At 90, Jim Arrington is the world’s oldest bodybuilder. But if you ask him, he's only just getting started.
Arrington, who was given the title of "Oldest male bodybuilder" by the Guinness Book of World Records in 2018, recently stripped down in a photoshoot for Men’s Health to prove that every body — no matter what age — is perfect.
For the lifelong fitness aficionado, it was also an opportunity to educate other seniors on the importance of nourishing the relationships with their bodies.
“At my age, your body’s a lot more fragile,” Arrington told the publication. “You have to be more careful when you’re training, and you can’t abuse it — your tendons have a tendency to want to detach. In the past five years, my left bicep broke loose, and I had a little bit [of a] tear in my right bicep, too. So you can’t do things you used to be able to do. It’s really disheartening, but it’s important to keep soldiering away.”
Since the age of 14, upon discovering the bodybuilding community after reading George Jowett’s book Molding a Mighty Chest, Arrington has dedicated his life to fitness.
Ironically, achieving his dreams required a lot more mental work than physical.
“I’ve stuck at it for more than 75 years because I'm still goal-orientated,” he shared. “My goal was to be Mr. America. But after five years, I saw I didn’t really have the genetics. I learned the secret to bodybuilding back in 1974 from Ken Waller, Mr. Universe in 1975. He told me to do what works for you. I thought, Well, thanks a lot. But that is essentially what you’ve got to do — experiment to see what works for you.”
“Physical strength isn’t that important to me,” the great-grandfather added. “I like to be strong, but I have very small bones, ligaments, and everything. My wife is stronger than I am in many ways because she has much bigger hands. Sometimes I can’t open something or need finger strength, and she can.”
In all, Arrington has competed in more than 60 competitions and has won 16. And he still has big goals, and plans on taking very few breaks until he achieves them.
“My goal now: I’ve entered the IFBB Legion Master Pro in Reno [Nevada]. I entered in the over-80s, but I’m trying to convince them that they should have an over 90s! The other thing [that keeps me training] is that for some reason, and I can't understand it, people seem to be inspired by me.”
Arrington is no stranger to using his platform to help empower others.
In a 2017 interview with People, the affable Arrington recalled a bittersweet moment in his 80s, when he realized he was alone on the competition stage. Still, he decided to keep going.
“Unless someone else older than me comes along, I’m sweeping the competition,” he joked at the time. “I have small bones and I would never be able to put on the size to become Mr. America, so I guess my strategy was to outlive and outweigh everybody by waiting until everybody grew up or died!”
Arrington was also quick to advise other dreamers that the joy is in the journey — not the destination.
“Everyone always says there’s something they have to work a little more on, and they say they aren’t ready yet, they tell themselves they’ll compete later,” he said. “You can’t look at it that way, you need the experience — you just have to do it.”
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