ONE 71-year-old grandmother is proving it’s never too late to lift after coming first in her category at the European Single Lift Powerlifting Championships in Dublin at the weekend.

After being crowned champion in the Masters 7 under-58.5kg category for squats, deadlifts and bench press, Dr Catherine Walter – a lecturer at Linacre College, Oxford – is hoping to inspire others entering their twilight years to take up some form of strength training as a way of keeping fit, reducing injury and staving off old age.

The powerlifting professor, who only took up the sport six years ago, also holds world records in all three lifts.

She said proudly: “I have the bone density of a 21-year-old, and that is largely down to my weightlifting.”

Recounting how her life-changing foray into powerlifting began, she said: “I was complaining to one of my sons that I was getting older, I wasn’t as fit as I should be, that I didn’t have time to go to the gym – all that sort of stuff.

“He said to me 'you ought to think about lifting heavy weights'.”

Dr Walter admitted she was at first apprehensive about venturing into the free-weights section at the age of 65, however, she now holds world records for the squat, deadlift and bench press, proving it is never too old to start training.

She also formed the college’s female powerlifting team – the Linacre Ladies That Lift.

The mother-of-two and grandmother-of-two trains twice a week, focussing on volume for one session a week and intensity for the other, with the aim to increase the weight gradually each week.

She said: “That’s one of the things it teaches you – you can reach what might appear to be an inconceivable goal by making small increments.”

Dr Walter now boasts a bench press of 43.24kg, a 105kg deadlift, and a squat of 100kg.

She said: “I’m not saying everyone has to go out and start powerlifting but it’s about doing the maximum your body can do for five to eight repetitions

“It not only helps your bones, but muscles start to deteriorate after the age of 40. Running won’t help, swimming won’t help, the only thing that will keep your muscles consisting of muscle fibres instead of degenerating it resistance training.”

Not quite as intensive as the European Powerlifting Championships, Age UK Oxfordshire is encouraging more elderly people in Oxfordshire to join its strength training classes to lessen the risk of falls.

Anna McKay of Age UK, said: “Catherine is a real inspiration. Her powerlifting is unique, but not necessarily for everyone and we offer accessible strength and balance classes across the county.

“Older people who are worried about their balance or worried about falling can come along. People underestimate the strength part of it. Strength and balance exercises are crucial to any routine.

“The main message would be: Don’t think you’re too old – it’s never too late to start.”

For more information on the classes call 01235 849403 or visit