Over 50? Here’s How To Build Muscle

By Lisa Cianci, Editorial Contributor

As we age, our bodies lose muscle mass, which can affect our mobility. The good news is that muscle loss can be slowed — and even reversed — by diet and exercise.

Maintaining strong muscle mass builds strength, preserves bone density and can keep you physically independent as you grow older. It also may cut your osteoporosis risk, improve sleep and reduce depression, says Ryan Coleman, a certified strength and conditioning specialist with the Orlando Health National Training Center.

Exercises Helps Rebuild Muscle

The goal of strength training is to set your body’s natural muscle-building response in motion. Each time you stress a muscle to the point of working it, your muscle adapts to the damage and builds itself up.

Work out three to four times a week, giving your muscles time in between to repair themselves, Coleman says. Focusing on different muscle groups and getting plenty of rest helps, too. Start by using lower weights and doing eight to 12 repetitions in two to three sets. As the workout becomes easier, increase the resistance — by using heavier weights, for example.

Tools To Get You Started

  • Free weights — Kettlebells, barbells.
  • Resistance bands — Large rubber bands (looped or straight) with handles at the end.
  • Suspension equipment — Straps, rings or ropes.
  • Body weight — Use your own body weight to provide resistance (planks, pushups).

Diet Makes a Difference, Too

Experts recommend eating a variety of low-fat, unprocessed proteins once you start muscle resistance training so your body won’t slip into negative muscle protein synthesis, which can lower muscle functionality and lead to atrophy.

Ready to get started? Talk to your trainer, who will consider your health history when designing a workout and nutrition plan. And always get a doctor’s approval before beginning an exercise routine.


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