How to Build Muscle in Midlife

 
 
 AAY Fitness Trainer and Coach Elaine Demo Lunge Side
 
 

We have bad news and good news.

The bad news: As we age, our muscle mass decreases at surprising rates. In fact, in our 30's we start to lose as much as 3% to 8% of our muscle each decade. And we lose at an even higher rate in our 60's & 70's.

The good news: No matter what age you are, there are things you can do right now to prevent or reverse muscle loss. 

WHY IT MATTERS

Loss of muscle leads to a variety of conditions that can severely impact your health & quality of life, including: 

  • Reduction of strength & balance

  • Unsteady gait
  • Increased risk of falling & fractures
  • Decreased ability to perform everyday activities (climbing stairs, lifting objects, walking)
  • Decreased metabolism and weight gain (more muscle = stronger metabolism)

 

WHAT CAUSES IT

There are two main causes of muscle loss: 

  • Physical inactivity, especially lack of strength training
  • Not getting enough protein to sustain muscle mass (41% of women and 38 % of men over the age of 50 eat less protein than the recommended daily allowance!)

 

HOW TO PREVENT (OR EVEN REVERSE) IT! – AT ANY AGE

We used to think it was impossible for the frail elderly to build muscle, but now we know that with proper strength training & nutrition we can gain muscle at any age.

 

Strength Training

Countless studies have shown that strength training — even among individuals in their 80’s & 90’s – helps muscles grow bigger and stronger.  Power training is also important because it helps us move more quickly & efficiently, allowing us to perform the activities of daily living more effectively.  

For best results, make sure you:

  • Train all major muscles, including those in the front, back, upper and lower body.
  • Train 2-3x per week.
  • Do not train the same muscle group two days in a row. (Muscles need one day of rest to rebuild & repair.)
  • Use resistance that challenges the muscle. Increase the resistance as you get stronger. 
  • Include strength, endurance & power exercises.
  • Perform exercises with proper form. Work with a trainer or fitness program to ensure you are doing exercises safely & effectively.

 

Nutrition

It’s important that you consume enough protein on a daily basis to build & maintain your muscle mass. To increase your protein intake:

  • Include a serving of protein in every meal & snack.
  • Eat a variety of lean protein from sources such as: chicken, fish, soy, beans and nuts.
  • Eat small meals & snacks consistently throughout the day.
  • Focus on whole, fresh foods to help ensure you’re getting all the other nutrients your body needs.
  • If you need additional support, check out AAY! Nutrition for guidance.