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70 Years Old, Still Going Strong

Below is a video of a 70 year old bodybuilder with a physique that would be impressive on a man half his age. The clip is well worth a look, not only to see how incredible this man performs for his age, but also to hear his thoughts about life and training.

There is so much to like about this man’s philosophy and achievements. For starters, he didn’t begin lifting until age 44. Meanwhile, I regularly receive emails from men in their 30s who are already complaining about old age. Sonny hadn’t even started at that point in his life. Even at age 44, he walked into the gym without knowing anything about lifting.

And to the younger readers of the site who may not know, we didn’t have the internet 27 years ago. Sonny couldn’t hop online to read the latest training research. It is safe to say that he learned his lessons in the gym. He paid his dues through hard and consistent work and the results are obvious.

It is also nice to see a man his age who trains as a bodybuilder. I’m sure we’ve all seen gurus today who make a point to regularly bash bodybuilding and anything related to it. I can only imagine the comments that they would make if the video above was of a 30 year old man. I’m sure they would be nitpicking his exercise selection and use of a machines.

Now take a moment to think about these modern age gurus. How many of them will perform at Sonny’s level when they reach age 70? Call it a hunch, but I’m guessing the number will be slim. That alone speaks volumes.

And I don’t say this to suggest that everyone should train as a bodybuilder. Personally, I have no interest in bodybuilding. I’m not ignorant enough to believe that there is only one correct way to train however. As I’ve said before, almost anything works if the individual is willing to work and is consistent with his efforts.

Think back to a recent entry that I shared about older athletes who perform bodyweight exercise (see here). From a training standpoint, these men have very little in common with Sonny. The common link is that Sonny and these men all perform at a level that is light years ahead of their peers.

While fitness gurus in today’s era battle it out over who is right and who is wrong, these men prove that there are many ways to skin a cat. There is no single, best course of action that all must follow. It is possible to become stronger and better conditioned with countless approaches. Often times the deciding factor is not the routine that is followed but rather how the individual approaches the routine. How much effort is he willing to give?

I may sound like a broken record, but it is worth repeating. How you do what you do matters more than what you do. Countless real world examples validate this simple, yet often overlooked fact. Don’t get lost in paralysis by analysis. Find something that you enjoy and pursue it with relentless passion. The results will follow.

+++++

All the so-called “secrets of success” will not work unless you do.

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20 comments

20 Comments so far

  1. ChilcotinBuddha February 15th, 2014 11:51 am

    it was the over 70 crowd when I used to haunt gyms that inspired me, tho they did not look like Sonny it was their drive to be active and fit that impressed me the most.
    I used to tell them they were my inspiration/motivation and the hard work I did was so that when I was their age I could still enjoy a healthy active life.
    They knew where I was coming from when I explained the concept of ‘old man strength’.
    To this day I meet older gentleman whose handshakes belies their age, somewhat akin to shaking hands with a vise.

  2. G Ron February 15th, 2014 12:11 pm

    Man I’ve seen a lot of Country buck dirty South black guys (Sonnys from Georgia from what I can infer reading online and he looks like a statue I hought the first pic above was a statue at first) do things that surpass their age and average norms. I saw this beastly Joe Frazier looking but with way bigger biceps mid 50s African-American foundry worker beat everyone he faced in a bad man (friday and saturday night amateur fights with headgear and gloves at a local civic arena probablly 2000 people capacity like hs basketball game crowd) boxing tournament in the Heavyweight division like dogs. The guy would bomb his opponents with hooks and rights and knock them out.

    I’ve met black dudes from the South in their 40s who are but like in shape 20 yos. In all honesty you don’t see many white guys built like Sonny. Look at the Seattle Seahawks or most Champions in boxing, nba, etc. All black. I personally believe black people have more athletic DNA and they tend to display a good natured positive disposition while training whereas white folks can e uptight, angry, moody but many blacks just seem to enjoy the process. I’d also add I’ve never seen as many happy and peaceful people as Africans from Africa I’ve met- I’ve even asked them- What do you guys do to make you so happy and balanced? One guy td me they were not focused on materialism but each other and they didn’t worry- totally different from my selfish materialistic moody American family.

  3. G Ron February 15th, 2014 12:20 pm

    I’d like to add-
    What kind if body did Sonny have before becoming dedicated to lifting? How many white guys in their 70s do you see like this?

    I know its all mainly about hard work but look at most top spots in pro sports- black men dominate. I don’t even want to hear cries of racism- I have black friends and of Hispanic heritage. All I’m saying is almost all the greats in boxing, nfl, nba, and even bodybuilding (Ronnie Coleman-who knew it was possible to be that strong????) tend to be black. Like I said they work hard and don’t over analyze things- I’ve seen it training myself. I believe, on average, blacks and Asians approach training with a more open and less paralysis by analysis approach which is a huge boost to work capacity.

  4. Liam February 15th, 2014 12:21 pm

    Having seen family members waste away (due to illness both mental and physical) one of my goals is to avoid that at all costs and end up being one fit and most importantly healthy OAP.

    Respect to the bloke for not following the norm and giving up the ghost when those around him certainly would have been.

