3 Tips to Weight Training After 55 Years Old

Can you begin weight training after 55 years old?

Absolutely.

weight training after 55 years old

Weight training after 55 years old can be just like any other age.

Can you build muscle effectively even if you’re over 50 and have been out of the gym for awhile?

Yes you can.

Why would you start a resistance training program in your later years? Here are just a few reasons:

  • Resistance training or moving your body through its normal range of motion against a force like a weight or elastic band or even your own bodyweight is a natural way to promote testosterone and human growth hormone (HGH) release in the body. Keeping testosterone and HGH plentiful will dramatically slow down the effects of aging.
  • Weight training is the most effective way to reduce body fat.
  • Resistance training builds strength and helps the body maintain mobility. Loss of strength and a reduced capability for full range of motion movement accelerates aging.
  • Building muscle improves cardiovascular health. Gaining muscle mass after 50 promotes effective fat burning even when you are not lifting weights.
  • You can still look good on the beach at any age. You can start weight training after 55 years old to impress the girls, keep up with the kids or even the grand kids. It’s as simple as that.

Attitude is important in life.

It can be particularly important to carry a positive attitude in your later years.

You have to believe you can do it.

You need to know that regaining the physique of your youth is attainable (within reason).

So get your head straight first.

What are the 3 tips to weight training after 55 years old?

  1. Remember what Clint said; “A man has got to know his limitations”. Life has beat you up a bit. Strength and mobility are reduced, injuries have taken a toll and balance may be compromised.
    1. This just means take it slow to start. You have to work back into full range of motion movements.
    2. You may have to address limited mobility with stretching sessions on the side.
    3. The mantra for the over 50 athlete is to not get hurt. An injury is really hard to recover from. It ruins your momentum. Take it slow to start.
  2. Do the basics well. Forget about the fluff.
    1.  Focus on basic movements and start with body weight exercises. Squats, dead lifts (just simulate the movement at first), push ups and some light overhead pressing to get you going.
    2. Focus on good form and listen carefully to the body. Pain is not a good thing. Don’t force it.
    3. Start with some hanging drills to prepare grip and shoulder strength. It is unlikely you can do even a single pull up right now but it will come.
    4. Work the big muscles. Forget about loads of curls and focused arm work. Do the big lifts and do them well.
  3. Forget about running 3 to 4 times a week like the old days. Not only will it break down muscles, injuries are likely and you can get better results with a different plan.
    1. Trade the old distance running for a once a week sprint program. Sprinting is a relative term. In the beginning your sprints will be slightly faster than a jog. Be careful here as hamstring and foot injuries are possible.
    2. Sprinting will not only burn fat but it builds strong legs as well. Just envision the physique of any world-class sprinter. They are muscular and powerful. Sprinting is an explosive, strength workout.
    3. Once you get to where you can sprint hard without injury, try some super sets. Body weight squats followed by a 40 yard sprint. Try plyometric jumps onto a bench followed by a sprint. This will burn the fat and build tremendous lower body strength.

Weight training after 55 years old is not only possible, it is a great plan to achieve optimum fitness.

You can build muscle at any age.

You can burn body fat and regain your old physique at any time in your life.

Get your attitude right and start slow.

The sky’s the limit. Don’t wait any longer.

What do you think?

What is holding you back from getting fit? Comment below.
#muscleafter50

About the Author Mark Fickler

Mark aka The Old Spartan and Over-50 Fitness Savior is a 62 year old coffee guzzling father of five wandering the outdoors around Albuquerque, New Mexico. Mark helps Active Boomers get lean, healthy and strong so their energy soars and they live awesome lives using his signature Spartan Method system.

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  • Tim says:

    I think a combination of diet and consistency in your work outs are keys. Most important is showing up. Second is feeding your body what it needs and laying off sweets, bread, and alcohol. I work two muscle groups a day five days a week. Usually 160 reps per muscle group. I pyramid my sets with increasing weight and dropping two rerps per set.
    15 mins of cardio at the end of my workouts.

  • mike says:

    Used to be athletic but now a big challage. I want to lead by example and my 3 teens are anxious for direction. I know what they need, but for me I’m not sure anymore. I’m 55 and my body does not respond well to my old ways…. help please….

    • Mark Fickler says:

      Mike
      Yea we’re not the same as 25-30 years ago but you can still get fit. You can’t lift as frequently, you gotta sleep more & focus on eating well. Cannot out train a bad diet. What are you doing for fitness?

