Constructing the Super-Ager

by | Jun 13, 2024 | Fitness | 0 comments

In the last few years, medical science has identified a new group we can aspire to join — the super-agers. The term refers to people in their 70s and 80s...

In the last few years, medical science has identified a new group we can aspire to join — the super-agers. The term refers to people in their 70s and 80s with the mental or physical capability of their decades-younger counterparts. Norwegian researchers have used the data from studies to create a calculator to estimate a person’s biological age. In 2015, 4,200 participants in the 14th National Senior Games used the Norwegian calculator to estimate their biological ages. Although the average chronological age of the participants was 68, their average biological age was 43.


The Secret Sect of Super-agers

Vast sums are being spent trying to determine how to extend the length of human life and how to further improve the quality of that extended life. Anti-aging medicine, age management, life extension, whatever the moniker, scientists worldwide are working diligently to find new ways to slow the aging process. At the advanced age of 66, I was unknowingly introduced to the finest system of anti-aging known to man: hardcore bodybuilding. My physical progress started at age 66 when dramatic physical improvement was deemed improbable, if not impossible.


To say that my rate and degree of improvement have been beyond my wildest expectations would be a massive understatement. I began my journey with modest expectations and a “dad body.” At age 66, I was in good shape “for a man my age.” I had good blood profiles and likely would have been in the top 95% in a fitness and health rating for 66-year-old men. After seeing the sensational before and after photos of the daughter of a patient by happenstance, I decided to become a competitive bodybuilder. I immersed myself in “the process,” and five years later won the International Federation of Bodybuilders (I.F.B.B.) World Professional Bodybuilding Championships in my age division (70+) and weight class.


As it turns out, my late-in-life transformation was not unique, though spectacular at any age and just short of miraculous. My competitive outings introduced me to an incredible underground coterie, a tribe of super-agers, all subscribing to and following the same overarching principles to attain mind-blowing physiques and age-defying results…gimme some of that! I jumped into the deep end of the pool: complete immersion and adherence. Discipline was not an issue for me. I needed expert advice to shorten my learning curve.


I enlisted four bodybuilding “preparation” coaches and professional bodybuilders, many retired, who (for a fee) will supervise you over a fourteen-week period leading up to a bodybuilding competition. The bodybuilding prep coach will create a dietary, resistance, and cardiovascular training template. Each week, the coach reviews photos, training, and body composition statistics to make necessary “tweaks” or course alterations. Sometimes, that meant cutting back 400 calories of starch carbs while increasing cardio session length from 30 to 35 minutes or switching out leg presses for front squats to spark stagnate thighs.


Each of my four prep coaches was successively more sophisticated, and each took me to a higher competitive level. I then worked with three-time Mr. Olympia, Frank Zane, the 81-year-old Zen master of bodybuilding. Frank told me that at this stage of my career, I had five years under my belt, and I needed to rely less on paid professionals to dictate my every training and nutritional decision. 


He paraphrased Bob Dylan’s exhortation: “Don’t follow leaders…watch your parking meters.” He told me, “Bodybuilding should be a journey of self-discovery.” Need I say that the 81-year-old moved, thought, and acted like a 60-year-old. What are the ingredients, the components, the overarching strategy, and the characteristics that unite and define competitive bodybuilders and unwittingly create super-agers?


  • Nutrition: the core discipline of bodybuilding is nutrition; without disciplined eating, there is no bodybuilding. The classic bodybuilding nutritional template is as follows:
  • Resistance training
  • Cardiovascular training
  • Supplementation
  • Mental aspects associated with “the process” 


Natural bodybuilding, holistic bodybuilding, is the finest age-slowing anti-aging system. We have incredible results and innumerable examples of transformed adherents. Our approach works. Period. The proof is in the transformed physiques. Go to any local bodybuilding show, the kind held in a high school gymnasium; you will see men, 100% lifetime drug-free bodybuilders, from ages 15 to 85. All the winners routinely attain sub-10% body fat percentiles while packing impressive amounts of lean, fat-free muscle mass. What is profound is that they all use the generalized template.


