As we age, our bodies undergo a series of natural changes. One of the most notable changes is the gradual loss of muscle mass, which can have a significant impact on our overall health and quality of life.
However, contrary to popular belief, building muscle after 70 is not impossible. In fact, research suggests that older adults can still achieve significant gains in muscle mass with the right exercise and nutrition strategies.
In this article, we’ll explore what science says about building muscle after 70, including the limits of age and the most effective strategies for maximizing muscle growth.
The Limits of Age
As we age, our bodies naturally experience a decline in muscle mass and strength, known as sarcopenia. This decline is thought to be caused by a combination of factors, including hormonal changes, decreased physical activity, and poor nutrition.
However, while age-related muscle loss is a gradual and ongoing process, it’s not inevitable. In fact, research suggests that older adults can still build muscle mass and strength, even in their 70s, 80s, and beyond.
That being said, there are certain limitations to muscle growth in older adults. For example, older adults may experience a slower rate of muscle growth compared to younger individuals due to a decrease in anabolic hormones like testosterone and growth hormone.
Additionally, older adults may also have a decreased ability to recover from exercise, which can impact their ability to train with high intensity and frequency.
Despite these limitations, research suggests that older adults can still achieve significant gains in muscle mass and strength with the right exercise and nutrition strategies.
Effective Strategies for Building Muscle After 70
1. Resistance Training
One of the most effective strategies for building muscle after 70 is resistance training, which involves lifting weights or using resistance bands to challenge your muscles.
Research suggests that older adults can still benefit from resistance training, even if they have never exercised before or have limited mobility. In fact, one study found that just 12 weeks of resistance training increased muscle mass and strength in older adults by up to 10%.
When designing a resistance training program, it’s important to focus on the major muscle groups, such as the legs, back, chest, and arms. Exercises like squats, lunges, bench press, and rows are all effective for building muscle mass and strength.
It’s also important to progressively increase the weight or resistance used in each exercise to continue challenging your muscles and promoting growth over time.
2. Protein Intake
In addition to resistance training, nutrition also plays a key role in building muscle mass after 70. Specifically, consuming enough protein is critical for supporting muscle growth and repair.
Research suggests that older adults may need a slightly higher protein intake compared to younger individuals to support muscle growth. Aim for at least 1.2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day, and consider consuming a protein-rich snack or meal after resistance training to promote muscle repair and growth.
Good sources of protein for older adults include lean meats, poultry, fish, eggs, dairy products, beans, lentils, and tofu.
3. Recovery Strategies
Finally, recovery strategies like adequate sleep and rest are essential for building muscle after 70. Older adults may require more rest and recovery time compared to younger individuals, so listen to your body and allow for ample rest and recovery between workouts.
Additionally, incorporating recovery strategies like foam rolling, massage, and stretching can help reduce muscle soreness and promote muscle recovery.
The Bottom Line
Building muscle after 70 is not impossible, but it does require a strategic approach. Resistance training, protein intake, and recovery strategies like sleep and rest are all essential for maximizing muscle growth and strength in older adults.
While there are limitations to muscle growth in older adults, research suggests that with the right exercise and nutrition strategies, older adults can still achieve significant gains in muscle mass and strength, improving their overall health and quality of life.