59 Year Old Woman Looks & Trains Better Than You

Since AWorkoutRoutine.com has existed, I’ve gotten TONS of amazing feedback from readers who have found this website helpful.

Some just want to thank me for the information I’ve provided or tell me how useful it has been for them. Others go a step further and give me the full details of the progress they’ve made or are currently making. I love that stuff, so keep it coming!

One such example was a few months ago, when reader/frequent commenter “Rayca” mentioned she was making some good progress. I thought “awesome!” A few comments later, she mentioned she was female. I again thought “awesome!” And a few comments after that, she mentioned she wanted to send me some pictures. Once again, I thought “awesome!”

When she finally did, I was pretty impressed. But when she reminded me how old she was, I became extra impressed. So much so that I asked if she’d let me post her pictures on the site and maybe do a short interview with her.

She was nice enough to agree to both, so without further ado…

Meet Rayca!

Not exactly what you’d expect an almost 60 year old woman to look like, huh?

AWorkoutRoutine: Who are you, and what are your current stats in these most recent pictures?

I am a 59 year old female. I weigh anywhere from 114 -120 lbs. I stand 5’1 1/2″ tall. I don’t normally take measurements but when I started strength training this past year, I took a few general measurements.

Waist = 27.5″
Hips = 35.5″
Neck = 14.5″
Arms = 12″
Calves = 13.75″

The strength numbers include the weight on the bar (45 lbs.) I’ll take all the help I can get. :) When I entered a bench press contest in 1992, they included that weight and so am I. The reps are anywhere from 2 to 8, depending on my program. The numbers are all listed below:

Squats = 95 lbs.
Seated Shoulder Press = 75 lbs.
Incline Chest Press = 85 lbs.
Romanian Deadlifts = 85 lbs.
Bent Over Rows = 85 lbs.
Cable Bicep Curls = 90 lbs.
Cable Tricep Pushdowns = 110 lbs.

It’s okay to admit it guys, I’m jealous of those biceps, too.

AWorkoutRoutine: How long have you been training, and what made you want to start in the first place?

The first time around I trained for 10 years. Fast forward 10 more years. This is my second time training and it has been for 1 year now.

I started working out because like so many who have dieted off some weight, I wanted to “tone” for a better shape. I bought a book that had rubber bands attached to the back of the book. This is circa 1990 and back then you could only get bands through mail order. There was no tubing yet.

I had a goal of looking like the woman who wrote the book. We have similar body types, so I knew it was a reasonable goal. One year later, I had her body, but I also noticed I was muscular and not just “shapely” or “fit.” The book clearly said I wouldn’t gain muscle. I called the company where I ordered the bands and they said I shouldn’t see any muscle. I told them they were wrong and that I had them. So, I decided to join a gym to see where it would lead. I got very muscular, much larger and defined within a few short months.

AWorkoutRoutine: What are your current goals?

My goal right now is just to shed the fat and see what I look like when I’m lean. I’ve never really dieted for that purpose. I used to mostly maintain weight. So I’m currently lifting just to maintain strength and have reduced the volume by 2/3s. More cardio, of course. I won’t really know how to proceed from there until I see what I look like.

AWorkoutRoutine: As a woman who rows and squats and deadlifts and bench presses and just generally trains correctly overall, what advice would you give to the majority of women out there who think the key to getting the body they want (“fit and toned”) involves hours and hours of aerobics classes and doing 20 rep sets of little isolation exercises using nothing but 3lb pink dumbbells?

The key for women getting “toned” is to lift weights pretty much like the guys do. When you pick up a weight, you gain muscle. Period. It doesn’t have to be massive or extreme or freaky looking. If you want the Hollywood look or a “toned” effect, maintain the weights you’re using, once you like your look.

In addition to looking better and training smarter than women (and men) half her age, Rayca has also mastered the behind-the-back mirror shot.

We aren’t men, so we won’t look like them. We have no testosterone (well, not much to speak of), so you won’t lift as heavy as they do. You need to do something besides lifting small weights in the standard 15 reps format, to achieve anything.

If you stay stuck in women’s weight rooms and the same old weight forever, you will accomplish nothing. I can build muscle on as little as 2 workouts per muscle group (per week), 2 exercises per body part and as little as 2 repetitions. That’s a pretty easy routine and takes about 35 minutes on average.

Aerobics is subjective and should be performed according to what works for you, as a fat burner. Everyone should do a little, for cardiovascular reasons. Even with a great aerobics program, you will either be skinny fat or you will become skinny fat as you age, if you’re not increasing the weights you use, progressively.

