You can get strong and build muscle at any age.
Building muscle after 50 may be a little harder than when you were younger but the principles still remain the same. Have a plan, be consistent, and work hard. A positive mental attitude will go a long way. You have to believe that building muscle is possible.
The first secret is to stop wasting so much time running
Distance running does provide some aerobic benefit but overall, it is counterproductive for building muscle. The repetitive jarring to the joints creates an inflammatory response that requires healing time and energy consumption. Distance running can create micro injuries to the ligaments and tendons that take a few days to heal.
If you are running on day 1 and lifting on day 2 or 3 of a given week for example, you are lifting with compromised or weakened ligaments. This can lead to injury. Running just breaks down muscle more than it builds it. Period.
The leg moves through a very limited range of motion while running providing only minimal stimulus to build the leg muscle. Compare the running stride to performing a full squat to see the dramatic difference in total leg involvement. Don’t stop running totally but running a little less may be beneficial.
Secret number two is to take some of your new-found time from minimizing long, boring, counterproductive endurance runs and start sprinting.
Sprinting is an explosive, strength building exercise. Look at the physiques of any high-caliber sprinters. They are muscular from top to bottom. A hidden benefit of sprinting is the efficiency of the exercise. You can run six to eight 40 yard sprints in fifteen minutes or so. The equivalent endurance benefit from distance running would take about 45 minutes. Sprinting saves considerable time.
The muscular development you get from sprinting cannot be achieved from distance running at all. This is a no-brainer. You must start sprinting. If you are a runner who spends forty-five minutes or so running three times a week, try this workout for a change:
- Limit your distance running to once a week – 45 minutes as before
- Add a sprint day to your workout – 20 minutes
- Add two lifting days separated by at least 24 hours – 30 minutes each
- You should probably lift on Mon & Wed (pm)
- Sprint on Fri
- Run distance on Sat (am)
This allows your lower body to recover from the combined running workouts between Sat morning and Mon afternoon when you lift again. If you want to start building muscle after 50, this is a great plan.
Secret number three is eating well.
Proper nutrition is really the foundation for any fitness program. It doesn’t matter if you run, lift, play tennis or hike in the mountains as your primary exercise, you will not achieve optimum results without good food for fuel.
For muscle-building, you need good sources of protein for muscle repair and good sources of fuel to keep the body running. Aim for one gram of protein for each pound of body weight. If you weigh 175 pounds, try to eat 175 grams of good quality protein each day.
The key to building muscle after 50 (and not getting fat) is eating more good fats that fuel the body. Transition from grain based carbohydrates to healthy fats for your energy sources. This ensures you are well prepared to build muscle and maintain energy levels without being primed to store fat as well.
High carbohydrate diets promote fat storage. High fat diets (good, healthy fats) promote an efficient, fat-burning, muscle-building body. Good fats are from natural sources like meat, eggs, fish, fowls, nuts, seeds, avocado, coconut oil and olive oil.
Secret number four is to lift heavy things.
Resistance training is the key to get your body to naturally release testosterone and human growth hormone (HGH). These hormones are needed to optimize the condition needed for muscle growth. Lifting heavy is a relative term. When you are just starting out, a heavy lift is body weight training exercises. As you get fitter, start to use more weight or add more repetitions. Try some perfect pushup workouts to get a great upper body and core exercise. The key is to load your muscles enough to cause minor muscle breakdown. Strength is gained and muscle mass is built when the muscle tissue is repaired during your rest days.
Secret number five is to get adequate rest.
Get a lot of sleep. Get 9 hours a night if you can. Not only does your body repair itself and build the muscle during sleep, good rest helps to mitigate high cortisol levels. Cortisol is a hormone released in response to stress. It is a part of your fight or flight response mechanism but in your chronically stressed environment today, has become ever-present in the body.
When cortisol levels rise, testosterone and HGH will fall. You cannot maintain a positive muscle-building environment inside your body with high levels of cortisol. So manage your stress anyway you can. One sure way to help is getting adequate sleep.
Building muscle after 50 can certainly be done.
If you are a hard-core distance runner, understand this may be a bit counterproductive. Trade in some run workouts for lifting and sprinting. Focus on a quality diet that provides protein for muscle repair and good fats for fueling the body. Control your stress with adequate sleep and you are on your way to a more muscular, fitter physique.
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Check out this video on building muscle after 50.