How does muscle building change as we age - guest post

Here's the funny thing about the interwebz.

Samantha Oliver, a personal trainer who lives across the pond in Britain, was riding the bus home one day and casually searching the hashtag #catsofinstagram on her phone. 

For those of you who read my site regularly, you're first thought here is "wait a second. You have cats?"

Yes. Sadly, as of yesterday, only one cat, as our 15 year-old yowly, curmudgeonly cat Cosmo passed away. 

Yes, there is a cat in my household. She tries to smother me in my sleep. 

Yes, there is a cat in my household. She tries to smother me in my sleep. 

I've posted about cats exactly twice in my intsagram career, but out of that post came a collaboration with Sam. 

Some people fight wholeheartedly to retain their youth, strength, and aesthetic beauty, and others welcome their old(er) age with positivity, serenity, and grace. However, no matter the category you occupy, one thing is for certain: your muscle-building potential changes drastically as you age, and no, it’s not okay to allow yourself to lose muscle mass.

We aren’t necessarily talking about aesthetics here so much as we are talking pure functionality, health, virility, and quality of life. Muscle is crucial in keeping you fit, able, strong, and healthy, especially as you approach your silver years. Here is how muscle-building changes as you age and what you can do to keep making gains and stay healthy.

The muscle building potential through the decades

And then, puberty struck. Your body began to change, your bones and muscles grew, and your muscle-building potential was through the roof. Fortunately, this continues well into your twenties and even into your thirties if you are genetically gifted.

However, for most people, once you hit that thirty threshold, things begin to change. As you move through your thirties and into your forties, the testosterone levels imperative for muscle growth (among numerous other bodily processes) gradually begin to decrease, making it increasingly difficult to build muscle and preserve a toned physique. This is why at this point proper nutrition and rigorous training becomes essential.

Have you heard of Sarcopenia?

So who, or rather what, is the main culprit orchestrating the demise of your hard-earned physique? Much like arthritis affects your cartilage and osteoporosis affects your bone density, a condition called sarcopenia affects your muscle mass and your muscle-building potential.

This degenerative condition associated with aging increases with time, and there isn’t much you can do about it except work hard at subduing its effects and work even harder towards building new muscle tissue despite its presence. And yes, it is doable.

Building or maintaining muscle mass

Needless to say, losing muscle mass should never be an option, especially as you approach senior status. While preserving an aesthetic physique is always a good way to nurture your confidence and self-esteem, you should mainly focus on building muscle and strength for the purpose of leading a healthy, vibrant, and energetic lifestyle.

Losing muscle mass can lead to numerous conditions down the road, and even injury, especially in the lower region. Hips, knees, shins, and your lower back all need adequate support, which is the primary role of your muscles. Lifting weights and maintaining cardiovascular endurance will also help keep your bones and connective tissue strong and healthy.

Staying safe and tailoring your routine

However, you can’t expect to run the same training program as you did twenty years ago. Not only will you gain less, but you will also risk injuring yourself, perhaps indefinitely. You need to learn to listen to your body and tailor your training routine to fit your goals and your current capabilities. And then go ahead and build up from there.

One of the most important things to remember is to stay safe no matter what. Safety should be your number one priority, so make sure you maintain proper form and wear protective gear and durable weightlifting clothes for support, comfort, and mobility. Remember to up your flexibility and mobility routines as you age as well, in order to decrease the risk of injury.

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle

Finally, you want to use these insights to tailor a healthy lifestyle routine entailing proper sleep, nutrition, and training. These are the essential constituents that form a foundation of a healthy future. Your goal should be to remain strong, vibrant, and most importantly, able to live out your entire life to the fullest. Sticking to regular exercise will help you do just that.

There are some things we can’t change in life no matter how hard we try, such as time itself catching up as we age. However, we can influence the way old age treats us, whether it will be kind or cruel. Be sure to use these powerful insights to pave the road to a lifetime of strength, vibrancy, and health.

Samantha Oliver

Samantha Oliver

Knowledge bomb dropped. Boom.

Samantha has a B.Sc. in nutrition and has spent two years working as a personal trainer. Since then, she has embarked on a mission to conquer the blogosphere. When not in the gym or on the track, you can find her on Twitter, or in a tea shop.