As of yesterday, January 8, 2012, I am 71 years of age.

To celebrate, I tested my strength level against last year’s. My goal is to keep my strength levels equal or greater, even as I age. I started this ritual of testing my strength at everyone one of my birthdays three years ago, and all during that time my strength has remained steady and solid.

I’ve been able to squat with a 100-pound barbell for 10 reps; that’s after I’ve warmed-up with 80 pounds (15 reps), 90 pounds (8 reps), and 95 pounds (7 reps). Total number of reps: 40.

This birthday ritual has allowed me to prove to myself that even though I’m a year older, I can be stronger. Popular opinion believes differently, as you get older, it says, you get weaker. Some might say I’m an exception to the rule, others might say it must be genetics. It’s neither. It’s a combination of conditioning and the desire to be healthy and strong. I’ve been weak and I’ve been strong. And believe me, strong is better.

This ritual is more than a sign of strength; it is also a sign of will and determination. I started planning the actual event a month in advance. I prepared mentally, down to how many sets and reps I would do. I have no doubt that throughout this planning my body took heed and got ready. This is one of the greatest gifts of my 25 years of training—the connection between my mind and my body.

As I say in my book Forever Fit and Fabulous. . . (available soon) what I present here is a new paradigm, a new way of perceiving what it means to be 70. You can keep and even increase your strength levels well into your 70s, 80s, and beyond.  It’s all up to you!

Squatting with 100-pound barbell
Squatting with 100-pound barbell