Building Muscle After 60

Your immediate reaction to the idea of building muscle after 60 may be to totally reject the idea. You might think you can’t build muscle this late in the game. (Wrong!). You might hate the idea of doing any form of resistance training required. Perhaps you loath the idea of resistance training of any kind. Maybe you are so repulsed by the idea you feel like it would suck your will to live! Even if all that is true, you’ve read this far and I hope you will continue to read about some powerful reasons for WHY old dudes like us should endeavor to build some muscle.

Why Build Muscle After 60?

To start with, LIVE LONGER AND BETTER. Various research studies have shown that strength training helps older people live longer and with a better quality of life. For example, a study published in “Preventative Medicine” researched people, over a 15-year period, who died after age 65. They used data collected by The National Health Interview Survey then used the death certificate data. Only 9% of the people reported they did some type of strength training regularly, at least two times per week. Those people had a 46 percent less risk of early death than those who didn’t do strength training. They were also 41 percent less likely to have a cardiac-related death and 19 percent less likely to die from cancer. The results held true even if those who did strength training engaged in smoking or alcohol use. Research has also shown that lifting heavy weights over time not only helps maintain bone density but causes new bone growth. And it helps strengthen the integrity of joints and helps maintain and improve overall balance which tends to deteriorate as we age due to lack of activity.old-man-weighted-lunges

The average 30-year-old will lose about a quarter of his muscle strength by age 70 and half of it by age 90. Dr. Robert Shreiber, an instructor at Harvard Medical School says, “Unless you are doing strength training, you will become weaker and less functional.”

So, if living a longer life with a significantly improved, overall quality of life sounds good, read on. There is more!

More Benefits to Building Muscle

When you build muscle you use more calories and burn more fat. You see, muscles burn energy. Fat stores energy. As your muscles grow your metabolic rate increases. So, even when you’re sitting on the couch binging your latest Netflix series, if you’ve built muscle, you are burning more calories. Nice, huh?

Your balance will improve, big time! If you’re past 60 and have not been strength training or balance training, you are probably experienced a loss of the ability to balance that you never even had to think about in your younger years. Maybe you’ve even fallen because you lost your balance. My mother-in-law who is in her late ’80’s has fallen many times. I’ve had to pick her up a bunch of times. She’s even fallen, literally, flat on her face. Each time that’s happened she winds up with 2 black eyes and, a totally bruised face. She’s never done any kind of exercise for balance or anything else. My 94 year old dad walks with a walker, but he’s become all hunched over because of it. Balance, like so many other things as we age, is a “use it or lose it” deal. I can only imagine how humiliating it would be to fall and break something while heading to the bathroom in the middle of the night. “How did you break your hip?” Would you rather reply, “Awe I broke it playing ultimate Frisbee with my grand kids.”; or, “I fell down going potty in the middle of the night.”

Strength training can help avoid injuries. As your core and your legs strengthen your bones ligaments and tendons strengthen and come back to life.older-man-doing-hammer-curls

Building muscle for men over 60 helps even normal, day-to-day activities get easier. Have you had trouble opening your bottle of martini olives? Or, maybe you have one of those contraptions that opens jars for ladies or for guys who aren’t strong enough anymore. Wouldn’t you like to carry 2 bags of groceries up the stairs without huffin’ and puffin’ or losing your balance?

Research has shown that weight training can reduce your risk of heart disease, by improving cardiovascular function and improving blood chemistry.

Building muscle helps improve coordination. When muscles contract, they stimulate the nervous system, which enables the muscles to fire. Resistance training increases these nerves’ firing rate, which allows you to better coordinate movements. Would you like to be able to shoot some hoops with your grandson and not miss the hoop and the backboard? How about kick the soccer ball around with your grand kids? That’s when your grand kids can’t wait for you to come visit so they can play with you! Guys, that reason alone is a motivator for me.

 

“I don’t want to get all bulked up.”

Oh my gosh! I have actually heard guys say that. I hope YOU haven’t said that. If you did I’m about to offend you. That is SO lame! That’s an excuse, not a reason. You would have to be incredibly dedicated and intentional, consistently over time to develop anything that could be considered bulk.older-man-doing-pushups

More likely, you think, if you’ve never done much strength training in the past, at this stage of life, it’s too late to build muscle and acquire strength. That, I’m happy to say is NOT the case. If you’re in your sixties or beyond, you can build muscle. Anyone who tells you it’s not possible is proven wrong by many scientific studies. Zig Ziglar would have said to that person, (in his thick Southern drawl), “That’s stinkin’ thinkin’ and you need a check-up from the neck-up!”

 

“What kinds of resistance training are there?”

