Are you looking to build muscle mass but are wondering how you can start building muscle at 50 then this article is for you.
We will reveal how you can start working out at 50, even if you have never lifted a weight before in your life.
Please continue reading to discover what you need to do to.
- 1 Why Does Muscle Mass Decline With Age?
- 2 Benefits Of Building Muscle In Your 50s
- 3 What To Eat To Build Muscle At 50
- 4 Training Guide For Building Muscle At 50
- 5 Supplements For Building Muscle At 50
- 6 Other Muscle Building Tips For Over 50s
- 7 What Is Stopping You From Building Muscle In Your 50s?
- 8 Can You Build Muscle At 50 Years Old?
Why Does Muscle Mass Decline With Age?
Your muscle mass tends to peak around the age of 40, it then starts to decline due to sarcopenia.
The average man loses 2% of their muscle mass each year thereafter 1.
According to a 2014 report, 29% of community-dwelling people were affected by sarcopenia, with those hospital-dwelling people and individuals needing long term care shown to be at an increased risk of developing this condition 2.
Research has found that women had a 20% greater chance of developing sarcopenia.
So what is sarcopenia? According to doctors, it is the medical term for age-related muscle loss. This is not the only symptom, however.
Those with this medical condition may also see a decrease in muscle endurance, strength and power.
One of the biggest reasons for a decrease in muscle mass is that as we get older we become more sedentary and exercise less.
Luckily this is something that we can change. It is certainly possible to build muscle past the age of 50, whether you are male or female. It just requires a few simple changes to your current lifestyle choices.
Benefits Of Building Muscle In Your 50s
There are plenty of reasons why you should start building muscle in your 50s, 60s and 70s.
One of the main benefits, that has been proven is that regular strength training can extend your life span 3.
This study found that lifting weights could help reduce the risk of:
- Lower back pain
Other health benefits include:
- Building lean muscle will help boost your BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate). This means you are able to burn more calories, even while resting 4
- Typically more muscle = more strength
- You will have more stamina
- In most cases, building muscle will make you look better, and feel younger
So, what can you do to start building muscle at 50 and above? Let's learn what you should be doing.
What To Eat To Build Muscle At 50
This is the most important tip we are going to give you.
Without the right amount and right kind of fuel then, unfortunately, you are not going to build muscle, or at least will never see as good a result as you should.
The key is to consume more quality calories than you burn each day to promote muscle growth.
Firstly, you will need to discover how many calories you need to be consuming daily to maintain your current weight. There are calculations you can use to do this manually, but I would prefer to just use an online tool, like the one available here.
Once you know your BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate) you will now need to add an extra 300-500 calories to it. Any more than that and you run the risk of getting fat and flabby.
If you are currently overweight then you will want to cut some fat, so I would recommend cutting 300-500 daily calories.
Regardless of whether you are looking to cut calories or add calories, the macro amounts should remain the same.
I would suggest the following macro ratios:
- 25-30% of total calories from protein
- 40-45% of total calories from carbs
- 25-35% of total calories from fat
These macros will ensure you are getting enough protein to promote muscle growth, enough healthy carbohydrates for energy and enough healthy fats for both energy and the production of testosterone.
Training Guide For Building Muscle At 50
To build muscle you should really be lifting weights.
Yes, bodyweight exercises and resistance bands etc can help but to build any serious amounts of muscle you need to take your training seriously with proper weights and exercises.
I would suggest that instead of focussing on isolation exercises that work a single muscle that you instead focus on compound exercises such as the bench press, deadlift, squats and overhead presses.
Compound exercises will work multiple muscle groups at the same time so are not only an effective way to build muscle but are also a timesaver too.
All of these exercises have been used for decades by athletes, bodybuilders and strongmen looking to build muscle and strength.
One thing I would say is that you may need to modify these exercises to make them safer for your ageing joints.
How Many Reps And Sets?
This will depend on your own fitness levels and goals, but I would personally recommend looking to perform a full-body workout with 3-4 sets of 8-12 repetitions.
The key here is to achieve hypertrophy, which can only be achieved by lifting to failure.
When choosing a weight you need to choose one that you are able to lift for the required number of reps, but no more.
Regardless of how much weight you lift you must ensure you are lifting with good form. Poor form can lead to injury that will derail your muscle-building efforts.
If you are new to lifting then feel free to employ a personal trainer for a couple of sessions to ensure your form is correct and that you are lifting a weight appropriate for yourself.
How Often Should A 50 Year Old Man Lift Weights?
You might be asking yourself how often should a 50-year-old man lift weights, well I have the answer for you.
I would recommend 3-4 weight training sessions a week maximum. Of course, feel free to exercise or to be active on your “rest days” but you need to allow your body time to recover from the intense weight training workouts.
As you are getting older your body will require more time to rest between workouts. To remain active while you recover I would recommend lower-impact cardio such as walking, swimming or cycling.
Supplements For Building Muscle At 50
If you are eating correctly then you may not ever need to touch any supplements. Sometimes they do have their place though.
For example, a quality whey protein may be a good idea as it is often easier to drink an extra protein shake a day than to eat yet another chicken breast.
Basically, when you supplement with creatine you are topping up your natural levels, which will give you the energy needed to lift heavier weights.
Your muscles use creatine to create energy that is used during weight training and other short but high-intensity exercises.
