Is it too late to start weight lifting If your in your 40s, 50s or beyond..?
"Are there limitations to making progress in regards to my age? Can I still improve physically or aesthetically if I'm in my 40s? 50s? 60s or older? It's Such a common question. As a coach and a nurse, I get asked this often in my practice.
I get to work with people of all ages in my daily life. Part of my job is to educate others on the benefits and impact resistance training and proper nutrition can make on the trajectory of their futures whether they start at age 20 or age 80.
Its important to know that males and females experience a plethora of changes as they age. Arguably most impactful are the hormonal fluctuations that occur throughout all stages. A mans testosterone levels naturally drop, and estrogen and progesterone levels naturally drop for women before, during and post menopause (I know, it effing sucks!). Luckily men do typically get an extra decade or two over us females before their sex hormones rapidly decline, and; while these fluctuations can make fitness more challenging they certainly don't make it impossible...
The risk of Sarcopenia (Progressive and generalized loss of skeletal muscle mass and strength) and Bone mineral density loss increases greatly past the age of 70 and resistance training and Increased protein intake are crucial to stimulate muscle protein synthesis and stimulate those muscles to grow. Together diet and exercise are the golden ticket to health and longevity.
One fall in a fragile frame can dramatically and so quickly change the quality of ones life permanently with falls being the number one cause of rapid health decline in the elderly? I strongly believe that we should all be doing our part to prevent this type of fate in ourselves and be promoting preventative work in our loved ones who are at risk.
The longer you wait to start the more you have to work against, especially if you've been living a rather sedentary life. But the beautiful thing is that there is always potential for growth and improvement and contrary to popular belief the older you are the more benefits you can get from lifting weights.
You may have to use creative ways to switch up your movement patterns due to injuries, limitations and increased recovery time, but; where there is will there is always a way. And working with a professional can help gauge things along in a safe and manageable way. Whether that means using resistance bands or just starting with your own body weight there are ways to move and work around almost any limitation.
Below; Chair aerobics are commonly practiced in lodges and nursing homes for those 75+
Its important to consider; "What are your goals.....?
Do you want to compete?
The truth is there is a prime age for muscle building when it comes to the competitive world. Generally the top pros in the industry start quite young hitting their peak physiques in their early to late 30s. That being said- there are pro bodybuilders in their 40s and 50s still placing well in their shows. Think Dexter Jackson who is 52years young, still competing and still placing top 10 in the Mr. Olympia bodybuilding championship with 29 pro wins under his belt.
Below; 50+ division from the Swedish Nationals in 2019.
Remember there are also masters and grandmasters divisions in the sport and there are several divisions ranging in muscularity and conditioning requirements. If you are a late starter just know it will take you a minimum of 2-5years dependent on the division you choose to develop enough muscle to hit the stage, and your genetic potential for muscle building may be a limiting factor.
Below; masters class of pro figure competitors 50+
Or, are you looking to make this a lifestyle?
This is a more "livable" approach. It's important to know that 'Prime age' doesn't place any limitations on the possibility to still make progress in your 40s, 50s, 60s and beyond, and; while training age will determine the amount of muscle you have overall there are amazing athletes, competitive or not, who have dramatically changed their body composition over time starting at a later age.
It takes approximately 5-7yrs of doing things right to gain the vast majority of your mature muscle mass.
Below; Ernestine shepherd who started training at 56years young recently celebrated her 80th birthday. She holds the Guinness world record book title for worlds oldest competitive bodybuilder and is an inspiration to so many.
If your very focused and more mature just know that you can make incredible progress at any age. But you have to be diligent, disciplined and eat smart for your goals in the process.
And know that incorporating resistance training can reverse the effects of a sedentary lifestyle by building muscle, strengthening the joints, increasing bone density, improving tendon mobilization and overall well being.
Final Food for thought....
Treat yourself like a fine wine. Appreciate and respect your age, enjoy the entire process. You want to pour it, swirl it around, take in the aroma- sip it slowly.
Hopefully I offered you some insight and inspiration. If your looking for further information on getting started or elevating your fitness game do be sure to subscribe to my newsletter for more information on this and more topics surrounding all things health, fitness, mindset and nutrition.