Muscle Building for men over 50 possible?
Yes, muscle building is still possible after 50 if you have the determination and perseverance.
Actually, adding lean muscle mass on your body at this stage of your life is extremely beneficial. Besides looking younger, stronger muscles help you to maintain an active lifestyle in your latter years.
Why muscle growth is slower for older men?
Gaining muscle mass for men is challenging as we grow older. We all know muscle needs testosterone to grow. As we age:
- Testosterone level drops drastically, slowing down muscle hypertrophy.
- Endocrine system loses its ability to produce growth hormones for metabolic functions in our body.
- Anabolic hormones such as growth hormones, growth factors, testosterone and insulin that helps to stimulate muscle growth are greatly affected.
- Anabolic hormonal serum concentration is reduced even at resting values.
- Decline serum levels of Insulin-like Growth Factors (IGF). IGF-I is an important physiological regulator for muscle development.
The only way to slow down aging is to start exercising. Weights training is one of the best exercises for older men to increase their natural anabolic hormones in the body.
At some point after 40s, our human body starts to lose muscle mass and strength due to aging (sarcopenia).
Inactive sedentary people can lose up to 5% of their total muscle mass every 10 years after 30 years of age. Losing up to 30% of muscle strength is common among men reaching 60.
Real life example of a 57 years old man, Chris Chew from Singapore.
Don’t be shocked. Yes, that’s the photo of my good friend Chris Chew, 53 years old when the photo was taken.
Today, he is 57 years old and still going strong.
Chris Chew started fitness training during his mid 40s. Being overweight since young, he was never a fitness guy to start with. Yes, he started very late. But that doesn’t stop him from achieving his dream body shape.
At 50 years old, he decided to do something for himself and make greater changes.
He started lifting weights seriously.
Today, i am going to share how he is able to achieve a body that many men desired for.
Chris Chew is the director of an established chain of food and beverage companies in Singapore such as I’m Kim Korean Bbq, Gorogoro and I’m Kim Jr. He is also the health and fitness consultant for Mister Singapore and Mister International Pageants.
Chris spend most of his time managing his food business and works out thrice a week in the gym. He also loves spending time with his family.
So how can he still have the time to work on his body with such a busy lifestyle?
Let’s hear what he says:
“Age is just a number. Its the mentality on how you look at things. Youth has got nothing to do with age, its all about your mindset”
“I was looking at myself in the mirror on my 50th birthday. I needed a change. Maybe it was mid life crisis. You just have to step out of your comfort zone and start lifting heavier.”
“The only time when you fail, is the moment when you stop training”
Muscle building tricks after 50 years old.
Here is what i wrote down, according to Chris Chew’s fitness journey (some points can be quite interesting).
- First, believe that muscle growth is possible at any age. Do not even start if you don’t believe in yourself.
- Manage your stress. Set aside some time each day for exercise. 15 min will do . Start with the 2 basic exercises, push-ups and sit-ups. Forget about going to the gym if you can’t start with these 2 basic stuffs.
- Eat well. If you continue to eat crap, you will be fat. Choose your food wisely and cut down on most sugars. Chris went on countless diet plans including a hardcore crash diet. He ended up with one that suits him eventually. A low carb high protein diet plan. You need to experiment with food and monitor the changes. There is no magic diet!
- Drink lots of plain water. Avoid all sweet drinks and beverages and replace it with normal water. Water makes you feel full too, hence reducing your appetite.
- Increase your protein intake after every weights session.
- Quality sleep. Muscle grows when you are in your sleep.
- Lift weights you can manage. At our golden age (50s), our testosterone levels are dropping naturally. Longer time is needed for strength increase unless you are on some kind of steroids which is not advisable.
- Lower your ego in the gym. Why compete with the younger guys that lift heavier than you? Remember, you are trying to sculpt your body, not joining any Strongman competition.
- Keep your weights training program simple. You don’t need lots of funky ideas to gain muscles. Our bodies are already in an aging process, why do the impossible stuffs?
- Be realistic. Do whats best for you. If you can’t squat 100kg, then don’t. Getting injured is the last thing you want.
- Think young. Old starts in your brain, not body.
- Start acting like a young man. Yes, this very powerful. You feel tired because you are feeling old or acting old? You are not old unless your brain tells u.
- Focus on form and technique. Stay away from heavy single rep lifting that might break your back. Avoid jerking and swinging when you lift.
- Train your legs. I will repeat this 100 times. Do not skip leg day!
- Work your core muscles.
- Do mainly compound exercises. Eg, Do chin ups instead of bicep curls if you want big arms. Compound exercises hits bigger muscle groups that helps to boost testosterone level!
- Don’t take advice from guys who are already in a bad shape. That will only lower your self-esteem.
- Start conversation with fitness people.
- Get a Personal Trainer to kick your ass if needed.
How heavy should older men lift?
“For muscles to grow at older age, we need to start lifting heavier weights with stronger resistance. But makes no mistakes.” says Chris Chew.
The term “heavy” is relative. According to Chris, heavy lifting is something that you can manage for around 3-6 reps with good form. Never follow what others can manage.
Importance of heavy eccentric loading during weights training.
Chris Chew also emphasize the importance of loading (lifting heavier) to optimize muscle growth. He started off doing bodyweight exercises such as push ups and squats, which comes to a plateau in muscle strength and growth.
He also tried using light elastic bands/cords for training but they were unable to produce the same results as compared with heavier free weights.
He further commented that we need to constantly overload our muscles during the eccentric movement of an exercise. Focus on eccentric loading in a slow and controlled movement (lowering the weights slowly).
“Eccentric muscle loading is more important than concentric loading. Mix it up with some isometric muscle exercises!”
Do not get injured!
Injuries from lifting have a great impact on the body, especially when you are older.
As we get older, our injuries need longer recovery time. So never let it affects you emotionally and mentally. Many veteran lifters end up quitting after having a bad injury. Most common ones are shoulder pain, lower back pain and knee pain.
“Once you hurt your joint, its never a 100% recovery” says Chris Chew.
We can only live with it and try your best to avoid the pain. Go through proper Exercise Rehabilitation if you have injuries.
If doing heavy shoulder press hurts your shoulders, then don’t do it. Replace it with another exercise instead. Side shoulder raises?
As one ages, care must be taken to reduce potential injuries while training.
Be patient with muscle recovery. Give yourself a bit more time. Don’t give up.
Why older men should lift weights.
- Helps to boost natural male hormones. Increase in testosterone level.
- Increases metabolism rate.
- Helps in fat loss.
- Increases muscle strength.
- Increases bone mass and bone density.
- Stronger joints. Slows down the degeneration of joint.
- Prevents arthritis (inflammation of your joints).
- Prevents osteoarthritis, a joint disease that breaks down joint cartilage.
- Helps to lower blood pressure.
- Reduces the risk of heart diseases.
- Improves libido (due to the surge in testosterone).
- Reduces bad cholesterol.
- Increases vitality. You will feel more energetic.
- Improves functional abilities.
- Slows down aging.
- Improve life expectancy.
- Makes you look and feel younger.
- Improves quality of life.
“Train smart, not hard” Its never too late to start training!
There’s no specific age to start weights training. But it is advisable to consult a doctor before embarking on a fitness training program for men over 50. Its best to do an overall body health screening to detect any health conditions first before you start.
Stop thinking like an 80 year old man and start lifting. There are too many health benefits you can get besides looking younger.
I have to repeat Chris Chew’s favourite quote again –
“The only time when you fail, is the moment when you stop doing.”
Take this piece of advice in whatever we do, i am very sure it will get us somewhere.