The Long Game: Some thoughts on how I’m still powerlifting at 83

Posted On July 7, 2023

The Long Game: Some thoughts on how Im still powerlifting at 83

Im 83 and getting ready to lift in a powerlifting meet in mid-August.

I competed in my first powerlifting meet in 1987 in a career that includes doing meets in five decades.

How does this happen?

Besides feeling blessed to be able to still do this, I believe that over the course of my career I have done as much as possible to stay in the game.

Nothing is ever guaranteed. However, I believe that it is possible to do as much as you can to slow down predictable decline and not do stupid stuff.


Training for Durability

A few years ago I wrote a paper on training for both peak strength and for durability. At the time I believed that this approach had been the foundation of my long lifting career.

I still believe that this is the case.

On reflection, I have always trained for maximum strength in the powerlifts, but also for the resilience needed to do serious heavy training.

What does this look like week to week, month to month and year to year?


Steel and Rawhide

I used to use the expression that for those of us who were well over 30 it was imperative that we train our bodies for the peak strength of steel and the tensile strength of rawhide.

My version of peak strength training is a standard powerlifting approach with some of my own nuances and preferences.

The rawhide part of the training is something that I have never seen other lifters perform to the degree that I do it.

My durability training (rawhide) is heavily oriented to doing high-er reps of compound movements along with some high intensity static contractions.

I do this with the intent of conditioning my weaker links and preventing injuries in my joints and connective tissues.


As most regular readers know, I have been using kettlebells for the past 20 years. I may have been one of Pavels first customers.

The key durability training for me has been the kettlebell snatch. Since 2002 I have done a minimum of 100 snatches each week I estimate that I have done at least 150,000 snatches (probably more) in the last two decades.

What this has done for me is create and preserve a near bulletproof core.

In the past 20 years I have never had a hint of back pain. All this while competing regularly doing heavy squats and deadlifts.

How about the shoulders?

Playing the ball sports seemingly forever meant that I threw some form of round object about a zillion times during my career. Thus, my right shoulder has been a bit wonkey for a few decades. My right wing occasionally requires physical therapy.

However, I am pleased to note that that I have never had to stop lifting because of my shoulder problems. The kettlebell snatch keeps my shoulders in good shape to lift heavy stuff.

Another longevity item.

Having been a competitive runner for a portion of my sports career, I am pleased to report that I still run a few miles every week.

I can still run and enjoy it in part because I have paid a lot of attention to proper running mechanics. This means that when running I put minimal stress on my knees, feet, hips, and ankles.

Smooth running mechanics lead to a long running career.

Many senior citizens I encounter these days tell me that their knees are shot from running.

You can almost guarantee that poor technique in any sport will lead to injury.


Bottom line

IMHO long careers are built around training that is focused on both the short term (4-8 week cycles) and the longer term (years, etc).

Integrate some long game conditioning training into every workout and track performance on a weekly or monthly basis. Example: track the number of reps of a movement such as the kettlebell snatch each week and each month.EVERY month.

Exclusive focus on the short term can lead to wasting a lot of time and energy on useless movements, and perpetuating the conditions in your body that could lead to injury.

Start training for durability..every workout.

Lift Big!


Written by Richard

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