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Building Muscle Over 50
There is this pervasive notion that muscle building is for young people. And that building muscle over 50 is kind of a slip. Nothing could be further from the truth.
By the way, one of the great paradigms challenged by baby boomers daily is that seniors are seniors. Some establishments actually start their senior discounts at age 50. wow. Well, look at it; don’t talk to me about being a senior until I hit the ripe old age of 100, and then we’ll fight about it again.
Baby boomers won’t accept that we have to walk three (the riddle of the sphinx) in our twilight years. We will not fear gravity.
In truth, so many of us have spent the last decade or two training and getting in good physical shape that it’s obvious to continue into our 50s and 60s. And the good news is that we can continue to build muscle. Look to guys like Larry Scott and the late Jack Lalanne if you need proof.
And the benefits of having a strong and muscular body allow us to stay mobile and have good posture. All of this translates into a better quality of life.
However, we are not 25 years old and our bodies have seen their share of wear and tear. Yes, you can build muscle, but now more than ever you have to be smart about how you do it. And to help you, I offer the following suggestions.
Things you need to do:
- Consult your doctor and get a full health checkup before beginning any fitness program. This should be a no-brainer, yet many will ignore this advice. You cannot ignore this advice. It’s number one on your to-do list before you start.
- I believe in being a student of the game – any game. That means learning the science of building muscle. Specifically, weightlifting is a learned activity. You need to learn correct form, lifting techniques, and cause-and-effect rep patterns. You can choose to work with a personal trainer or learn by following DVDs or books. Either way, you really need to learn the right techniques in the beginning.
- If you choose to exercise at a gym or fitness center, don’t try to match lift for lift with young bucks. You need to exercise with maximum intensity and effort. But don’t confuse this with trying to lift like the kid next to you. Never truer than here, but you have to move to the beat of your own inner music and set your own pace.
- Your body is older – duh – and that means longer recovery time for you. Just because the most popular cycle is 2 days on and 1 day off doesn’t mean it’s right for you. At our age, the best cycle might just be 1 day on and 1 day off. You need to give your body time to heal and rebuild. While burning the candle at both ends might not have been a problem 20 years ago, it is now.
- There is no getting around the effects of gravity on the body as well as the wear and tear on our bodies. If you’re like me, arthritis rules all of your joints. Don’t ignore the pain and make a move because that’s how movement happens. Always find the groove without pain. It can mean expanding or shrinking your grip. Or even eliminating certain exercises like the overhead press as I had to do. It’s strength training, not pain.
The details of what to do is not necessarily important. You can do a full body workout 2 or 3 times a week. Or you can work your upper body on day one and rest on day two. You would do lower body and abs on day 3. You could rest on day 4 and repeat the cycle on day 5. You can find lots of routine recommendations everywhere.
What’s important in building muscle over 50 is to keep these suggestions in mind and your challenges in front of you. And you’ll do just fine. I’ll see you at the next senior bingo night.
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