You know how back when you were a kid, the term “well-built” was given to those who were fit and muscular?
Throughout history, those who had a healthy amount of muscle mass have been generally considered, well — healthy.
Turns out the science is likely on the well-built side of the coin. A Harvard study concluded that declining muscle adds to aging.
But if you’ve lived your life overweight, underweight or in between and find yourself in less-than-stellar shape in your 50s, it’s not too late to build a little muscle.
This short guide will give you the tips to get going.
Important: Remember to check with your physician before beginning any exercise routine and it’s probably a good idea to consult with a trainer.
3 Steps Gaining Muscle Mass in Your 50s
1. Check Your Diet
What you eat is going to play the major role in your success. Lifting weights and exercising will tear muscles.
And without the proper building blocks, in the form of protein and amino acids, there’s really nothing to repair those tears.
Bottom line — no food, no gains.
There are an infinite amount of muscle diets in the world, but a two key elements include:
- Protein: Chicken, steak and the like contain amino acid profiles necessary to ramp up muscle production and repair damage from your exercise routines.
- Fuel: Bodies run off of either glucose or ketones. Simply put, glucose means carbs ketosis means fat.
2. Start Lifting (Slowly)
Like, really slowly.
If you can only do 5 minutes, one set with low weight or something else, it doesn’t matter.
Just go back the next day and do it again.
Over time, push yourself a little more each day/week/month and you’ll see some significant improvement.
3 Tips for beginner weight training:
- Find a comfortable weight for reps (like 2-3 sets of 10)
- Raise the weight by small increments over the course of days/weeks
- Change up exercises to work out different parts of the body, including legs
Some of the improvements will be in your strength and others will be visible.
Further reading: Men’s health put together a great training plan for men over 50.
3. Get Enough Rest
It may sound like the actual weight lifting does the majority of the work, but that’s not true.
As covered, the right food is just as important and working out.
And sleep is another key component of achieving gains — and health in general.
Getting a consistent amount of sleep, each and every day, doesn’t just help build muscle. In fact, getting too little sleep actually means your muscle mass will decrease faster!
Tips for getting better sleep:
- Pick a bedtime and stick to it 7 days a week. Eventually your body will fall in line.
- Get a routine when you first wake up and about an hour before bed.
- Don’t drink coffee past noon and stop staring at a screen 3 hours before bed.
Further reading: Here’s a comprehensive list of 17 different tips (backed by science) to help you get a better night’s sleep.
Check Your Progress and Adjust Over Time
The trifecta of eating right, consistent workouts and proper rest are integral parts of building muscle mass in your 50s.
If you’re not doing any of those things, it’s going to be hard.
And even if you start them, it’s not a sure thing you’ll keep it going.
For that, you need goals and milestones to keep you motivated. Like, the ability to bench press 15 more pounds at the end of a month. 5 pull ups instead of zero. Or actually finish a full workout you read online.
All of these things should not only be tracked, but celebrated when you achieve them. You see success and keep going.