9 TIPS TO BUILD MUSCLE MASS AFTER 70
Article Updated on 18 July 2023
This article is continuously updated.
Yes, you can still gain muscles if you are over 70 years old. Many forms of exercise and nutritional considerations backed by research can help those over 70 build muscle mass and improve muscle tone. However, it is essential to adapt exercises according to your health condition and physical limitations.
Increasing Your Intake Of Protein
Proteins form the building blocks of muscles. Hence, a protein-rich diet is essential for building muscles. Men and women above the age of 70 can benefit from a protein-rich diet that provides them with essential nutrients.
Proteins can be derived from various food sources, such as beans, legumes, and meats. In the elderly, a larger dose of protein is required for muscle building as compared to younger adults.
One of the major health issues the elderly face is the loss of muscle mass, strength, and function with age, known as sarcopenia. Several studies have identified protein, especially the essential amino acids, as the main component for muscle health in elderly adults.
The current recommended daily protein consumption in adults is 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight. However, in the elderly, the recommended daily allowance of protein is between 1.2 and 2.0 grams per kilogram of body weight. This reflects the higher need and importance of protein in the diet.
The quality of the protein and type of protein you consume should also be considered. Essential amino acids, especially the branched-chain amino acid leucine, are potent stimulators of muscle protein formation. Animal proteins or animal-source proteins such as meats and dairy products have a greater amount of essential amino acids than plant-based forms such as soy milk, legumes, and beans.
Eating A Balanced Diet
Many people advocate for a Mediterranean diet or a rainbow diet, with different colors of food items. Including a variety of fruits and vegetables in your diet (varying in color) ensures you are receiving enough fiber and vitamins. On the other hand, a Mediterranean diet helps to ensure that you get a moderate amount of healthy fats through the intake of nuts, seeds, olives, avocadoes, and oils.
The micro-nutrients that can be used as supplements to help build muscle include selenium and magnesium. Minerals such as calcium and zinc also affect the musculoskeletal system. Calcium maintains the structural integrity of your bones and muscles. Similarly, zinc acts as an essential component for several biochemical reactions in the body.
A study showed that when compared to participants with normal selenium levels, those with lower selenium levels had comparatively weak hips, low knee strength, and decreased grip strength. Serum selenium is a marker for the risk of muscle loss.
In addition, vitamin C, vitamin D, and vitamin B6 also play significant roles in muscle health. Marked vitamin B deficiency can lead to neurological symptoms that affect motor neurons. This, in turn, leads to weakness. Therefore, it is essential to have a good mix of vitamins in your diet.
Pre-workout Warm-up and Stretches
Muscles and other connective tissue structures become prone to injury as you age. So, it is essential to do pre-workout warm-up exercises to prevent sudden excessive stress on your muscles.
Some light jogging, stretches and other forms of pre-workout warm-up exercises can help your body prepare for more strenuous forms of exercise. These stretches also reduce the possibility of injuries such as sprains, muscle tears, and fractures.
The period of pre-workout warm-up should be about 10 minutes. You can focus your warm-up on the group of muscles that you plan to train that day.
Using Resistance Bands
Resistance bands are great for integrating resistance training into your regimen. Elderly people can start with lower body strength training exercises that do not require equipment. A resistance band can then be added to provide an additional form of resistance.
After completing exercises to build the lower body muscular groups, you can workout to strengthen the core and upper body.
There is a natural muscle-building response when you stretch a muscle until it begins to strain. The muscle increases in mass as it must adapt to the strain. This leads to increased muscle fibers, which causes the growth in muscle size or muscle mass.
Studies have shown that using an elastic material such as a resistance band can be effective in improving muscle strength in elderly populations irrespective of health status. Training with elastic resistance is most effective in people who have mild functional limitations.
Body Weight Exercises Like Push-ups And Situps
You can perform resistance workouts such as push-ups and squats using only your body weight if you do not have any weights or a resistance band.. They also form an essential part of strength training that can help to build and maintain muscles.
It is simple to do these exercises at home. You must focus on doing sets of push-ups or squats. You need to repeat these sets and also take breaks in between the sets.
Muscles are composed of different fibers, and these fibers can degenerate with age. The elderly are prone to a sedentary lifestyle with fewer high-intensity forms of exercise. So, introducing exercises into your daily routine can help you to maintain muscle form.
A well-designed, progressive resistance exercise training program exerts a positive effect on both the nervous and muscular systems. Resistance exercise training should be considered a first-line treatment strategy for managing sarcopenia or muscle loss.
The duration of resistance exercise training (RET) should be 30 minutes to one hour. The exercise should be performed two to four days a week. Resistance training includes wall push-ups, seated cable row, biceps curl, triceps extension, calf raise, and leg extensions.
Use of Exercise Machines
Resistance exercises are commonly categorized into multi-joint and uni-joint. Multi-joint exercises are those in which more than one joint is involved. It includes a chest press and a leg press. Uni-joint exercises are those in which only one joint is involved, like bicep curls.
In older populations, multi-joint exercises should be encouraged and resistance exercise machines are more beneficial than the use of free weights for beginners unfamiliar with the use of barbells and dumbbells.
Exercise machines in general, are also helpful as they allow the elderly to exercise without concern for pathogens and external allergens. It is beneficial to invest in an exercise machine according to your needs. Examples of these machines include elliptical machines, recumbent exercise bikes, lat pulldown machines, and rowing machines.
Ellipticals are stationary machines that allow you to do cardio exercises of various intensities. Recumbent exercise bikes are appropriate for seniors and allow you to improve your leg muscles. They are also very comfortable due to the padding provided on them. Rowing machines allow you to have a full-body workout. Similarly, lat pulldown machines enable you to train a particular group of muscles at a time.