While extending life (despite the billions spent) remains mostly a genetic crapshoot, proven methods for improving the quality of life are already here. Highly effective methodologies already exist to improve quality of life. This is done by systematically improving the capabilities and capacities of the human body. The classic way to improve the human body, to make it leaner, stronger, healthier, more resilient and energetic, is to coordinate controlled exercise with a well-thought-out nutritional game plan. Past that, and the devil is in the details: I was a fit individual my whole life, and when I commenced bodybuilding, I was a fit 235 pounds spread over a 6’3” frame. I was in the top 95% of males insofar as fitness, and I had no idea that the modern competitive bodybuilder used that level of detailed precision.


The transformative template is methodical, multi-dimensional, and demanding. The human body is not easily morphed from what it is into what we want it to be. It is forced to build muscle and give up its stored body fat. I unintentionally turned myself into a super-ager while pursuing my bodybuilding goals. I discovered a vast tribe of super-agers populated by aging competitive bodybuilders. Men over 60 compete against one another in age divisions, weight classes, and several distinct categories. The overall level of physiques at the national and international level includes men over 50, 60, 70, and 80 exhibiting age-defying physiques that are muscled-up, lean, athletic, functional, durable, strong, and resilient.


When asked from my insider perspective, how is it that bodybuilders are manifesting the results science seeks, my conclusion is while everyone agrees diet and exercise need to be included and coordinated, how the mainstream experts advise anti-agers to exercise and how they suggest someone diet are pale and lifeless, compared to the degree of effort exerted, the amount of sweat generated, and the degree of nutritional precision required. The results keep bodybuilders returning for more of the gut-busting training and disciplined eating: dramatic results refire enthusiasm and reinvigorate the bodybuilder’s efforts.    





The classical bodybuilding matrix combines resistance training with aerobic training and underpins the training with a highly disciplined, rigid, nutritional approach. When adhered to as prescribed, fit, lean, muscled-up men are created, all exemplifying what quality-of-life experts seek in physique and function. 

There is an old scientist joke: “Sure, it works great in reality—but how does it stack up in the laboratory?” One would think the anti-aging theorists and gurus would be beating a path to the door of these age-defying men, yet this identifiable tribe whose members actualize what anti-agers seek is willfully ignored.


Holistic bodybuilding was born in the 1930s, gained traction in the 1940s, and garnered national attention in the pre-steroid 1950s and early 60s. These early iron pioneers ate organic foods, as this was before the widespread contagion of chain supermarkets. The proteins and produce these men ate were locally sourced and seasonally appropriate. Obesity was rare, and diabetes was rarer still. Men did not sit at computers to earn a living. 


Holistic bodybuilding, in its modern form, emerged in the early 1980s. It is all-natural bodybuilding, thusly named because it is stripped of all the black arts, the PEDs, and the ultra-extremes.


The holistic matrix consists of hardcore, high-intensity resistance training, consistent cardiovascular exercise, nutrition rooted in the expert use of regular quality calorie food, and organic nutritional supplements (if any). The fourth element is a requisite psychological recalibration that has many aspects. Above all else, the body-builder must be methodical; preplanning launches the process, and training the psyche is another essential aspect. Steadfast adherence is required, and the ability to make in-flight corrections when progress stalls all are repeating mental actions and developed traits that need to be factored into the process.


Late-in-life Conversion

I have been athletic my entire life, attending college on a baseball scholarship. I earned my black belt in karate after ten years of immersion and a successful tournament-fighting career. Once I saw my patients’ daughters before and after photos, the transformation was so spectacular and accomplished in such a short time frame that I became transfixed and sought guidance from the woman who had engineered this incredible transformation. She became my first “bodybuilding prep coach.” At age 66, a man with a “dad body,” not bad but nothing you would look twice at the beach, became a competitive bodybuilder. I jumped into the deep end of the bodybuilding pool. I committed to compete and began what is now the seventh year of my competitive career.


