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Building muscles after 40, faster than 20 years old

We lose, on average, ten pounds of lean muscle for every decade of adult life

If you are in your 40s or over, you probably noticed some muscle loss and diminishing strength, even if you exercise fairly regularly. Losing muscle mass is (unfortunately) a natural part of aging. Losing muscles mass brings a whole set of problems to the aging body:

  • Gaining weight especially around the abdomen area - the more muscles you have the faster your metabolism is. When losing muscles, your metabolism slows down and might cause weight gain. This extra weight will eventually lead to illness and shorter life span, but even in the short team it makes like to much less enjoyable. You have more weight to carry around so day-to-day activities like walking, climbing up stairs or a light jog get you out of breath.
  • Losing strength - muscles give you power and losing muscles mean losing strength. Do you ever feel that you are not as strong as you “used to be and you are no longer able to do things you used to do when you were younger? These are indicators of losing your strength which can be fixed, even after 40.
  • Losing stamina - Losing muscles also reduce your stamina, and might even results in making day-to-day activities hard. Losing stamina can affect your ability to perform your day-2-day activities (especially if they involved running after the kids), you enjoyment of the outdoor (like hiking) and your performance in the bedroom.
  • Reduced your sex appeal - Losing muscles makes the body look aesthetically less pleasing both in your eyes and in your partner’s eyes.

Personally, I have encountered this exact problem in my early 40’s and decided to do what is needed to solve the problem and build muscles. Being 40+ I could feel my body starting to age, some pains and niggles, and the body just not working like it was when I was 20. In addition I was getting heavier (Thank you, wife, for come “encountering” comments on the subject) and having 2 young kids meant a lot of goofing off, carrying heavy stuff and running around, where I could clearly feel that I’m not “up-to-it”. 

At that point, I decided to take thing to my own hands, did a lots of research and learning and started working out consistently – building muscles, improving my body and fixing my nutrition. After a while I discovered the joy of running, biking and after a few year completed a 4 IronMan triathlons (4 km swim, 180 km bike and 42 km run). I can clearly say today I feel better then when I was in my 20s.
 
I learned that there are 3 main elements to gaining muscles after 40, which I’m going share with you below.

1. Strength training

The most important treatment against muscle loss is strength training, which helps rebuild the muscles.
To build muscle, you should perform major multi-joint movements (e.g. squats, deadlifts, rows, chest presses, core work, and overhead press) with weights that you will not be able to complete more than 15 repetitions in a row. At the end of each set, you should feel tired and need to rest. For best results, perform two to three sets per major muscle group (legs, back, chest, arms, shoulders) at least twice a week, allowing several days between strength workouts for adequate recovery, as this is when muscle growth actually occurs.

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2. Nutrition

To enable the muscle grow, the body needs to enough dietary protein, as it provides the building blocks for muscle and stimulates its growth. The quality, quantity and distribution of protein throughout the day becomes more important as you get older. 

3. Additional supporting activities

In addition to building muscle and eating healthy, the follwing activites will help support your muscle growth:

  • Regular cardiovascular exercise such as walking, jogging or biking can also help prevent weight gain, improving your body's response to insulin and reducing inflammation, which can contribute to numerous diseases including heart disease, diabetes, cancer and Alzheimer's disease.
  • Allow for enough recovery - When you're young, your body is able to recover quickly, therefore it can handle not only longer gym sessions, but you can perform these sessions more frequently as well. Once you start getting older however, you're going to find that you can't recover as quickly and if you attempt one workout the day after another was performed, performance may really suffer.
  • Sleep Soundly - Most adults don’t get enough sleep to allow enough recovery for their body. You were not designed for the chronic stress that comes from being over-tired.

To conclude, It is absolutely possible to build muscles in your 40’s and beyond. A recent study actually revealed that this can be done in as little as 40 minutes of strength training twice per week. The rate of muscle gain was the same for young adults, middle-aged adults, and older adults.

 

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In good health,

Steve

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