At a time when most people are settling into their twilight years, Sy Perlis is more active than ever. The 91-year-old Arizona man set a new world record last week when he bench-pressed 187.2 pounds, the most ever for the 90-and-over division.
Perlis overcame Father Time at Saturday’s National Push-Pull Bench Press and Dead Lift Championships, held in Phoenix. His lift set a World Association of Benchers and Deadlifters’ record, according to the newspaper.
Perlis’ record bench-press shattered the competition’s old mark of 135 pounds, which had stood since 2005. “We’ve had a lot of lifters in their middle 80s, late 80s and occasionally we get one 90 and over, but they’ve never inspired people (like Perlis has),” association president and event organizer Gus Rethwisch told the Republic.
Amazingly, Perlis didn’t start lifting weights until he was 60 years old, the Republic reports. He entered his first weight-lifting competition five years ago, and has since won a state title and two world championships. Now, he can add a world bench-press record to his list of accomplishments.
“It gave me the opportunity to do something to test myself for one thing, and I didn’t have to run around to do it, as you would in some other sports,” Perlis told the Republic. “I got a lot of satisfaction out of it, and it made me feel good, and it was good for me.”
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Perlis, a veteran of World War II, adheres to strict training regimen. The nonagenarian works out five times a week, with a combination of cardiovascular exercise and weightlifting, the Republic reports.
The vigorous routine isn’t without its risks. Perlis did not compete in 2012 after suffering a hernia and undergoing pacemaker surgery.
Still, Perlis’ 187.2-pound record bench-press is a feat that most people his age would not attempt, let alone successfully complete. The Arizona native is one of just three people to compete in the Association’s 90-and-over division, and the only person who lifted on Saturday.