Men Over 50 Gain Muscle and Lose Weight

5 Ways Building Muscle Differs in Men Over 50

Should men over 50 wanting to build muscle take the same approach as younger guys?

Senior men work out hard

Although senior men can work out hard, some important differences exist

If you’re a man over 50 wanting to build muscle mass, some might tell you it’s the same approach for everyone, and that what goes for a 30-year-old man also goes for a man over 50.

While many common fundamentals to muscle gain between age groups exist, many important differences also exist.

Hare are 5 important ways that building muscle for men over 50 is different than for younger guys:

1)      You don’t need as many calories

As men age, their metabolism slows and their bodies require fewer calories to maintain body weight and body composition.  Many men become overweight simply  because they continue eating the same amounts as when they were younger.

Most accepted doctrines states that, to gain muscle mass In conjunction with lifting weights, men must eat more calories to support muscle synthesis and a higher level of muscle mass.

Be careful with this.

For men over 50 gaining muscle mass, making every calorie count for maximum nutritional benefit is most important, and if you have a dual goal of body fat loss, eating fewer calories rather than more calories could be most important.

2)      You need more joint protection

As men age, joints can become less flexible from weakened muscles, less tendon elasticity, and loss of important lubrication within the joint.

While building muscle mass will contribute to overall joint health, men over 50 should be careful during the muscle building process to not over stress the joint.

Performing stretches after workouts when the muscles are warmed up will increase flexibility by increasing muscle and tendon length and range of motion.

3)      You need more rest days

For men over 50, everything metabolically runs slower, including the healing process.  Resistance training to build muscle mass causes microscopic stress to muscles, to tendons, and to the central nervous system.

A big part of the muscle building process takes place during the healing process from the workout stress, and senior men need more time for this process to take place.

Also, maximizing workout benefits requires going at the workouts family hard, and being rested is the best way to attack a workout.

So while many younger men can get by with as little as one rest day per week, older men need longer, for example a cycle of two days on, one day off works well to allow senior men sufficient rest and recuperation.

4)      Supplementation is a higher requirement

Men over 50 don’t digest and metabolize food and nutrients as well.  Since muscle gain goals are also usually associated with body fat loss goals, making every calorie count becomes even more critical.

Operating on a calorie budget of, say 2,000 calories per day, getting essential proteins, low-glycemic carbohydrates, and healthy fats becomes a challenge.  By taking macro-nutrient supplements like whey protein powder and micro-nutrient supplements like multivitamins ensures your body gets what it needs while keeping calories low.

5)      Lifting heavier becomes riskier

To be sure, lifting heavy provides many important benefits for men over 50, including muscle mass gain and bone density increases, and should be part of the resistance training cycle.

However, given muscle atrophy and joint health degradation typical in senior men, slow and steady is important.  Cycling in heavier weights should be a slow progression to limit injury risk, and at least initially, heavy sets should only be performed under the supervision of a qualified personal trainer.

For more information about being in the best shape of your life after age 50, check out BestFit50.




24 Responses to 5 Ways Building Muscle Differs in Men Over 50

  • Bryan Valiant says:

    I am 48 yrs old… have been sedentary my whole life… I weight 200lbs and am 5’10” and have a 42″ waist… I drink 4 beers a day and suffer from depression and anxiety… I just signed up for a gym and want to change my life… at my age could I get to 180lbs and have a low body fat? Is that possible? and how would I start… feel doomed.

    • admin says:

      Bro, relax, all is good. First, consider seeking help for your drinking problem, any life-change, especially fitness, will not be possible until you kick the habit. Second, change your diet simply by eliminating sugars and junk food. Third, get a personal trainer to help you start for the first 30 days. You must have discipline to make these three things happen, best wishes to you.

    • Ed S. says:

      80% diet
      20% exercise

      Start with diet. NO MORE SUGAR!!! That means most breads (find organic whole non enriched flour breads if you must) beer, try wine if you must, and all processed foods. So your diet plan should be, “If its not picked and packaged, ie. fruits, vegy’s etc. or slaughtered and packaged ie. protiens chicken, lean beef, fish, then you don’t eat it. Healthy fats, nuts, certain oils etc are also needed.
      Water should be the only thing you drink other than coffee (dairy ok if you can tolerate) but again NO SUGAR. Tea same as coffee.

