When one dares to put on muscles, the usual remarks have thrown his or her way usually goes like this; “Be careful about putting on muscle, when you’re old they will start to sag”. If you’ve ever been on the receiving end of this or have even dished out a comment along those lines as well, it’s time to pay no attention to it. Muscle building is a process that is specifically engineered by people to go beyond the normal limits of muscle growth. This is done by deliberately stretching and tearing muscle fibers so that they can recover bigger. When people become older, it commonly alludes that muscle-building will start to become an uphill battle. Is there truth to this and is there an actual limit to put on muscle?
What Is Considered “Too Old”?
When comments about becoming too old to put on muscle - many don’t exactly specify an age group, but it is commonly implied that people above the age of 40 tend to face a tougher time preserving muscles. While many consider this to be a natural progression through aging, factors like family responsibilities, career, and a decrease in energy or motivation are often overlooked.
The University of Oklahoma did a muscle-building test between adults between 35 to 50 and those who were between 18 to 22 to see which age group was likely to build more muscle under the exact same training regime. Surprisingly, the muscle growth (measured by weight and strength) was almost identical, which does a lot to debunk the theory of age sabotaging muscle growth.
On the contrary, surveys from Cleveland Clinic have shown that between 40 percent to 45 percent of males have a much lower testosterone count. This is a huge leap from the previous study - proving that the slightest alterations to the body’s testosterone levels can affect one’s performance drastically. It has also been stated that the ideal age to start bodybuilding seriously is between the ages of 20 to 30 years old, so where does the truth lie?
As for many cases out there, the truth is always somewhere in the middle. Yes, it is true that the body loses more testosterone when it enters its 30s, but not because you’ve officially crossed the milestone of actually hitting that age. As mentioned, usually testosterone starts to deplete once one goes through muscle loss and unhealthy weight gain all at once. Therefore, it has often been interpreted that getting into bodybuilding is impossible in your 40s, where in reality, it was because the body has not been training throughout the years.
How Can An Older Person Build Muscle?
It’s actually not too different from the standard way of building muscles. If not genetic, classic “old person” symptoms such as joint pains, weakened muscles, and aches are all accredited to inactivity over an extended amount of time, rather than the fact one has hit a certain milestone.
By far, the most important attribute to keep the pursuit of muscle building or toning alive; dieting literally makes and breaks the results of your training and how your body will progress in the foreseeable future. Knowing how to moderate your macros like sugar, protein, and carbohydrates will fuel your body for the other 22 to 23 hours in the day that you’re not working out.
Some foods that are rich in fats like Omega-3 also help maintain high levels of testosterone, especially when you choose to take a back seat from muscle building and are moving on to toning. Understanding your calorie intake will ensure that your muscles will grow instead of your belly.
Getting Your Metabolism Running
While it is true that the body’s metabolic rate starts to slowly dwindle when one approaches his or her 30s, that doesn’t mean that your body is completely not eligible to work out. In 2017 the Canadian Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology indicated that a batch of caffeine can kick start metabolism for healthy adult males.
This would trigger ketogenesis and can change one’s metabolic rate overnight. Aside from this, regular consumption of fiber and a semi-regular cardio routine can do wonders to ensure that you will burn the maximum amount of fat as you take the steps to build muscle.
While your motivation to train may have dwindled in the past few years, committing a single year will grant results that are akin to the years in your youth if you do so properly. With joint pains and a slowed metabolism approaching as you age, being smart about the amount of weight used for a bulking session must be carefully reviewed by either you or a professional. Practicing safe techniques and ensuring that everybody part is worked to the best of their abilities is crucial. Half-baked forms and weights that are not challenging will only hamper your own ability to succeed.
Knowing How To Rest
If you are above 30, it is far from being “too late” to build muscles and even go for competition, but this kind of eagerness can often result in overtraining. Overtraining isn’t as clear-cut as simply going to the gym every day. There are times when committing to an extra half an hour doing exercises that cover the same exact muscles as your previous exercise puts your body under an unnecessary strain.
Your muscles should be worked into exhaustion, and focusing on an already exhausted muscle group will not change how much mass is grown during your rest phase. Additionally, resting is the time when your body can take the nutrients your food has provided and use those as fuel to enable your body to recover faster. Progress comes from picking your battles, and sometimes, you’ve won by simply taking the day off after an intense workout.