How to Build Muscle in Midlife
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.
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.
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.