    Inspiration.

  5. feedsasquatch February 15th, 2014 12:58 pm

    My grandad turns 71 this year, and he’s always been an inspiration to me. To this day he runs, lifts weights, shoots a longbow, and can put in a hard day of physical labor as well as I can. Many people less than 1/2 my grandad’s age couldn’t keep up with him physically. It’s proof that you don’t have let the aging process wear you down. Like Ross stated, “find something that you enjoy and pursue it with relentless passion.” Find some kind of physical activity that you enjoy and keep on doing it.

  6. Al February 15th, 2014 1:13 pm

    Sonny is an inspiration! Awesome and thanks for the link Ross.

  7. Jasmyne Teoma February 15th, 2014 1:42 pm

    I’m not sure if you have heard of Ms. Ernestine Shepherd but I had the pleasure of meeting her a couple of months ago. At 76 she is the worlds oldest female bodybuilder and she looks AMAZING! She did not start working out until she was 56 and has a great story behind it all. Just like Sonny she is modest about her achievements and “keeps on keepin’ on.” Once a month she leads a walk through the rough part of Baltimore to encourage the community to be active. People her and Sonny are such great role models, and I often hope to be able to inspire someone in that way one day – but you know what, we all can inspire people right now, just by our dedication. Loved the post!

  8. Danny February 15th, 2014 3:32 pm

    I like the line “I see a lot of younger guys who are older than me”.

  9. Doug February 15th, 2014 5:14 pm

    Ross,

    Don’t worry about “sounding like a broken record.” The people who come to your blog love hearing what you have to say and hopefully your persistent message will be heard by the rest of the world one day.

  10. Yash Soumah February 15th, 2014 5:17 pm

    Respect to Sonny, a true inspiration. And thanks to Ross for posting. I like your style and philosophy brother. I aspire to apply some of it to my life.

  11. G Ron February 15th, 2014 6:00 pm

    Wow- I’m blown away by the inspiring comments many of you left. It’s so cool to see someone in their 50s change into a great athlete with muscles and skill like that. Things like that are why I don’t watch tv because (especially the news) its all these commercials that make you start whining and saying in too old to change, give up hope, blah, blah- all lies!
    Ross could be like a modern Jack Lalanne one day- spreading common sense and hope and doing it in a way that inspires rather than creating envy or division. I love it! I see these blogs Ross writes and I anticipate another round from Never Gymless on Monday.

  12. Shaun February 16th, 2014 3:44 am

    As I get older I love this stuff.

    I Like knowing that Bernard Hopkins is older than me and still the best in the world.

    I like seeing 75 year old powerlifters who can deadlift 600.

    I like seeing 70 year olds with bodies that most 25 year olds would envy.

    It makes me say, yeah there is value in continuing to excercise every day. That getting older is no excuse to let yourself go, as seems acceptable in society.

    It does what you want it to do Ross; it inspires.

  13. Dr David Ryan February 16th, 2014 8:17 am

    Great job. Email me with and questions. Keep up the great work.

  14. David [UK] February 16th, 2014 11:32 am

    That was great stuff.

    One thing I noticed was that mostly all his reps were slow reps. He looked to take his time and enjoy each rep. This is similar to my own views on training.

    (By the way, I’m all for people doing explosive training if they are into it. It’s just not for me however.)

  15. Eric February 16th, 2014 5:06 pm

    Bodybuilding has taken a lot of abuse from the fitness “gurus” out there looking to cash in on the newest antiquated methods of training like bodyweight, kettlebells, indian clubs, etc. Of course the modern day look of bodybuilders isn’t helping because the public can’t relate to the bloated, out of porportion, steroid bodybuilders of today. The bodybuilders of the past like John Grimek had much more natural physiques and they were quite flexible. Grimek could perform a gymnastic bridge, kick over and go into a full split. I will occasionally use the Hammer machines out there when I’m feeling less energetic and want a change to my routine. Doing anything is better than sitting on your arse.

  16. katherine bryan February 17th, 2014 3:39 pm

    Yeah baby!!! Thanx again for the go-go-go inspirational post, Ross. I thank God I found this site when I was looking for” How to Box”. This 58 yr old chick is looking forward to being mobile, agile, flexible, strong, healthy and in super condition when she is 71! Here’s to our journey people!! Get after it!! We can do this!

  17. Frankie Mancini February 18th, 2014 8:36 am

    Sam Bryant Jr. is an inspiration to me. I mostly find myself to not consider age as a limiting factor in life….. believing that we are conditioned into deblitating diseases in aging by example, or conditioned into longevity and gracefully experiencing the passage of time. Mr. Bryant is inspiring me to put the effort and work in to backup my mindset. Thank-You, I will live longer and stronger with more vitality.

  18. Pete Simons February 18th, 2014 7:36 pm

    Wow this is the second time I have read about this guy in the last 10 minutes. Inspirational. Just keep lifting and never stop for a better quality of life.

  19. David February 19th, 2014 6:31 am

    Wow, really impressive. It is amazing what drugs+not being sedentary can do for our bodies, even when we’re old

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