Category Archives for "Men"
Issues related to older men building muscle
Issues related to older men building muscle
Building muscle mass after 50 is definitely possible. Here are some ways to get there fast and avoid the pitfalls.
First off, if you’re asking how to build mass, I’m assuming you’re talking about adding a serious amount of muscle — above and beyond simply getting stronger and more toned. That’s a notch above the typical workout program. You’re talking about adding noticeable amounts of mass to your frame.
Cool. I hear you. I’ve been training for more than 50 years and have more mass today than I did at any other age in my life. And I don’t use steroids. Never have, never will.
There’s a secret to how you can do it. It’s super simple and you don’t need to read a fat book or watch a dozen DVDs to learn it. I’ll tell you how here and now. Try to tune out all the noise and marketing hype you’ve heard about the 10,000 methods out there.
Start fresh. Try to clear your thinking on all the stuff you’ve heard before. For example, the ego-driven notion that pushing around super heavyweight is the way to grow muscle. It’s not. How much weight you use really does not matter – except that it is enough to bring you to “failure” in 8-12 reps.
Nor does it matter how you create the resistance. Free weights are great. Machines are great. Body weight is great. Resistance Bands are great. It’s all good. Your muscles only feel the tension, they don’t know or care how you made it.
Recent study after study has shown definitively that lifting lighter weights in the 8 – 12 rep range is superior to trying to push heavy weight – if your aim is to build muscle tissue. This has proven especially true for older adults.
It’s becoming the consensus opinion among experts (lots of links below to studies and articles). And it’s pushing aside the old school belief that only progressively heavier weights can build muscle.
I know it from personal experience. I’ve been training for nearly 5 decades now. Up till my mid-50’s, I focused on pushing the heaviest weights I could possibly handle. Heavier meant progress. Failing to progressively add weight felt like failure. Lighter weights were for aerobics people, not real lifters.
Here’s me back in those days. I include this video as proof that I really was an adherent of the hardcore, old school way of training. Heavy. Alone in the basement. (It’s a total of 610 pounds x 2 reps.)
So… I found out the hard way that aging joints cannot recover from the extreme punishment that heavyweights can bring as quickly or as thoroughly as they did when we were younger. My shoulders ached and started making knuckle-cracking sounds when I moved. Mentally, I was depressed. My life-long passion was over.
Fast forward to today, in my early 60’s I have more muscle mass than I did at any other age. And no pain. It’s because I stopped lifting for my ego and started lifting smart.
I’ve been at the ‘new way’ now for about 8 years. It’s more fun training this way and it takes less time. You do feel soreness as a result, but not the serious pain of getting pounded by heavyweights.
That soreness is the legendary “Pump,” as blood rushes into the target muscles bringing healing nutrients and flushing out waste. The Pump is a great feeling. Soreness is good. Pain is bad.
Our egos tend to tell us that more weight equals more strength equals more muscle. Wrong. Unless you’re trying out for the Olympic team, forget about your weight totals.
Muscle grows in response to tension placed on it that causes microscopic tears in the muscle fibers. With proper rest and nutrition, the fibers are repaired a little stronger and thicker than before. Simple. Scientific fact.
Hypertrophy is the process. You feel it as that pump while you’re working the muscle and perhaps after or even the next day
With proper rest and good nutrition, your muscles will grow a bit larger each day — at any age.
To those points above there is typically general agreement.
Where I diverge a bit from others is that I believe in focusing each workout on a specific muscle group with enough volume or sets in order to take it to “failure” — rather than mixing up various muscle groups on each workout day. You still work the entire body but over a week’s time. You focus each workout day on one area at a time to really exhaust those targeted muscles.
“Failure” occurs when you cannot complete another clean rep without cheating. Don’t cheat on any rep.
If you’re focusing on biceps, for example, I would stay on biceps until you’ve reached failure. In my case, this equates to 5 sets each of 3 separate exercises. Typically I’ll do bicep barbell curls x 5 sets of 8-12 reps, bicep dumbbell hammer curls and bicep rope curls on a machine for 5 sets each of 8-12 reps in each set.
On that same workout day, I’ll also do triceps right after biceps in a similar way. Then, I’ll add some work on forearms and wrists. And that’s it. All arms and done. On to the next body area in the next workout.
At the same time, we’re not talking about aerobicizing here. When I say “lighter weights, higher reps” I don’t mean waving a tiny dumbbell around for 100 reps.
