How age affects kettlebell lifting


I've had several readers ask me to talk about what it takes to be a successful Kettlebell Sport competitor in the Veteran age category (>50 years old) i.e. how to deal with slower recovery and a steeper learning curve. Since I'm not a Veteran lifter myself, I reached out to a Veteran lifter who earned a silver medal at the World Championships in 2014 as part of Team USA: Judi DeMuro.  How long have you been lifting Kettlebells? How old were you when you started? I started lifting Kettlebell Sport in 2011, I was 51 years young.

How many competitions do you do each year? I would say 6-7 Kettlebell competitions and 1-2 Powerlifting competitions a year.

What does a typical training day look like for you? Kettlebell sets, barbell work and cardio-running or rowing.

As an avid Kettlebell Sport competitor, what is your biggest challenge when it comes to training and/or competing? Biggest challenge recently has been finding the right balance between training for kettlebell sport and powerlifting.

Do you think there is such a thing as people being "too old" to get into Kettlebell Sport? No, not at all.

Do you feel your age impacts your lifting, either positively or negatively? If so, how? Yes and no. Positively, it keeps me going because I set goals and keep working towards them. Negatively, I do wish I had more energy and less recovery time.

Do you find you need a lot of recovery from training (relative to younger lifters)?  As stated above I do need more recovery time and I do take my recovery time seriously.

What do you do to aid with recovery? For my recovery I make sure I get rest; sleep is important to me. I like my 8 hours, maybe 9.

How much time per week do you spend on recovery?  On a daily basis I spend a minimum of 30-60 minutes stretching, rolling and mobility exercises - anywhere from 6-7 hours per week.

When I wake up, I stretch and throughout the day I stretch (I work at a desk job spending most of day on computer so I need to stretch frequently). I am a big fan of foam roller and bands. I train 4 days , recovery 3 days.  Foods in my diet include greens, chicken, red meat, fish, tons of vegetables, lots of root vegetables and some fruits.  Every 4 weeks I get a massage, and when needed I will see a chiropractor.

If you had to rank the #1 most helpful thing you do to recover faster, what would it be? Get a good night's sleep!

Do you think diet affects your performance more as you get older?  Absolutely! Simply put: “if you eat crap you will feel like crap”.

How do you think Kettlebell Sport has affected your "fitness age"? Kettlebell Sport has made me physically and mentally more fit than I have ever been. It has given me the discipline to keep going and never give up. Lifting kettlebells is never ending, there are constant challenges and learning experiences - this discipline has flowed into other areas of my life such as my job, raising my daughter, being able to balance being a healthy, happy, strong individual.

Do you see yourself continuing to lift for years to come? I most certainly do.

Any advice to the other Veteran lifters out there? I would say keep training, learn proper technique, be aware of movement and listen to your body. Don’t be in a rush to lift the heavier bells. Recover, rest, eat well, and drink lots of water!

Any other Veteran lifters want to give their two cents?