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The Age When It’s Hard to Build Muscle (and How to Overcome It)

As we age, processes that we take for granted become much harder to maintain; muscle building is a prime example. What age should you start worrying about that hard-earned muscle mass? In your 30s? Your 70s? Let’s take a look at why it’s so hard to build muscle later in life, and the age where you need to step up your game.

Why Is It Hard to Build Muscle When You’re Older?

Hormone Health: From waking you up to digesting your food, hormones play a key role in nearly all processes in the human body. As you age, your hormones begin to slow down in performance and production. For men, this means less testosterone, one of the foundational growth hormones for muscle. For women, insulin and estrogen begin to decrease, resulting in weight gain and muscle loss.

Declining Metabolism: Continuing with the point above, it’s not just your hormones that take a hit; your metabolism or your ability to build muscle and burn fat begins to naturally slow down.

More Prone to Injury: Think of your body like a car: over time, the nuts and bolts that hold it together – your connective tissue and bones – become more susceptible to breaking down. One injury can keep you out of the gym for months, promoting a vicious cycle of muscle loss and fat gain.

Watch Out for this Age:

So, when do you really need to start keeping an eye on your muscle mass? Thanks to advancements in fitness and nutrition science, you don’t have to start worrying about your ability to build muscle until your 50s.

The catch is that you must maintain a healthy diet plan and comprehensive exercise program that focuses on muscle hypertrophy. As long as you keep up this muscle-focused, healthy lifestyle, you’ll continue to see progress for years to come.

Need proof? Take Expendables star, Sylvester Stallone, who is more built and defined in his 70s than most guys in their 20s. And then you have Sandra Bullock who has starred in several physically-demanding films in her mid-50s.

Tips to Build Muscle in Your 50s (and beyond):

Compound Movements: Focus on compound exercises such as the squat, deadlift, and bench press as these movements have been shown to simultaneously promote muscle building, growth hormone production, and fat burning.

Focus on Prevention and Recovery: Remember that it’s tougher to recover when you’re older. Prevent injury and stay in the weight room by focusing on stretching, nutrition, and sleep to support muscle building well into your retirement age.

Don’t Let Your Diet Slip: Nutrition is the foundation of muscle building. Avoid junk and processed foods, and eat plenty of whole foods that are rich in protein, complex carbohydrates, and healthy fats.

Why Do You Think It’s Hard to Build Muscle When You’re Older?

Do you think that lifestyle can overcome age and genetics? Are you an older adult who is still looking amazing in your 50s (or older)? Let us know in the comments below.

Please Note: Before following exercise routines or changing your fitness regime, please consult a certified fitness professional. Always talk with a medical practitioner before following dietary advice or taking supplements.

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