Age Is Just a Number: Joe Stockinger

“Oh, yes! I am past 90 and I am still training hard,” he says matter-of-factly. “The squat will be 277 pounds and the deadlift a little over 400 pounds. And I want it.”

Stockinger began weightlifting 66 years ago in 1954, long before the days of Gold’s Gym and Arnold Schwarzenegger. When Joe picked up his first barbell, strength sports were far from popular, and weightlifting was little known or practiced outside of the Olympics. In fact, the International Powerlifting Federation wasn’t formed until 1972 — 18 years after Stockinger began training. 

According to Stockinger, the weightlifting scene was very different before the boom in strength training in the ’70s and ’80s. 

“We didn’t know anything about assisted lifting or training methods like we do now. Nothing at all,” says Stockinger. “If only I’d known then what I know now about nutrition — nutrition and training! The two work together like boys and girls.” 

As the sport became more advanced, Joe moved from Olympic-style weightlifting to powerlifting, and then to 100% raw powerlifting. Raw powerlifting, also known as free powerlifting, is performed with little to no equipment. That means lifters use very little in the way of belts, straps and other supportive equipment.

“I realized that if I’m going to use equipment, that’s cheating. That’s not my power. Raw powerlifting is challenging.”

And when a challenge appears, Stockinger is hardly daunted. At the time of our interview, Stockinger’s regular gym — Joe’s Powerlifting Club — was closed due to the Coronavirus. Despite the interruption in his training for the world record, Stockinger remains determined. 

“A little bit of training. Even though our gym is closed at the present time, I still can do a little bit. And when the Coronavirus is just a dream behind us, don’t tell me no!” he laughs. “Yes, I am going in again for the record.”  

According to Stockinger, keeping a positive attitude is just as important as physical training. 

“Psychological training is very important. You think you’re close to a record, and something happens in your private life. It gets you to the point you cannot sleep, you cannot eat the proper thing, you’re nervous. Your training methods can go down — boom, just like that. And your dream of a record might go to pieces.” 

“Have nutrition, proper rest and a positive attitude. Look forward to getting things done. It does not matter what sport you’re in or what age you are — get that psychological training going!” 

Along with a positive mindset, Stockinger also stressed the importance of community. He credits his fellow weightlifters at Joe’s Powerlifting Club for their friendship and camaraderie. 

“You have someone in the same boat as you, that you can share with. At the gym, they’re all around. You talk to them, you dream with them, you plan with them and work out with them.” 

The town of Pincher Creek also holds a special place for Joe. As a local celebrity in his small town, being greeted and recognized around town keeps him motivated. 

“Pincher Creek only has about 3,600 people. They can all tell you who I am and where I live! I love the people and I love the sport. I want to be an inspiration to young people and seniors both.”

“I’ve put in my request for 100 years, and people can help you with that. These are the things in life that make you look up in a positive way.”

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