I recently had an enquiry from a 30-something dad about something I get asked about A LOT.
He had been roaming the Internet for information (always a dangerous move!) and found discouraging articles.
His question was:
“Can You Build Muscle After 35?”
The short answer is YES YOU CAN.
I’ve done it myself and I have Online Coaching clients, busy parents over 35, who’ve done it too.
In fact, you can build muscle at any age.
There are, however, many caveats.
Building muscle is hard work…no matter what your age.
Apart from the 0.01% of males (randomly generated statistic alert) who are genetically gifted and can put on muscle with only minimal training, most of us need to work for muscle.
Oh sure, it’s easy at the beginning.
You will see most of your muscle gain in your first year of weight training, a phenomenon we call “newbie gains”.
It’s why some people get incredibly keen about training early on and then have a hard time maintaining that enthusiasm later on.
Gains slow down.
You don’t see those big changes happening anymore.
And yes, it may be harder when you’re over 35.
Hormonal changes are often blamed, but it’s not clear how much of a problem they are.
Testosterone, the primary male sex hormone, decreases with age.
Because there is a wide range of normal testosterone levels (T) in normal healthy men, lower testosterone levels over time don’t necessarily matter that much.
And other factors, like higher rates of medication use and disease, may also affect muscle gain as we age.
Not to mention the stress of having a busy career, young children, and taking care of aging parents, which tend to happen in the 35-45 years.
All of those things can affect hormone levels, and as a result, our ability to build muscle.
Women don’t have much testosterone to begin with.
And testosterone’s role for muscle building and fat loss is less clear in women.
Women’s ability to put on muscle at all is actually a good argument for the lower testosterone levels of many older men not mattering very much.
What muscle-building DOES require is consistent, progressive resistance training.
You need to keep pushing yourself harder and lift heavier weights over time to see further muscle development.
Your nutrition plan is also a big part of building muscle.
You need to be in a calorie surplus to put on muscle.
That means you’re consuming more calories than your body needs just to sustain itself as it is.
Your body needs the right nutrition, from additional calories, as the raw material for building muscle.
Protein intake needs to be adequate, around 0.8-1 gram of protein per pound of body weight per day, to repair damage from training and rebuild.
Do the right workouts 3-5 times a week and eat to recover properly and you’ll be able to build muscle after 35.
Managing stress and getting enough sleep and recovery is valuable too.
And if you’re going to tell me that you don’t want muscle, you just want to lose fat, then you should know that those two things go together.
As you get older, you want to maintain as much muscle as you can while keeping yourself lean.
Higher muscle mass is generally associated with lower fat mass.
Months of consistent, progressive training with adequate nutrition will build the muscle that you need for a great shape and to stay lean.
That means a stronger, tighter, firmer look to your body.
Muscle is the key to staying strong and having a great body as you age.
It should be everyone’s focus.