Whether you like it or not, whether you celebrate or hide away from birthdays, you’ll have to face the facts of life – we inevitably grow older. Fortunately, contrary to some opinion, that isn’t a hindrance to your health and fitness. In fact, training well into your middle and older years is great for your general well-being. With just a few small changes to your exercise routine, you can be as strong and healthy – if not even fitter than you’ve ever been.
It's true, building muscle is harder at 40 than in your 20’s but it is still more than possible. Naturally, you start to lose around 0.5-1% muscle mass per year during your 30's and will see a diminished ability to recover as well as a heightened increase to injury. Despite these considerations, you can plan around them to continue your muscle building regime, working with your trainer to achieve your goals.
As you age, your metabolism inevitably slows down. You can counter-balance this decrease by ensuring that you include cardio into your training regime, which will also help reduce the impact of weight gain from food. If building muscle is your goal, you’ll automatically benefit from a heightened metabolic rate, as lean muscle helps increase it.
Before or after any heavy lifting workout, try and get some training in on a treadmill or static bike. This will help warm you up or down and also raise your metabolic rate so you can burn off calories if your natural metabolism is slowing down. Try to factor in any injuries you have and keep your level nice and easy. Always remember that the goal is to get the body working, not to injure yourself.
When it comes to lifting weights, you may want to consider dropping the upper limit of your lifts and instead increase the number of reps you do. This is less stressful on the central nervous system as a whole and will still generate good strength and mass.
Nutrition-wise, you should be focusing on a diet that comprises of plenty of fruit, vegetables and whole grains combined with a plenty of good protein. The repair element of protein is more important than ever as you age, so make it a leading part of your diet. Healthy carbs such as brown rice eaten a few hours before training may also give you the boost you need to work out harder.
TREAT RESTING LIKE YOUR WORKOUT
Rest is another hugely important component of building muscle that is sometimes ignored in our youth and becomes even more important as we age. You should include a rest day after each day of heavy lifting. If you don't rest while your muscles repair, then you can't train to your fullest potential the following day.
One of the biggest obstacles I see is accepting your limitations, as well as those who see limitations which can be easily overcome. This is true of most gym-goers, even those in their 20’s. Everyone needs rest days and everyone needs to keep up their protein intake to build serious muscle mass.
Heading into your 40’s and 50’s is nothing to fear. You can still build muscle and be in peak physical shape. Just ensure you get plenty of rest, mix in some cardio to counter your slowing metabolism and know your limits.