Cliff Dalley had been working for 36 years straight in a successful executive position at UPS, finally overseeing the entire state of Utah, in a highly stressful job. “It was all about the career, I had let my health and fitness go to hell,” he said. Cliff had been a serious athlete his whole life, with a college degree in exercise physiology, he was still practicing Jiu Jitsu, still had definition in his body, and could still lift heavy weights. But the stress of his job had been chipping away at his lifelong athleticism—for years.
An Epiphany on the Golf Course
Back in 2004 when he was 42, Cliff was on a golf course and his foursome got into a kind of tussle with another group of golfers. “One man in his mid-to-late 60s he came over to our group, he wanted to fight me, I thought ‘You’re kidding.’ Then he said, “I’ll kick your fat ass.” Never mind the fight, being call a “fat ass” had an impact. As a “lifelong muscle head,” Cliff was shocked and motivated. That’s when he started the Body For Life workout to get back into shape.
Still, the continued stress of his job got the upper hand. By his mid-fifties, Cliff was out of shape and recovering from his first knee replacement, and then a broken foot. He weighed in at 245 pounds with 30 percent body fat.
Changing His World Through Working Out
Through a friend at UPS, Cliff was introduced to Bobby Maximus, former UFC fighter, speaker, life coach, author, and trainer. Cliff’s world changed.
Four months after meeting Bobby and starting a serious strength-training regimen, Cliff competed in the Jiu Jitsu World Master tournament and was down 45 pounds. And he decided to retire from his stressful job. Now, his sense of sense has returned through his workouts, his perseverance, and his connection to who he was and is. His whole life changed.
What is Middle Age?
“I’m redefining what it means to be a ‘middle aged man,’” he said. “Now I never say I can’t do something because of my age.”
Everything has changed for Cliff now that he is back in competitive shape. “My life is different. I’m 56 but I don’t feel 56. I compete against everybody, 20 year-olds and 30 year-olds, I’m undefeated by anyone over 30—except for the guy at the Masters who beat me and was my age.”
And the effects go way beyond the physical. “I see other people in their 50s they can barely move, it just gives me a whole different outlook on life, it’s almost like a religious experience,” he said. “I always have a goal in mind of bettering myself.”
“Bobby never let me use my age as an excuse, it’s what he calls a ‘self-limiting factor’.”
Starting a Workout at a Young Age
Cliff was never one to put limits on himself. Growing up in Billings, Montana, he started lifting weights at age 14. Through his church, he started training with a friend and his Dad in their basement. Cliff said he was a “mediocre athlete” at the time but the Olympic lifting and strength training turned him into “an exceptional athlete.” In fact one of the athletes who lifted with them was weightlifting champion, Phil Sanderson who was on the 1980 Olympic team. “I credit the Olympic lifting, like clean and jerks and squats with making me the athlete I was in high school and college,” said Cliff. “I also went from being one of the slowest guys to one of the fastest guys.”
He drew on that early experience when he was training for the Jiu Jitsu World Master Championship. Cliff would alternate between strength days where he would do very intense Interval Weight Training, such as 10 reps of squats with a pretty heavy weight, then two minutes all out on a rower then rest for two minutes do the same thing, then repeat again then rest for four minutes then do box jumps then rest for two minutes and then go all out on the ski ergometer or fan bike. “If you do it right it will torture you. If you do it half-assed you won’t get anything out of it. I saw some NFL players who almost died literally,” he said. Then he would climb Snowbird Mountain on the weekends (and take the chairlift down to spare his knees.)
Now, Cliff is planning to drive from Phoenix where he lives to Salt Lake City to train with Bobby. He may catch other elite weightlifters there like former Utah linebacker Tommy Hackenbruck or endurance athlete Hunter McIntyre who compete on former pro wrestler Steve Austin’s reality TV show “Broken Skull Challenge”. (McIntyre also coined the phrase “Biceps win races.”)
Benefits of Strength Training Go Beyond Strength
Cliff’s stress level is way down. “Last summer I had no cares, I retired and it was like I was 16 training for football and playing baseball, when I worked for my Dad. That’s what it felt like.”
His whole health is better. “When I met Bobby, the first question he asked me—before he said hello—is how much sleep I get. At the time, I got about 4 hours I felt lucky if I got 5. My day would start at 3 in the morning.” Now I sleep through the night.
Recovering from his second knee surgery, Cliff is anxious to get back to his strength training. “You just feel so much better about yourself. The future always looks bright. My wife and I were high school sweethearts, and she notices a difference when I’m training.”
Cliff says it’s also his outlook that has changed. “I have a sense of purpose. I have goals.” Oh, and one of those goals? “I don’t want to be that guy who an old man could kick his ass.”