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Hi all, I hope you are hanging in there during these crazy times. This week we have a 4 part series of guest posts from Born Tough discussing tips to help with specific fitness goals you may be trying to accomplish, benefits of physical activity, as well as looking at specific activities you may enjoy and find benefit from. In part 1 of this guest series, our guest writers are discussing important tips and tricks for building muscle.

**Consult with your doctor and/or a Registered Dietitian before pursuing significant exercise or food changes**

Check out the full guest post below.

Regardless of your age, you can build muscle mass. Do you want to have strong or toned biceps or a toned stomach? Studies show that even in your 90s you can pack on your muscle. Muscle serves great for aesthetic purposes in your 20s, with the more important benefit of overall strength, energy, and health. Once you have crossed 50 years of age, muscle mass has a significant added, necessary benefit beyond just looks. Building muscle makes your body more resilient.

How do muscles grow?

Skeletal muscles are the most flexible tissue of the body. Doing intense exercise, such as weightlifting, make muscle fibers experience small tears, or muscle “damage”. Small tears within the muscle tissues cause satellite cells to become active. In order to repair and heal the damage, satellite tissues tend to join together and, in turn, increase the muscle fiber which causes the muscles to begin to grow. **Please note that this muscle damage/tears are small and a normal part of exercise, if you experience a significant muscle tear or pull then it is considered an injury and not result in growth.**

Best Age for Building Muscle

There is no such thing as the “perfect age for exercise”. No matter what your age or fitness levels are, you can always put on your Born Tough bodybuilding clothes, join a gym or plan out some home workouts and reap all of the benefits. However, exercise and lifting some weights and bodybuilding are not the same. The best age for bodybuilding is when you are in your 20s or initial 30s. The primary natural hormone which aid men in building muscle mass and strength is testosterone. This hormone production reaches its peak usually by the age of 19. After the age of 30, production of testosterone begins to decline gradually. It diminishes around 1% each year. On average about 40% of men above age 45 have low levels of testosterone. Its low levels are linked with loss of muscle mass, decrease of strength, and increased fat mass. Moreover, peak anaerobic strength also decreases around 1% per year as you cross your 30s. (If you are under 18, make sure to check with a doctor before you begin lifting heavy weight to ensure it does not affect your growth and health). Therefore, it is easier for most men to gain muscle mass and strength when they are in their 20s. But this doesn’t mean you cannot start bodybuilding in your 40s.

According to a study, optimum strength training can improve your muscle function even if you are between your 60 and 75. These workouts noticeably restore muscle toughness & strength, help in preserving lean mass & reduce other health related issues in older adults. However, if you are considering starting bodybuilding in your 50s, achieving the same performance level as somebody younger may get harder. While body building is one extreme method of building muscle mass, doing less intensive strength and resistance training is important in combination with cardiovascular activity for overall health and building muscle for health and strength purposes.  There are other health serving benefits that you should consider.

Follow A Balanced Eating Plan

No one can gain muscle mass & lose unnecessary fat without having a well-balanced diet.

You essentially need to have a well-balanced diet with the appropriate macronutrient breakdown in order to build muscle. Consider consuming an appropriate macronutrients combination for your specific muscle goals, age, and health status — carbohydrates, proteins & fats. However, your body may not require so many calories as you age, which is important to take in to account. **Please consult a Registered Dietitian if you are looking for the best eating plan to assist your individualized exercise, fitness, and health goals.**

Building and Cutting

Bodybuilding generally works through building and cutting cycles. A well-organized workout plan starts with muscle definition & growth and ends at a recovery and rest phase by giving you an opportunity of cutting down body fat. You can prolong each phase as per your desire and health recommendations, but a shift of eating plan is important i.e., consuming more in building phase and cutting or adjusting macronutrients in recovery.  **Please note that if you believe you have an eating disorder or have a significant challenge with body image, you may want to avoid body building as a form of exercise. If you decide to pursue body building with any of these challenges, please consult a Registered Dietitian and a therapist during the process to ensure your mental and physical health and safety.**

Boost Your Metabolism

As mentioned earlier your aerobic capacity starts declining by the age of 30. The major reason behind this is a decrease of metabolically active mass and an increase of metabolically inactive body fat. Adding on muscle mass is the easiest way for increasing your metabolism. Each pound of additional muscle you build can potentially enhance your rest metabolism by five calories per day. Consuming nutritional supplements such as caffeine also boost metabolism in this older age group, consult your doctor before using additional supplementation.

Do not neglect your Joints

As you age a shift occurs in your joint’s cartilage that has potential to cause injury or disease.  

For managing this shift, one should decrease the training intensity and volume as well. Eliminating single-joint workouts will decrease joint stress and fatigue. Doing body weight work and stability training can help with joint health as well.

Value your Rest & Recovery

Bodybuilders often develop overtraining syndrome by not giving enough recovery time to their body; older adults are more prone to this. Injuries in older ages generally have a prolonged rehabilitation time, so it is important to keep in mind patience in recovery, especially as you age.

So, give yourself proper recovery time from whatever workout you do. Over exercising can not only stand in your way to reach your goal but can cause adverse effects on your health.

Please let me know if you have any questions or feedback on this fun article.

Thank you to Born Tough Affiliates for providing us with this fun exercise related blog series.

Stay healthy!

Ricci-Lee Hotz, MS, RDN

Denver’s Dancing Dietitian

A Taste of Health, LLC

“Improving Quality of life one bite at a time”

denversdancingdietitian.com