Bodybuilding morphed me into a super-ager, and it can do the same for you. While I would have been considered in “good shape” for a man my age, I carried an 18% body fat percentile with no real discernible muscle tone. While I would have ranked in the 95+ percentile for fit men my age, I was a smooth 235 pounds, and in my 6’3” frame, I did not appear overweight or out of shape. I devoted 2-3 hours a week to machine cardio exercise. I had been dissuaded from weight training my entire life; first, by 1970-era baseball coaches who said weight training slowed reflexes, then by Karate masters who said it interfered with Chi flow. I was a 66-year-old resistance-training virgin.


The core of holistic bodybuilding is not the training but the nutrition—the eating. You can be strong as an ox, possess the endurance of a locomotive, and still carry an unacceptable amount of body fat. Holistic bodybuilding first cleans up the content.


Outstanding late-in-life examples exist of men who use an age-defying strategy that creates mind-blowing physiques, exhibiting capacities far exceeding age-related expectations. These men are actualizing the goals of the antiaging, life extension, longevity, and quality of life movements. What are the definable characteristics of a super-ager? The super-ager demonstrates a late-in-life ability to maintain, retain, or improve upon both physique and performance.


A sect of super-agers has emerged who have discovered how to improve strength, endurance, speed, flexibility, and agility, which are the five bio-motor attributes. These super-agers use all-natural methods that do not depend on products, devices, or gurus. We use the term ‘Holistic Bodybuilding’ to describe the methodology used. This is a systematic approach that sculpts the body with mathematical precision. Holistic Bodybuilding is doable by anyone with the desire and access to a bare minimum of equipment.


Super-agers retain or attain prowess in the five bio-motor attributes: strength, speed, endurance, flexibility, and agility. How much can be attributed to genetics, and how much to diet and exercise habits? How much can be attributed to lifestyle or lack of stress? The system exists; it is treated like kryptonite because the cold truth about transforming the body is that meek and mild methods, sensible and reasonable methods, do not and cannot provide the psychological jolt required to blast the body out of its beloved hemostasis. 


Why would the body dramatically reconfigure, shed its body fat, and grow new lean muscle in response to sub-maximal effort? Where is the physiological incentive? Those who have actualized their very own dramatic physical transformation understand the degree of training effort that needs to be underpinned by a synchronized nutritional game plan.


The big question: is there a pill, substance, diet, exercise mode, or system that can bestow super-aging attributes on those just passing the past-60 threshold that slaps everyone in the face with our own mortality? At age 60, the sands of time start slipping through the hourglass with ever-increasing velocity. What can we do to establish a high level of cognitive ability and physical capacity and then retain, maintain, or even improve bio-motor attributes as we hurtle through time and space?


There is an integrated approach that combines deep knowledge empirically gleaned, and those who adhere to discipline and rigidity obtain profound results in relatively short time frames. This typically consists of 10-12 weeks of concentrated effort revamping the physique, strengthening the body, improving aerobic capacities, detoxing the body, lowering body fat, increasing lean muscle mass and creating a wellspring of health, energy, vitality, functionality, and suppleness. Preplanning is used to stairstep strength and cardio capacity upward, attaining small weekly goals that compound over 70-80 days. The physique and all its capacities and bio-markers are improved systematically and sequentially.





Recalibrating the Mind: Turning the Worst Enemy into the Best Friend

There are two types of anti-aging experts: the speculators and those in the trenches, those actually on the wrong side of 60 and living the reality.


The authors are Dr. Ken Davis and Marty Gallagher, two men who are actualizing the super-ager reality. Both men check every box for super-agers.


Dr. Ken Davis is available for speaking engagements, workshops, and coaching sessions. He can be reached at info@davisahs.com, 973.744.7447 or Davis Advanced Health System, 66 Park St. Suite 101 Montclair, Nj 07042.


Dr. Ken Davis and Marty Gallagher

Dr. Ken Davis and Marty Gallagher