It does mean finding the right level of resistance to cause your muscle to fail between 8 – 12 reps. In this case, failure is a good thing. It means you can’t do another clean rep without cheating because you’re taking the target muscle to exhaustion. You take a brief rest and do it again. This is how we cause hypertrophy.
Add resistance whenever 12 reps become too easy on that first set. It’s that simple, numbers wise.
Your focus is on the feeling, not the numbers.
Below is a sampling of studies and articles on this subject. They range from the academic to traditionally hardcore bodybuilding publications. All share in the conclusion that lighter weights & higher reps to failure is the best way to build muscle.
Remember: Lighter Weight does not mean Light Weight. It means a level of resistance that causes your muscles to fail in the 8 – 12 rep range (some say 12 – 15 reps, but it’s essentially the same idea).
UNIVERSITY OF ALABAMA, Birmingham:
As reported by the New York Times:
Dr. (Marcas) Bamman says, “you should push your muscles until they are exhausted.”
In this study, volunteers used the 8-12 rep range to failure and achieved measurable success. The resistance levels were set so that they could barely complete a set in the 8-12 range. Going to failure was the key driver in causing muscle growth.
5 Advantages to Lifting Light: This article points out that lifting lighter gives you comparable results and also offers a number of advantages over heavy.
Flex tackles the debate on which is best and declares that: “… the majority of your workouts should utilize light-to-moderate weight for moderate-to-high reps… in the 8-15 range for best results.”
McMASTER UNIVERSITY, Hamilton, Ontario:
This study found that low-load/high-volume workouts were more effective in creating “acute muscle anabolism” than high-load/low-volume work. In other words, lighter weight with higher reps beats heavy weight with low reps.
Again, this study found that going to failure was the key driver to muscular growth.
SCIENCE DAILY 2016
An article on McMaster University’s latest study in 2016: Pumping iron: “Lighter weights just as effective as heavier weights.” This article asserts that this latest study contradicts the decades-old, old-school view that the only way to get big was to go heavy.
The prestigious Clinic says that you should use a resistance level heavy enough to tire out your muscles in the 12-15 rep range. They say that a single set of 12 reps could be just as effective in building muscle as three sets using a heavier weight.
They also note that you don’t need to “spend hours a day lifting” to benefit. Just two or three 20-30 minute sessions a week can produce noticeable results.
Of course, if you’re really working to build serious mass, you’re probably going to want to amp that schedule up a bit. Personally, I prefer 4 days a week with between 45-60 minutes per workout. But, it is true it does not require endless hours in the gym.
As with anything else, quality beats quantity.
A report published by Dr. Len Kravitz of the University of New Mexico demonstrates how resistance training can actually reverse aging at the genetic level.
In that study, all of the older adult subjects (mean age 68) performed supervised resistance training exercises on two non-consecutive days of the week for 26 weeks. The group included both people who did not exercise at all and those who regularly did some form of exercise.
They did 12 different exercises that addressed the entire body:
They also used a method similar to the one we promote here at BoomerMuscle. Lighter weight with higher reps with 3 sets per exercise (we say 3 – 5 sets). We encourage finding the ideal amount of resistance that takes you to muscle failure after 8 – 12 repetitions. By failure, we don’t mean passing out; simply getting to a point where another rep done without cheating isn’t possible.
In the genetic study, subjects began by doing just one of each exercise at 50% of their one-rep maximum resistance. They gradually increased to 3 sets at 80% of their one-rep max.
Some people will recommend a wide variety of supplements. So-called Testosterone Boosters and lots more. The supplement industry is not heavily regulated. There are lots of wild claims out there.
To my knowledge there are only 3 supplements that have been generally proven effective and safe to use:
I use and recommend GNC’s AMP 189 creatine. I use it in tablet form. I trust GNC because this is a long established brand, and a publicly traded company with a lot on the line. That means they have to protect their brand against damage. I tend to trust what their label says for those reasons. Plus, I’ve had great results from the product.
Wikipedia notes that: “Extensive research has shown that oral creatine supplementation at a rate of five to 20 grams per day appears to be very safe and largely devoid of adverse side-effects, …” The article also says that creative appears to be effective in helping to increase muscle mass.
