The ageing process is not kind to our bodies when it comes to muscle making.
Lean muscle mass contributes to about 50 percent of total body weight in young adults but declines with age and is typically around 25 percent at 75–80 years old.
It starts to fall away after we hit 30, which means making and maintaining your muscle mass could be a priority to factor in your fitness routine after this age.
“From 40 onwards we can lose up to 8% per decade so it is paramount that you eat enough protein and have a workout schedule that helps stave off any decreases,” says Ben Cramant, who is the Head Trainer at F45 Islington.
Does it really matter if we lose a bit of muscle as we age? In short, yes!
Less muscle means greater weakness and reduced mobility, both of which may increase your risk of falls and fractures.
A 2015 report from the American Society for Bone and Mineral Research found that people with reduced muscle mass had more than double the risk of breaking something, like a leg, arm, or wrist, from falling.
But just because nature isn’t helping you make muscle any more, it doesn’t mean you can’t – just that you have to train and work at making muscle.
“We have members who train with us that are in their 50’s & 60’s and they really benefit from the functional exercises that are the cornerstone of any F45 workout,” says Ben. “These exercises mirror everyday movements keeping you supple and strong.”
Many women shy away from the weights section of the gym or skip the weights section of their home fitness video as they are worried about ‘bulking up’ and looking built.
But this is something which really shouldn’t concern you.
“It’s actually incredibly difficult to look like a bodybuilder,” explains Ben. “It takes a huge amount of dedication, lifting heavy weights over an extended period of time whilst following a strict diet.” Added to this the fact that women naturally have testosterone levels so find it especially difficult to put on muscle quickly, this should not be a factor stopping you lifting weights or engaging in resistance exercise.
If you want to maintain and build a bit of muscle then you can use your own body weight and resistance training.
But this is a much longer process so if you’re looking to add some muscle quicker then lifting weights is the way to go.
“To gain muscle at a quick pace lifting weights helps optimise this,” confirms Ben.
But don’t think using resistance is the easy option! “We have a body resistance only workout called Gravity and I can safely say it’s probably one of the hardest classes we do so don’t be fooled!”
You don’t have to change your beloved fitness routine to include some muscle building.
Just make sure you are including four specific exercises each week.
“The key exercises to focus on – and that should always be included your weekly workout routine – are squats, deadlifts, bent-over row and bench press.”
Incorporate these into your gym time or as a separate session if you prefer, but to see results you will need to do them at least three times a week.
In a word – no! It’s great to include these exercises into your cardio. For example finish your run 10mins earlier and do the key exercises, or break in a park in the middle to do them before carrying on your run.
“It’s still important to maintain your cardiovascular system even whilst building muscle,” says Ben.
Make sure you get a balance of muscle building, cardio and flexibility enhancing exercise in your week for a complete body work out.
Muscles need to be worked – but they also need to be fed!
This doesn’t mean you have to go on a strict no-carb, no-sugar, protein-only diet to build them though.
“A nutrient rich diet with all major food groups including complex carbs and high in protein is important because you must fuel your body so that you get the most out of your training sessions which in turn helps build muscle mass,” explains Ben.
So a good meal would be some lean protein, like meat, fish or eggs, with a wholegrain, such as brown rice or lentils, and plenty of colourful vegetables on the side.
If this has got you in the mood to workout, we have put together a series. This is how to get in the mood for the gym (even when you feel too tired). Here’s why prehab is the new rehab when it comes to working out. And, here’s how to start running – whatever your age.