In other words, you need to increase the weight you’re using to get a better shape. This is what strength training is. It’s not a matter of joining a gym and just lifting weights. One must get stronger. It’s vital, in order to be efficient in life and old age.

So, the next time you’re in the gym, follow the boys to the weight room and watch them. The internet has a wealth of information and you should ask those guys for a little advice. They love to be helpful.

Having said all that, the absolute best piece of advice I can offer anyone (including men) on how to look better (immediately) doesn’t require weights or a gym, is really easy to do and is absolutely free…Stand up straight when you walk—head up, shoulders back, chest out. This will naturally tuck in your stomach and you will feel (and look) slimmer and have tons of self-confidence because it makes you feel good. Like anything else, it takes practice because you should be walking tall, at all times. Take a look in the mirror when you’re slouched and then when you stand straight. It’s an amazing difference. Give it a try.

AWorkoutRoutineIf a 30 year old woman sent me your pics, I’d be impressed. Hell, if I saw a 30 year old woman in my gym even attempting to deadlift, bench, squat, etc. or pick up anything remotely heavy, I’d be pretty impressed. 

But the fact that you’re nearly twice that age just kinda blows me away. So at 59 years old, what advice would you give to women (and men) who start using their age as an excuse or crutch when they hit anything over 40?

I think it’s easy to use age as an excuse not to do lots of stuff. It fits right in there with procrastination and other excuses we use not to do things that help us.

I think people envision what they are supposed to look like, what they can and can’t do, based on a certain age. They use experiences of people they knew in their lives that were older when they were young, and learn through those memories and visions what they “should” be like when they reach that age.

I can tell you from my personal experience that in the last year, I’m stronger than I ever have been. My bench press in 1992 was 95 lbs. for a 1RM. I had been working out for over 1 year. After a 10-year layoff, I joined a gym last year and started working out again. After 9 months, I now bench 85 lbs. for 6 to 8 reps. That certainly tells me I’m stronger.  I’m not going to say that I have the same stamina or endurance that I used to, but I’m pretty darn close to what I was in my 30s and 40s.

I think people just need to give it a go. Do your research first on types of routines best suited for you (especially if you have a medical condition or nagging or chronic joint pain) and take it slow.

Weightlifting is progressive, in every sense of the word. Also strength training doesn’t have to be that taxing. Unlike bodybuilding, the movements are slow and controlled with plenty of time in between sets to recover. It really doesn’t get too much easier than that (unless I want to do some bicep curls using soup cans, while stretched out on my LazyBoy watching a football game. That might be a bit easier.)

So, people (no matter what age) should start slow and progress slow. Buy some rubber band tubing and work out at home, buy a video of exercises that look enjoyable to you. Join a class. See how you can take it a bit further and improve. I just bought a pull-up bar that I use at home because I’ve always wanted to know how to do them. Have fun with it.

AWorkoutRoutine: Great final answer, and great answers all around! Thanks for being willing to share your story and experience with us.

But Wait, There’s More!

In addition to everything you just saw, Rayca will be checking back in again in the future to update us on her progress as she works to get leaner.

It should be pretty fun and interesting to see, so stay tuned. Thanks again for doing it, Rayca!

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15 Comments

  1. Dreas says

    Rayca’s last comment is the icing on the cake! I’ve been weight-training off and on for almost forty years and I’ve never really taken it seriously. It was simply something to do to past the time while I was the military and to have a strength edge in martial arts. I began to perceive going to the gym would be like going to another job! I didn’t realize that I had lost the fun and the pleasure that I had gotten during the earlier years and now it was more of a struggle. Days became weeks, weeks months, two decades or more missed because of my messed up mindset. I’m 56 years old now, I returned to the gym floor on Jan. 18, 2012 and I don’t plan to leave only to go home of course. lol

    I’m having fun again Rayca! Stay Strong!

  2. says

    OMG, this was so inspirational for me! I am going to be 45 yrs old this year and am the heaviest and most out of shape of my life. I joined a 6-day per week class to jump start and motivate me just 3 days ago. Even tho my #1 goal today is to get the excess weight off and return to a healthy way a living, Rayca’s success and amazing photos allow my thoughts to travel to a whole new level. I started my own blog site to share my experience daily, which is very truthful, raw and sometimes hilarious and am finding tons of people that are going through or have gone through the exact same things but were too embarrassed to share them. THX for sharing your story and I will be following your story! This website is a God send and I will be putting many of your suggestions into practice throughout my journey.