      Exercise start with cardio at the best pace you can without injury 20 min 4x a week. build up to 30 min 5x a week. Once you can go 5x a week go to HITT which is high intensity. Start by walking (treadmill, elliptical, street whatever makes you happy) at normal pace for 2 min then during the third min all out as fast as you can for either 1 min or until exhausted. Then walk for 2 min normal pace and then again all out for 1 min. Keep this up until you can do this for 20 min 4x a week.

      Now you will have lost a bunch of weight feel like you shed 10 years and will be ready to move on to gym for weight training. You are going to cut down on cardio and concentrate on weight training. Hire a trainer for 6 or so sessions and tell him or her that you want to work on compound full body routine. (They will know.) This is your new life. You will feel so much better, you will look so much better and now and again you will notice people throwing glances at you.

      Last December I was 6’2” 212 lbs skinny fat (all belly and chest) pre diabetic with high cholesterol at 55 years old. Today 180 lbs 14.5% body fat 40 % muscle no longer pre diabetic cholesterol down 26 points. You can do it!

    • Kenny says:

      I go to gym 4 day’s weekly and got great workout routine. Best suggestion would be go in ask trainer and start light and stick to it no matter what and good thing’s will happen for you will help you feel good about yourself and help you with depression and weight loss will happen. Just stick to it give all you got.

  • R says:

    I’m a malecturning 52 in April and have never been part of a weight training / body building program. Have started bench pressing / workout routines at home just over the last few weeks and also take a protein shake after workouts. Have a healthy BMI of about 19-20 but now would like to put on muscle mass / gain weight. I currently weigh 130lbs. What’ do you suggest I do to really kickstart this. Thanks.

  • robert j. vitolo jr says:

    I’m, Vito.
    I just had a knee replaced and I’m looking to get back in shape. I was a power lifter for over 35 years, so I know the game pretty much. I’m looking for suggestions since I’m now 76 and gained 12 pounds after surgery
    Any recommendations on how to get my muscle and density back..
    Thanks Vito

  • Joe Mealey says:

    I am a 73 yr old male and run about 100 miles a month. I have been a runner for 40 years. I A’s down to snout 60 miles a month less than a year ago and have concentrated on increasing my mileage and my times. Six months ago I was running about a 10:00 minute mile now I am running a 9.01 minute mile.
    I’m noticing a loss of muscle and having to walk after running up small hills. It feels like my quads are exhausted.
    I have increased my protein in my diet. I usually rest from running every third day.
    I weigh 168 and am 5’10.
    Any suggestions on how I can run hills without wiping me out?

    • admin says:

      How many rest interval days do you take? It could be overtraining. Also, while protein is important, for runners getting enough complex carbohydrates is critical.

  • Ted says:

    All good advice. Im 61 and have been lifting heavy for a couple years now. Hip replacement 8 months ago was the reason I started training. Big improvement before the surgery with mobility and strength allowed the recovery to be a breeze. I have a pretty simple program. A 5×5 rep/set Squat / pull / push, every 2nd day, add a little each workout. After 6 weeks or so the weight is difficult but the arthritis pain is gone, flexibility has improved and Im sleeping better. Alternate days are simple cardio. Protein shake once a day.
    After 12 weeks or so I rest for a couple weeks and start over. Started out weighing 200# and 40” waist.
    2 years later I am at 190# and 34″ waist. Much more daily energy too. No question for you, just a thank you because it was this article that got me started! Anyone can do it, just decide to.

    • admin says:

      Ted, this is awesome, yes, strength training along with diet and stretching cures many ills, keep up the great work and spread the word!

  • Jesse Harris says:

    Please reply through email and post. I’m a 50 year young postal worker. I work retail the first half of my shift then I do closing unit the second half; that incorporates heavy/repetitive lifting. I sustained a lower back injury in Bosnia while in the military. Now I get shots in my back to control the pain. For the last 10 months if been training in a boxing gym in my community. Just recently been shut down by my physical therapist because of tendinitis in my elbow, pain in my right knee and ankle. My boxing coach says that resistance bands will help me. I also have some stretches that I do for the elbow. I have a goal set to compete in the senior division s/e regional boxing tournament and win a belt. I’m 5 foot 6 inches and 250 lbs. Please help me…..I have 3 to 4 more years to achieve this. I’ll be 55 at that time.

