Bodybuilding Pensioners – Senior Citizen Fitness and Strength

A few years ago (Feb 2007) there was an interesting documentary on the BBC about the growing popularity of bodybuilding amongst pensioners in the UK and USA. We were reminded of this story after hearing how the 73 year old Anthony Hopkins lost 80 pounds. Although he did not lose weight by bodybuilding, he is living proof that you are never too late to lose weight and get fit.

Bodbuilding has many health benefits. Senior citizens that perform regular weight bearing exercise have greater flexibility, strength and balance and are less prone to accidents. Also exercise keeps the mind healthy, so bodybuilding can help you stay mentally alert.

Unlike many other types of exercise weight training can be performed slowly which reduces the risk of developing injury.


The documentary, which was called Bodybuilding Pensioners, looked at the world of the senior citizen bodybuilding. The pensioners that featured in the show lived for their bodybuilding and the ultimate prize of a youthful body. Many of the people questioned said that they felt younger and more alert as a result of their new hobby.

Rigorous Training and Strict Diets

Bodybuilding is all about rigorous weight training workouts and strict diets which are high in protein and low in sugar. Many senior bodybuilders enter bodybuilding contests each year and train extremely hard to be in perfect shape for the competition day.

Many of the pensioners claimed their youthful looks were down to their bodybuilding routines. The body building competitions they enter are in categories of over 60 years and over 70 years. The dedication of these bodybuilders is quite remarkable. Many put it down to simply having the time to dedicate their days to working out.

Bodybuilding Demands Time

Bodybuilding is a very time consuming pastime, and many working people find it difficult to maintain the exercise regime and bodybuilding diet that is required. Before competitions a very restrictive diet is needed to reduce fat reserves as much as possible, and it is almost impossible for working people to maintain a job while training in this way.

Bodybuilding has some great health benefits for the older population, as it improved blood flow, bone density and stability. People that do weight training and bodybuilding into old age experience much greater freedom and independence than other people.

One female US pensioner mentioned that she could continue to move her own furniture and wash her own windows as a result of her improved physical fitness – things which many of her neighbours struggle with. Many people feel some part of their youth has returned to them after training.

So there is really no excuse for not exercising into old age. Get out the fake tan and pump some iron, and you could be Mr or Mrs Universe in a few years time. However, there are less competitive options for senior citizen exercise available.

World’s Oldest Competing Bodybuilder

This video features 80 year old Australian competitive bodybuilder Ray Moon. He started bodybuilding at the age of 75 and says that bodybuilding makes him feel young again. And he has not always been in the best of health, having suffered from polio, open heart surgery, a couple of minor strokes, a twisted bowel and had a heart attack. He now sports a pace maker.

He trains for 2 1/2 hours a day 5 or 6 days a week and also walks 4km (2.5 miles) a day. He gets through a lot of protein shakes, eats tuna, muesli for breakfast, steaks and fresh fish. He says that protein is most important. It is important to note that not everyone of his age can train to this level.

More like this in the Strength Training section

  5 comments for “Bodybuilding Pensioners – Senior Citizen Fitness and Strength

  1. jeanehawkins
    June 30, 2007 at 12:53 pm

    i would love to do this – I am sick of being unfit – where can I go to do this

  2. Jon
    July 8, 2007 at 5:24 pm

    The best bet is to search your local directory for weight training clubs or bodybuilding clubs. You could start at a large commercial gym to see how you get on, but often the staff at larger gyms are not always well trained in bodybuilding or available to correct form.

    I have found that YMCA gyms sometimes have well trained staff. and membership rates are far more reasonable than the larger corporate gyms.

    Ideally you would move to a specialist bodybuilding gym, but that may be a little daunting to start with, and there are not that many around.

    Good luck, and please let us know how you get on.

    Do a search for body-building clubs and see what comes up.

  3. MotleyHealth
    October 29, 2008 at 2:13 am

    There are some online resources for both female bodybuilding and bodybuilding for the over 50’s.

  4. Paul Stone
    August 16, 2009 at 10:37 pm

    At age 74 I have so far competed 22 times since age 65,
    and hold many first place trophies. All this is achieved without the use of steroids or any other unusual drugs.

  5. MotleyHealth
    August 16, 2009 at 10:41 pm

    That is excellent Paul! Do you have a blog / photo site? Would you like to share it here? What tips can you give to our readers who may be thinking about taking up bodybuilding?

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