Should Men Over 50 Lift Heavy?
Building muscle mass in men over 50 requires heavy lifting
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.
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.