  • […] tips for weight training success […]

    • Mark says:

      I am over 50.
      My tips for weight lifting.
      If u are just starting out
      Use good form.
      Just because that 20 year old guy that looks like a NFL lineman is pressing 300 pounds don’t mean that you can do it too.
      Be careful take your time
      Injury’s can take you out before you get started.
      I have so many times seen guys…work for 5 months or so..start showing great gains. Feeling great and stronger there body changing.
      New lifters do.
      Then they jump up the weight to much.
      Next there at the doctor’s getting a MRI on there torn shoulder with there arm in a sling.
      Ask me how I know.

      • Mark Fickler says:

        True enough Mark. Rule #1 DFYU (don’t eff yourself up)

  • […] Here are some more tips to building muscle after 50. […]

  • Nick says:

    I’m 53 & sliding into middle age. Office job, beer, sedentary lifestyle…together with the dreaded Man boobs, & stomach paunch,. not great. Getting stick from my 2 teens & my Mrs. I can’t get to a gym. Need to concentrate on basics. Good diet & basic exercise. Glad to have foundyour site!

    • Mark Fickler says:

      Nick
      Basics will do it if done consistently. You gotta hit both sides, training and eating.

  • Geoff says:

    I am 59 and getting back into training! How long do you give yourself to recover before training again?

    • Mark Fickler says:

      Going to be an individual thing but I can say that I am very sensitive to overtraining now that I’m older. If you feel gassed and it’s a training day, you’re better off resting. I lift every other day and this works for me.

    • kevin says:

      As I’ve gotten back into the gym, I am working upper body Monday and Thursday and lower body Tuesday and Friday. Only spending about an hour and 15 minutes on those nights. The biggest change that I notice now that I am 56 is that I needs those rest days more than ever. I’ve been watching my diet and have been able to lose about 15 lbs over the last 10 weeks without doing cardio (I hate cardio, always have). I’ve cut most carbs out of the diet and am keeping the protein intake up. I’ve been really happy with the results. I was afraid I wouldn’t see any muscle growth, but I’ve been surprised. I don’t expect to see a six pack again, but at least I can see my belt!

      • Mark Fickler says:

        Good stuff Kevin. Yea rest is super important at our age. Some days I just skip altogether because I’m too tired. Good carbs are fine and you need them to fuel your workouts. Refined carbs are what you want to eliminate. The six pack can return if you really want it. It’s all about body fat %. My abs start to show around 10% or less BF. That’s tough to do but possible. I don’t worry about it so much. Just try to stay consistent and DFYU (don’t fuck yourself up).

  • Ken Kint says:

    I’ve been a distance runner and triathlete for the last 20 years (I’m 56 now). I don’t have a very good diet and I’ve managed to gain 50 lbs over that period of time. I really want to regain my athletic physique and attitude ( I’ve cut back on the mileage for the last 5 years and 20 lbs) but I don’t seem to be able to control my diet which is apparently the most important thing. I’ve also managed to get promoted to a super-sedentary job. I want to spend my old age enjoying life and not battling diseases and obesity.
    Help.

    • Mark Fickler says:

      Well ya do have to get your eating right. No question. I explain the mechanics of weight loss here. As far as training, I’d trade the long runs for weight lifting. It’s a lot more effective. And I’d sprint one day a week. Just start and keep going. You can reverse all of this with consistent effort over time.

  • Darnell says:

    I’ve been wanting to get back into shape for awhile now just keep putting it off. I’m 57 yrs old at 6’0 215, where do I start. With a family history of heart issues, high blood pressure, obesity. I’ve managed to keep the weight down, but that mid section is getting out there. Are free weights a good thing to start off on.

    • Mark Fickler says:

      You start from where you are. You certainly want to get back lifting again but what you need is consistency. So make it easy to be consistent in the beginning. A home workout with just bodyweight stuff is great. Just get started and then keep it going. It all works.

  • Marty says:

    Hi, Mark,
    I’m going on 59 and have been on the weights for 40 years or so.
    I have gradually reduced my training to a Mon,Wed,Fri. split – pushing (squats, bench,pressing, tris) and pulling (deads, chins, biceps) which has dramatically improved recovery from the four day a week split I used previously. This routine is good for deads and squats but not so great for bench.
    I would love to get back to a 300 bench but I don’t think it’s possible without upping my workload, resulting in more injuries and throwing the rest of the program out. If anyone has an answer to this I would be most happy to hear it.
    There is not a lot out there for those of my age, it’s more over 40’s or 70 to 80’s and quite often for beginners not us sad old guys trying to hang on. Finding this site is a bonus.
    All the best, Marty

    • Mark Fickler says:

      Hey, Marty. Yea it’s been years since I’ve seen any 300 benching but I still dream about it. I’m actually shooting for a 2x dead and 1.5x bench this year which is about 315 and and 410. We’ll see.