These links will take you to additional articles by the Mayo Clinic and WebMD on creatine. But, be careful if you have kidney issues. People with higher than normal muscle mass will already have higher than normal numbers on a Creatinine test. That is the waste product of Creatine and higher numbers are considered a marker for kidney disease. Taking Creatine could cause those numbers to spike higher. It’s something to be aware of. Use caution in considering this or any other supplement product.
I use Optimum Nutrition’s Gold Standard. It is good tasting and I believe effective. It has thousands of highly positive reviews on both GNC and Amazon. And Bodybuilding.com rates it #1, as well. My experience with the product has been positive.
You can check a nicely organized list of the benefits of whey compiled by the Mayo Clinic here.
Read my full review on all the products here. The links above will take you to Amazon. If you decide to make a purchase, they will give me credit. But it does not in any way affect the price you would pay. You can also find these items at your local GNC or health food store.
I have in the past used testosterone supplementation under a doctor’s review and prescription. It definitely is a boost, but it’s not without potential drawbacks. Especially if you have current health conditions, you would definitely want to have your blood tested and receive the medication from a competent legal resource.
Here is an article by the Harvard Medical School on testosterone therapy that gives a sober perspective on the pros and cons. And here is another more ballsy piece by the aptly-titled Testosterone Nation, which gives a more gung-ho perspective on the idea of supplementing testosterone.
Whatever you decide to do when it comes to testosterone, I would advise moderation and caution. Your overall health is the most valuable thing you have, so don’t overdo anything. And please steer clear of any illegal substances like steroids. Not worth it!
If you’re not already working out, it’s time to get started. No excuses. You don’t need expensive gear or a gym membership to get going. There are lots of “how to” articles on this site under the menu category “Workout Guides.” Check them out, they’re free.
See my post Building Muscle After 60 for more on how you can build muscle regardless of your age: 40, 50, 60 and up.
This post details a Simple Workout you can do at home with diagrams on how to. It’s a 4 day per week plan. You could add a 5th day and double down on one particular body area if you are gung ho.
Also, see Lifting Light Weight vs. Heavy Weights for more details on the benefits of lighter weight/higher reps.
There are more How-To articles on this site under the menu category Workout Guides.
You can build muscle mass, even past 50 — or 60 — in a natural way. The right workout method, good nutrition and proper rest will generate results. It will work.
Here’s the best proof I have.
This is me after turning 65 in March of 2021.
I live this method of building muscle. Today, I have more muscle mass than I did in my youth and see no reason to slow down. Fitness Toplist featured an interview with me on my background and philosophy with this site. You can see it at Fitness Toplist.
Lighter weights at higher reps builds muscle without punishing your joints.
Still building muscle at 65 in 2021.
Here’s the bad news: Under the search category “Exercises Man Boobs,” there is nothing that will magically transformÂ man boob fat into chiseled muscle. Ignore hype to the contrary. It’s B.S.
The good news: There are exercises you can do to turn the muscle beneath those ‘moobs’ into firm, hard pecs. And combined with diet to lose overall body fat, you can definitely make those Man Boobs go away.
The only real question is you. Are you willing to put in someÂ effort to feel much better about yourself?
If you’re still reading, I’m going to assume the answer is at least maybe. Please finish reading this article, it will give you the guidance you need to lose those moobs.
That’s me above on the left in my 20’s, weighing 330 plus with a huge belly and man boobs.
That’s also me below, in my early 60s, and a more svelte 265. Still not exactly ripped, but much better shape.
Let’s face it. Some of us are pre-wired to carry more body fat than others. It’s a curse I’ve been dealing with my whole life. I’m a big person with lots of muscle mass after 48 years of training.
I’ve always had a layer of fat to contend against. I’ve shed most of that extra weight from my youth. And I can tell you from experience that there is only one way to do it (short of plastic surgery).
Steer clear of articles on the web that promise you can turn that fat into muscle. It’s not biologically possible to do. And you can’t spot reduce fat. Anybody who tries to tell you differently is taking you for a ride. Steer clear.
Note: you may want to rule out gynecomastia. This is a hormonal condition. The body produces more female hormone (estrogen) than male (testosterone). It can be a side effect of certain medications or other issues that your doctor can treat. The link here will take you to the Mayo Clinic page on gynecomastia, where you’ll find guidelines on when to ask a doctor.
You gotta drop the weight. This is your life we’re taking about. Do this for the sake of your loved ones, your heart and other vital organs like your kidneys. Do this to loose that fat and shed those moobs.
