I’m sure you’ve heard it said already that building muscle mass for seniors can be tough. But, don’t give up. In fact, it’s tough for anyone a few years past their teenage years, so we’re all in the same boat, more or less.
There are several things you can do to maximize your muscle gains, even if you are past retirement age, these tips will really help to make sure you aren’t wasting any of your efforts and gaining muscle at the fastest rate you can.
Before You Start
Before beginning any training session, it is important that you perform some type of stretching activity as a warm-up. This will reduce the risk of muscle strain and injury. Stretching exercises also improve flexibility, a core concern of exercise programs for older adults. Remember not to “bounce” or stretch too far, as this will only aggravate the muscles.
After stretching is complete your next step should be some type of cardiovascular (aerobic) activity, the actual type of exercise isn’t the most important thing, but rather the intensity level.
What I mean by that is your intensity should hard enough to raise your heart rate and break a sweat. You should monitor your heart rate to ensure that the body is not being stimulated so intensely to risk overexertion. [There are mobile heart beat monitors which monitor your calorie count as wells as your heart rate].
The options for cardiovascular activities are virtually limitless. What matters is you do whatever you enjoy most. Listed below are a few options for older adults:
- Aquatic aerobic
- Biking [stationery or outside]
- Rowing machines
- Step aerobics
I am also putting a video below to show example of aerobic workout.
Once you are done with stretching you are ready for start working with weights and resistance machines. Goal of stretching is to ensuring that your joints and muscles are moving comfortably can avoid injury, and getting muscles warm before exercise leaves one less susceptible to strains. Weight training should be performed at least twice per week, in sessions lasting between 20 and 45 minutes, when you are starting out. You can do add additional days as you progress.
Try to perform at least one to two exercises should be performed for each of the major muscle groups:
Note: For each exercise, two sets of 8-10 repetitions should be sufficient.
For building core strength there is nothing that beasts a push-up (well maybe a dead lift). The benefits of doing push ups is that it does not require any machine or membership to a gym. You can do this exercise whenever and wherever you want.
I have noticed that some people have problems in doing push ups correctly when they have their hands on the floor. Personally, if I do it with my hand at right angle to my arm then I get pains in my wrist joints. I will highly suggest you getting some type of a push up grips. I use these daily and they are worth their weight in gold.
As you get older, the body gets ever-better at storing fat. You need to avoid this by eating just enough to provide muscle growth, but not enough to begin packing on a lot of fat. Be diligent by regularly monitoring your body fat levels with callipers.
The foods you should eat are the same as any other bodybuilder – the best foods; whole foods. That’s eggs, beef, milk, cheese, fish, pasta, potatoes, rice, etc.
As for the ratio of macronutrients (protein, carbs and fats) which make up your diet, I recommend a diet in high fats, so maybe 40% Protein, 30% Carbs and 30% fats.
Testosterone production also decreases dramatically as we age, which is why high dietary (including saturated) fats are imperative, because they boost testosterone production. And, you can’t build muscle without testosterone. (This is why natural women bodybuilders have such little muscle mass compared to natural men bodybuilders – they lack testosterone.)
Checkout our recommended Testosterone Booster.
Rest for any bodybuilder is very important, but for an older person, it’s critical. Like it or not, your body can’t repair as quickly as it once could. On the days you aren’t training, rest. Avoid sports, stress, and chasing around. Ideally, you’ll sit on your butt watching television! (Or even more ideally, reading up on bodybuilding!)
The last thing you want to do is begin burning up calories you need to build muscle by doing extra physical activities, and you certainly don’t want to break down the muscles that are already struggling to repair and grow. It’s easy to over-train when you are a bodybuilder, let alone a senior bodybuilder!
If you have done all the resting you feel you can, and you feel your progress is becoming stagnant, try eating more food, and if that fails, try scaling down your overall training volume slightly, and maybe changing a few exercises around.