    • admin says:

      Hi Jesse, this is a tough one. High-impact sports like boxing take their toll on any body, but at 50+ it can be hard to sustain. I personally tried a comeback in full-contact football at age 40 and it didn’t work very well. Goals are personal and I’d never dissuade you from yours, however injuries will be part of the equation and you’ll need to decide if the goal is worth the price. Best wishes to you and best of luck!

  • Ron Ward says:

    I have the opposite problem of most men over 50. I am 58, 6’5 and around 170 lbs. I have rheumatoid arthritis that is pretty well controlled and had micro surgery for a severely herniated disc in my lower back a few years ago and continue to have problems in that area with lumbar back sprains every so often just as I did before the surgery due to scoliosis,

    My job as a mailman is very physically demanding which keeps my weight down and contributes to the back problem.

    Summer is just around the corner and is the worst time of year for mailmen in So. California with the long hrs. in the extreme heat while walking and carrying the weight on your back. Generally the job exhausts me but I am extremely stressed about the summer and how I will be able to handle it once again.

    I have very little flexibility in my core . Back and hamstrings are and have always been tight. Upper body also not strong as you might guess from my weight. Also get severe cramping in all parts of my legs. I am a single male so don’t have much time or really the energy for working out since the job drains me so much.

    I also am a smoker and coffee drinker although both are pretty moderate but I think contribute to my weight staying down so low.

    I have provided this background to ask advice on the best way for me to gain some strength and weight. I don’t belong to a gym or have excess to weights. I don’t want to gain weight in the stomach because that would contribute to my back problems but would like to know the best supplements/products, basic exercises and stretches to gain some weight and strength for men my age keeping in mind my health issues. Thank you for your time.

    Oh also saw your advice above on getting testosterone levels checked to see if the level will support muscle growth. Once you get a test like that I doubt most doctors know much about what levels will support muscle growth so what scores in a test like that do I look for ?

    • admin says:

      First, you should get a physical and check not only your testosterone levels but also your thyroid, which contributes to moderating your metabolism, it’s possible your thyroid is hyperactive and inhibiting muscle gains. Beyond that, you really need to invest in a trainer, you will need to strengthen all parts of your body and you’re looking at investing at least a year of regular workouts to see real improvement. Coffee is not a big deal, but smoking is and it will kill you, so please just stop. If you dedicate yourself, invest in a trainer, and invest in time spent in the gym, you will progress in the right direction, but no shortcuts exist. Best wishes on your journey.

    • admin says:

      You’ll want to create a macro balance of about 30% protein, about 50% carbohydrates, and about 20% healthy fats, use lean meats and whey/casein for protein, vegetables and some grains for your carbohydrates, and nuts for your fats, make sure to eat the right amount of total calories for your body weight.

  • mike says:

    im 50 and ive always had agood only 160 lbs.muscles are slowly drifting away and I find my back is easier to hurt.i blame this on muscles leaving the joint area?i don’t gain weight no matter how much I eat.maybe a good supplement?i work constructionevery day.

    • admin says:

      Hey Mike, you need to begin a resistance training program at least 3 days a week, after you fifty you will begin losing a significant portion of muscle mass every few years, diet is important but will not change your muscle atrophy progression. Get a good personal trainer and begin a weight training program now, you will see a difference!

  • Thanks a lot for sharing this with all of us you really understand what you are speaking about!
    Bookmarked. Please also seek advice from my site =). We will have a link trade
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  • kraig andersen says:

    iam 67 and iam in a wheelchair my left side is parlised from a stroke .for 10 months i have ben on a diet working my right side with weights . i have lost 70 lb. but have seen little muscle gain. can you help

  • admin says:

    Make sure that you get enough protein, for your goals should be as much as 50% of your total calories, then get in the gym and lift weights, get a qualified personal trainer if you don’t have lifting experience. Also, at your age good to check your testosterone levels to insure your hormones will support muscle growth. Best wishes, keep is updated on your progress!!

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