Building Muscle After 50. Do You Think You Can?

gaining muscle after 50 is possible

There is a common myth that you can’t gain muscle mass after the age of 50.   PoppyCock!!!  

Can you build muscle after the age of 40?  You BET!  

Can you build muscle after the age of 50?  ABSOLUTELY!

What about 60?  It happens every day!

….and I could go on and on.

Yes, when you were in your 20s, it was a whole lot easier to build muscles, but studies have shown that anyone can build muscle after 50, 60, 70 and 80!

In fact, it’s possible to add muscle up into your 90’s  You’re saying “no way.”  But it’s true.

CAN YOU REALLY GAIN MUSCLE AFTER 50?

Dumbbells in a rack

Marcas Bamman, director of the UAB Center for Exercise Medicine at the University of Alabama states that men and women in their 60s and 70s, who began weight training, developed muscles that were as large and strong as those of someone 20- 30 years younger.  Kind of amazing because we all have been led to believe that you shouldn’t even try after you get to the age of 50.

So why has this not been known until recently?…and how can this be true?

Here is an expert from MedScience explaining what we never knew about muscle growth.  It has a faint beginning, but stick with it and you’ll hear him say that an 85 year old can put on muscle like a 25 year old!!

First, we’re gonna explore the way muscles are built.  Stick with me here.  This is important to know.

SCIENCE OF MUSCLES  (maybe a little boring but you really need to understand this)

There is a science to gaining muscle and losing fat.  The good news is, both of these are related. And your age only minimally affects your ability to gain muscle and burn fat.

Yes, it’s true.

There are different types of muscle.  For instance, your heart is a a 50 year old working out and getting stronger

muscle, your eye is a muscle, but that’s not the kind of muscle we’ll be talking about here.

For our purposes we’re talking about gaining muscle, so that would be skeletal muscle.  Skeletal muscle is composed of thread-like fibers and is the basic unit of contraction.

Your muscles contract when they receive a motor neuron signal.  Motor neurons tell you muscles to contract, and the better your brain gets at sending those signals, the stronger you get.

Remember this…..your brain sends the signals.

MUSCLE  GROWTH  FACTS

musculature of a man's back

When you work out properly, you will break down muscle fibers and subsequently, the body will repair those muscles by fusing the muscle fibers together to form a stronger strand. These strands (myofibrils) increase in thickness and number to try and be prepared for another breakdown.  This causes muscle growth.

Can you actually add muscle to what you already have?   YES.

There are cells called satellite cells that are activated to add nuclei to the existing muscles and thus add size and strength to your muscle structure.

WHAT MAKES MUSCLES GROW?

The simple answer is Stress

arm muscle being worked hard with dumbbell curl

In order to produce muscle growth, you have to apply stress greater than what your body or muscles have previously adapted to.

How do you do this?  Lift progressively heavier and heavier weights, or do more repetitions of the same exercise.

Muscle Damage – If you’ve ever gotten sore after a workout, this is a good thing because it means that you have caused a release of inflammatory molecules and immune cells that will activate satellite cells which will go to work increasing the size and strength of your muscles.

I feel good when after a few days after a workout, the body part I worked out is sore.  You know you’re making progress.

Metabolic Stress is the “pump” that bodybuilders talk about.  Scientists used to poo poo this, but have recently discovered that this “pump” is an effect of metabolic stress, which causes cell swelling around the muscle, which helps to contribute to muscle growth.

HORMONES

motor cycle being driven by man with black leather jacket
Testosterone on display

Hormones are another component of muscle growth.

In particular, Mecho-Growth Factor (MGF) and testosterone are the two most vital hormones that promote muscle growth.  

Testosterone is an important part of gaining muscle. There is definitely truth to the fact that testosterone can stimulate our growth hormone responses, which can help to activate tissue growth.