  • R D Singh says:

    Dear Sir
    I am exactly 55 and do weight training regularly 6 days in a week. As far as chest workout is concerned i do 50 push ups in one shot and bench 50 kg. I am able to do 10 chin ups & 10 pull ups comfortably. I address two muscle groups twice a week. I want flat belly Pl advice. I walk around 2 km to gym and don’t do cardio with a fear of loosing muscles.
    i want your advice on diet for promoting muscle mass and for getting rid of bloating and pot belly. After work out i take 4 boiled eggs and 100 gm fresh paneer and plenty of curd and don’t take any protein supplements. Will be happy to furnish any other details. I want to start modeling for health products. I want you to to make make this possible for me. Regards. R D Singh

    • Mark Fickler says:

      If you’re trying to lose fat and you’re not accomplishing it, you’re simply eating too many calories. Even though you’re eating good food, you may be eating too much. You must create an energy deficit to lose weight. 6 days a week on the weights is a lot. You may be overtraining as well.

    • David jackson says:

      Drop the reps and go heavier. Look up 5×5 and 5 3 1 workouts. Big compound exercises burn fat long after workout and boost testosterone which will help cut.

  • Don says:

    Mark, I will be turning 55 in July. I started working out again in January and have gone from 225 to 185. I am on the treadmill 5 days a week. I lift 3 days a week only push-ups squats sit-ups curls and shoulder press. I only spend 30-35 min on my program. I have changed my diet and feel great. Ok now that I have been doing this I think I need to change my workout or it won’t help anymore.
    Any ideas??

    • Mark Fickler says:

      You’re doing great. Push, pull, hinge, squat and carry. Hit all the movements.

  • Dimitris says:

    I turned 56 this year and never felt better in my life. Walking because running is hurting my absorbers , my knees I mean. Using 25 kgs free weights, elastic bands and whenever I can find a gym in my trips. Travelling is what I do for my kind of work. I want to stress the importance of injuries. My mind and most of us over 50 I think works on 25 years mode. I think I can do it, I feel it, I try it and then off for two weeks because of injuries. Please dont do what I do. Take it easy and listen to your body when it is screaming <>

  • Cherie says:

    I just turned 56 and have decided to go back to the gym. I need strength training and weight loss. Thanks for sharing these tips.

    • Mark Fickler says:

      A good decision Cherie. Pick one goal as a focus. It’s hard to shed fat and build muscle simultaneously.

  • […] Simple Fitness for Busy Old Guys […]

  • chris buesnell says:

    yes. definatly possible. i went back to gym at 56. 3 years ago.
    i need 15lbs more to crack the 1000 pound club. i hadnt trained in 10 years. i only do the main lifts
    seriously. no jogging. i train hard 4 times a week for 1 hour. i now weigh about 210lbs. body fat 22 per cent and have added 2.5 lbs of muscle mass this year. plus i was never any great athlete. average at best. My one piece of advice. Warm up and stretch. You have to avoud injury.
    regards chris buesnell

  • Jim says:

    Great post! I am going to show this to older guys that tell me they can’t lift weights anymore because they are over 50!

  • Gary Foley says:

    You’re so right! I started at 50 never was overweight, always slim, but never any definition. Now 55, I feel and look better than I was at 30. The secret is how you describe; take it easy and work up to your maximum. Listen to your body and the diet is more important than ever at my age. I work out in the evenings in my converted garage just for recreational purposes; thinking I was stupid as this was not what 50 year olds did. I’ll never be Schwarzenegger; but coming across your website has given me more enthusiasm and purpose with my weight training.

    • Mark Fickler says:

      Good stuff Gary. I don’t know where we ever got the idea that you’re supposed to fall apart as you age. Just ain’t so.

  • David Jackson says:

    Some great points here. most of all be confident. start carefully and be consistant.

    I am 55 in 5 months and have trained 4 or 5 times per week for the last 2 years. totally clean using whey and creatine. my numbers:

    Rack pull 280KG
    Deadlift 210 KG
    Squat 175KG
    Bench 135KG

    never been stronger and joints all good apart from injuries years ago as a youngster: fully ruptured left bicep; fully ruptured left ACL; repaired ruptured right bicep.

