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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Jay is the science-based writer and researcher behind everything you've seen here. He has 15+ years of experience helping thousands of men and women lose fat, gain muscle, and build their "goal body." His work has been featured by the likes of Time, The Huffington Post, CNET, Business Week and more, referenced in studies, used in textbooks, quoted in publications, and adapted by coaches, trainers, and diet professionals at every level.

35 thoughts on “59 Year Old Woman Looks & Trains Better Than You”


  1. 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. 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. @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!

    • Dear Rayca,

      Could you please share your diet with me? I am 51 and eat a mostly whole foods, plant based diet but also consume lean protein. I drink only water and tea.

      I have been active in different ways for years but menopause really hit me hard! at 143 pounds and 5’5″, I have a good 15 pounds of fat to lose. I lift 3 times a week and do HIIT twice a week. I also walk 3-4 miles 4-5 times a week with my dogs and husband.

      Weight training has been my main focus these last few months and I understand the need to lift heavy and progress. But, I can’t seem to get the diet right and I would love to look like you!!

      I would appreciate any advice you may have for me… calories, macronutrients, etc..

  4. 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. 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!

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

  6. 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. 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. 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. 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………..

    • 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. 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

  11. Hi Rayca,
    I am 57 years old, worked out for 18 years never had a personal trainer, used to follow the guys at the
    gym. I was in great shape had tone but never muscle mass. I was out of the gym for 2 years gained
    50lbs from menopause, started back in July 2014 lost 20lbs, unfortunately over the holidays gained 13
    back. Feeling really disgusted, what kind of personal trainer would you recommend, most trainers are only
    certified and they have no clue. I have also stumbled upon negative training, is that something you would
    recommend? If I want to loose weight and build muscle how much cardio would be necessary.
    You look absolutely amazing, it proves that were never too old to look good. You have the body I could
    only dream about.
    Thank you for your inspriation

  12. You look fabulous! I am 48 years old. I have let myself go over the last 4 years- diet and mostly cardio minimal weights. I signed up with a trainer two weeks ago and have changed my diet- high protein. My question, is it possible to tone up at this age with hormone issues? Did or do you use HRT?

    Thank you.

    • Hello!
      I was delighted to accidentally find this blog on the internet while I was searching information about deadlifting weights for women. I am 57.9999999 years old and am probably in the best shape of my life. Yes! Yes! Yes! It is possible to tone up at this age and at any age as long as you make up your mind to be consistent. A strong mind is sometimes even more important than a strong body. Little by little as you exercise, your body will adapt and get stronger and stronger, and your endurance (ability to sustain exercise) will increase. You will be amazed! Not only am I lifting weights and practicing yoga, but this past summer I completed my first half iron triathlon in the mountains of North Carolina! This past year I received my certification to teach yoga and to teach group exercise classes. I just love to inspire other women and have them see how incredible and adaptable and strong their bodies can be! Stay with it! Give it your all! And enjoy this incredible journey!

      Patti Romano

  13. This is inspiration for me (age 48) and my 17-year-old daughter. We’re both following your beginner program right now. I have a younger daughter, and we always had soccer in common. I struggled to find an activity to enjoy with my older daughter — until now. We both follow your routine, and it’s been great father / daughter time. We’re patiently working towards intermediate, but it will be awhile.

  14. Rayca! You are awesome! I am 59 soon to be 60, but this year I decided I DID NOT WANT TO BE 60 AND OUT OF SHAPE!. So I hired a personal trainer 2 days a week, I weight train and do cardio. I am now 2 months into it and I work out 5 days a week some days heavier than others. My body is starting to take shape, I give myself 6 months to look like you. I am 5’2″ and weigh 128, body fat =22. My goal is to be 115 -120 with body fat 17-19. I love your story, I needed to see and read this. I know now it can be done! Thank you!

  15. I’m a 62 year old personal trainer and still training in a gym.I have a lot of female clients 40 to 70 years old.they want to train with me because I look like I’m in my forties . I’m grateful that I’m an inspiration to a lot of people and I love helping everyone that I can achieve their goals in life with fitness. Rayca you look amazing