This is why women shouldn’t worry about getting too muscular.  Most don’t have enough testosterone to gain much muscle unless they take testosterone shots. 🙂

WHY MUSCLES NEED TO REST

shirtless guy showing off his chest and ripped stomach

If you don’t give your body adequate rest after a workout, you will probably do more harm than good.  This is why you probably should workout every other day or make sure that you don’t do the same muscle group more than twice a week.  The muscle response to a workout lasts for about 24 to 48 hours, and what you eat in that period also will affect your muscle response.

WHY FAST MUSCLE GROWTH IS NOT EASY

Muscle repair takes time and is relatively slow for the majority of people. You won’t see visible growth or increased strength for several weeks or maybe, months, and you’ll only see improvement if you are consistent in your workouts. muscled man doing a one-hand hand stand

And of course, we all have different genetics that varies from easy muscle gain to hard-to-gain.

Folks like me find it very difficult to gain size and strength.

Others, like the natural Mesomorphs, will look like Greek gods with only occasional visits to the gym.

When I lived in LA there was this guy, who had an almost perfect body, who would arrive at the gym, do a couple of very intense exercises for about 10 minutes and then leave.  I always wondered if that was all he did or did he do this 5 times a day? Or was he just one of those that was naturally buff? It made me so jealous because I have to work very hard to look just OK.

To ensure you’re doing your best to grow muscle, muscle protein synthesis must exceed muscle protein breakdown.

This requires that you take in an adequate source of protein and carbohydrates to help the muscle cells process and rebuild broken down muscle tissue.

Now that we know the mechanics of building muscle, how does that help you build muscle?

 

FIRST – Where Should I Start?

MOTIVATION
I’d say that motivation is the MOST important part of any workoguy with worked out body open hoodieut.

It doesn’t matter how much you know about the mechanics of how muscles are built, or how much you realize what a good thing it is to do resistance training if you aren’t committed to actually starting a workout program, none of that matters.

The working out is easy compared to finding the motivation to start a program and continue with it to make a difference in your life.

I don’t want to be the bearer of bad news, but exercising is a lifetime commitment. If you want to get healthy, stay healthy and live a long, vibrant life, then you need to exercise regularly.

Going to the gym once won’t really help very much. It’s a lifetime commitment.

 

MY MOTIVATION
Each person has to find their own motivation, but there are some common ones, ones that work for those people who are able to stick to a workout program.

I personally am committed to working out because I am a single man, and I want to be attractive and have a nice body so that it’s easier to find a date.  If I was overweight or out of shape, that would make finding a date a lot harder.

Yes, it’s shallow, but unless someone is attracted to you initially, you’ll never get to show them what a wonderful person you are inside. 🙂

DON’T BE IN DENIAL ABOUT THIS. Your physical being is the first thing someone sees. Don’t limit your possibilities by being out of shape.

 

CONFIDENCE:

When you know you’re taking positive steps toward becoming healthier and in better shape, you’ll develop a confidence that you might not have if you were sitting on the couch every night with a bag of Doritos watching TV. If you workout and start to look and feel good, you’ll develop a confidence in many aspects of your life. This physical improvement will bleed into other areas including self-confidence.

 

BUSINESS/SOCIAL:
Even if I’m not the best-looking guy in the room, I have an attitude of self-importance that people sense when they meet me in business and social settings.  People are attracted to folks who exude a self-confidence and assuredness.

It gives you authority.

 

SLOWS AGING:
So many studies have shown that gaining muscle mass, maintaining an appropriate weight, and eating a healthy diet can slow the aging process.  We know the secret to the Fountain of Youth and we ignore it.  Primarily because it takes work. It means exercising, eating healthy and maintaining an active life.

 

LIVE VIBRANT LIFE:
I find that wanting to live an active, interesting life right up until the end is a HUGE motivation for me.

I fear becoming what I see in some of my fellow baby boomers, who are not taking care of themselves. They are headed for an unfulfilled, restricted future life because their physical body will constrict the things they can do. Cave wit waterfall in Iceland

 I would think this alone would be motivation for anyone who is over the age of 50.

