2009-04-30 / Features

The Strongest 72-Year-Old You'll Ever Meet

By Joanna Poncavage

The (Allentown) Morning Call

ALLENTOWN, Pa. (AP) - Fred Glass is 72 years old, stands 5 feet 4 inches tall and weighs only 151 pounds. But he routinely hoists barbells twice as heavy - 300 pounds, or, on a good day, 400 pounds or more - into the air.

His calves are spindly, but on his small frame are muscles of steel: the backs of his thighs look armor-plated, his triceps are spectacular and when he flexes, the muscles encircling his chest and back are peerless. Younger and taller men may have bulkier muscles, but Glass' strength is world class.

Last year, Glass set an International Powerlifting Association world record for his weight and age, squatting 400 pounds and dead lifting 380 pounds in a competition at the York Barbell Co. in York. In 1990, Glass was named best power lifter in the world at the World Powerlifting Congress Masters Championship in Italy. He's been competing for 35 years and has a wall of 200 trophies, including 16 world championships, in his garage to show for it.

To squat lift, he'll stoop to put his shoulders beneath a barbell, a long steel bar with several 45- pound round weight plates at each end, resting on a metal frame. As he slowly stands up, his face contorted with exertion, the barbell rises, too. Then, he squats to a seated position and comes up again.

To dead lift, Glass reaches down to grab a barbell resting on the floor. With a mighty effort, the laws of gravity are suspended and he pulls it upward for a brief moment. When he releases, heavy metal crashes down and Glass exhales. The back of his Tshirt says "Pain is temporary, pride is forever.''

Glass answered questions about his life in the basement gym of his Allentown home.

Q: How did you start lifting? A: In 1962, I was 26 years old and weighed 107 pounds. I had a big inferiority complex about being small and skinny. I heard that lifting weights was a way to get bigger and stronger. Today, being able to lift 426 pounds puts me in the top 1 percent in the world.

Q: Your equipment looks old. Where did it come from?

A: I used to have a gym called Fred's Gym ... in Allentown for 16 years. Now I have a few training partners who come here a couple times a week. One of them is Dan Reph from Danielsville. He's 67 years old, weighs 270 pounds, and squats and lifts over 500 pounds with two artificial hips. If you want to get results, this is the place to come.

Q: What's your training routine?

A: I work out five to six days a week, about 1 hour and 15 minutes a day. I squat once a week, dead lift once a week, bench press twice a week and body build once a week. I bowl twice a week, too. I throw a 16-pound ball, between 14 and 16 miles per hour.

Q: What's your diet like?

A: Basic American, but there are some things I stay away from. Caffeine blocks nutrients. I don't drink alcohol except maybe once every two or three years. No deep-fat fried food, and no charred meat. I take a lot of mineral supplements. I spend about $250 a month on nutrition.

Q: You're retired now. What were you doing before?

A: I served in the Air Force from 1954 to 1958. I was a hydraulic mechanic. During the Suez Crisis, I was stationed in England. When I came home, I worked as a truck driver. I delivered for Pepsi-Cola for 13 years until I got hurt, then I was working for a company delivering printing paper for 11 years. The only job I could get was a limousine job, then I retired at age 62.

Q: How long do you plan to keep lifting?

A: My goal in life is to be 100 years old and squat 400 pounds. That sounds ridiculous unless you look at my progress. I'm still getting stronger. I can run 40 yards in under 5 seconds, I have the bones of a 20-year-old, and the body of a 40-year-old. I play tackle football with the kids, 170- pound 20-year-olds. They can't stop me from making a touchdown.

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