Can you put MUSCLE on in your SEVENTIES?

Athlete Profiles, May 13, 2024

Muscle is our functional and longevity currency. EVERYONE should be engaging in resistance exercise. As we move past 40 years of age it becomes a necessity. EVERFIT athlete Maynard WIlliam's is a great example of what can be achieved.

After starting his running career aged 32 with seven marathons (best time 2hrs 52min 1983) and a similar number of half marathons (best time 1hr 22min) Maynard Williams gave it away in his early forties. He decided to lace up his running shoes once again in 2014 at the age of 67 motivated by training his grandson and inspired by a friend's recent success. Since then, Maynard has embarked on a remarkable journey to combat age-related muscle loss, work on running performance, and improve his well-being.

The challenge? Overcoming the inevitable decline in performance caused by factors like sarcopenia, the age-related loss of muscle mass.  Sarcopenia is derived from Greek and literally translates to 'loss of flesh'. To tackle this issue, over the past year Maynard incorporated strength training into his routine and switched to a high-protein, whole food-focused diet.


A year after undergoing an initial DEXA scan, the gold standard for body composition analysis he took the scan again. The results were astonishing. He had lost 1.1 kg of total mass but gained 1.727 kg of lean mass while shedding 2.840 kg of fat mass. His fat percentage dropped by 3.8 points, and lean mass increased by the same amount.

Additionally, his Visceral Adipose Tissue (VAT) content within the abdomen, a risk factor for metabolic disease, decreased by 28.5%, placing him at the lower end of the "Normal Risk" category. His Lean Mass Index also improved, and his bone mineral density remained excellent, ranking at the 99th percentile for his age group.

So how can a 76-year-old make such incredible gains when many of his peers are starting to lose functional independence with their strength and general fitness a distant memory?

I was fortunate enough to get the full rundown of Maynard’s strength plan and change in nutrition so his empowering lived message of STRENGTH and DIET can be promoted more heavily by our failing health system.



Over the last year (between the two scan results) his resistance training consisted of press-ups, dumb-bell rows, tricep dips, step - ups, squats, single leg deadlifts, and bridges. Some months later front and side plank work was added with the core bird dog exercise. More recently Maynard added deadlifts with my recommendation.  The intensity and volume of most exercises (reps, sets, weights, time) were increased over time to maintain training stimulus or reduced if injured. Groups of these exercises would make up a workout and be used in a session at least 4 x a week. The sessions with squats and deadlifts were not completed on days with hard reps or long runs.



In his younger days, Maynard was excessively weighted towards unhealthy processed food such as sugary biscuits, muffins, slices, cakes, sugar-laden coffee and tea, ice cream, and desserts. To make it more problematic these foods were eaten between meals!  His eating behaviours slowly shifted towards health as he started running again. Over the last year these were the real game-changer habits


  • Reduced snacking between meals. Currently, he rarely eats between meals. Shorter eating window (~10 hrs vs ~14 hrs, i.e., 8:30 am-6:30 pm vs 7:00 am - 9:00 pm)
  • Reduced consumption of unhealthy highly processed foods.
  • Increased protein intake in the form of eggs, chicken, turkey, tuna, salmon (tinned or fresh), lean red meat (venison if price not too prohibitive, beef), fish, lentils, chickpeas, protein powder shakes, nuts (almonds, cashews, pumpkin seeds), high protein yogurt.
  • More plant-based food. He now eats and enjoys more salads, and frequently slices up raw red onion, capsicums, parsley, spinach, etc. with an egg omelette. Since his early 20s, his staple breakfast had always been some form of commercially available muesli. However, during this past year, he now adds whole nuts (cashews and almonds) dried cranberries, dates, ginger, and sultanas to a commercially packaged product of whole grains and nuts.
  • Smaller meal portions. This past year he’s been more disciplined regarding the amount eaten at mealtimes.


The DEXA scans reveal the power of the cumulative consistent habits that Maynard has put in place over the last year. Having more strength also is helping his running performance.  Just before publishing the article I received this email from Maynard....You may be interested to know that I did another 5km time trial this morning on my usual measured circuit and was completely blown away by the result:  25:59, which is 01:19 quicker than my last one just over 6 weeks ago, and 00:21 faster than my final and fastest time trial last year, in late September just about 1 month before the half marathon.  This is completely consistent with the vastly improved DEX results this year and convinces me of the value of the resistance work (and dietary changes) I've been doing, not just for avoiding injuries but also for improving endurance performance. Perhaps the cold showers have helped too! To be honest, I did NOT expect this sort of improvement.  I'm already revising my goals for the half marathon!!

While these impressive results may not be definitive scientific proof, they align with research demonstrating the positive effects of resistance training and diet on body mass, composition, health, and performance. Our society is becoming sicker, fatter, and is aging. The percentage of NZ's population over 65 was 16.5% in 2020, it is projected to be 21% by 2036 (Australia's stats are similar). Our health system is not coping at present. Maynard's dedication to wellness, fitness, and vitality serves as an inspiring example of how it's never too late to make a change and turn back the clock on age-related decline. Let's all get stronger and eat better.


For Physiotherapy, Coaching, my book 'Holistic Human', Training Plans, YouTube, FREE recipes, 

Connect below