Strength training has benefits for everyone, but for males over 50 it can be life changing!
When males reach 50 years of age, we start to see physiological changes that start to occur to the human body. We start to see a decline in testosterone levels (andropause), strength (dynapenia) and in skeletal muscle tissue (sarcopenia).
There is now gathering evidence in the research showing the importance of skeletal muscle, especially in males as they age. On average males lose 10 pounds of lean muscle tissue per decade after the age of 50 and this is a huge change that not only affects your physical health (as previously thought), but your metabolic, mental and neurological health!
Muscle tissue is now seen as an endocrine organ and is therefore the biggest organ in the body! It also accounts for 40% of your total body mass!
IS IT POSSIBLE TO BUILD MUSCLE AFTER THE AGE OF 50?
Here are some of the benefits of building muscle:
- Increased lean muscle tissue (looks good aesthetically!)
- Increased metabolic rate (you burn more fat at rest and post exercise!)
- Increase in strength and power (you will feel energised!)
- Better body composition (you will feel more confident!)
- Increase in insulin sensitivity (more likely to store glucose in your muscles rather than stored as fat)
- Increase in injury resistance (less likely to get niggling or acute injuries)
What is the best way to muscle loss and the negative consequences of this?
Over the last few years research has shown your body is still highly responsive to strength training at any age you just have to train smarter, while progressively overloading your body to avoid and injuries along the way.
A common misconception is that cardio based exercise alone is enough to retain muscle mass. This is not the case as it doesn’t provide the correct stimulus to the body to force it to adapt. Your body doesn’t want to build more muscle as muscle tissue is the most energy consuming metabolic tissue in the body and carries out so many important roles!
I see strength training and cardio as a knife and fork. Bear with me! Both do a great job but you cannot do without either of them to achieve optimal long-term fitness and health.
I would argue with all the gathering research coming out about the benefits of strength training (see below) and the benefits of building muscle mass this should be the predominant form of exercise, for males especially.
It’s the closest thing you will get to a magic pill, with no side effects and only benefits!
Below is a list of the many benefits of strength training:
- Increased lean muscle tissue
- Increase in strength and performance
- Increased metabolic rate
- Increased quality of life
- Increase / preserve joint health and cartilage
- Increase injury resistance
- Improved sleep
- Improved mental health
- Lower all-cause mortality
- Increased longevity
- Increased mobility and flexibility
- Potential to reduce risk of Dementia, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s Disease.
- Improved cognitive function
- Reduced risk and symptoms of chronic disease such as, Arthritis, Diabetes and Heart disease
- Increase in insulin sensitivity
- Increase / preserve bone density
- Increased balance
And many more! New research is coming out all the time highlighting how powerful strength training is and the importance of muscle mass as we all age!
The caveat to this is that it needs to be done correctly, with progressive individualised programs. This allows you to maximise results and reduce injury risk.
It is not an overstatement to say that strength training can have a huge impact on your present life and your health in the future. The prevalent chronic diseases like diabetes, obesity, heart disease, arthritis, osteoporosis can all be positively influenced by building muscle and mechanically, neurologically and metabolically stimulating your body through strength training.
Ben Hampson GSR BSc (Hons)
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Westcott W. L. (2012). Resistance training is medicine: effects of strength training on health. Current sports medicine reports, 11(4), 209–216.
Hoffmann, C., & Weigert, C. (2017). Skeletal Muscle as an Endocrine Organ: The Role of Myokines in Exercise Adaptations. Cold Spring Harbor perspectives in medicine, 7(11), a029793. https://doi.org/10.1101/cshperspect.a029793
Robert R Wolfe, The underappreciated role of muscle in health and disease, The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Volume 84, Issue 3, December 2006, Pages 475–482,
Shaw, Brandon & Shaw, Ina & Brown, Gregory. (2015). Resistance exercise is medicine: Strength training in health promotion and rehabilitation. International Journal of Therapy and Rehabilitation. 22. 385-389. 10.12968/ijtr.2015.22.8.385.
Mcleod, Jonathan & Stokes, Tanner & Phillips, Stuart. (2019). Resistance Exercise Training as a Primary Countermeasure to Age-Related Chronic Disease. Frontiers in Physiology. 10. 645. 10.3389/fphys.2019.00645.