As you get older, you may start to believe that you are 'past your prime' as far as muscle building is concerned. The natural anabolic hormones in the body are starting to slow down and this is just going to make it harder and harder to gain the lean mass you're looking for.

In some cases, individuals who are over 50 may abandon the thought process of getting started on a muscle-building program entirely, deciding instead to focus their efforts on something else in life where they think they will stand a better chance for success.

This is unfortunate because, despite the fact that your body is growing older, there are still plenty of things that you can do to take your physique to the next level.

Adding lean muscle mass to your frame at this point in your life could be even more beneficial than someone who is in their early 20s or 30s because aesthetics aside, that muscle is going to help you maintain an active lifestyle into the latter years.

Individuals over 50 do normally see a dramatic drop in lean muscle mass unless strength training workouts are being performed, so it's vital that even if you have never weightlifted before, you now take the time to start doing so.

Mind Your Volume

When you're young, your body is able to recover quickly, therefore it can handle not only longer gym sessions, but you can perform these sessions more frequently as well. Back when you were 30, you may have found that you could go into the gym for a hard workout one day and be right back in there the next to target another group of body parts.

Due to this fact, younger individuals are better capable of handling workouts where the body is split into groups and require multiple gym sessions each week, often performed consecutively.

Once you start getting older however, you're going to find that you can't recover as quickly and if you attempt one workout the day after another was performed, performance may really suffer.

They had 21 subjects with a mean age of 80 years perform 11 weeks of lower body exercises. Eleven of these subjects performed negative work by exercising on a high-force eccentric ergometer. This type of exercise still requires the muscles to contract but demands very little energy from the subject. Therefore, this type of exercise is something that most frail elderly who are at a high risk of falls can tolerate.

The researchers also had another group of 10 subjects attempt to perform (to the best of their abilities) traditional weight training for the lower body muscle groups. They performed 10-15 repetitions that were considered 'easy' as well as another 6-10 repetitions that were considered by the subjects to be 'difficult.'

After the eleven week study was completed, the data demonstrated that negative work was just as effective for increasing muscle fiber cross-sectional area, improvements in strength, balance, stair decent, as well as a decreased risk of fall.

Additionally, since this negative work was regarded by the subjects to be effortless, it may prove to be a good exercise solution for those who are extremely intolerant to exercise.


So don't be so quick to think that you cannot increase your muscular strength, power, and degree of muscularity. With some smart training adjustments and a good attitude, you can really make a difference in how you look and feel.

Here's a workout to provide an example of what your program may look like. Perform this 2-3 times a week with one day off between training sessions.

Muscle Building Routine
Leg Press
3 sets, 6-8 reps
+ 9 more exercises


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  1. Duret, Camille Ma. Et al. (1999). Once-Weekly Resistance Exercise Improves Muscle Strength and Neuromuscular Performance in Older Adults. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. 47(10:1208-1214).
  2. Agrawal, S.K. et al. (2003). Effect of Strength and power Training on Physical Function in Community-Dwelling Older Adults. The Journals of Gerontology Series A: Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences 58:M171-M175.
  4. Ewy, G.A. et al. (2003). The Positive Effect of Negative Work: Increased Muscle Strength and Decreased Fall Risk in a Frail Elderly Population. The Journals of Gerontology Series A: Biological Sciences. 58:M419-M424.

About the Author

Shannon Clark

Shannon Clark

Shannon Clark is a freelance health and fitness writer located in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.

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