Men Over 50 Gain Muscle and Lose Weight

Should Men Over 50 Lift Heavy?

Building muscle mass in men over 50 requires heavy lifting

Men Over 50 Lift Heavy

Men Over 50 Gain Muscle Mass by Lifting Heavy Weights

For men over 50, “lifting heavy” to build muscle mass arises as a regularly asked question.  To be sure, heavy lifting is a topic of discussion and debate regardless of age and/or gender.  However, for men over 50, heavy lifting indeed requires special consideration.

Heavy lifting for men over 50 creates a risk/return dilemma, with the correct answer being more personal and unique to the individual than completely scientific with a single answer for everyone.

While consensus clearly supports heavy lifting at regular intervals to support muscle gains, anyone over 50 needs to understand the increased injury risk this introduces.

Heavy lifting for muscle gain in men over 50

As with any resistance training program, workout changes should be introduced regularly.  This helps muscle development from plateauing.   For example, this could include one or two weeks of lighter weights working in the 12-15 rep range for three sets per exercise.  Then, a week or two of heavier weights in the 6-8 rep range for four sets.

An alternating workout approach provides the additional benefit of keeping the workouts more interesting, reducing the boredom factor.

Adding in heavier workouts provides several additional benefits.  First, like women, men over 50 can get osteoporosis, a loss of bone density and strength.  Research shows that by lifting heavy, osteoporosis onset and progression can be slowed significantly.

For more information on getting into the very best shape of your life after age 50, be sure to check out BestFit 50.

Second, heavy lifting can contribute to overall muscle strength, helping men over 50 in their daily activities and hobbies requiring regularly lifting and moving objects and/or strength related moves for most sports.

Third, depending on genetic makeup, many people respond better to heavy lifting to stimulate new muscle growth.  To be sure, some may respond better to lighter weights and higher reps, another good reason to continually rotate heavy and lighter routines.

Heavy lifting risk factors for men over 50

Heavy lifting isn’t for everyone, and it can increase the risk of injury, including joints, tendons and the muscles themselves.  For  someone new to resistance training, heavy lifting is out of the question for at least the first six months.

During this initial time, a new lifter must develop muscle and tendon strength, and also new blood supply and nerve connections.  Additionally, high core strength will be required for heavy lifting.

But most importantly, when starting out a new lifter must master proper form before advancing to heavier weights.  In any situation, proper form ensures full engagement and development of the target muscle groups.  Additionally,  proper form limits injury risk by keeping the spine stable and the joints and muscle within proper range of motion.

Perhaps most importantly, a good personal trainer can help a new lifter gauge progression, helping to make decision on when the client is ready to progress to heavier weights and at what increments the increases in weight should be added.

For these reasons, a new lifter should always seek council with a qualified personal trainer who understands their goals and their present ability levels.

18 Responses to Should Men Over 50 Lift Heavy?

  • Wade Gonsoulin says:

    I’m 52 and more interested in developing real strength than hypertrophy. My joints are in pretty good condition. Is it safe to lift maximal loads at my age? If I do, might there be a likely-hood of causing cumulative injury that will effect me when I’m in my 80’s and 90’s?

    I work out alone with no spotter, so of course there are some things I won’t attempt with a lot of weight on a free bar. But I still want to be as strong as humanly possible at my age.


    • admin says:

      Working without a spotter can be risky when attempting max loads and I wouldn’t recommend it. You can more safely build strength vs. hypertrophy with a 5 x 5 (five sets of five reps) regimen, listen to your joints and tendons and respect any pain by resting or backing down a bit, best of luck!

    • admin says:

      Should pain like this should not be ignored, go to an orthopedist who specializes in shoulders and get it checked out immediately before lifting further, best wishes.

  • Bill says:

    I am 61 and always worked out. I lift as heavy as can, even after a H/A and two stents. I bench 340, I do dumbells presses with 120#s and every week I push myself to do more. At this point I do not have nearly the mass I used to have, but it keeps my overall fitness level and mental level at a great peak. I would never suggest someone start in new at this at this age, but if you have been doing it, keep doing it. Our body uses pain as a great guide to what we can and cannot do.

    • admin says:

      Thanks so much for sharing. In fact, 61 is not too old for someone to start in resistance training, but only with the right guidance on form and on progression. Benching 340 at 61 is incredible. Of course a newbie at this age would begin with very light weight, probably just the bar. Studies continue proving that, combined with an overall healthy lifestyle, resistance training is one of the best ways to combat the effects of aging, keep it rolling Bill!