 

REMAIN VIBRANT:
I have too much I still want to do and see, and I want to be in shape so I can do all the things on my bucket list. I’ve got a huge bucket list, and if I weren’t in great shape, many of those things on my list would have to be crossed off due to physical limitations.

START TODAY:

If you aren’t doing any resistance training, commit to starting a program.  I don’t mean carve out many hours of your day.  I’m saying schedule a few hours a week to start a program of resistance/weight training. It can be as little as 1/2 hour a day, 3 or 4 days a week.  That’s a great start.couple holding hands in allee of trees

A married couple recently asked me about weight training (since they know I’m a gym goer).  They have a regular routine of walking.  They walk almost every day and a couple of miles each time.  They asked me about resistance training because they were concerned they needed to be doing more than just walking.  They had an intuitive feeling that they needed to be doing more as they grow older.

They are right.

They need to add a couple of days a week doing some type of resistance/weight training. It can be at a gym or at home.  Either works.

shirtless bodybuilders showing off at the gym

Here was my suggestion to them.  Maybe it applies to you:

Join a gym near where you live. Why join a gym?

My thinking is that if you pay for something, you may be more inclined to go because you don’t want to waste your money. Now, hundreds and hundreds of people join gyms in January and only go for a week or two, or NEVER.  So, it takes more than joining a gym, but it’s a good start.

Going to a gym can be a pleasant experience, and no, this scene above is not what most gyms look like.  Many folks are afraid this is what they’re going to encounter at the local gym.   Just a fantasy.

SUMMARY

Building muscle after 50.  Possible?

The question of whether or not someone over 50 can gain muscle is not a question anymore.

There is conclusive evidence that almost anyone can gain muscle if they’re motivated to start a muscle building program and if they’re consistent enough to follow through.

Whether you’re 50, 60 or 90, you can still see the positive benefits of doing resistance training.  Now, someone 90 is not going to get the same results as the 50-year-old, but if you start early enough in life and continue throughout your life, you’ll be amazed at how improved your life can be over the long haul.

It’s NEVER too late to start, and you’re NEVER too old to see positive effects on your physical and mental well-being.

I’m headed to the gym.  See you there.

 

I’d love to hear any comments, success stories or questions you may have.  Just leave them below or email me at wt@muscleandfitnessworktouts.com

About "W" Tucker 50 Articles
I've been a fitness enthusiast for many years and want to encourage guys over 40 to get and stay in shape. It makes life better, and makes you look and feel better.

4 Comments

  1. Hi “W”, I enjoyed the article! I am 49, extremely overweight, and know I need to make a change. I don’t care about looks or impressing anyone, I’ve been married for almost twenty years. What I need is a boost for my health. I am pre diabetic, and my doc tells me that if I lose weight, I will take care of that issue. Your article is good for me to read and absorb, I see that getting in shape is possible, even approaching 50 with a huge beer gut. I have the dumbbells, and a great exercise bike that I stare at every day down in my home office. I think it’s time to start lifting and riding! Thanks for the encouragement!

    • I heartily encourage you to start. I think a good way to get started is to just commit to do 5 minutes for one day. That’s it. No more commitment than one day.

      Don’t commit to anymore and then decide whether you’re going to do it the next day.

      I think sometimes folks like me scare people away with big “commitments” but I think it can be very easy to get started if you don’t make it a mountain.

      Thanks for the commments and email me if you need any ecouragement. – “wctucker@gmail.com” I’d be happy to be your online workout buddy.

  2. This post motivates me a little more.I am 45 years old, and I am not the same as before, every time I go to the gym I feel tired. I think today I enjoy being outside walking and breathing pure air, thinking I’m changing my routine for something more relaxed, and that actually encourages me. You know of some routine in a couple I would like to share it with my wife. Great post thank you.

    • thanks for the comments. I also like it when my posts encourage someone.  that’s the whole point.  motivate and educate.  

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