Tricks to Gaining Muscle Mass After 50 – 3 Mistakes to Avoid

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Can you really get fit after age fifty?

What are the keys to gaining muscle mass after 50 years old? You can get into top physical condition at any age as long as you possess the will to succeed and drive to persevere.

Fitness simplified:

  • Eat Well
  • Move Often
  • Pick Stuff Up
  • Sleep Soundly

Keep it simple and get great results.

The tricks to gaining muscle mass after 50 may be a bit counter intuitive.

Conventional wisdom tells us to moderate our lives and take it easy as we age so we don’t get hurt or throw out our backs. But keep in mind, this advice is coming mostly from other old guys with big guts and bad backs. Just because we find ourselves in a state of marginal fitness doesn’t mean we are sentenced to a mediocre finish in life.

The first mistake to avoid is thinking like an old guy.

Don’t believe you cannot be strong again. Don’t take advice from guys with big guts, bad backs and skinny arms. If you want to pack on some muscle, start acting like a young guy who wants to impress girls. It is going to take some work.

If you want to build muscle mass, you have to lift weights or perform some type of resistance training. Resistance can be provided by your own body weight by doing any number of exercises like pull ups, push ups, dips, squats and rows. This is typically a great starting point to get you back into training if you are just getting going again. But make no mistake, if you want to accelerate gaining muscle mass after 50 years old, you have to lift heavy weights.

The key is to lift heavy things.

This can be done using traditional weight lifting workouts to lifting heavy rocks and logs and carrying them around. You can flip truck tires or push weighted sleds around. Lifting heavy simply means to stress your muscles in a way that causes overload without injury. This is how muscle mass is built.

The second mistake is lifting like an old guy.

Most old guys who have been out of the gym for a few years have poor core strength. You need a strong core to perform many of the lifts needed for muscle building. Squatting, overhead pressing, power cleans, deadlifts and kettlebells swings all require a strong core to prevent injury.
Don’t mistake your weak back for an injured back.

Many of us believe we have a “bad back” because it is sore all the time when in reality it is simply a weak back and stressed from bad posture, poor ergonomics and years of neglect.

The bad back syndrome is a downward spiral. You don’t think you can do it because of your bad back. You can’t do this and you can’t do that because of the bad back. You have to break out of this thinking.

Now let me be clear, a small percentage of you may actually have an injured back. It certainly does happen. I am not diagnosing you. I am simply saying that the majority of bad back problems are due to a weak core and not really an injury. If you have any acute pain, you need an expert to analyze your situation.

Don’t use sit ups to work on your core strength.

They don’t work. Work the core with stabilization exercises, compound movements and twisting/bending moves. Overhead pressing, push ups and carrying exercises like farmers walks are core stabilizers.

Squats, deadlifts and kettlebell  swings are compound movements. Burpees, T push ups and sledgehammer swings are excellent core builders using twisting moves. Obviously you start with very light weights or no weight at all when first starting these exercises. Build your core strength slowly. Try the perfect pushup workouts for a great upper body and abdominal workout.

The third mistake is wasting your time in the gym.

Don’t walk on the treadmill for 30 to 40 minutes. This is a waste of valuable gym time.. Walking is for your rest days. Walk around the block a few times. Get some fresh air.

Did you ever notice that the treadmill walkers or recumbent bike riders never seem to build a better physique? They looked weak two months ago and still look weak today.

Don’t waste time lifting tiny dumbbells doing curls and ultralight presses. It looks ridiculous and really what is the point? You are not building muscle nor burning any fat. So stop that please.

The key to gaining muscle mass after 50 is to lift heavy weight using your big muscles. You need to squat, bench, military press, power clean and dead lift. Focus on the big lifts using perfect form. Build muscle and get strong by focusing on the basic movements. As always, start slow to ensure you do not get hurt.

But do the big muscle lifts to build a solid physique. Now get going.

What is your biggest challenge with putting on muscle? Please comment below.


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  1. this a helpful and useful artical..

  2. Very good and to the point article. I myself at 57, understand the work that is involved in all areas nutrition, lifting, recovery etc,.. that is needed to build muscle at any age, but as we age it takes a real concentrated effort to succeed. The importance of working around previous orthopedic injuries as well plays a big part for many of us who have been active our entire lives.

    I work around a total knee replacement and a ruptured bicep tendon ( long head) both play a part in my ability to lift the type of weight I would like but, you learn to improvise. Something is better than nothing!

    Thanks for sharing your knowledge.

  3. ” Avoid thinking like an old guy” Best damned thing I’ve read in years.
    I’ll be here off and on for a while and will let you know my progress Norman B. 56

  4. Rob Ronzio says:

    I eat like a uoungGayStud and look for young men in my Rhode Island gym they don’t call me back door rob ronzio for nuttin

  5. i’m 54 years old and i just started back in the gym I’ve noticed that if i do the same work out every other day I’ll make gains but use the 5×5 system

  6. I am 67 years old at 65 I was as strong as I was at 50, in 2012 I had to have by-pass surgery, For the last two years my life has been miserable because I let my musical mass deteriorate. I have to bring my selfasteam back to where it was two years ago and better. I going to start today using your advice Thanks.

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