  • Free weights – These are barbells and dumbbells.
    • A barbell is usually between 5 and 6 feet long and weighs 45 pounds before putting any other weighs on it.
    • A dumbbell is like a short barbell. They are usually 4 to 5 inches long and most commonly held by one hand for various exercises.
  • Machines – There are countless types and styles of weighted machines for a multitude of various exercises. In many cases machines can facilitate safer weight training because of the assistance they provide. Often times older men prefer machines to free weights. I recently watched a documentary with Arnold Schwarzenegger. Now in his 70s prefers machines to free weights for many exercises.
  • Resistance Bands – These are kind of like huge rubber bands. A little different from free weights, bands maintain resistance for the entire movement of each exercise. There are some advantages to this in both efficacy and safety. I just ordered a set of bands and am going to go through a 6-week routine with them.
  • Your own body weight – Common exercises are push-ups, pull-ups and lunges
  • Medicine Balls – There are various kinds of exercises with medicine balls that are effective in developing power. Power is the combination of strength and speed.

Final Thoughts

If I have been successful in persuading any of my readers that building muscle for men over 60, or for any other age, has huge payoffs for a longer life with a higher quality of life, the next step will be either:

  • How to get started, or
  • How to begin to move to the next level.

I’ll address those two topics in my next post. Thanks so much for reading! – Glenn

21 thoughts on “Building Muscle After 60

  1. Benson Eghreriniovo says:

    Hi,
    Great post. Totally agreed with you because I can testify to that. Although I’m not yet 60 years old (by the way you absolutely right that age doesn’t matter as long as you left the weight by stressing the muscles moderately, you will build muscle), but did noticed muscle wasting after stopping weight lifting or any strengthening exercise due to the COVID-19.
    Also, with my background in medicine, I know you can build muscles at any age and that’s why doctors always recommend exercises.
    Great job and thanks for sharing.

    V/r

  2. Fermin says:

    I read your post i liked it. Great job very informative. I might be bias cause i am in my fifties and enjoy working out.

    I also have heard the excuse “I don’t want to get too bulky.” Glad you included that point in your post.

    great job I will be reading more of your post.

  3. Ivan says:

    Hi there, thanks for sharing you ideas in this blig post. My dad is approaching his 60es and he’s getting more and more interestes in getting in full shape. I think he’s going to love your site.

  4. Christy says:

    This is great and encouraging information that I can share with them men in my life but also applies to women. Exercise does improve physical health and also has an amazing positive impact on mental health as well. Thanks for sharing!

  5. Prav says:

    woww, building muscles after 60? and here I had given up at the age of 40 😀 Thank you for this inspiring article. I will get started right away 🙂

    • Glenn says:

      Ha, Ha! Well done! I started weight training when I was 47. In 12 weeks, my before and after pictures showed I had gained a lot of muscle and lost a lot of fat. You can do it!!! Go for it, Prav! – Glenn

  6. Rajith says:

    Hey Glen,

    Great post. I love the motivation you provide for the target audience. We hear so much about medication to take when you are old to keep away all the illnesses. But for sure, being this active is definitely a great way to stay healthy and live long. I recently saw a news where one guy over 60 broke the world record for the longest time in the plank position. His record time was 8 hours and 15 mins if I am not mistaken. I can barely hold that position for a couple of minutes 🙂

    Great post indeed.

    • Glenn says:

      Thanks for the encouragement, Rajith! And, yes, I saw an article about that guy over 60 who did 8 hours and 15 minutes, in plank position. Amazing achievement!

  7. TGP says:

    Hi Glen, very interesting post. I was surprised by the results of those researches. Do we lose a quarter of our muscle strength by age 70? I imagine it is valid for women as well, isn’t it? There is no doubt that exercise is absolutely important in any age. I do pilates regularly and when I don’t I notice the difference. It is definitely a habit that we must have in our lives to live better and longer. Thanks and keep sharing.

    • Glenn says:

      Thank you for the nice comments. Pilates is a FANTASTIC exercise. It strengthens and lengthens the muscles, improving flexibility and mobility.

  8. Olga Bilkova says:

    Thank you for this article. My dad is gonna love it as he is full of excuses that he cant gain any muscles anymore! I believe he will return back in shape with your great tips! Many thanks.

  9. Andy says:

    Hi Glenn
    This is most definitely and article for me in all respects. We just moved our total gym up from its neglected location in the basement to the main bedroom. After reading this I will also bring my dumbbells up as well.
    Thanks for this
    Andy

  10. C.N. says:

    Thank you so much for this highly informative article, Glenn! Several of my uncles are over the age of 60, don’t take good care of themselves (lack of diet and exercise, as well as excessive alcohol use), and are beginning to lose body mass and strength. You did an excellent job of explaining why it’s so important for men over 60 to continue strength training, the best ways to do it, and what the desired results will likely be. Our health is so important; if we don’t have our health, we don’t have anything! I’ll definitely share this article with them! God bless you!

  11. Jeff says:

    I found this very interesting being I am over 60 now, and I have worked out regularly at the gym for quite some time. With the gyms closed due to the COVID-19, I am starting to feel I need to find a way to workout at home without any equipment, so I hope in your future posts you will be covering working out at home without equipment.

    Thank you
    Jeff

  12. Kenny Lee says:

    I’m not too bothered about having a six-pack in my sixties, but if it’s all about better health, I’m all for it. Great insight there, as I working out in the sixties definitely didn’t cross my mind.

    Probably need a change to my mindset and start building the workout routines now.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *