At 79, Bob Vastine still uses weights to stay in great shape

May 13, 2017

As a trainer, I have had the privilege to work with some amazing people. I have often been inspired by the incredible results and accomplishments I have witnessed. Each situation and client is different, and the gratification I get from seeing people reach their goals has fueled my passion for fitness. To illustrate my point, there is no better example than Bob Vastine. He is in a class of his own. My exposure to him over the years changed my life for the better in countless ways. At 79, Bob impresses me even more today than the day we met 17 years ago. 

I began training Bob in 2000 when he was 62 years old. He had fallen off his bike and fractured his pelvis and wrists, and he wanted to start working out to regain his strength and recover from his injuries. Over time, we achieved these goals, but in the process, Bob developed a passion for lifting weights. We realized quickly he had great potential for strength. It started when Bob became strong enough to use 110-pound dumbbells for chest presses - an impressive accomplishment by any standard - so I decided to teach him how to bench. Bob was able to bench press 220 pounds the first day he tried the exercises, so our journey changed direction, and we began to train him for a bench press contest.

Bob’s first contest was a great success, as he benched 265 at age 62 and won first place in his weight class. More importantly, this was the beginning of a great relationship that would last for nearly two decades and take us all over the country from coast to coast to compete in and attend fitness events. During this time, Bob set numerous records, including a 370-pound American Powerlifting Federation bench press record, but he didn’t stop there. After I taught him to deadlift, he set an International World Powerlifting Federation record by lifting 450 pounds at age 71.

A few years later, Bob decided to change focus again and do my body transformation. Like everything else, he excelled and got into incredible shape, but that was still just the tip of the iceberg. Over the years, Bob has participated in numerous different types of lifting and fitness disciplines, including strong man competitions, boxing and, more recently, Brazilian jiu jitsu. He currently spars twice a week with an Olympic champion, sometimes going live for 10 minutes straight with no breaks. In addition, he recently entered a strict power curl contest and won with a lift of 125 pounds. In August, he entered another bench press contest and won his weight class with a lift of 275 pounds at nearly 80 years of age. Bob may have started his quest for fitness late in life, but he has more than made up for it over the last 20 years, and he shows no sign of slowing down.

These days, everyone who comes into contact with Bob is inspired by his youthful look, endless energy and incredible shape despite his age. His life has been a great example of what can be achieved if you have the will to work hard and stay committed, and he continues to pursue his passion of working out and staying in shape. Bob has been a great influence on me as a trainer and coach, and I have learned a lot by watching him over the last 20 years.

Personal trainers are expected to have all the answers and to always motivate their clients, but Bob Vastine has inspired me. He is a walking advertisement for what can be accomplished through fitness, and he continues to influence others with his infectious positive attitude and his incredible physique.

  • Chris Antonio is a personal trainer and former world-class weightlifter. He has been lifting for more than 20 years and has trained a wide variety of clients ranging from All-American athletes to the average person trying to get into shape. To send a question to the Ask the Trainer column, email Chris at or check out

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