Shirley Webb may be 81 years old, but she trains like a beast in order to stay strong and healthy. The grandmother who lives just outside of St. Louis, in East Alton, Illinois, can deadlift 253 pounds, and has six American records and 26 Illinois State records to her name.
Her strength is impressive, but more remarkable than that is the fact that she didn’t start lifting weights until she was 76 years old.
“I couldn’t climb a flight of stairs without huffing and puffing,” she told The Telegraph. “My granddaughter wanted me to start exercising with her, so we could both be healthy…The only exercise I did at the time was mow the lawn. And, I was barely doing that.”
Webb joined a fitness club and progressed at lightning speed when she began working with trainer John Wright, who helped her get into the 200-pound range (for three reps) in the first six months.
“She’s gotten to the point where everybody greets her and is just absolutely impressed,” Wright told ESPNW. “She inspires everybody that goes to the gym and it’s fun to see that.”
Webb typically works out three to four days per week at 4:00 a.m., and her dedication has paid off. Even when she competes against women in their 70s, she usually takes home a medal.
“In ‘worlds,’ they don’t separate 70s and 80s. I was competing against those in their seventies, and if I’m 100, I’ll still be competing with people age 70-plus,” she explained to The Telegraph.
Webb shows no signs of stopping either because the sport energizes her like nothing else.
“When I go to the gym and work out, when I leave, I feel so much better than I did when I went in, and I just feel so good,” she told ESPNW. “I feel tremendous.”
The deadlift isn’t her only specialty. She also set a new American record in October in the squat.
If you’d like to keep tabs of Shirley Webb, you can follow her on Facebook: Team Shirley Webb.