  3. Rayca says

    @Dreas. Thanks for your comment. I’m keepin it real and keepin it strong.

    @Monica. I did this article for you and those like you who want to challenge themselves, at any age. Thanks for posting and good luck to you!

  4. Lily says

    I am a 59 year old woman too. I work out regularly, and I’ve been told I look good (not as good as you, Rayca). I am so inspired to ramp it up! Unfortunately, I’ve got osteoarthritis in my knees however, I’m determined to keep going! Rayca, thanks for showing me what is possible!

  5. Michele says

    How inspirational you are Rayca! I’m 48 and fast approaching that 50 mark. Have been working out at least 30 of my 48 years. Even taught aerobics in the day, am now reduced to Yoga and Pilates based teachings due to Rheumatoid Arthritis. Although some days are better than others I will NEVER give up the fight to remain as fit as possible! I lift 3-5 days (depending on how i’m feeling) with much lighter weight than i’d like to lift, my cardio has been reduced to elliptical (no running allowed) and I still get those wonderful compliments in the gym. Keep on keeping on, It’s all a matter of Attitude! As my better half continues to tell me “you can’t be a beacon if your light don’t shine” Looking forward to seeing the “leaner, meaner” you. Please keep us updated!

    • Rayca says

      YOU, Michele, are inspirational. “I still get those wonderful compliments in the gym.” And, this says it all.

  6. Lisa says

    Wow! i love this! I am lifting now and am 45 years old. i love it and i want to be able to continue and progress and sometimes i worry with age and hormone changes that it will slow or come to a halt. This is inspiring and makes me feel less anxious about lifting into my later years! Thank you for sharing!

  7. Peggy says

    I turned 48 yesterday. An ex boyfriend got me into lifting in 1999. I loved it!!! I had killer arms, shoulders and LEGS, and I had 6-pack. I kept with it for about 4 years…then I quit and never got back into it seriously until yesterday. I’m 5’9″ and weigh 172#…and hate the way I look…more importantly hate the way I feel. I am miserable. I keep reading about muscle memory…with the tone I had and loved, I’m hoping it’s the real deal and will come back. I’m so grateful for coming across this story…it’s been more motivational to me than the jeans I still have in the bottom drawer waiting for me! Thanks, and if this makes it out there, my wish is that women realize what they have in them, and start making the time for themselves to be the healthy, happy people they are on the inside.

  8. Jean says

    Rayca, it’s unbelievable but I am 59 and just wondered if it was too late to get in shape! I hadn’t stepped into a gym for 30 years, and went this week for the first time. Amazingly, although I look fine, the trainner there determined that my fat content was 38%!!! It was off the chart!!! Now I know that I don’t have a choice, if I want to be healthy, I have to go to the gym because I no longer can motivate myself to take walks and use the rowing machine.

    Thank you so much for the inspirational story!

    Best of luck to all the ladies out there who are going to turn over a new leaf and start serious exercise!!!!

  9. val says

    I want to be Rayca, But Im just the opposite as of today. I am 52, 5’4, 220lbs, and dont know where to start. I hold on to to this dream of being fit in my fifties. Is it just a dream, or is possible for Anybody???? I sure hope so….Rayca looks awesome………..

    • Helen says

      Hi Val,

      YES it is possible to achieve a fine physique in your 50s and beyond. Don’t listen to anyone who says otherwise, many people are misinformed. Weight training is the best way to shape your body, get strong and turn back the clock. Rayca is truly inspirational and a great role model for anybody regardless of age and gender.

      If you have never lifted before,it’s important to find a good trainer and get your nutrition right.

      I am 50 years old and in better shape than when I was 20. Throughout my marriage I neglected myself, gained weight and became weak. I had sore back and sciatic pain, also, I was diagnosed with osteopenia. So, I started to lose weight 3 years ago and began exercising to help with the back pain. The pain became history, so did my marriage, my ex became angry with me for losing weight and getting into shape. We divorced, I chose the iron! Best choice ever made!

      What motivates me? Lots of things: health, vanity, the desire to stay out of the nursing home when I am old, being strong, being able to look good in clothes and proving people wrong.

  10. says

    Hey Rayca,
    You look great!! I just turned 59 and I agree with everything you say and have been doing. I’ve also been weight training since I was in my 20’s and it does make a difference as you get older.
    My question is, do you take supplements to help with the strength gain at all? Thanks, Felice

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