  • Don says:

    I am 63 yrs old and do deep squats at 200 lbs…bench press 205…just been lifting for 6 weeks but I worked out religiously 20 yrs ago and just got back to it…I train heavy and light days…train smart..wrap knees as they sometimes hurt but not when lifting….no one on the planet has squatted more than Tom Platz and his knees are good
    I did 500 deep squats with the Olympic bar…took 38 minutes

  • Bootny D. says:

    I’m a 62 yr old male nėgro who is clean living. Don’t even drink ethol. I’m on bp meds lower dose. I do pretty good but my dick don’t get hard as it used too but still big an hard enough that it make them white bitches cum real good.
    So my bench press is at 1 rep max of 410 lbs – free weight.
    My lifting routine is: After benching I only work triceps then some squats. Nothing else. I wait to train shoulders 3 days later with another routine of triceps following shoulders. After benching and 3 days later after shoulders I do rotators and I always only train each lift once a week except tri’s, rotators, calves and forearms.
    I’m 5’11 and 240lbs. Most the week I eat clean. No more chitlins and heavy gravies. I do notice if I don’t supplement and keep my protein higher at 1.5 grams to pound of body weight, then this old nėgro just don’t recover well and this includes bcaa’s daily even if I’m not lifting. I do a 2:1:1 ratio. Shoot even my bcc don’t work right without higher protein and then bcaa’s. Also I only eat between 1pm and 5pm just those 2 meals a day. I’m strict about it. Also I always train on an empty stomach in a fasted state. It jacks my testosterone and growth hormone way up.
    The only cardio I do is fast all out short sprints. Most are on a hill near where I live. I do these 4 x week. Some you people might think I’m full of crap here but it’s all truth.
    This way of eating and working out is keeping me young and strong and my doctor tell me if I drop 40 lbs body weigh that I’d be of BP meds. Just need to cut my eating portions in half. Well see but it’s hard because I still have a big appetite for good food and pussy and a lot of it. Damn straight!

  • Rob Ronzio says:

    I am closing in on 50 and will be in a federal penitentiary soon I lift heavy to look intimidating and as a form of survival because maybe I will get protection if I provide services cause I am real cute. My Rhode Island friends tell me to work my abs and hammer for that tone lean jailhouse look

  • Ed says:

    I’m 60years old a former trainer and ball player. I have been lifting for 40 years and started heavy lifting 20 years ago. I suffered a work related back injury in 1994 falling off a ladder. Herniated and bulging disks almost put me down for the count. I refused to be a pain pill popper and slowly got my game back. I squat between 350 and 400 lbs. Bench 300 and do straight bar curls 130 for reps. If it wasn’t for lifting before my injury I don’t know how the quality of my life would have been. It dose not matter how heavy you lift its proper form and paying attention to how your body responds.

  • B. Wolf says:

    Your remarks are pretty common. Been lifting for quite a while. At 68, I bench 145, 3 sets of 12, and the same for incline and decline benches, along with flys, same sets and #, with 35 dumb bells. Add in arnold presses (3/12), lateral raises (3/12), front raises (3/12), along with 40 minutes cardio (bike, tread + others) and that constitutes my two day a week “pull” workout.

    What I really want to know if how to maintain better muscle tone! Arms and chest are still a bit flabby and I want to try to eliminate it. Is the best technique for that higher reps and lower weight…thanks

    • admin says:

      Do you know your bodyfat composition? If you can provide that’s helpful, sound like it may be more of a diet issue, let us know!

  • Keith Mohr says:

    thanks John! I’m learning how to do Squats…a little intimidating, but I’m getting there!
    Diet is doing great. I’ve been eating clean since July.

    Here’s how I finish each day.. I put 1/2 cup of Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Steel cut Oats in a Rice cooker and set the timer to make it about an hour before I get up. I put a large tablespoon of Nutiva Extra Virgin Coconut oil in with it.. then I eat a tablespoon of it right before going to bed. Right on down the hatch!

    When I wake up, I down 2 large glasses of water, then I eat my oatmeal, with a banana, tablespoon of ground Flax Seed, tablespoon of Chia seeds, some walnuts or almonds, topped with organic cinnamon and Pure Maple Syrup. About an hour after that, I have the best you know what:) cleans me out..

    Do this every day for 3 months and you will shed lots of weight and feel great!

  • Keith Mohr says:

    thanks for the advise.. really appreciate it! I started working out in July 2012.. I worked with a trainer doing cardio and “Insanity” type of workouts for 2 months. I then switched to a gym and worked the Techno-Gym and Cybex machines, along with 20 minutes of HIIT cardio on the bike and rowing machine. January 1, 2013, I introduced more heavy lifting with bench press and the larger Cybex machines with plates.. It’s been awesome to see the changes already taken place as I step it up and progress!

    • admin says:

      Very sensible progression plan Keith, keep introducing more free weight work into your sessions and really focus on your diet, you’ll be amazed by what can happen, over 50 rocks!

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