    JFDI

  • Helen says:

    Usually training advice for over 50s is lame and vomit inducing ESPECIALLY WHEN ITS FOR WOMEN!!! This article is very good as it encourages big compound movements and pull ups without excessive and uneccasary cardio. I m a woman over a certain age and I train for powerlifting. Few years ago when I started I was a typical middle aged train wreck, very weak, tired, sore back, slumped posture and two spare tyres around my middle, now I m in the best shape of my life and stronger than I have ever been. Powerlifting is the best thing that I ever did, plan to compete one day.

    • Janw says:

      funny, i just started training again at 55.. taking it slow.. i can do stationary lunges, shoulder presses, pushups, use an 18 lb bar at moment. lots of different things instead of hours on treadmill

      • Mark Fickler says:

        Helen, good effort. Just keep going. Add some pulling work, hip hinge movement and Farmer’s Walks when you can. That’s all you need.

  • I am 58 year old male. I had both hips replaced 4 years ago. I did about 3-4 months pool exercises and swimming to regenerate wasted muscles and push up my cardio . I spent the next 2 to 2 1/2 years doing mostly leg work….squats , curls etc. I now work out the whole body 2 times a week…3 days in between for recuperation and am finding a reduction in my body fat (pleasant surprise !)..no surprise now I have read a few articles on 50’s plus training benefits …coupled with an increase in strength & muscle mass…I intend to continue till hopefully I regain my 6 pack !

    Thanks for the info & tips

    John L

  • Andrew says:

    I 55 male and I started weight lifting a month ago and my arms look amazing now, I’m single and went to the store and was looked at by younger women there. I guess I looked much younger with a larger upper body.. I feel much better too I noticed an increase in testosterone as I am feeling the way I felt the n my 30’s… Must keep this sensation going..l thanks

    • Jeff says:

      I’m 54 and work out every other day. I believe it probably took you longer than a month to have amazing looking arms.

      • Ray says:

        I’m 56 and have had surgeries over the years. Three shoulder, right knee and right hip and been back lifting weights for eight months and feel way better but very little muscle gain. Just now trying to move up a little heavier on weights to see if I can gain some muscle. I lift every other day and do cardio on my days off from lifting. The hardest thing in the world to me is a clean diet.

      • Mark Fickler says:

        Eating right is everybody’s #1 problem. I’ve got a step by step program to make the transition

  • Joseph wyatt says:

    Thanks for the info

  • Norman McDonald says:

    I’m 54 I used to be in really good shape and then I had an organ transplant lost a lot of weight lost a lot of muscle mass and I want that back

  • venkateswarlu. says:

    Now I have got a great relief from these information,thank you very much,I crossed above 55.

  • Lu says:

    Hi Mark,
    Is it ok to have isolated whey protein after workouts? I’m 55 and I had heart condition in the past. I ‘m motivated to start doing some weight lifting. I’m skinny but I have a belly :/ so I would like to see my abs some day and grow some muscle. Please advise

    • Mark Fickler says:

      Lu, whey protein gets digested quickly so it works but is often wasted too. Your body can take protein at a certain rate and quite often the fast digesting whey movs through your system before it can be all used. I used to use it but don’t any more. I just try to eat protein pretty soon after training.

  • Eddie says:

    Good article. I’m 58, and “I don’t think I’m 58”. My fears are from past injuries. Light back injury, light hernia, light left knee. Lots of “lights”, but when I work out, they do seem to come back to visit.

    and how to start. The patience to start slow. Will take a look at some of this. Well, START some of this… Thanks for the info!

    • Mark Fickler says:

      Start walking. Add some hills. Then add some weight (weighted vest or in a backpack or Farmer’s Walks). That’ll get you going

  • Morgan. says:

    My name is Morgan and I a 54 year old male. I have been an avid gym person from the early age of 15. A canoeist and rugby player, even competed in a few natural bodybuilding contests and loved gym so much that I even swore to myself “I love this so much, I will never give it up”, but I did. Gave it all up completely for about five years ago, due to a shoulder injury.

    Back at it now for the past six months and I am feeling great.I took it very easy a the start with the shoulder and worked around the injury. My strength is now back!
    I have put on five kilos of muscle. I am lifting nearly the same weight as I used to lift at 25. This must be “muscle memory”.
    Taking it handy though. Only going the the gym every second day for a brief and intense 30 minute workout. Anymore, just makes me tired. I am loving how my muscle hardness is back, how my frame has become more upright. My chest is back out! What a wonderful life!. It’s so worth it, to get back in the gym.

    I urge all of you, no matter what age you are, to get back in the gym and enjoy it! I think the health benefits going forward will be immense.

