Muscle loss is a natural part of aging, but it doesn’t mean you have to give up on building muscle. In fact, you can still add quality lean muscle mass even after you hit 40.
While research shows that testosterone levels in men start to decline every year beginning around the age of 30, that doesn’t mean you should kiss your hard-earned gains goodbye that you built in your teens and 20s.
The secret to building muscle as you age is consistency and being smarter with your workout routine and nutrition. There’s no reason to get under the bar and strive for 1-rep max PRs. By being smart with your training and nutrition, you’ll not only be able to maximize your efforts while staying safe and minimizing your risk of injury, but you’ll also be building muscle at the same time.
No, the Olympia stage may not be in the cards for you, but that doesn’t mean you should let yourself go and rock a “dad bod.” Building muscle as you age is no different from building muscle in your early years — it merely takes better planning and striving to achieve realistic goals.
Below, we will look at some ways you can build muscle as you age to maintain the physique you’ve worked so hard to achieve. Let’s dive in!
Eat More Protein
Building muscle involves the intake of protein. You need protein to help build and repair torn-down muscle fibers. When you train with weights, you’re causing micro-tears in the lean muscle tissue that need to be repaired. When taking in adequate amounts of protein, you can help rebuild these muscle fibers and put them in a state of hypertrophy where they grow bigger and stronger — ultimately allowing you to effectively be building muscle.
And while some people think that eating more protein will make them gain weight, it actually helps you lose fat instead. So, eat plenty of high-quality protein sources such as chicken, fish, eggs, beans, nuts, seeds, and dairy products. Strive for around 0.8-1.0g of protein per pound of body weight. Spread it out over several meals throughout the day.
Work Out Less Often
If building muscle is what you’re after as you age, you should work out less often and eat more protein. This combination will help you build muscle faster than if you were to train every day. I don’t need to tell you that your recovery tends to slow as you age. You may find you’re sore for longer, the soreness can be a little more severe than when you were younger, and it can be frustrating. That’s just part of the process. If it were easy, everyone would do it!
What separates you from everyone else is that building muscle is still a passion of yours. You won’t settle for a belly and saggy man-boobs. You still want to look good. Building muscle as you age is a science. You need to really know and listen to your body. Be smart about your training. Know when to back off and when to push based on what your body is telling you.
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It may be a mental battle from your younger years, but you don’t need to be in the gym seven days a week anymore. The goal is to hit the gym 2-5 times depending on how often you’re able to get there and maximize every second in the gym. Contract the muscles hard and really feel the muscle working. Achieve a solid mind-muscle connection and get the most out of each rep.
Focus on Quality Over Quantity
It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that quantity is better than quality. After all, if you lift weights three times a week, you’ll see results much quicker than if you only lift once a week. However, while lifting weights three times a week might seem like a good idea, it’s actually not if you can’t recover fast enough. Therefore, in your specific circumstance, you may need to hit the gym hard only twice a week.
This whole idea piggybacks off what was said above about working out less. Rather than hitting the gym every day and trying to destroy your body, focus on the quality of your workouts. Get the most out of each rep and set. You don’t need to do 20 sets per body part, either. Focus on around 9 sets for smaller muscle groups and around 12 sets for larger muscle groups. This will help you with building muscle as you age.
Maintain a Focus on Compound Movements
Just because you don’t feel you are as young as you once were doesn’t mean you still can’t focus on compound movements. You’ll want to keep things like the squat, bench press, deadlift, and military press in your program (assuming you don’t have any injuries or limitations outside of what’s between your ears).
Keeping compound movements in your workout program will help you naturally boost testosterone levels while also incorporating multiple muscle groups into a single movement — activating more muscle fibers. Compound movements are still the bread and butter when it comes to building muscle, even as you age.
Don’t Skip Meals
If you skip meals, you won’t be able to build muscle. Skipping meals will cause your body to break down protein so that it can use energy instead. This means that you’ll burn more calories but won’t gain any muscle (no bueno).
Make sure you are taking in all your meals. Even more importantly, ensure you’re hitting your daily caloric numbers and recommended macros for the day. If you’re not spot on with your nutrition and taking in adequate amounts of protein and other macros, building muscle is going to be a challenge.
A great way to avoid skipping meals when building muscle is through prepping your meals. Use a day such as Sunday and cook up all your lean protein sources, carbs, and portion out your healthy fats. This will help you stay on track with building muscle and being on top of your nutrition. It will also help you avoid hitting a drive-thru as you’ll have all the meals you need for the week — no excuses.
In addition to being essential for hydration, water also helps with digestion, flushing out toxins, and regulating blood pressure. Your body is made up of predominately water, so it makes sense why it’s so important. Every cell and organ in your body demands it.
The easiest way to maintain adequate water intake and hydration is by carrying a water bottle around with you. Continuously sip on it throughout the day and when it’s empty, fill it back up and continue the process.
Also, you’re going to sweat during your workouts. Be sure to not only drink water during your workouts but also following to rehydrate and promote proper fluid balance in the body.
Supplements are one of your greatest assets when building muscle. They help you push further and harder during workouts, can help you maintain a healthy testosterone level and production, and can optimize your body for peak performance — regardless of your age.
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The use of a pre-workout can help take your workouts to new heights. The ability to energize you throughout your workout and provide you with an insane pump that drives oxygen and nutrients into the muscles is key for building muscle as you age. It’s the whole reason why we created PV-7. If you haven’t tried it, I’m confident that if you try it once, you’ll be a believer. The skin-tearing muscle pumps and results you can achieve are mind-blowing.
You can also look for things like natural testosterone boosters. We looked at the aging male and decided to create a product that can not only help men who are getting up in age but even those in their 20’s who want to optimize their testosterone production when building muscle. DHEA-50 is slammed with a variety of benefits that can help you maximize strength, boost natural testosterone levels, support carbohydrate metabolism, and help with building muscle.
Related Article: Do You Need a DHEA Supplement in Your Daily Regimen?
Building muscle as you age doesn’t need to be like taking a calculus class. If you follow the basics laid out in this article, you will be in a much better position to maintain and achieve the physique you desire.
Matt Weik, owner of Weik Fitness, LLC, is a well-respected fitness expert/author with a global following. His work has been featured all over the globe as well as having published more than a dozen books. He is a certified strength and conditioning specialist, personal trainer, and sports nutritionist. Find out more at www.weikfitness.com.