When talking about gaining muscle easily as you get older and why it’s generally seen as more difficult, I could talk about a condition called sarcopenia. Which is responsible for the shrinking of muscle tissue and an overall decrease in strength and stamina.
I could talk about falling metabolic rates and hormone changes as we age. I could talk about lowering production of systemic enzymes meaning we don’t recover as fast after exercise or a host of other things.
And the truth is all that stuff matters…
But the real reason IMHO, the real reason it’s difficult to build muscle as we get older is…
Most Of Us Stop Doing It!
Stick with me, I’m going somewhere here.
By 40 most of us live fairly sedentary lives simply because we have more stuff going on; families, jobs, mortgages etc, so we move less in general.
This often means when we do go to the gym, we focus more on low impact, high rep exercises, just to “get us back into it,” as we are worried if we do the explosive stuff we might get injured.
Problem is we often never get back to the explosive exercises.
Why Is This A Problem?
I’m sure you’re aware, we have different types of muscle tissue. Keeping things simple we have the fast twitch which is responsible for those explosive movements and slow twitch which govern the higher rep, slow state, cardio type exercises.
Turns out as we age we lose a lot of the fast twitch, whereas slow twitch stays more or less the same through out life.
This is why you often see old people running a marathon but rarely doing a 100m sprint.
So if we want to keep our muscles (and by extension) the rest of our bodies young, training fast twitch muscle through out life is a very good way to do it.
Now we’ve a bit older, doing the explosive workouts which build fast twitch muscle leads to increased recovery times and a MUCH higher risk of injury. Injury which then stops us working out entirely for a period of time. A period of time in which we are losing muscle mass.
This risk of injury is massively increased if we jump straight back into doing explosive exercise as these are ironically enough the type of exercise more likely to injure us as we age.
So even if we are doing explosive exercises we can often get into a cycle of working out, getting injured (or feeling awful as we take so long to recover) and having to have a period of rest while we heal up again. Over time the net result of this is a downward spiral as our injuries become more and more common and our time recovering longer and longer.
It doesn’t have to be like this and is, in reality, much easier and much less effort. You see…
Your Muscles Work On A Use It Or Lose It Principle.
As you become more sedentary your body literally says, “look…maintaining these (fast twitch) muscles requires a huge metabolic cost. It means I’ve got to take in a lot more calories every day just to keep them. So as you’re not using them you obviously don’t need them. I’ll just get rid of them and save myself some work.”
Now I’ve written an entire program about how you can prevent this from happening and build fast twitch muscle easily without getting injured whatever your age. Which you can grab here >>
But to get started it’s really as simple as reminding your body it needs muscle by using it on a regular basis.
Ok, still really obvious Sam…
An easy way of doing this? Every few hours go and do 20 seconds to a minute of press up, squats, lunges, pull ups, burpees you get the idea. Something simple and certainly not anything which is really pushing you, risking injury or long recovery periods. (you should not ache the next day from this). Heck you can do squats on your regular bathroom break at work and not even break a sweat (and that’s exactly the idea).
As an added bonus getting up and going to the bathroom every hour will lower inflammatory markers caused by sitting all day.
All we’re really trying to do is signal to your body, “look I need these muscles so keep hold of them.”