSPIRING AGING IDOLS
Quincy Jones is 89 going on 30. I enjoyed a dinner with him about 10 years ago at his home in Bel Air, CA. He was 79 years old at the time with a growling V12 under his hood. He was involved in dozens of projects in music, theater, tech, movies, design. Every project detail was fresh in his head. His energy and enthusiasm was awe inspiring. He was funny, animated, and genuinely interested in what the 4 of us at the table were up to. Towards the end of the night, after another bottle of pricy red something from his cellar, Quincy said, "If I ever go Brokeback, I'm going Jack." In the words of golf caddy legend Carl Spackler, "So I've got that going for me. Which is nice."
YOUR ACTION STEPS
Of course, you don't need to tackle the world. Maybe you want to play with your grandkids without hearing your knees crack. Drive a golf ball with effortless, fluid torque. Slip on the ice and pop back up injury free.
Set a goal. Find your motivation. Make your plan. Then fire off your own starting gun.
“For what it’s worth... it’s never too late to be whoever you want to be. There’s no time limit. Start whenever you want. You can change or stay the same. There are no rules to this thing. We can make the best or the worst of it. I hope you make the best of it. I hope you see things that startle you. I hope you feel things you’ve never felt before. I hope you live a life you’re proud of, and if you’re not, I hope you have the courage to start over again.” - F Scott Fitzgerald
Join the 1000 pound club. (Bench, Squat, and Deadlift total over 1000 pounds)