Barbell training for my 83-year-old stepfather-in-law?
Some background and then a question: I recently ordered a copy of the 3rd Edition to give to my 83-year-old stepfather-in-law for Christmas. I did this because at Thanksgiving dinner, he was excited to tell me that he recently began lifting with machines and has been making progress down the weight stacks. He's a still-practicing MD (pediatric gastroenterologist) who reads lots of medical journals, and he figured it was time to tap into the the health benefits of this resistance training stuff he keeps reading about. He played SEC football in his youth, almost made the Olympic team running the 400m, and has always remained active with aerobic stuff like tennis and--for the last couple of decades--the Stairmaster. Never lifted, though. He really is a remarkably genetically-gifted, vital, active, and open-minded guy. I figured he might be interested in the book.
But I do have some reservations about giving it to him. He is 83 years old. He has a pacemaker due to some heart damage resulting from Chagas disease from his Army days in Panama, and he had a third of his colon removed last year because of polyps. We don't live in the same city, so he'll basically be on his own if he decides to chase down a barbell and some instruction on it. And his wife is going to look at me like I'm crazy when he unwraps it. And if he hurts himself, I'll be seen as largely responsible. And the stakes are higher when old people hurt themselves, because it can so easily become the beginning of the end.
My question--to the extent that I have a coherent one--is whether there comes a time when it's too late to try to introduce someone to this stuff? And if so, how do you determine when that time is? Sully? Others who have trained/initiated elderly relatives?
On the one hand the guy is pretty old, and it might seem crazy to suggest that he put a barbell on his back when he's doing as well as he is. On the other hand he's intensely interested in maintaining his physical capacity, and for all I know he could live to be 110.
Thanks for the books and the forum.
The man has sufficient judgement to make this decision for himself. He may need some guidance in his first few workouts while he learns to use his hips, and he may be a little too enthusiastic if he finds the movements easy, and you can help him plan the loads. But don't assume responsibility for that which is his to decide about.
I was at the Maryland state championships this weekend and watched a father/son compete. It was one of the best parts of the day. Both were impressive. The son finished first in the masters and open, arguably the best lifter I have seen in a long time.
This was really cool. Thanks for sharing.
Originally Posted by BJB82
There is data to suggest that even very elderly people benefit from strength training. He's a practicing physician; he can read the book and make an informed decision as Rip states above. I hope he goes for it.
Originally Posted by Bronan the Barbarian
When I first read Starting Strength, I was working in aged care rehab. If I can teach a 103 year old woman how to stand up out of a chair better so her knees dont hurt then an 83 year old man who seems to have a keen interest in helping himself can get a training effect from it too.
Thanks. Me too. He's a total badass, and I'd like for him to stay that way for as long as possible. Rip and BJ, thanks.
Originally Posted by Sullydog