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Powerlifting grandma says she feels better now than 30 years ago

Thought your lifting was impressive?

One of the world’s toughest grandmas spends around 20 hours a week pumping iron and exercising – and feels better than she did 30 years ago. 

Mary Duffy, 71, took up training at the age of 59 to lose weight – but soon developed a passion for weightlifting. 

Now, she can lift more than men a quarter of her age and holds world records for deadlifting 250lb (more than a baby elephant), as well as benching 125lb and squatting 175lb.

Despite regularly being told she’s ‘too old’ to be in the gym, Mary has no plans of stopping anytime soon.

The pensioner, from Connecticut, said: ‘I started seriously going to the gym ten years ago when I realised I’d put on a lot of weight – I remember it hit me when I looked in the mirror and thought “that’s not me.”

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‘I quickly lost weight and realised the more I trained, the more I enjoyed it – and that’s the way it’s been since then.

‘I’m 71, but I’m the fittest I’ve ever been – I look and feel better now than I did when I was 40.

‘I do get people telling me I’m too old for this, but my motto is “you can’t turn back the clock, but you can wind it back up.”

‘Sometimes I ask myself “why am I doing this?” but the negative comments are outweighed by the people who tell me I inspire them – and that’s what keeps me going.

‘I’m not the average 70-year-old – and I have no intention of giving up now.’



Mary began taking her weightlifting seriously shortly after her mother passed away. 

While Mary was grieving she put on weight, reaching 12st 8lb, which she said felt uncomfortable for her small frame.

The 71-year-old said: ‘I looked in the mirror and saw how big I’d gotten – that was a lightbulb moment for me.

‘I remember thinking to myself “I refuse to let that be me” and signed up to join the gym.’

After losing four stone, her personal trainer Bobby Calabrese suggested she try weightlifting. 

Mary entered her first first powerlifting competition in 2014 aged 64, followed by international competitions.

She has since racked up more than 30 state and world records with the International Powerlifting Association, in her age and weight category.


Mary now does three fitness boot camps and two personal training sessions a week – and shares her fitness progress on Instagram.  

She added: ‘I get a lot of people trying to tell me that I shouldn’t be weightlifting at my age – but I just laugh and tell them to check out my records.

‘There are times when I wonder why I push myself as hard as I do, for sure, but it’s people’s positive comments that keep me going.

‘I don’t want to look like the average 70-year-old grandmother, because I definitely don’t feel like one.

‘I don’t think I’ll ever quit powerlifting – not unless I absolutely have to.

‘Even if I do stop competing, I’ll still work out and keep in shape.’

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