Building Strength & Muscle For Over 50s

These days, it’s a safe bet that the weight machine at the gym, the fast lane at the pool, and the hardest class at the Spinning studio are populated by those over 50. More than ever before, 50-plusers are achieving unprecedented levels of physical fitness. Sometimes even getting into the best shape of their lives.

Studies show that regular exercise really does help you to live longer and more healthily, no matter when you start doing it. Whatever your age, beginning a sound fitness program and consistently follow it can help you look and feel fantastic.

There’s a real upside to turning 50 (and beyond): Just as you know what’s important as far as your career, family, and friends go, chances are you are also aware of your strengths and weaknesses. Armed with a sound understanding of who you are, you also know what you want from a workout. Should you strive to improve your balance? Are you hoping to alleviate that tightness in the shoulders, while also slimming your waist? Do you love your legs, and want to keep them looking great? Drawing on mature self-knowledge, you can make better-informed choices about how, when, where, and why are you exercise.


Achieving Results The Smart Way

Steady As You Go


Many believe the way to develop abs is to hammer it in the gym and slash their calorie intake. But, do too much too soon and you could burn muscle and burn out mentally! Yes, of course, big goals require big measures. However, if you go too hard right away and then stop progressing and seeing gains, where do you go from there? With calorie intake, start by cutting 200 to 300 calories a day from your diet and stick to it. Then, once you reach that plateau, usually after four weeks, cut out another 200 to 300 calories and repeat.


Strength Training

Building Muscle Over 50

In building muscle over 50 and to prevent muscle loss relies on strength training. This helps build muscle and support the connection between nerves and muscle cells to maintain the muscle you have. It also helps improve the body’s response to dietary protein. Many people starting a strength training programme, however, don’t work out intensely enough to reap the full benefits.

For the best results, perform around three sets per major muscle group. Chest, shoulders, legs, back, arms least twice a week, allowing a few days between strength training workouts for proper recovery. It is during the recovery stage that muscle growth actually occurs.

Be Flexible

Building Muscle Over 50

Many typical strength-training programmes often have a specific number of sets, e.g 3 or 5. However, because your performance can vary from day to day based on how you are feeling, due to sleep and stress, the prescribed plan could be too rigorous some days and too easy on others.

Instead, you can keep your reps the same but the sets can vary depending on your performance that day. You do as many as you can until your strength gives out or your form breaks down. This way it hits your body with a stimulus that’s enough for you to make progress. It keeps the brakes on to prevent you from digging too deep and sustaining an injury.


Protein Intake

Lean Protein

To combat muscle loss, dietary protein is also important as it provides the building blocks for muscle and stimulates its growth. The quantity, quality and distribution of protein throughout the day become more important as you get older. This is, unfortunately, often the age when protein intake decreases, which can accelerate sarcopenia (muscle-loss through ageing).

Animal proteins including chicken, eggs, fish, lean red meat and chicken. They are complete proteins that contain all of the essential amino acids required for muscle growth. Whey protein (a fast-acting protein derived from dairy) may be especially beneficial for muscle gain, especially when consumed after a workout. Plant protein, for example, peanuts, soy and beans, is not as easily digested or absorbed and therefore not quite as effective for stimulating muscle growth, however, it is important for the overall quality of the diet.

What Else?

Man Jogging On The Beach

Regular cardiovascular exercise such as cycling, jogging or walking is also important for preventing weight gain. It also improves your body’s response to insulin and reducing the kind of fat that builds up deep inside your abdomen and leads to inflammation, which can contribute to numerous diseases including diabetes, heart disease, cancer and Alzheimer’s disease.
Reducing sedentary behaviour by engaging in more active leisure time can also help. Getting adequate sleep and managing stress is also helpful, as this optimises the hormones in your body associated with building muscle.

What You Eat, in addition to adequate amounts of high-quality lean protein already mentioned, is very important. Besides reducing sugar and highly processed refined carbohydrates, our diets should be rich in vegetables, colourful fruits, herbs & spices, and moderate amounts of healthy fats including nuts, seeds, olive oil and avocado. All of these foods help reduce inflammation and provide high-quality antioxidants to optimise muscle protein synthesis and maintain the health of existing muscle fibre.



Vitamin D Foods

Vitamin D levels decrease with age due to decreased production by the skin in response to sunlight, decreased sun exposure due to more time spent indoors and weight gain, which can lower vitamin D levels. Low vitamin D levels have been associated with sarcopenia, so taking a daily supplement if you are low is important. If needed, have your vitamin D levels checked by your GP.
All these interventions are not only important for building and maintaining muscle mass, they are important for optimal health as you age. The sooner you build them into your life, the better your chances of not just living longer but living better.

Like to know more?

Want to be Building Muscle Over 50? Let me tell you how a structured training programme and nutrition plan can improve your health and fitness. Contact me to book your FREE 30-minute consultation with me and find out more.

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