Fitness motivation comes in many shapes and forms. However, few things draw as much admiration in the fitness industry than our elders staying in shape. There’s something about seeing them fight the onset of time while looking better than people half their age that’s truly fascinating. After all, if they can do it, what gives the rest of us the excuse not to improve ourselves? While there are a ton of older fitness enthusiast and bodybuilders still in incredible shape, these 6 inspirations that definitely make the cut.
Lee Labrada (61)
Lee Labrada has remained a staple in the bodybuilding and fitness community for decades. Whether you know him as the guy who unseated the great Lee Haney in the 1990 Mr. Olympia pre-judging, or the father of the up and coming Hunter Labrada, his name is infamous.
You can tell the people who view fitness as a lifelong journey, and Lee Labrada is clearly riding ‘til the last stop. Though just making the list at 61, Lee has muscle size and definition men half his age would envy. To him
“Bodybuilding is the closest thing we have to the fountain of youth”
It’s gotten to the point that one of his main aspirations is to model mental sharpness sharpness and longevity as a kind of “fitness evangelist”. There’s no doubt that he’s on the right track, literally embodying the phrase “ripped at 60”.
Training plans for all ages are easy to come by, but It’s rare to get a look at the nutrition of bodybuilders higher in years. However Lee has given us a glimpse of the diet and supplementation necessary for maintaining his stellar physique. Obviously specific foods, intake amount, etc. will vary from person to person, but we can learn a lot from what people eat, especially veteran bodybuilders.
- 10 Egg Whites, 1 Cup Oatmeal, 1 Cup Greek Zero Fat Yogurt, 1Tablespoon Fish Oil
- GlutaLean®, BCAA-Power™, Stim-Force™
- Lean Body® Ready to Drink Meal Replacement Shake, 1 Scoop Power Carb™, 1 Tablespoon Fish Oil, 3 HICA MAX Tablets
- 8oz. Chicken Breast, 10oz. Sweet Potato, 1 Cup Vegetables, Nuts– Almonds, Cashews, Seeds
- 8oz. Chicken Breast, 1.5 cup Rice Mixed with Black Beans, 1 Cup Vegetables, Granola Muffin
- 8oz Salmon, Orange Roughy, or Halibut, 10 oz. Sweet Potato, 1 Cup Vegetables, Sorbet
- Lean Body® Ready-to-Drink Meal Replacement Shake, Bowl of Whole Grain Cereal, 1 Tablespoon Fish Oil
Tony Pearson (64)
Tony Pearson is one of the great decorated veterans of bodybuilding. He also happens to still be incredible shape at 64! He still competes at the highest level of the sport, winning the 2020 AAU Master’s Mr. Universe 40 years after the dawn of his career.
With Arnold Schwarzenegger as his mentor, Tony blazed a trial of substantial wins throughout the 80s. Even after his retirement in 1994 he still stayed in such good shape he seamlessly returned to the stage in 2014 to win the NABBA USA American Grandmaster’s and Open divisions.
Most people would be surprised to learn he’s maintained this physique without the use of hormone replacements. However most don’t know the man still works out nearly or sometimes literally everyday of the week. For obvious reasons Tony doesn’t train as heavy as he did back in the day, but his high rep ranges keep blood flowing to the muscles.
Robby Robinson (75)
Robby Robinson is one of those guys you just have to marvel at.
He is also another accomplished bodybuilder who had his start in the golden age of bodybuilding. He won numerous awards from Mr. America to Mr. Universe, Mr. World, Master’s Olympia, etc.
The man has numerous accomplishments over three decades, yet even though he retired from competing in 2001, he never stopped training
It’s not hard to see how Robby has stayed in such amazing shape well into his 70s. Spend 5 minutes on his Instagram page and you’ll quickly realize his workouts, techniques, and mentality hasn’t changed much in half a century. This man is a BEAST! He loves the a 3 days on 1 day off training split. He prefers high repetitions for engaging the pump and high volume (15-20 sets per major muscle group) in order to tax them and fill them with blood. I’d be remissed if I didn’t mention a few more of his techniques. Robby also:
– Trains 45 minutes per body part
– Uses barbells and dumbbells as his go-to piece of gym equipment for mass building
– Focuses on variety to create muscle confusion by alternating between heavy and light training weeks
All of these methods he has refined over decades of trial and error and consistent training. As Robby himself put it
“That is what bodybuilding is, repetition. Bodybuilding is a lot of finding the exercise that targets the muscles so it responds best, and when that happens you get a lot of response and your progress goes to the moon.”
Robby has a ton of sound advice on bodybuilding, whether your young or old. But I think one of Robby Robinson’s favorite and most powerful techniques that you rarely hear about is the power of ones mental state. In his own words:
“You are what you think, you have to really think about bodybuilding, you have to think about having a big arm or chest or more muscular physique. You have to think about all these things. But you have to also practice all the parts , you have to eat , you have to rest, you have to keep a positive mind, work on your posing, you just have to practice all the parts. As I said bodybuilding is just repetition, you have to just keep going over these things. But visualization is my number one thing because the more you visualize something consistency throughout training it comes to be. You cannot just do the exercise like most folks, you have to create the image by visualizing the exercise, and how you want the physique to look.”
