No, no, no! I simply won’t hear any of it; you are NEVER too old to begin bodybuilding.
True, getting a chiselled and flawless physique may (yes, may), be extremely challenging, if not impossible for a person of advancing years, but, I’m certain as a matter of fact can guarantee you that you can be in 99% better shape than you are now… which is a huge achievement anyone should be proud of, especially a senior, right?
Arnold Schwarzenegger once remarked that, whenever he is asked if a person is too old to begin weight training, he replies: “You are too old not to.” Arnold is seldom wrong, and, this once again proves his wisdom.
Health and physical ability is often taken for granted, but, as a person gets older, good health is at a premium. You don’t have to deteriorate physically just because of ‘old age’, and, you can do something about it – no matter how far ‘gone’ you think you are.
Why Staying Active is Important
Whether your deepest desire is an impressive physique, or, just to be stronger and more able bodied, it’s all obtainable. You just have to know what to do. I promise you, by taking action on this, within a short time you’ll feel better, and look better than you have done in years. It truly is like turning the clock back.
As we age, our muscle mass starts to decrease at a rapid rate, unless you do at least a moderate level of weight resistance training. According to a study at UCLA center for human nutrition an average male can lose over 10 lbs of weight over a decade during the start of their senior years.
Another study by David Heber in 2012, shows that Sarcopenia, a multifactorial ag-related condition associated with weight loss due to sedentary lifestyle affects individuals over the age of 65 years. This loss of muscle mass and coincident increases in fast mass could be reduced through regular resistance exercise combined with adequate protein intake will help maintain muscle mass.
Look around the gym. More and more seniors are exercising these days. They are beginning to realize the importance of keeping an active lifestyle, especially the positive impact weight training and aerobic activity to their health.
Sooner we start on activity based program, faster you will see the benefits and results.
Before You Start
The first thing I would suggest for a senior is to get a complete physical and medical clearance from your doctor. This is more important if you have any sort of recurring or longer term existing medical issues.
Next find a place to exercise. In my opinion the most important factor is that the gym you select should be closer to you. Do not worry if it is a smaller no frills gym. Going to a gym regularly is more important than being member of a big national chain. Do make sure that they have a free weight training area as well as space for cardio.
When starting out, hiring a trainer to get you started is very helpful. They can help you monitor your form and provide directions on avoiding common situations that may cause personal injury.
Right, let’s get to it.
Bodybuilding is no joke. It’s a serious business that takes dedication, persistence, smarts, and above all else – a guideline for safe training.
You are not 20 anymore. And that’s not to be disrespectful to you in any way; it’s simply a fact which has to be faced. So, don’t expect to be able to win Mr. Olympia, and, don’t expect to be able to compete with people many years your junior in the strength and physique stakes. Remember: you are doing this for yourself, your own physical well being; it’s not an ego contest. (Leave that, and the injuries that result from such trivial endeavors for the young hot heads.)
Beyond that, bodybuilding as a senior is absolutely no different to doing it at any other age. You train, carefully and safely, using progressive amounts of weight (or endurance) over time, you increase your calorie intake to allow your muscles to grow, and, you rest.
Not that I’m assuming you to be a wreck of a human because you are a senior, hell, you may even be in good shape already. But, I will say, there are no excuses. If you have no legs, you can still work on your upper body. If you have no upper body, you can work on your legs… (Ok, that was a joke… but you get the picture, right?)
It’s just about doing what you can, and pushing yourself – but once again, only push yourself to what you feel you can do. Don’t expect or strive for huge increases instantly, you should take it easy and light, become acclimatized to it like anybody else, and aim for slow but steady improvements in strength.
For a senior, I would recommend doing 7 – 15 repetitions per body part, on any exercise, using a weight which you can comfortably handle, yet, which still challenges you. Each exercise should be done for 3 sets, once or twice a week, with a rest day in between. (Oh yeah, expect to ache like crazy the first few times; it’s only natural, and, even the youngest feel it, believe me.) Each training session should also last around 30 minutes to 1 hour.
It does not matter if you use a lot of machines. Do not listen to people telling you that free weights is the only way to go, it is not. The main this is doing resistance training and that can be achieved with using exercise machines as well.
Benefits of Weight Training
I have to say, the benefits of bodybuilding for seniors are immense. While many may advocate you should take it easier during your advancing years, I disagree completely. I think – within sensible reason – pushing yourself and making a concerted effort to maintain, or even improve your physical condition has far more benefits than downfalls.
One such benefit is clear to see: studies have been done which confirm light-to-moderate bodybuilding exercises can help people overcome the crippling effects of arthritis. This happens because as the muscles get stronger, they support the bones, joints and cartilage. Plus, when bones are put under stress, they too strengthen and grow. It’s win-win.
People who suffer from high blood pressure and those who can easily get out of breath will benefit immensely from weight training. As they continue improving their bodies they will see the effects not only on the outside with improved muscle tone and skin but also internally. Negative effects of many age related diseases are alleviate through an active lifestyle.
Depending upon your goals, be it just general fitness and added strength, or, you truly do want to attain a big, muscular physique; there are articles on this website which will be able to help you in the right direction.
Note: University of Michigan research published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise show that among adults over the age of 50, muscle mass increase by an average of nearly 2.5 pounds in only five months.
Important to note that after exercising remember to eat well, especially foods rich in proteins. This is critical to the repairing and building of muscle fiber. Calorie rich foods like pistachos, walnuts and almonds help with healthy proteins from chicken, fish, soy or beans. You can also complement with pre-made protein shakes if those work out better for you.
I have articles on diet, and full-blown training plans, so take a look around.
Nutrition and Supplements
As you age your body as well as diet changes. Starting weight lifting and aerobics tend to take your body to its limits. To reduce the effects of aging I recommend that you take supplements to enhance such assuch as, fish oil, multivitamins, and protein powder. These supplements will not only protect your body from aging but, will increase your general well being and health.
In addition to these you can also try Testosterone boosting supplements and others which contain Ginseng, Maca Root, Tongkat Ali. These tend to help you naturally increase your testosterone and provide you with energy throughout the day.
Note: If you are on prescription medication or have existing health conditions please discuss with your physician before taking any supplements.
You can find these supplements online for a much cheaper price then you can at your local bodybuilding or health store!
And, don’t forget – have a go, you have everything to gain.