I’m not a dietician, but I’ve always found dieting to be mostly a matter of awareness and discipline. You don’t have to starve yourself or skip meals. You do need to mind what you’re putting into your mouth and how much.
Check this post for more detail on managing your diet. And remember, you simply can’t spot reduce fat. Your body doesn’t work that way. It’s all or nothing. Beware anybody trying to sell you on a different notion.
You can include some cardio to help burn calories if that’s what you prefer to do. Understand, though, that Resistance Training has proven superior to anything in terms of burning calories. Starting a solid, whole body resistance program like the one below is a greatÂ decision.
You’ve all seen those guys on TV trying to impress people by ‘popping their pecs.’ Pretty obnoxious, right? Well you don’t have to make popping your pecs a goal, but you will be able to if you follow a pec-building workout routine.
Your pecs are you chest muscles. Right now, they may seem non existent, but trust me, they’re there. And combined with fatÂ loss, building them up will produce dramatic results in the way you look and feel.
Here’s the hard part. Dude, you have to workout on a regular basis. Not just your pecs, but your whole body so you burn those calories and get in good shape.
Here’s a workout routine with simple diagrams on how to. You’ll see “Chest” is called out for one of the four day sessions. I designed this workout to be super simple. So that you can do it anywhere with minimal equipment. You can do all the exercises with Resistance Bands alone if you choose.
If you belong to a gym, or own a your ownÂ gear, you can perform these movements on machines or with dumbbells. If you have nothing, pony up and buy a set of Resistance Bands. They are very inexpensive and today’s bands are great — like a whole gym in a small bag. You can get a great, whole body workout with them.
Your muscles don’t have any brains. They don’t know or care how you create the tension on them, they only feel that you’ve done it. It can be in a multi-million dollar gym or in your basement with bands. Doesn’t matter.
Give theÂ workout routine a try! Remember, it will take some time. Everybody loses weight and gains muscle at a different pace. Make this part of your lifestyle and schedule. The workouts don’t take a lot of time, 30 – 40 minutes. But the results for your life can be huge.
You can do this.
I’d love to hear your experiences in battling the Moob. Please chime in below in Comments. Or feel free to drop me a line at: Brian@BoomerMuscle.com
Many people think Kegel exercises are strictly for women, but there are big benefits with Kegel exercises for men, too. In fact, recent studies say these simple exercises can actually cure erectile dysfunction and supercharge your performance in bed.
In fact, one study found that after 6 months, 40% of the men in the test group had regained normal erectile function and another 35.5%} improved. While 24.5% showed no improvement, those are still pretty good odds — with no drugs involved.
The researchers at the University of West in the U.K. concluded: “This study suggests that pelvic floor exercises should be considered as a first-line approach for men seeking long-term resolution of their erectile dysfunction.”
As we age, everything drops. Your erection may now point straight out or downward.
Once you’ve mastered the basic exercise and started to get some results, you can try the advanced form. This consists of placing a washcloth or towel over your erect member to increase the level of resistance.
Then, without using body english, bounce your penis up and down. Like a barbell curl. Takes concentration, not brute force. Focus on those pelvic muscles doing the work.
A particular focus in this muscle group is the bulbocavernosus muscle (see diagram). It does three jobs:
These are the three best muscle building supplements for men over 40. Muscle building supplements are a huge business that is largely unregulated by the government. Most supplements are snake oil scams and not worth your money. Some are downright dangerous. Trust these:
There are only 3 types that actually work with a degree of certainty:
Pretty much everything else is just hype. Here’s how the scams work. A supplement firm will come up with a new product. They start the marketing it in bodybuilding magazines and websites. The spokesperson might be a hardcore bodybuilder who will infer his muscle size is enhanced by the product (while in reality, he is using a boatload of illegal steroids).
He says: “If you’re not taking Super X Factor 19 like me, you’re missing out on massive gains!”
Because the business is largely unregulated, and that includes not verifying ingredients or their quality, they can say whatever they want with no scientific studies to refute it. It’s pure marketing hype at its most wild and extreme.
Word travels. Young athletes jump on the band wagon. Conversations happen in gyms. And for a while, Super X Factor 19Â will sell like hotcakes, then ultimately it fades into the background as questions arise and science catches up.
I came across an article online in which someone did a detailed comparison of chocolate milk vs. a well-known supplement drink. Chocolate milk won hands-down in almost every ingredient category.
