Although everyone knows that aging is inevitable, most of us dread crossing the 40 or 50-age line. Old age marks changes in your body, including a slower metabolism and the loss of muscle mass. Apparently, that is how the normal aging process goes.
Still, this doesn’t mean you should allow it to happen. There is a condition called sarcopenia, or the loss of muscle mass, strength and functionality, associated with old age. It starts at the age of 40,and continues until you reach 75. Although loss of muscle mass is normal for aging individuals, sarcopenia is more common in physically inactive people. This could even lead to osteoporosis.
To prevent sarcopenia from knocking at your door, here are some things you should do to maintain muscle mass at any age.
1, Come Up With an Exercise Plan. Building muscles is not as easy as lifting weights and limiting your time to cardio. It takes more than that; hence, it won’t hurt if you come up with an exercise plan, which acts as a guide on how to go about the workout.
How do you make an exercise plan? It’s all about proper scheduling.
For your exercise plan, the American College of Sports Medicine recommends strength training of all the major muscle groups two to four times a week. You should also make sure to incorporate light cardio workout routines every week to help you cut down on the excess weight. Allow your body to recover for at least 48 hours before going back to strength training.
Make a weekly plan and plot strength training into your workout schedule. This helps you keep track of your progress.
2. Watch What You Eat. The American diet is high in animal protein and cereal grains, while low in fruit and vegetables. This could lead to low-grade metabolic acidosis, and a decline in bone and muscle mass. This is not what you are hoping for as you age.
When it comes to a muscle-maintaining diet, make sure to stock on lean, high-quality protein. However, it should be grass-fed beef and organic chicken to make sure you are getting the best quality possible. If you are not a fan of meat and poultry, then you can go for other protein sources such as leafy greens, beans, lentils and chickpeas.
Don’t forget to increase your intake of fruits and vegetables, and limit cereal grains. More importantly, maintain balance in your meals. Balanced diet leads to better maintenance of muscle mass.
3. Do Multi-joint Vs. Single Joint Exercises. You have these two options in doing strength-training routines:
Both options promise optimum results, especially when you target the right muscles. If you are looking for better muscle growth, then multi-joint exercises are your best bet. It works out more muscle groups, thereby stimulating the release of hormones, which helps in muscle building and growth.
As you get older, multi-joint exercises are favorable because they help improve balance, stability and coordination.
For multi-joint exercises, try push ups, squats, pull-ups, lunges and leg presses. These exercises strengthen your muscles and help you avoid injuries.
4. Lift According to Your Capacity. Your 20’s self will tell you to lift heavy weights as much as you can. Your 30’s self will tell you to do more than what you could do few years back to get those toned arms. Your 40’s self will tell you to slow down, since you’re not as strong as you were before.
The weight you should carry must be based on the amount that tires you before or at 15 reps. As to the number of reps, more is not necessarily the better.You might be tempted to lift 200 kilograms for 15 reps, but there is a higher risk of injury that building or maintaining muscle mass.
In maintaining muscle mass, it is important to choose the right weight according to your capacity level.Switch to lighter weights if going heavy causes you pain. The number of reps must be between eight to 12 reps, with lots of studies to back up its efficacy. As you get stronger, slowly increase the amount of weights you use to avoid muscle gain plateau.
5. Pick Your Battles. Everyone knows that men and women are different when it comes to overall body structure. Consequently, every man and every woman don’t have the same structure, bone density, and strength capabilities.
What Does This Have to do With Maintaining Muscles?
There are certain exercises you can do, which your friend cannot and vice versa. You may also find it hard to do all strength-training routines available in the manual.
Still, this doesn’t mean you are unable to maintain your muscle mass. It all boils down to picking your own battles, and making every routine more comfortable for you.
For instance, if bench presses are hurting you, you can always try floor presses or use the dumbbells. Squatting up to your ankles may not be your forte, but you can always squat to parallel or slightly above parallel.
The important thing is to look for alternatives. Don’t allow pain to take over just because you want to build muscles.
- Single Joint: This is means working on one muscle at a time through isolation.
- Multi Joint: This means working out more than one muscle group at a time.
6. Check Your Hormones
The aging process is not just about physical changes in your body. Inside your body is the declining level of essential hormones, which leads to physical changes in your body. By hormones, this includes:
In other words, hormones affect your body’s ability to build, grow, and maintain muscle mass. If you work out regularly and don’t see any changes in your body, then consider getting your hormones checked. Hormonal imbalances could be the reason why you are unable to maintain muscles despite your dedication.
7. Don’t Skip the Cardio. You might argue that maintaining muscle mass means lifting weights and doing more strength-training activities.
That’s not entirely true. The truth is,you still need aerobic exercises to help you burn more calories and keep your heart healthy.
Therefore, add aerobic activities such as walking, jogging, running, biking or swimming in your workout routines. If you still can, play sports with friends. Activities such as walking the dog and gardening are also good aerobic workouts you can do to get you moving.
Keep in mind that the more active you are, the better your health will be. Don’t underestimate cardio. Your body still needs it.
8. Have a Cruise Week. You might be tempted to continue with your intense workouts especially if you see good progress. However, your body is not a machine and you need to allow it to recover if you want to get the most out of your workouts.
Therefore, have a cruise week. A common practice, although not supported by scientific studies, is three weeks of intense training then light workouts on the fourth week. You can also de-load anytime for every three to nine weeks of hard training, especially if you are closer to your genetic potential.
The important thing is to allow your body to rest after a few hard weeks of training. Your body is not equipped to last long without any form of rest. At the same time, this is not the proper way to build and maintain muscle mass.
9. It’s Never too Late to Change Your Lifestyle. This is the most important thing you need to remember. Most people don’t care much about health until they get older.
Don’t wait for heart disease, diabetes, kidney problems, and lung issue to knock at your door before you realize you need to ditch those bad habits.
Start early. Optimal health is also dependent on a healthy lifestyle. Ignoring your heath in exchange of booze and cigarettes leads to a decline in your health. As early as you can, eat healthy, nutritious, and balanced meals and avoid anything processed, salty, and too much sugar. Include cardio and strength-training workouts in your everyday routine to keep your muscles and weight at bay.
Aside from this, do something about stress. Stress is a perennial health wrecker, so make sure you can address it, even before it starts messing up with your system. Stop making excuses and do something about your health and body today.
These tips will surely help you build and maintain muscle mass, regardless of how old you are. Still, this does not mean you can do it anytime you want. Make sure to get clearance from your doctor, especially if you are suffering from certain serious medical condition. Consulting a fitness professional to help you come up with an appropriate exercise plan will also help.
- Testosterone– This hormone is crucial in maintaining lean body mass. Lack of testosterone could lead to increase in fat mass, weaker body strength, and reduced functional performance.
- Growth Hormones–This is primarily responsible for increasing muscle mass and bone density. At the same time, it maintains health of all human tissues, including muscle tissues.
- Dehydroepiandrosterone or DHEA–This is a hormone that the adrenal glands naturally produces. Levels of DHEA naturally drop after age 30. DHEA has many health benefits and may even prevent some illnesses. However, more research in necessary, as the evidence is mixed on this.
- Mechano Growth Factor – A type of hormone, which builds muscles in response to exercise. Older individuals process less of this hormone, which explains why it takes longer to build muscles.
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