Can you build muscle after turning 60? Yes.
Should you focus on building muscle mass as you age? Absolutely!
Maintaining a healthy lifestyle as the years go by is important for living long and well, and that includes building muscle mass. Increased muscle mass can help reduce stress, build a stronger immune system, improve energy levels, and lead to less body fat. This means maintaining muscle mass keeps you healthier in the long run.
Sarcopenia—involuntary muscle loss due to age—increases dramatically after age 30. In every following decade, muscle mass decreases between 3-8%, and that rate almost doubles after age 60. All this goes to say that if you want to keep up with your family, enjoy an active lifestyle, and live your best life, it’s a good idea to consider a renewed focus on building up and maintaining your body.
So, how do you do it?
How to Build Muscle Mass
Building muscle mass requires a multi-pronged approach that combines strength training, aerobic (cardiovascular) exercise, and proper nutrition. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends adults get a minimum of 150 minutes of aerobic exercise every week. However you split up those hours, it’s recommended that you also work in two or more days of strength training in the form of weightlifting, resistance bands workouts, and/or body-weight exercises like pushups, pullups, and sit-ups.
When it comes to nutrition, you’ll want to focus on getting adequate amounts of protein in your diet; however, protein should only account for 10–35% of your daily total calories. To build muscle mass, it’s best to aim for a balanced diet made up of lean proteins, fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and healthy fats.
In addition to exercising and eating well, it’s vital to get enough sleep every night. Getting deep, restful sleep following a workout helps your muscles to rebuild and recover, and most experts recommend anywhere between 6 and 10 hours every night. If you are getting enough sleep every night, you’ll be well on your way to building and maintaining muscle mass.
Best Ways to Build Muscle After 60
Since building muscle mass involves both strength training and aerobic physical activity, you’ll need to build a routine that involves each type of exercise.
The point of doing aerobic exercises is to improve your cardiovascular health and get your heart pumping. You can incorporate a variety of different aerobic activities to help keep things exciting in your workout routine. Some activities that are great for older adults can include:
- Biking (indoors or outdoors)
- Water aerobics
- Step aerobics
- And more
Your goal should be to find an activity that you enjoy enough to do regularly and turn into a habit. Then, just aim to get at least 30 minutes of aerobic exercise five days a week to help you build and maintain muscle mass in your 60s and beyond.
The bulk of your muscle mass building will happen through strength training and body-weight exercises. For older adults, a simple weight training session should last between 20 and 45 minutes, twice a week. Your routine should focus on one or two exercises per muscle group, including:
The best way to build a strength training routine is to follow a progressive resistance training (PRT) program: As you get stronger and more comfortable with your strength training routine, gradually increase weight, repetition, and set amounts to improve your overall strength and endurance. When beginning a PRT program—or strength training in general—your routine might include:
- 8 to 10 exercises that target all the muscle groups listed above.
- Sets of 10 to 12 reps (to start).
- One to two workouts a week.
Top Muscle-Building Exercises
Whether you are using machines at a gym, weights at home, or your own body weight for strength training, there are some specific exercises that will help the most with building muscle mass:
- Bench Press
- Overhead Press
While these aren’t the only strength training exercises you should be doing, you should definitely incorporate them into your routine. Take it easy as you get into strength training and remember: The goal is to get stronger, not to be the strongest.
Start Building Muscle Mass Today
There’s never a wrong time to start building muscle mass, especially if you are 60 or older. As you work toward a stronger, healthier self, you’ll enjoy more energy and better overall health.
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