  • Mark says:

    Hi,really interesting comments by everyone,it’s so nice to read other people’s attitudes to weight training in there 50’s,I am 56 and all the people around me are in there late twenties or early thirties,I’ve had no bench mark as to how well I lift or if it’s actually safe health wise to lift the weights I do at my age,I bench 330 and squat 308, I’ve trained for the last 10 years and feel still in my 40’s,I train 5 days a week but after reading some comments realise I maybe overtraining,the other thing I would say is that the gym is somewhere I go for company with people of a like mind ( younger of course).i would tell all over 50’s to weight train and don’t let anyone tell you your to old.

    • Mark Fickler says:

      Mark, you’re strong as an ox man. I haven’t seen anywhere close to a 300 bench in decades. Recovery does seem to take longer as you get older. Also noticed protein needs may increase a bit with age, especially if you’re hammering the heavy iron like you.

  • betty says:

    What an encouraging article. I am a 64 year old women who weight trained religiously for 15 years then came the grand kids and I stopped for 6 years. Six months ago I looked at myself and said “I will not look like a spindly old lady, I refuse” So I started again and am feeling like myself again. I am seeing improved muscle tone, body shape and energy. Luckily I did not gain any weight during the 6 years and stayed active in other ways (chasing 3 kids under the age of 8, 40 hours a week). Taking a little longer for shaping my upper arms, but I will get there. Thank you for your article.

    • Mark Fickler says:

      Do not go gentle into that good night,
      Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
      Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

      Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
      Because their words had forked no lightning they
      Do not go gentle into that good night.

      Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
      Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
      Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

      Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
      And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
      Do not go gentle into that good night.

      Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
      Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
      Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

      And you, my father, there on the sad height,
      Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
      Do not go gentle into that good night.

  • Joe says:

    Time, and not knowing where to begin.

    • Mark Fickler says:

      Joe, you have time. We all have the same amount of time. Knowing what to do is another story. I can help you if you want. send me an email at [email protected] and I’ll send you some stuff.
      M

  • dave says:

    im 55, being training for 3 years. fittest and strongest I’ve been in my entire life. Was 85kg dad bod, slimmed down to 75kg skinny, and now weigh 91kg with abs and proud to walk around without my shirt on for the first time in my life! deadlifting 175kg, bench 120kg and squat (my weakest) 115kg. If you want it, you can do it! really strict on my diet too. believe that you can and you will. Im training 5 days a week.
    the ultimate accolade to getting strong was that 18months ago I bought the gym where i train!!!

  • Diane says:

    I’m a 57 year old female 5 foot 6 120 lbs. It’s totally possible to be fit at my age. Eat clean exercise take vitamins be healthy it’s never too late.

  • Laurie says:

    Hi Mark, thank you for the great encouraging article. I am a 64 yo female and have just discovered powerlifting and am in love!! Been muscular and fighting it all my life, finally something my physique is made for. Any tips or suggestions?
    Best regards, Laurie

  • Lawrence says:

    I am 54 and starting a workout program next week. I read about how important sleep is but I can only sleep 5-6 hours a night. I wake up early feeling rested and can not go back to sleep once I am up. Will that have a negative effect on me trying to gain muscle?

  • It’s true that you can begin weight training at any age and in most any physical condition if you maintain a persistent, disciplined, and positive attitude. Just two months after returning from a year’s stay in a various hospitals due to a devastating and horrific motocross crash, I picked back up my weight training regimen. Sure it was embarrassing, to say the least, for I had always been a lean and muscular athletic kind of guy. It’s totally hard to believe what 1-1/2 months in a coma and a year in the hospital can do to your body! Having been paralyzed on the right side of my body, not only was I was now confined to a wheel chair but also, my eyes had double vision, my brachial plexus nerve was badly damaged and I was completely unable to balance myself standing up. In short, my body was badly broken.
    I didn’t let that stop me, though. I immediately started resistance training with colored rubber bands. I will admit, it was extremely embarrassing to now only being able to work out with the lightest resistance rubber band (yellow) and needing assistance to help keep me balance and stand up. But, I’ve always been a big goal setter and now was as good a time as any to set an entire new west of goals like I never had before.
    Fast forward 16 years, I’m back looking like the athlete that I always have been and I would challenge most any man who is 10-years younger than I to make it through my exercise program. It’s true what they say about muscle memory for mine has amazingly returned back to the form that it once had.

  • Ed says:

    At 58 I am back in the gym 3 to 4 times a week. For 11 yrs u sat behind a desk operating equipment. Before that I was out in the field and needed the muscle to do my job. Now I am back out in the field where it all started doing industrial mechanical work and I need the muscle again and I am loving it .
    The big difference is doing it smarter , listening to my body . Please keep posting more on us older weight training guy’s and dolls.

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