I talk to many older people who believe it’s impossible to gain muscle after a certain age. They have heard all the stories about how we start losing muscle mass after the age of forty and sometimes younger. Because they believe there is nothing they can do about their muscles, they no longer exercise.
Yet I know many older bodybuilders who are in their seventies and eighties who continue to work out, they continue to remain flexible and they continue to grow muscle mass. Because they believe they can do something about their health and fitness, that’s exactly what they do. And they get phenomenal results.
Yes it is true we do lose muscle as we age but the biggest reason for this is we stop using our muscles. In our society we are moving less and less and exercising less and less regardless of our age. As we grow older we move even less and practically never exercise. It’s not that we can’t gain strength and muscle as we age; it’s just that we stop exercising our muscles altogether. We don’t do any strength training or conditioning and what we don’t use we lose.
Gaining muscle mass is actually not that difficult when you exercise on a regular basis. The studies suggest we lose between six and eight percent of our muscle mass every decade after a certain age. On the surface and in the news this sounds horrible. But if you think about it, that’s less than one percent a year. If we work out just a little bit we can easily off set this. All’s we have to do is gain two percent in our muscle mass a year and we end up being ahead of the game.
I like to think about it like this. Every time I drive my car I use up some gas. Just because my tank has less gas in it doesn’t mean I can’t stop and put more gas in the tank. Just because we lose some of our muscle mass after a certain age doesn’t mean we can’t off set this with a little exercise.
It used to be believed that high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and obesity were ailments children rarely got. These things didn’t used to show up until we got older. Today we now know this isn’t the case. These conditions are brought about by an unhealthy diet and lack of
exercise. More children are obese today than at any other time in history. And there are also alarming numbers of children with high blood pressure, high cholesterol and type 2 diabetes.
Children aren’t destined to be out of shape or overweight. These conditions are not age related, they are brought about by our sedentary lifestyles. Yet many older people still believe and consider these same ailments to be age related and out of there control. It is simply not the truth. Age has nothing to do with it. We get these things when we stop moving and when we stop eating right.
I have a friend, Jim Shaffer who tells me he is stronger today and has more muscle mass now than at any other time in his life. He didn’t start lifting weights until he was in his late fifties. When he was younger he didn’t even have any muscles. Today Jim is in his late seventies, winning bodybuilding trophies and still going strong. He recently appeared on the television program, “Growing Bolder not Older.” He also has none of the other ailments we just mentioned.
I have another friend, Jack Ell, who just celebrated his ninety-third birthday. He didn’t start working out until he was in his seventies. He is not a body builder but I tell you, and I am not exaggerating this when I say it, he is stronger than most people half his age and can do pull ups better than most people even younger than that. He also has none of the age related ailments common for his generation. Working out and living a healthy life style has benefits that go far beyond just being trim and fit. We end having more energy and feeling better about ourselves while improving our overall health and wellbeing.