  16. Several years ago I was a non-competitive bodybuilder and loved how healthy and in shape I was. However, “life” happened, and I ended up at a job where I sat 8+ hours every day 5-6 days a week, commuted back and forth, then went home, took care of my animals, sat on the couch and ate and watched tv and went to bed.
    After age 45 I went to being between 103-120 pounds up to 177 pounds at my heaviest. I was depressed, embarrassed, negative, unhealthy and felt like my life was over. I was divorced and alone and didn’t care about anything but my kids and my animals.
    In 2013, I had a left total hip replacement. In 2015, at 62-years-old I went to Thailand and walked for two weeks. When I came home I had severe plantar fasciitis for three months which weakened my right knee. I was really worried about something going wrong with my knee, and sure enough, during a strong wind storm, I whirled around to grab my fence gate so my dogs wouldn’t run out and significantly tore my meniscus. A month later I had to have an arthroscopy to repair my meniscus and remove cartilage due to arthritis.
    It was during that recovery (I’m still recovering 3 months post-surgery) that I reached a turning point. I realized that I refused to continue my downhill spiral. I didn’t want to continue to gain weight and end up having to have more joint repair surgeries not to mention possibly getting diabetes or heart disease which was prominent in my family history.
    I knew that yo-yo dieting was no longer going to cut it and that I had to enforce a complete lifestyle change.
    The day I joined the gym I weighed 177 pounds. It took all my willpower to walk into that gym. However, the people, the sounds, the smells-it all brought back the memories of how much I had enjoyed working out with weights and doing some serious cardio and being healthy and happy with my body.
    It has taken some creativeness to work around my knee, and I’ve had a few setbacks due to wanting to push myself to hard too quickly, but I’ve been going now 4-5 days a week for three months.
    Due to so many things and new machines and new techniques, I decided to have a personal trainer once a week for 4 months to get me into the swing of things and to show me the best way to strengthen the muscles around my joints. (I sweat more with her in 30 minutes than I do in 2 hours alone because she really pushes me to my limits, and I love it. ThanksTiffany!)
    I love seeing Rayca’s pictures because she looks better but very similar to how I looked when I used to body-build.
    My question is this-What does she eat? I’d really like to know her daily eating habits.
    I have currently lost 22 pounds, but I feel like at 63-years-old my muscle is not responding to the weight-training as quickly as I would like it to. I am also 5’1.5″, and my goal is to reach the weight she is at between 114-120.
    I have been preparing green smoothies to take on my way to work and to eat at work and taking 100 calorie packages of raw almonds, plus string cheeses and fruit to snack on all day. I then go home and have healthy fish tacos, lean ground turkey, salads, vegetables-between 1000-1200 calories a day.
    I don’t know if I’m not eating enough protein to get my muscles going, or if they’re just still under too much fat for me to see a difference. I used to have amazing quadriceps, but I feel now with the total hip replacement and the knee surgery that I can’t flex a good strong quadricep, and that bothers me.
    I would appreciate any and all compliments from all of you and especially Rayca. I know I’m about the oldest one on here, but I am serious about this and very dedicated. I know I can do it-I just need some pointers!
    Way to go to all of you, and Rayca, you look amazing!

  17. This is fantastic and inspiring. And sorry I have to say it, the pictures are kind of hilarious. Also impressive, though. Also impressive.

    • Very impressive! The pictures are not “hilarious” at all, though. They are inspirational and show hard work. That comment was unnecessary and served no purpose but to shame. You did not “have” to say it. But you are completely correct that it is fantastic and inspiring!!

  18. Thank you for your inspiration!! I’m a 52 year old woman, have worked out since I was 19 and am starting to lose my muscle volume! Feeling very depressed, but now, reading your story, I am feeling hope again! Thank you!

  19. Love this
    Thanks so much for showing us these pictures of a fit 59 year old women.
    I’m turning 50 in June. And aging is on my mind a lot lately.
    It’s women like you that help lessen the stereotypes that society puts on older women.

  20. You are an inspiration. ….I’m 53…200 lbs and until I saw you I thought I was done….but not now….you are fantastic ❤

  21. I just turned 56 and while I have lifted, in the past, I never was serious. Now it’s a matter of health (I have an autoimmune disease which causes my joints to hurt). I know that lifting will help me, on many levels.
    Thanks for the inspiration!

  22. Congratulations rayca .. very sexy, fit .. very inspirational to every woman and man. Age is nothing to be afraid.

  23. Thanks so much for posting your pics. I’m 60 years old and used to,lift heavy weights 30 years ago when I was the only female in the free weight room! I was in fabulous shape until I was 40 and had to care for my dying parents, with no time to spare. When I did get back into weights, I did improve tremendously but never back to where I was. The past six or seven years, I’ve lifted intermittently due to other obligations and compared to my friends don’t look bad. However, I had bought into the “you’re 60 now and that menopause belly will never go away”. People consider me “skinny” but it’s definitely fat around my middle!
    It seems that those who’ve not had babies don’t suffer from the big belly after menopause.
    I’m going back to my old routine of lifting heavy and getting back my well toned muscles that I loved. I’m not not listening to my negative friends pulling me down.

    Also, I would love to know your diet.
    Thank you!

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