• Mark Pearson

What We Can All Learn from the 82-Year-Old Weightlifter Who Fought an Intruder


Willie Murphy started weightlifting in her 70s to stay healthy, fit and independent in her retirement.


She had no idea her new hobby would make her a celebrity. But it did, when she started setting records in her age group – and then when the World Natural Powerlifting Federation created a new category after she turned 80.


Her videos went viral, with one titled “This 77-year-old grandma can lift more than you" getting 1.1 million views since 2014. She was profiled in local and national media, including the “Today” show.


And that was before she fought off an intruder in her home recently. “He picked the wrong house to break into,” she said after police took away the battered suspect.


7 Facts about Willie Murphy


After a new round of press spotlighted her again, we had to learn more about her inspiring grit and dedication to physical fitness and healthy living.


  1. She is 5 feet tall and weighs 105 pounds.

  2. She works out three times a week at the local YMCA where she enjoys family-like support.

  3. She believes in functional fitness. “When it snows in Rochester, guess who’s doing the snow?” she said in one interview. “Me.”

  4. She has deadlifted 230 pounds in competition.

  5. She encourages other mature people to get active, even if it’s not with weightlifting. "A lot of older people, they're into swimming, yoga, tai chi, various other things. But I guess I'm just unusual because I'm into natural powerlifting."

  6. The retired social worker volunteers at a local health clinic and helps older people exercise with chairs and steps at another health center. "Hopefully I'm able to change the attitude about how it is just to work out," she said.

  7. At competitions, she does bench press and curls and she competes in the “Ironmaiden” category that combines bench press and deadlift results.


Why You Should Train with Weights, Too


Unfortunately, the vast majority of older people don’t get enough exercise. And some have bought the myth that walking is “good enough” after a certain point. But resistance training with weights, bands or body weight is crucial for fitness, especially as we age. Here are a few reasons why.


  1. It adds years to your life. We start losing muscle mass as early as our 30s. Without muscle we become frail and more likely to fall, among other issues.

  2. It strengthens our bones and ability to move well to conduct everyday tasks (like Willie shoveling the snow).

  3. Strength training is good for our brains, helping to fight dementia, Alzheimer’s disease and other cognitive decline.

  4. It improves your skin and circulation, while reducing body fat. (A bigger belly is not an inevitable outcome of maturing.)

  5. Weightlifting keeps you strong for sports, like golf and tennis, plus hobbies like gardening and dancing.


You don’t have to become a “powerlifter” like Willie to gain these benefits and others.


Come see us to start your strength training today.

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