From running 10 miles a day to deadlifting more than double their body weight, these senior bodybuilders are doing their best to prove that you're only as old as you feel and fitness doesn't have an expiration date.

Ernestine Shepherd

This super-fit, 81-year-old bodybuilder could be the poster child for dedication and discipline, but believe it or not, Ernestine Shepherd has not been a lifelong fitness buff; she only began working out at the age of 56. Her autobiography recounts an all-too-relatable anecdote of a swimsuit shopping trip gone bad, resulting in Shepherd and her sister dedicating themselves to a new and healthy lifestyle.

The unexpected death of her sister, and the grief that followed, resulted in a temporary hiatus for Shepherd, but she rededicated herself in order to fulfill her sister's dream. In 2007, at the age of 71, she entered her first bodybuilding competition, placing first at the Natural East Coast Tournament of Champions. In 2010, she received the title of World's Oldest Female Bodybuilder, awarded by the Guinness Book of World Records. She now works as a personal trainer, and is also an avid runner, clocking in at 10 miles per day.

Sam Bryant Jr.

Sam Bryant Jr. is a senior bodybuilder who only began lifting at the age of 44. When his second marriage was on the rocks, Bryant turned to weightlifting as a coping mechanism, but it quickly became more than just a way to let off steam. Eleven months later, he entered his first bodybuilding competition in Columbus, Georgia, placing fourth in the masters competition. Now, at age 74, he's a regular competitor of the World Natural Bodybuilding Federation, placing first in his division in the 2016 INFB North Georgia Championships, and the INBF Southern Natural Classic that same year!

When he isn't hustling at his full-time job as a forklift driver, this shredded senior can be found perfecting his physique at a Gold's Gym in Augusta, Georgia. He typically packs in two workouts a day, and can deadlift an impressive 425 pounds with a body weight of 176 pounds. Bryant believes age doesn't have to define you and has no plans to retire any time soon. He's hopeful others will see his dedication and take inspiration from his lifestyle. "I want people to recognize what I'm doing and realize that it can be done," he says. "They can do it."

Jim Arrington

Jim Arrington, 85, was named the 2018 World's Oldest Male Bodybuilder by the Guinness Book of World Records, and is a 16-time bodybuilding champion, participating in over five dozen competitions throughout his 70-year athletic career. He recently placed first in his division at the 2016 IFBB Pittsburgh Pro Masters Championships at the age of 84.

Arrington's training haven is Gold's Gym in Venice, California, where this fit great-grandpa gets buff via full-body workouts 2-3 times a week, resulting in abs even most 20-somethings can envy. He admits his workouts have decreased slightly in intensity as he's grown older, but he appears unfazed. In 2014, he earned his pro card at the Masters National Championships, boasting an overall first-place victory.

Although Arrington has been an accomplished athlete for seven decades, he recalls that he couldn't even run 15 yards as a young teen without becoming out of breath. In an effort to impress the ladies, 13-year-old Arrington began weightlifting, sparking what would become a lifelong passion for bodybuilding. His boyhood motivation for dates was quickly eclipsed by a new desire to reach optimal health, and his determination throughout his lifelong commitment to fitness is truly an inspiration.

About the Author

Laura Johnson

Laura Johnson

Laura Johnson is a freelance writer based in Portland, Oregon.

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