November just ended, which means it was the end of Movember. Movember is a recognition of men’s health and issues especially relevant to men’s health. While Movember may have come to an end, it’s important for men to consistently understand their health and seek medical advice when they need it.
For men over 50, there can be more health challenges that occur as a result of natural changes such as reduced testosterone. When you age, it can be more difficult to build lean muscle mass, yet it’s important for men to work toward maintaining and building muscle mass as they get older.
Muscle mass plays an integral part in all areas of our health. When you have lean muscle mass, it helps you burn energy and fat even when you’re at rest.
This can help you keep weight off your midsection, which is linked to many adverse health outcomes. It can promote improvements in your mental health, and keep you at a peak level of functionality.
When you’re over the age of 50 you may be more likely to experience something called sarcopenia. Sarcopenia is muscle wasting and it occurs as your body moves from the promotion of muscle growth to its inhibition. Muscle wasting may not happen to everyone, but it is linked to serious negative health effects, including depression, dementia, osteoporosis, and diabetes.
It is possible to fight sarcopenia and just general muscle loss that occurs as you age.
While muscle mass is important at any age, you may wonder how you can work on building it if you are over 50, and there are more challenges.
The following are muscle-building and health tips for men who are 50 and older.
Start Slow with Strength Training
If you’re not used to strength training, you will have to do it to gain muscle. Strength training helps build connections between your nerves and muscle cells, and it also boosts how your body responds to the protein you consume.
You need to work out at an intensity that’s high enough to see benefits, but you don’t want to push it so much in the beginning that you injure yourself.
The sweet spot is usually choosing a weight that you can’t perform more than 10 or 15 times consecutively.
When you finish a set, you should feel the need to rest.
Aim for two to three sets per major muscle group at least twice a week and give yourself a few days between workouts so you can recover, and your muscles can actually grow. When you’re older, you need more recovery time between workouts than you did when you were younger, so keep that in mind.
If you try to workout too close to your previous session, it can negatively impact your performance and results.
Overtraining can cause injuries that ultimately lead to muscle loss.
If you’re a complete beginner, you might want to start with machines to do your weight training because they help you keep the proper form.
Incorporate Metabolic Training
Metabolic training is key for muscle growth, particularly when you’re over the age of 40. Metabolic training relies on the use of lighter weights but doing more reps. Try to switch up your workouts so that you are doing some metabolic training as well as heavy lifting.
Another fitness tip is to avoid long, steady-state cardio. You should do what’s called sparing cardio instead, which are exercises that give your heart rate a boost but don’t put too much stress on your joints.
Rely on Double-Joint Moves
When you’re older, multi-joint moves should be a core component of your training plan. This means that you’re activating multiple muscle groups. This is compared to a single-joint exercise, like a leg extension, where only your quadriceps are engaged.
Regardless of your age, training with multi-joint exercises tends to boost gains in physical performance more than single-joint exercises.
Watch Your Nutrition
When you’re younger, you might be able to eat pretty much what you want and still gain muscle, but that might not be the case as you’re in your 40s, 50s, and beyond.
Your diet should include plenty of healthy fats and sources of lean protein. Aim to have a serving of vegetables with every meal, and be careful with carbs.
You do need carbs for energy, but you should opt for ones that digest slowly, such as whole grains and sweet potatoes.
You should think about how many calories you’re consuming versus what the needs are for your weight, but you want those calories to be nutrient-dense.