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It’s a sad fact of life that retaining and building muscle mass as we age becomes increasingly challenging. As early as our mid-thirties, sarcopenia (age-related muscle loss) becomes familiar, so to maintain our overall health, we must focus on maintaining muscle mass as much as possible.
Losing muscle mass means losing a certain quality of life and an increased risk of injury.
“Use it or lose it,” as the phrase goes, we need to keep on top of it, or it’ll be harder to get it back.
When we lose muscle, we lose strength, and it can also cause an increase in our body fat. It can affect our balance, mobility, joint stiffness, and even a reduction in stature.
So, is it possible to build muscle as you age?
And if so how can you do it?
Why does muscle building get harder after 40?
Muscle building after 40 can be challenging. Scientists believe we lose around 3% of our hormonal production from about the age of 30. This equates to around a pound of muscle per year.
With less testosterone and growth hormone in our body, we fight the aging process to maintain our physique and overall health. Muscle mass and bone density decrease is a natural occurrence as we age, and it accelerates further once we reach 60. This means it becomes harder to gain muscle.
The effect of muscle loss through aging is different for men and women. With men, there will be less testosterone production which tends to impact things like mood, muscle size, and libido.
Muscle loss for women will happen in conjunction with the change in hormones, there is less testosterone production, and it tends to be used less efficiently due to there being less estrogen.
But can you stop this?
How to increase muscle as you age…
Although we can’t reverse the ageing process, there are ways to help limit muscle loss, and make it easier to improve muscle building. Working on these two together will help you increase muscle as you age.
The three main things to consider are:
So let’s look into these some more.
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What you eat has a huge impact on the muscle you build. Not only does it help fule you body, and recovery, but it can help improve testosterone levels which will impact muscle levels.
Some of the best foods to eat are:
Regarding packing in protein, meat is an excellent place to start, assuming you’re not a vegan or vegetarian.
With around 7 grams of protein per ounce, you’ll get a decent amount of the “building blocks” you’ll need to set yourself up for muscle growth and retention.
Again it comes down to the protein content, and it doesn’t come much more power-packed than eggs. They can easily be added to a healthy diet and are versatile, as you can serve them in many ways. A large egg provides 6 grams of protein.
3. Milk, cheese and dairy products
When it comes to packing in protein and calcium for bone strength doesn’t get much better than milk. Milk is an excellent choice to accompany dinner if you’re hydrating yourself well enough during the day with water. Milk is the perfect addition to protein shakes too, so it shouldn’t be forgotten when choosing the correct diet.
Cheese is also one for the short-list, whether adding it to an omelet or sprinkling it on top of your steak. Cottage cheese is the forgotten hero of protein boosts, and it packs in around 15g of protein per serving.
Nuts are packed with healthy fats and protein, whether taken as a snack or as part of a main course. They should be the go-to snack whenever you feel that you can’t quite make it until the next meal.
5. Oily Fish
Oily fish contains plenty of protein and provides great heart health benefits thanks to its omega-3 fatty acid content.
Great choices include salmon, tuna and mackerel, and oily fish with a side portion of veg is undoubtedly one of the healthiest meal choices.
6. Protein Powders
Protein powders are highly versatile and should be kept handy when the opportunity arises to boost your snacks and meals. Being creative by adding protein powder as part of a meal or snack is the perfect way to ensure you’re taking in an adequate amount of amino acids. Protein powder can easily be added to shakes, oatmeal or stirred with milk to boost your protein intake.
It’s not all about the protein; fiber is excellent, too, and beans provide a decent supply of both. Fiber is great for gut health, and as you consume more nutrients to prevent your muscles from getting weaker, having your digestive system in great shape is a must. They are perfect for adding to soups, casseroles or salads.
Strength exercises are essential if you want to maintain and build muscle mass, especially as you age. Two key areas of exercise are essential for maintaining muscle strength as you get older. Both will work critical areas of your body to maintain mobility and build strength. A good training routine is essential.
1. Resistance and Strength Training
Weight training, pulling against resistance bands, and using free weights or weight machines are all great forms of resistance training that will help maintain your core strength and muscle mass. If you're new to it, start with light weights and increase gradually.
Resistance exercise causes tension in your muscle fibers, resulting in growth signals that increase strength. It’s an excellent way to remind your body that you haven’t given up!
Yes, your body may change as you age, but there’s still work to be done, and you have no intention of giving up your physique. Sending this message to your body through resistance training will mean it will continue to respond and work for you.
For example, a recent study of 57 adults aged 65–94 showed that performing resistance exercises three times per week increased muscle strength over 12 weeks. The study included a routine of leg presses and extending the knees against resistance on a weight machine. Keep doing what you’re doing, and let your body know that age is just a number.
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Aerobic exercise is designed to raise your heart rate, and heart health is essential in controlling sarcopenia.
A recent study looked at how five days a week of aerobic exercise alone affected individuals over the age of 50. It found that muscle mass increased over some time, even when starting with as low as 15 minutes of cardio per day.
Whether you are walking, running, or cycling, the right amount of cardio performed regularly will not only help to maintain muscle mass, it will also have the potential to increase it too.
Even those doing low-cardio workouts have seen the benefit. A study of 879 adults over 60 found that regular walkers were less likely to have sarcopenia.
As we age, supplements become pat of a healthy balanced diet. They can help improve aspects of your diet and routine in order to help you mitigate the symptoms of ageing.
CrazyBulk offers a range of supplements to help boost testosterone levels and increase muscle mass, even as you age.
Need help building muscle?
It’s clear that with the proper diet, plenty of protein and the correct exercise, the age clock can be reversed. The right diet and exercise is the most effective way to reverse sarcopenia. A decent training program which includes performing resistance training and cardio are key areas to focus on to maintain and increase muscle mass and strength. Train hard, but sensibly.
But if you’re struggling then you can also turn to supplements, which will give your body the extra push it needs to build muscle and increase testosterone.
Check out Crazybulk’s range of 100% legal steroid alternatives and hardcore bodybuilding supplements for bulking, cutting and strength.