One of the great things about the internet is how it can connect people with similar interests, no matter what their geographical location. This benefit was driven home for me when I started a group on Facebook for men 50 and up interested in strength and fitness. So far the group has 60 members, all of them passionate about strength, fitness, and improving their bodies. It was through the group, "Strength North of 50", that I met Tim Metcalf. He's a powerlifter from North Carolina with some serious accomplishments under his lifting belt, and some even more serious ambitions for the future. Tim's one of those guys who you can tell right away won't let anything hold him back. Keep reading below for his fascinating story in his own words.
TELL ME A BIT ABOUT YOURSELF AND YOUR LIFTING CAREER. WHEN AND WHY DID YOU FIRST PICK UP A BARBELL? HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN LIFTING?
I first started lifting for a "purpose" - better health, strength, agility, etc. When I moved to California after college, I was a professional stuntman from 1986 to 1990, and when I wasn't working or rehearsing, I was training every hour I could. When my career in Hollywood ended due to injuries, I returned to NC to get married and start a new career. My first three years of marriage I didn't work out, gained 30 pounds, and was in overall horrible shape. In 2010, at the age of 49, I dedicated myself to get back into the weight room and get back into shape. I was over 200 pounds, and the strength and conditioning staff for ECU Athletics challenged me to lose 25 pounds to join their team of powerlifters to compete; they are all behemoths, and they needed someone to lift in the 181 class, so I worked and trained to meet that goal. So, I can say I have been training "this time" for 8 years, as I am now 57.
WHAT’S YOUR CURRENT TRAINING PROGRAM LIKE (WARMUPS, EXERCISES, VOLUME, FREQUENCY, ETC)? WHAT ARE YOUR CURRENT PR’S?
I very rarely lift competitively in full power meets, so my routine is usually based around bench press, deadlifts, strict curls, and all accessory lifts. I bench press twice a week, deadlift twice a week, and curl twice a week, again with all the accessory lifts, with the first of the two light and the second of the two heavy. I try to plan my training routine six weeks out from a competition, with each week getting progressively heavier, capping out with the heaviest week the second to the last week before competition.
Within the 5-6 federations I lift in, and including age/open competitions, I have 16 State Titles, 12 National Titles, and 15 World Titles; I also have several age/open titles in smaller/regional/local meets. I have 21 State Records in NC, 11 in Texas, as well as 10 National Records. I do not have any World Records, but the goal for 2018 is 6 more World Titles and 6 World Records, the first of which I plan on getting at the IPA NC State Meet in May!
WHAT ARE YOU FAVOURITE AND LEAST FAVOURITE EXERCISES, AND WHY?
My favorite lift is the bench press, and my other favorite exercise is the tricep pushdown machine. I like bench press because it is what I am best at, and where most of my strength is! My least favorite lift is the squat. One of my legs is shorter than the other due to injuries, so squatting without pain is not going to happen. It also puts a lot of strain on my back and "longer" legs, so "Tim no squat anymore!"
WHAT NUTRITION APPROACH DO YOU USE TO BUILD AND MAINTAIN STRENGTH?
I eat a lot of protein: fish, chicken, protein shakes, or protein bars. The only other supplement I take is a multi-vitamin. I don't eat a lot of red meat, I don't smoke or drink, so that helps a lot in maintaining strength and gaining size.
WHAT ARE THREE PIECES OF ADVICE YOU’D OFFER NEW LIFTERS?
Lift what you enjoy lifting, push yourself hard, and always remember that it is not you versus someone else; it is you against the weight! If you don't want to bench, or deadlift, or squat, then don't. You need to work all parts of your body to maintain overall health, strength, and agility, but there are plenty of exercises to do without benching, or squatting! Always push yourself every day! There is no such thing as staying the same; you are either striving to make yourself better or you are allowing yourself to get worse! It is you against the weight; try to set a goal and reach it, and don't worry about what anyone else can lift! There will always be someone out there, male OR female, who is stronger than you – you want to strive to be stronger than YOU WERE YESTERDAY!
LOTS OF MY READERS ARE 40 TO 60 YEARS OLD AND CONSIDERING STRENGTH TRAINING FOR THE FIRST TIME. HOW WOULD YOU ADVISE TRAINEES IN THIS AGE RANGE?
Talk to your doctor, talk to others in the gym, make a plan, set a goal, and start out slowly. You didn't get out of shape overnight, so you are not going to get INTO shape overnight, either. Find someone to help you, work out with you, motivate each other, and show those young people in the gym that you are there to stay!
HOW LONG DO YOU PLAN TO KEEP LIFTING HEAVY? DO YOU ANTICIPATE YOU’LL NEED TO CHANGE YOUR TRAINING STYLE MUCH AS YOU GET OLDER?
I plan on lifting until they take my dead body off of the platform. I don't know how much my routine will change as I get older. I'm sure it will, but I'm going to keep competing until I can't get to the gym anymore!
Robert Maxwell is an online strength and fitness coach and founder of The Man Factory. Are you a man 50 or older? Become your best self at www.manfactorytraining.com/strength-north-of-50