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How Long Does It Take for Older Adults to Build Muscle?

March 16, 2020 By: Joe Aben Share This Post: Print:

How Long Does It Take for Older Adults to Build Muscle?

As your body ages, it’s normal that your approach to fitness may need to differ from when you were younger. Our workout routines should adapt to our changing bodies, rather than the other way around.

When it comes to building muscle, the same sentiment applies. Instead of spending hours lifting weights, gaining muscle mass as an older adult requires an adjustment to fitness routines with your body in mind, allowing even older adults to reap the benefits of increasing muscle mass.

The Importance of Building Muscle

From our 30s onward, we lose about 15% of our lean muscle mass. Our muscles help us maintain overall well-being and age healthily. Muscle growth for older adults has three primary benefits:

  • Improves balance to reduce risks of falling
  • Reduces symptoms of aging problems, like osteoporosis
  • Lessens aches and pain from arthritis

There is a higher chance of falling and injuring yourself as you get older, so more muscle mass may mean a decrease in risks of falls. Even a small amount of strength training to increase muscle mass can increase bone density, thus improving overall balance as well as strength.

More bone density also helps reduce symptoms from common ailments of aging, like osteoporosis. Osteoporosis occurs when our bones become porous, making them more fragile and prone to fractures. Weight training keeps the bones healthy and resilient, while also strengthening the muscles around them.

Similarly, strength training helps keep the cartilage between your joints from breaking down, which means no joint stiffness or pain. The more active and mobile you are the less likely you are to fall victim to the symptoms of arthritis, lower back pain and other joint pains.

How to Build Muscle Mass

While exercise is a vital proponent of muscle growth in older adults, it’s essential to maintain a healthy balance of nutrition, activity and rest to get the most out of your fitness routine. 

Nutrition

Eating healthy doesn’t just mean cutting out junk food. It means making sure you’re getting the nutrients your body needs. If you’re wondering how to gain muscle mass as an older adult, consider your diet along with your fitness regimen. Keep your fiber intake high, monitor your calcium and vitamin D intake and focus on three primary areas.

  • Proteins: About 15 to 20% of your calories should come from proteins, which are what your body uses to build muscle mass.
  • Carbs: If you’re not getting enough carbohydrates, which your body relies on to create energy, your body will turn to muscle to get the energy it needs. Too many carbs can cause weight gain, but too few can hinder your attempts at building muscle mass.
  • Water: For the body to properly absorb all the nutrients it gets from food, it needs hydration, and there’s no substitute for the benefits of good old H2O.

Activity

Exercise is necessary to increase muscle mass, but the type of exercise matters. Cardio and strength training are the two best ways of gaining muscle mass as an older adult.

Activity

  • Cardio is something everyone needs, especially those who live a more sedentary lifestyle. It’s vital for overall heart health and metabolism. And it doesn’t have to be overly strenuous either. For older adults, something low-impact, like walking or biking, can be enough.
  • Strength training is the secret to muscle growth for older adults. It’s best to do this with light weights and to work slowly. Slow movements with lighter weights force your muscles to work harder. If you don’t have a set of weights, you can use your body weight with resistance exercises like push-ups and squats.

Regardless of how active you become, you need to make sure you’re staying within your abilities and limitations. As you get older, it can be harder to gauge which exercises you and cannot do safely, so the professional personal trainers at Excellence In Fitness will work with you to help you understand how your body works and what is and isn’t safe for it. We designed our Over 50 Fitness Training Program to help older adults achieve the fitness goals they deserve.

No two bodies are the same, so customized training is beneficial, especially if you have a history of injury.

Rest

Exercise pushes your muscles to their limits, so it’s crucial to make sure they have time to recover. Avoid training the same muscle groups two days in a row. Instead, allow a day or two of rest between sessions. You don’t want to end up injuring yourself, so make sure you prioritize rest as well.

Rest isn’t just essential for the days after your workout. It’s also necessary immediately after your workout. There should be a few minutes of cooling down after any exercise regimen to allow your muscles to relax and your heart rate to return to normal. Stretching is a great way to do this, since it also helps reduce the chances of post-workout soreness.

The Excellence In Recovery program takes it a step further and provides assisted stretching so you can get the benefits of flexibility and full-body stretching without the fear of injury or harm.

How Long Does It Take Older Adults to Build Muscle?

When it comes to fitness, results will vary for everyone. Some see changes within weeks, while it can take months for others. Your level of fitness beforehand also impacts how quickly you’ll see results, as does the makeup of your body.

Having clear, specific goals is the best way to see results in yourself, since you can focus on how to achieve them. Some older adults feel they’re not young enough to be able to achieve these sorts of fitness goals, but the truth is that there’s no such thing as being too old when it comes to your health and well-being.

As long as you’re serious about gaining muscle mass as an older adult and you make sure you work within your body’s abilities, there’s no reason you can’t see the results you want and deserve. Seeking out a personal trainer can help you narrow down your fitness goals, as well as find a regimen that works best for you.

Start Building Muscle With Excellence In Fitness

Start Building Muscle With Excellence In Fitness

Whether you opt for our Excellence In Recovery program to improve your overall flexibility or enroll in our Over 50 Training program, you can be sure to get personalized one-on-one attention from one of our experienced trainers. We want to ensure you start your fitness journey with the utmost confidence, so we encourage potential clients to take advantage of our Free Intro Workout so you can see for yourself what we’re all about.

Get in touch by filling out our convenient online form or calling us at 410-266-6688.

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