Youth an attitude like that it’s no wonder the man is still ripped in his old age. I strongly suggest checking out this interview and others like it to learn more about his other perspectives like dieting.
Kay Wiseman (64)
Kay Wiseman’s story is a little different from most of the guys on this list. She is a personal trainer with a background in fitness and the armed forces for decades. That being said she started bodybuilding at the ripe age of 47- and continues to do so at 64.
Though she started late her motivations are similar to many in the industry. Kay, like many of us, started training simply to change her body and improve her confidence/ self esteem. She never dreamed of stepping on the stage and competing due to her introverted personality. Though for several years she was unsure of herself and where she fit in bodybuilding world, Kay has since adjusted.
“I wanted to prove to myself that I could do it,” she says. “You really do have to be committed to be successful — you can’t do it half-hearted and expect to see the results — and I had never really committed to anything that wholeheartedly, or not for a long time. So I really dug deep to find that within myself.”
This mentality won her 1st place in the 2018 Natural Universe Women’s Physique Open Class (INBA World Australia). Her example has also been an inspiration to her oldest daughter (who also competes) and women worldwide looking to stay fit well into their golden years.
Chet Yorton (81)
We couldn’t have a list like this without mentioning the late and great Chet Yorton. Though Chet is no longer with us (he passed away in 2020 at 81) he still serves as a shining example of what bodybuilders are capable of in their senior years.
I mean just look at the guy- he looks like he hadn’t skipped a day of training a day in his life
Truth be told there was a time when Mr. Yorton wasn’t always in the gym. He was in a car accident shortly after high school that damaged his left eye, forearm, elbow, wrist, dislocated hips and shattered femurs. Doctors were debating amputating his right leg, but Chet’s resilience won out. After grueling setbacks that eventually put him in a wheelchair for 4 months, the young man came across the tool that would change his life forever- dumbbells.
Yorton began training consistently for 2 years and entered his first bodybuilding contest in 1960. By the time of his retirement in 1979, he had won numerous titles like Mr. America.
What’s even more impressive is that he was able to maintain this stellar physique NATURALLY. One thing you might not know about Chet Yorton is that throughout his life he was a strong advocate for natural, steroid free bodybuilding. He was even hailed the “Father of Natural Bodybuilding” in his time. The guy was so serious about natural bodybuilding, he founded the Natural Bodybuilder’s Association (NBA) in 1975, the first organization to test for drug use in competitive bodybuilding.
He was a true legend. He was a 2 time Mr. Universe champion, one of the few people to ever beat Arnold Schwarzenegger. When he also won the IFBB Mr. America competition the same year he beat Arnold (1966), snatching victory from another future Olympian- Frank Zane.
Wendy Ida (69)
Wendy Ida is stellar example of what women’s health and fitness looks like past 60. This San Diego bodybuilding bikini champion has a lengthy legacy of fitness under her belt and just as much positive energy to share with clients and fans.
As a former accountant, she went down the path of fitness in her early 40s after an abusive relationship. Now a full-fledged personal trainer, she specializes in core training, TRX, functional training, Zumba, and Pilates. She has her plate full speaking at conferences around the world, running a growing YouTube channel, and training physical/ virtual clients, but she loves it.
You could say Wendy is on a mission to inspire people in their mid-life who feel defeated about their circumstances, especially fitness-wise. In her words
“I tell them ‘you’re still just a baby!’ ‘You have so much life to live, love to give, places to go. You have a ways to go and the show is not over.’ ”
This bodybuilding champion has a few pointers for building muscle and keeping it after 60:
– consistent movement: Wendy recognizes the fact that what the body doesn’t use it removes. This is why she hasn’t taken her foot off the gas when It comes to training her body. She is a big fan of full-body circuit training 3 to 4 days a week, incorporating body weight exercises to strengthen her muscles and cardio Intervals on the treadmill or bike.
-lift weights: muscle mass decreases 3-8% per decade after the age of 30. This rate can be even higher after 60, so It’s no surprise Wendy is also big on resistance training. Resistance training helps to build and maintain muscles in seniors, and it also strengthens and fortify bones. This is a huge priority for those looking to stay mobile and stay protected against fractures, a looming problem In the elderly community.
-Alternate activities: Wendy as mentioned is a strength circuit enthusiast. However on her off days she likes to alternate between different active rest activities like jogging, dancing, or biking. This helps to give her body a break while keeping her engaged in fitness by adding a need dose of variety.
-well-rounded nutrition: She believes in keeping her nutrition simple. Her philosophy is avoiding fad diets and eating as much whole/ organic foods as possible. Also eating small meals every 3 to 4 hours to fuel her metabolism and keep cravings and overeating at bay.
I wish I could shout out all of the amazing fitness seniors out there, but there’s only time for so few. If I missed any of your favorites feel free to write your most inspiring honorable mention in the comments. Until next time, BE WELL!!