Supplementing with Vitamin D3 may also be a good idea because many people are deficient in it.
Vitamin D3 is a very important vitamin that is used for immune function, can help protect against cancer, while also helping to improve your heart, bone and brain health. It can also help to boost testosterone production 10 11 12 13.
Research has found that over 75% of men in the USA may be deficient in Vitamin D3. There are a few reasons why this may be the case:
- Stress can burn through your Vitamin D3 stores
- You are not getting enough sunshine
Finally, you may want to consider supplementing with a quality multivitamin.
It is entirely possible that you are getting every nutrient your body requires from food alone, but what if you aren’t?
You should use a multivitamin to ensure you are getting everything your body needs and that you are not missing out on vital nutrients required for good health.
Other Muscle Building Tips For Over 50s
Here are some other tips you should follow if you are looking to build muscle in your 50s:
#1: Make Sure You Drink Plenty Of Water
It is important that you are drinking plenty of water throughout the day and are well hydrated.
Water is incredibly important for building muscle and for your general health. It is required for many bodily functions, including:
- It regulates your body temperature
- Metabolises and transports nutrients through your bloodstream
- Helps to flush waste and toxins from your body
- Acts as a shock absorber for your brain and spinal cord
- Forms saliva
- Lubricates your joints
On average you will need to consume around 3 litres of water daily. While some of this will be present in the food you eat you should also aim to drink 2.5-3 litres every. This is especially important after exercise to replace any lost fluids.
#2: Your Body Needs Sleep And Adequate Rest
We have already briefly mentioned that you need to rest between workouts. This is important whatever your age but is especially important once you get that little bit older.
Unfortunately, as you age your bodies ability to repair gets slower, so while you could train nearly every day in your 20s you probably won't be able to train much more than 3-4 days a week in your 50s.
Rest days are important, but so is getting adequate sleep. When you sleep your body is releasing hormones such as testosterone and HGH that help your body to recover 14.
Failure to get 8-9 hours of good quality sleep every night can seriously impact your recovery and ability to build muscle.
To help promote good quality sleep I would suggest limiting screen time immediately before bed, and to knock off all electronics before sleep.
Being relaxed and free from stress will also promote good sleep, so you may want to consider yoga or some sort of breathing exercises.
What Is Stopping You From Building Muscle In Your 50s?
This may seem harsh but some people are afraid to push their limits in case they hurt themselves.
It is this fear that stops them from gaining any muscle.
You may feel that if you lift too heavy then you are going to hurt your back. Well, this is certainly something to consider but if your form is good and your core is strong then chances are you won't cause any injury.
To strengthen your core you may want to try some of these exercises (you may also want to invest in a good quality weightlifting belt):
As you are older chances are you have a few more aches and pains than someone younger than you. This is an unfortunate fact, but it is not a reason not to train to your best ability.
Yes, legitimate injury is a reason to take it easy, but if it is just in your head then you need to change your mindset. Otherwise, you are never going to achieve the muscle gains you want.
Can You Build Muscle At 50 Years Old?
The simple answer to this question is yes, you can build muscle at 50 years old, and older.
What you do need to realise is that there are limits, and you most certainly won't be able to build as much muscle as you would have been able to in your 20s or 30s.
With that being said, if your nutrition and training regime are on point then you can certainly start to see some good results. And with time and dedication to your goals, you will soon start to reap the rewards.
Hello there!! My name is Jonathan, and I am a fitness blogger and bodybuilding enthusiast. I am also the founder of GainMuscleNotFat.com.
I want to provide you with the best advice to help you gain muscle mass and strength, without getting fat!
- An overview of sarcopenia: facts and numbers on prevalence and clinical impact, retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3060646/
- Prevalence of and interventions for sarcopenia in ageing adults, retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4204661/
- Strength training helps older adults live longer, retrieved from https://news.psu.edu/story/405621/2016/04/20/research/strength-training-helps-older-adults-live-longer
- Skeletal muscle metabolism is a major determinant of resting energy expenditure, retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC296885/
- Few adverse effects of long-term creatine supplementation in a placebo-controlled trial, retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15795816
- Creatine supplementation during college football training does not increase the incidence of cramping or injury, retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12701814
- Does creatine supplementation hinder exercise heat tolerance or hydration status? A systematic review with meta-analyses, retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19295968
- Long-term creatine supplementation is safe in aged patients with Parkinson disease, retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19083405
- Risk assessment for creatine monohydrate, retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16814437
- Effect of vitamin D supplementation on testosterone levels in men, retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21154195
- Vitamin D and calcium supplementation reduces cancer risk: results of a randomized trial, retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17556697
- 25-hydroxyvitamin D and risk of myocardial infarction in men: a prospective study, retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18541825
- Randomized trial of vitamin D supplementation to prevent seasonal influenza A in schoolchildren, retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20219962
- Growth hormone secretion during sleep, retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC297368/
- Age-Related Testosterone Decline is due to Waning of Both Testicular and Hypothalamic-Pituitary Function, retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4816459/
- Age-Related Changes in Serum Testosterone and Sex Hormone Binding Globulin in Australian Men, retrieved from https://academic.oup.com/jcem/article/92/9/3599/2597973
- Growth Hormone in Aging, retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK279163/