Boxing legend Barry McGuigan has told how strength training is the secret to staying young into your 60s.
The world champion from Monaghan says daily muscle-building exercise keeps him supple and strong and feeling better inside and out.
He’s fighting fit and feeling fresh today – for a sporting hero who won the world featherweight title back in 1985.
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Barry, 61, told the Irish Mirror: “You have to fight back against ageing. As we get older, we start to develop joint problems, issue with knees and hips and ankles.
“You have to fight back and the way to do it is through body weight exercises, particularly lunges and squats.
The dad of four – and proud grandfather – adds: “Exercise is a terrific cure-all. Training and exercising is the most important thing. It’s life-changing.
“There’s nothing better you can do for yourself. You cannot beat it. It elongates your life, changes your image and improves your self-esteem.”
He wants to encourage others to take up strength training, which is known to be vital for the body as you age.
Strength training is physical exercise designed to improve endurance and build muscle.
It can be done with minimal equipment, or just using your own bodyweight, in a type of training called calisthenics.
Strength training preserves bone density, improves balance – reducing the risk of injury – and helps maintain muscle tissue.
Barry’s daughter Danika – who tragically died of cancer in 2019 aged 33 – inspires him to keep it up.
He said: “I was very close to Nika and and she would want me to go on and do the best I can.
“So I’m doing it as best I can, for her. We think about her nonstop. She was a super girl, a super lassie. It has been such a tragedy for us, but I know I have to get on with life, for her.”
The Clones Cyclone took to his local gym in Monaghan to show readers how it’s done.
Now a pundit, promoter – and Mirror sports columnist for 30 years – Barry finds time to get to his home gym daily at his house in England.
When he’s back in his hometown of Clones to visit his mother Kate, he trains in the Peace Link Centre, a state-of-the-art sports facility.
Barry said: “Fitness should be par for the course. Aim to work out two to three times a week, at least.
“There have been many studies on strength training and how it is very important for people as they get older. In many ways, it’s essential. It fends off ailments and injuries.
“I’m 61 and I’m in good shape. I feel as good as I could possibly feel. I don’t run anymore, but I do the rowing machine. I do callisthenics and weight training.”
Squatting is a great exercise, he says – but advises not to go too heavy if doing it with weights.
“The routine of squatting engages all the quads and lower lumbar region in the back. Do it with a couple of dumb-bells in your hands.
“Squat a comfortable weight. I wouldn’t suggest you go heavy.”
Due to his level of fitness, Barry can outperform others decades younger in the gym. He is particularly strong at upper body exercises.
He said: “I do a lot of dips – I can do 60 dips in one go, and I can do 20 chins. It’s a great way of checking how strong you are.
“It can change your shape, make your abs and hips tighter, and you feel nice and compact.
“Go to a good strength training coach and they will show you how to squat properly and do all the various exercises.”
He mixes his routine up with 40 minutes on the rower twice a week and then callisthenics every other day.
Calisthenics are suitable to any fitness level, or age.
“Calisthenics work all the major muscle groups. You can do callisthenics every morning. Break a light sweat and jump into the shower afterwards and feel million dollars at the start of the day.”
He walks a lot also – and sticks to a healthy diet, with no alcohol.
His fitness level ensured he could go up Croagh Patrick with no bother last month, as part of Charlie Bird’s charity hike Climb for Charlie.
Barry made the climb with broadcaster Ryan Tubridy and said he felt like it was 1985 again.
“I walked with Ryan up Croagh Patrick, and it reminded me of that mad time when everyone wanted photographs and autographs.
“It was more for Ryan than for me, these days! But it transported me back to the mid-1980s when I was doing so many personal appearances.
“The Irish people are phenomenal. It’s great to be recognised for your success – but don’t get carried away with it.”
His latest project is to learn Spanish to keep ahead of the boxing game.
“I’ve been learning Spanish this past year. Some of the greatest fighters in the world are Spanish speaking. It’s good to know what they’re saying.”
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