Tim Caso has almost 50 years of practical experience both as a competitive weight lifter and as a trainer. As a competitive lifter, he trained with no less than five Olympians, one of whom was his training partner. He has represented the U.S. in International Olympic weight lifting competition and was the weight lifting coach for a New Jersey high school. He currently teaches Olympic Weight Lifting at various Crossfit gyms throughout the Philadelphia area. Plus, Tim’s book, “Weight Training for Old Guys,” has inspired hundreds, both young and older, to get back in shape through a properly guided weight training program. Get training tips and more at www.weighttrainingforoldguys.com.
Ever since I was a kid, I was into physical fitness. At eleven years old, I started my fitness journey by lifting weights in preparation for an upcoming football season. I quickly discovered what my father had told me was true: “All else being equal, the stronger athlete will win.” Despite being the youngest player on my high school team being 16 when I began my senior year, I made the All-State Football Team and was chosen to be my school’s Scholar-Athlete.
My penchant for weight lifting naturally morphed into a desire to compete. I discovered a local weight lifting team and immediately joined. We would eventually produce four Olympians, one of whom was my training partner! I was chosen to represent the U.S. in a meet vs Canada as well.
Throughout the next four decades, I helped people with their training and maintained a stringent personal workout regimen. As I got older, I modified my workouts to accommodate an aging body. However, I still had a propensity to “over-train” which would wear down a body rather than to build it up.
This tendency to over-train came to head one day….
Sixteen months ago, I suffered a catastrophic injury: I completely tore both quadricep tendons while squatting. When they ruptured, I fell like I was shot through the heart. I was squatting 275 pounds and was lucky that I was in a power rack with the safety rails in place otherwise my story would have ended right there. I was taken to the hospital by ambulance, had surgery and was hospitalized for 11 days. This was a turning point for me in many ways.
After I was released from the hospital, I had to learn how to walk all over again. I could not walk up the stairs and could not lie flat because I didn’t have the strength to pull myself back up. For three months, I slept in a rented hospital bed so that I could elevate myself enough to climb out. I couldn’t drive because I couldn’t bend my legs enough to get into my car. For the first time since I was a child, I was dependent on others. Luckily for me, mother and my kids stepped up and literally saved my life.
Eventually, I progressed from a walker to leg braces to a cane and, finally, to walking on my own. That, however, was not good enough for me. I diligently went to physical therapy where I performed various stretching and some basic leg-strengthening exercises. After that, I continued to rehab on my own. I would walk up and down the stairs while holding dumbells. This time, I was careful never push too hard.
Incidentally, throughout this entire process, I never complained or felt sorry for myself. I realized that I was in a situation and that I had to take it one day at a time. The concept of patience was forced on me in the most dramatic way! However, I knew that I would get better. I didn’t have to force myself to repeat any “positive affirmations.” I knew that I would be fine. My physical therapist told me that I would heal faster than most people “because of my determination.” How right he was.
I slowly progressed in my workout regimen being very careful not to over stress my knees. Now, a little more than a year later, I am squatting over 300 pounds for reps!! These are full squats with the top of the thighs just about parallel to the floor. Not bad for anyone my age (58) but especially impressive for someone my age who had recently gone through such a devastating injury.
My goals now are to teach people how to train properly and to compete again. I plan to break the American Record in the clean and jerk for my age-bracket and weight class. I expect to be able to surpass this in two years. Then, I will go after the world record.