So, it’s definitely Buyer Beware when it comes to muscle building supplements.
Let’s look at the good news…
Creatine has been around for many yearsÂ now, and it has proven to be largely safe to use and effective at building muscle. It is a substance found naturally in the body and in meat protein that we ingest.
Wikipedia: “Extensive research has shown that oral creatine supplementation at a rate of five to 20Â grams per day appears to be very safe and largely devoid of adverse side-effects, while at the same time effectively improving the physiological response to resistance exercise, increasing the maximal force production of muscles in both men and women.”
WebMD Notes that some studies have show creatine to be relatively safe and effective at building lean muscle mass over the short term.Â And the Mayo Clinic notes that it is “likely safe when used long term.” Caution is advised for people with kidney disease and other health issues.
In the U.S., a majority of sports nutrition supplements, which total $2.7 billion in annual sales, contain creatine. Creatine is allowed by the International Olympic Committee, National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), and professional sports.
The suggested dose per day is typically no more than 5 grams. There are about 2 grams of creatine in one pound of beef. So it would be difficult to ingest 5 grams using diet alone.
I use a product by GNC. One reason I choose GNC is that I believe it is a solid, reputable company. It is publicly traded and was founded more than 70 years ago. I don’t think they will risk their brand’s reputation by resorting to shoddy practices.
I use the tablet version of GNC’s AMP Creatine 189.
It also comes in flavored powder form if you prefer a drink.
GNC says this version is a cutting edge solution that tops traditional creatine monohydrate in muscle absorption and significantly reduces how much you need to take. With AMP, just 2 capsules give you the recommended 5 grams of creatine.
GNC says: “PEG-Creatine System” – This proprietary formula includes a patent-pending technology which allows you to get the same benefits as regular creatine monohydrate at a much lower dose. That’s right, you no longer have to take mounds of powder or handfuls of creatine pills to get the performance enhancing benefits of creatine.”
Whey protein comes from milk. It is a liquid that separates from milk during the making of cheese.
It is a complete, high-quality protein, containing all of the essential amino acids. It is very digestible, absorbed from the gut quickly compared to other types of protein. It is one of the best dietary sources of protein available.
Whey is rich in a branched-chain amino acid called leucine. Among all the amino acids, leucine is the most growth promoting.
Combined with resistance training, whey can also help older adults reverse the effects of aging on muscle loss. Combined with training, it helps promote a stronger, better-looking body.
You can check a nicely organized list of benefits compiled by the Mayo Clinic here. Whey may have a number of additional benefits in addition to muscle growth, according to studies:
I recommend Optimum Nutrition’s Gold Standard Whey. It is a good tasting, quality powder drink. It is one of the featured brands at GNC, has thousands of strongly positive reviews on GNC’s website and onÂ Amazon. And is often called out as the premier brand.
Whey protein isolates are the purest form of whey and the main ingredient in Gold Standard 100% Whey. Each serving provides 24 grams of rapidly digesting whey protein with low levels of fat, cholesterol, lactose and other stuff you can do without.
If you have severe gluten/lactose intolerance, you could consider this alternative by Nature’s Best.
About the Product
Pack in powerfully pure protein, without packing on the carbs.
100% whey protein isolate powders amp you up, without any unwanted weight. Just pick your level: Zero Carb or Low-Carb (which also has Zero sugar), both with a whopping 50 grams of protein.
It’s 100% whey protein isolate loaded with vitamins, minerals and nutrients to keep you going strong and always without gluten, lactose, or any impurities. Made with Nature’s BestÂ complete microfiltration process to be the only completely clear milk protein when dissolved in water.
Available in a range of flavors.
I use and recommend Optimum Nutrition’s BCAA capsules. There is also a powder to mix as a drink. It’s personal preference. The supplement claims that it helps muscles recover from workouts, and I do believe I can feel the difference. Since we’re getting older, we can use all the help we can get with recovery. Recovery is, afterall, just as important as the workout itself and good nutrition. Recovery is when our muscles grow.
Here is a study from the National Institutes of Health on BCAA and recovery. As with any and all supplements, check with your doctor over any concerns, especially if you have conditions like high blood pressure or kidney-related issues.
The links above will take you to Amazon. If you decide to make a purchase, they will give me credit. But it does not in any way affect the price you would pay. You can also find these items at your local GNC or health food store.
Do NOT take more than the recommended dosage. You can harm your health by over-doing these or any other supplement.