Lifting Light to Moderate Weights
People over the age of 70 can lift weights as per their health condition. Lifting weights will help increase muscle mass. However, it is inadvisable to lift very heavy weights. People of this age group should prioritize adapting their weight lifts and exercises considering prior injuries, lack of flexibility, joint problems, and limited range of motion.
For older adults, strength training is the key to muscle growth. It is advisable to do this with light weights and to workout slowly. Use slow movements and lighter weights to allow your muscles to work harder. Never exercise the same muscle group two days in a row.
During your exercise sets, you need to take a few minutes of rest in between sets and also after you finish your regimen. This allows your body to return to its normal physiological limits.
Research on the effect of lifting weights on the elderly population is promising. One research observed a group of people aged 60 to 86 years who trained the same five muscle groups for three sets. They had 10 to 12 repetitions followed by 20 minutes of endurance training over six months. In the end, three measurements were made- dynamic, isometric strength, and endurance. The results showed that free-weight training had the greatest benefits in improving leg and triceps strength.
Take the advice of a personal trainer, as it can be harder to gauge which exercises you can and cannot do safely. A personally customized training regimen is essential if you have other health issues that may interfere with your goals.
Slow and Steady Increase Of Exercise Intensity
Initially, performing 10 reps of an appropriate exercise is adequate. This applies to weight training as well. Continue using that weight until you can do 12 to 15 of them in a row.
Getting Sufficient Amount Of Rest And Sleep
During sleep, the body recovers from all the physical and mental stress that accumulated throughout the day. So, it is essential to get sufficient rest with sleep.
It is also necessary to take breaks in between your exercises. You need to rest so that you do not overexert and injure your muscles, tendons, or ligaments. 1 or 2 rest days are recommended between each exercise session.
Sleep may also play a role in muscle protein metabolism. A sleep disorder can promote age-related muscle loss by favoring proteolysis, modifying body composition, and increasing the risk of insulin resistance. Age-related sleep problems also inhibit anabolic hormone cascades and promote catabolic pathways in the skeletal muscle.
Sleep is also related to the release of various hormones in the body. The effects of growth hormone (GH), insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1), testosterone, insulin, and cortisol on muscles must be taken into account.
The Bottom Line
Low to moderate-intensity strength training with a protein-rich diet forms the basis for building muscles for those over the age of 70. There are many age-related considerations, such as degeneration of muscles, nerves, joints, and bones, which may limit the intensity of exercises from person to person.
It is a myth that you cannot build muscle mass after the age of 70. All people over the age of 70 should add resistance training into their routine and focus on a well-balanced diet to maintain muscle tone and gain muscle mass.
- Baum, Jamie I et al. “Protein Consumption and the Elderly: What Is the Optimal Level of Intake?.” Nutrients vol. 8,6 359. 8 Jun. 2016, doi:10.3390/nu8060359
- Houston, Denise K et al. “Dietary protein intake is associated with lean mass change in older, community-dwelling adults: the Health, Aging, and Body Composition (Health ABC) Study.” The American journal of clinical nutrition vol. 87,1 (2008): 150-5. doi:10.1093/ajcn/87.1.150
- Ganapathy, Aravinda, and Jeri W Nieves. “Nutrition and Sarcopenia-What Do We Know?.” Nutrients vol. 12,6 1755. 11 Jun. 2020, doi:10.3390/nu12061755
- Lauretani, Fulvio et al. “Association of low plasma selenium concentrations with poor muscle strength in older community-dwelling adults: the InCHIANTI Study.” The American journal of clinical nutrition vol. 86,2 (2007): 347-52. doi:10.1093/ajcn/86.2.347
- VILTER, R W et al. “The effect of vitamin B6 deficiency induced by desoxypyridoxine in human beings.” The Journal of laboratory and clinical medicine vol. 42,3 (1953): 335-57.
- Martins, Wagner Rodrigues et al. “Elastic resistance training to increase muscle strength in elderly: a systematic review with meta-analysis.” Archives of gerontology and geriatrics vol. 57,1 (2013): 8-15. doi:10.1016/j.archger.2013.03.002
- Willoughby, D. S. "Current comments are official statements by the American College of Sports Medicine concerning topics of interest to the public at large." Indianapolis: American College of Sports Medicine (2015).
- Schott, Nadja et al. “Effects of free weights and machine training on muscular strength in high-functioning older adults.” Experimental gerontology vol. 122 (2019): 15-24. doi:10.1016/j.exger.2019.03.012
- Piovezan, Ronaldo D et al. “The impact of sleep on age-related sarcopenia: Possible connections and clinical implications.” Ageing research reviews vol. 23,Pt B (2015): 210-20. doi:10.1016/j.arr.2015.07.003
Disclaimer: Please note that Mya Care does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. The information provided is not intended to replace the care or advice of a qualified health care professional. The views expressed are personal views of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of Mya Care. Always consult your doctor for all diagnoses, treatments, and cures for any diseases or conditions, as well as before changing your health care regimen. Do not reproduce, copy, reformat, publish, distribute, upload, post, transmit, transfer in any manner or sell any of the materials in this blog without prior written permission from myacare.com.
For most women, hysterectomy is a significant point in their lives. Whether the surgical removal of the uterus is done for endometriosis, fibroids, or gynecological cancer, life after hysterectomy permanently changes a few aspects of your life.
Between the decades of 1910 and 1920, Dr. Ludwig Roemheld studied the phenomenon in which patients suffering from digestive problems and no detectable heart issues would experience cardiac symptoms.
Piriformis syndrome and herniated discs are painful conditions of the back. Both can cause sciatica. Sciatica is a type of pain that affects your lower back and legs. It occurs due to irritated or compressed sciatic nerve. The sciatic nerve travels down the back to the legs.