Expert advice for exercisers over 40 muscle growth in middle age part 2
The question was what are the best tips for exercisers over 40. Here is what experts from the field of weight training and bodybuilding have answered.
Regenerate smarter and better
Regeneration plays an important role for an aging exerciser and yet it is often neglected. For me and my clients, intelligent regeneration measures inside and outside the gym have brought noticeable benefits.
There are many recovery strategies that can be very useful: Active Release Technique (ART), myofascial release, articular pump training, muscle activation techniques (MAT), proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation (PNF), or other variations or combinations. There are contrast methods, salt baths and even tanning beds that can improve your day-night rhythm and increase your vitamin D production.
Sleep, however, is most important - it is vital in your recovery. Here are my sleep strategies:
- Lights out - About 1-2 hours before bedtime, you should turn off all lights and use only candlelight.
- Turn off all electronic devices - about an hour before bedtime, turn off your cell phone, computer, TV and the like. When you're exposed to light, it stimulates a nerve pathway from the eye to areas of the brain that control hormones, body temperature and other functions that play a role in whether we get tired or wake up. One study, for example, found that unnatural light can have real consequences for our health, including an increased risk of depression.
- Be grateful - right before you go to bed, list three things you are grateful for. Positive thoughts before going to sleep further reduce stress levels. This is really effective.
- Supplement properly - My recommendations for a good night's sleep are:
- 1 serving ZMA
- 1 serving of melatonin or other sleep formula
- Michael Warren
There are a handful of things you should be aware of
Regeneration, mobility, mobility
These things need more and more attention as you get older. You may be able to slack off in this area when you're 20, but you can't afford to do so when you're 40. Just add 10-15 minutes of leg swings and hip circles followed by flexibility training with a band out - anything to open up the shoulders like band pull-parts, squats with pulling the band apart overhead, etc. Use a broomstick or empty dumbbell bar before your workout to warm up for the exercise you're about to perform. Start with half reps and work your way up to full range of motion reps over the course of 20 reps. This will allow your muscles and joints to prepare for the exercise.
Use dynamic stretching before your workouts and static stretching after. Hold each stretch for 15-20 seconds and repeat two to three times.
Give your body enough time between really heavy exercises. As you get older, you need to better calculate your total volume and the time between demanding exercises - both per training session and per week. At 40, you probably won't be able to do deadlifts three times a week.
If you want to make progress, less than 8 hours of sleep per night will affect your recovery. A lack of sleep lowers testosterone and growth hormone levels and increases the production of cortisol, which is a bad combination for your training.
Make sure you have good fats, enough protein, smart carbohydrate timing and the right supplements. These are important factors for everyone, but as we get older they can significantly improve or worsen our workouts. A few basics for me are fish oil and curcumin three times a day. These support regeneration and overall health.
As for training nutrition, a good pre-workout supplement with EAAs is helpful. Also, try to eat 4 to 6 meals a day to keep your metabolism active, stabilize your blood sugar levels, and support your digestion.
I hate to say this, but at this age you need to think about your heart, your blood pressure, and your overall well-being. I don't think I need to tell you that I love to work out hard and could do without cadio, but 30 minutes of cardio three times a week will do wonders for everything listed above. Sorry, but sex doesn't count here. Get outside and hike, climb stairs, ski, power walk, swim - do whatever you enjoy that gets your heart rate up and makes you sweat.
- Amit Sapir
Be careful with old injuries
You shouldn't just work towards your goals, you should do so in a way that allows you to keep training, which means taking steps to reduce the risk of training-related injuries.
The risk of injury usually increases for those with previous injuries. Most weight training professionals already know this and clients and athletes will often tell their trainer about previous injuries and return to training after a period of rehab. Here's some additional advice:
- Carefully increase the weight you move and the volume in areas of injury.
- Be extra careful with exercises and positions that have been involved in previous injuries. For example, a person who injured his knee during a jump while playing basketball should be especially careful during one-legged jumping exercises.
- Don't neglect injured areas - building strength around injured joints is important. Specific training for injured areas has been shown to help prevent future injuries.
- Nick Tumminello
Stop exercising the way you did when you were 20. I'm only 30, but this is solid advice for anyone over 30.
When I was 21, I hired a trainer to help me build mass and strength. And this one really pushed me to my limits. Lots of compound sets, triple sets and plenty of volume for mass. Then lots of heavy eccentric reps and tempo reps and heavy multi-joint exercises for strength. It was all good training Ten years later, I'm still training hard, but things have changed. Getting older means more responsibilities, usually more work, and more accumulated stress on muscles, joints, and connective tissue. I continue to train hard, but I wouldn't dream of going through the workouts I went through 10 years ago.
Regeneration is not something that happens in the blink of an eye, as it might have been in your early twenties. Accumulated age, stress and old injuries make it necessary to take regeneration more seriously and train as hard as you can intelligently according to your age. And if I feel this already at 30, I imagine it will be even more pronounced at 40.
Being big and strong is great, but it is worthless if this has an early expiration date.
- Lee Boyce
Get smarter about training and nutrition
At some point it's time to throw in the towel and retire. I have competed in 27 IFBB professional competitions and in my forties there was only one thing I was missing - a win in a professional competition. Now at almost 43, I have won four competitions in the last 2 years. Persistence has paid off, but I also approach my training more intelligently now. The same goes for my diet.
A pre-workout supplement with di- and tripeptides and dextrin is my trump card to beat the ravages of time on the recovery front. Aging affects your metabolism, which is why you need to think more about what calories you eat and when you eat them. Staying in the single digit body fat range means you need to consume the majority of your carbohydrates around your workouts.
Even though such a supplement will give you the fuel you need to push through brutal workouts, you'd be well advised to avoid marathon workouts. Instead, aim for more frequent workouts of shorter duration.
Lately, I've been seeing good progress with workouts that last 60 minutes. The big difference involves moving just as much weight over volume and shorter rest periods - so a high density workout. This necessitates moving lighter weights, but the total weight moved within an hour turns out to be greater. Intensity is still high and muscle failure is achieved, but not with a handful of sets of maximum weight. The limited rest periods (15 to 30 seconds) cause growth with less weight. Your joints and back will thank you.
For example, try leg curls with occlusion bandages alternating with goblet squats with elevated heels for 3 rounds, then remove the bandages and pause for 3 minutes. Repeat this one, two or even three more times, alternating the exercises until you've done each three times. Light weight, an insane pump and maximum results with minimal weights.
- Mark Dugdale
Optimize your workout with each training session and use appropriate stimuli
Use new technology to your advantage. There is a variety of affordable equipment that can measure the speed of movement of exercises - also known as velocity-based training (VBT). This equipment can accurately predict what your training maximum is for the day and determine training intensities for your individual daily training maximum.
Become familiar with RPE (rate of perceived exertion) based training. Instead of training at a fixed percentage or at your repetition maximum, you can use RPE-based training to adapt to your daily fluctuations in how fresh you feel on a given day.
Use wellness data to monitor your recovery and training load. This includes acute training load and chronic training load. Tracking perceived recovery and especially acute and chronic training load can give you an idea of how ready your body is for training, allowing you to make informed decisions about how intensely you should train.
- Christian Bosse
Fight your anabolic resistance
The most important thing an over-40 exerciser needs to understand is the concept of, and how to combat, something called anabolic resistance. This means that your body no longer responds in the same way - and as efficiently - to a growth stimulus as it did during your teens and twenties.
Probably the most important factor for experienced exercisers over 40 is consistently fighting inflammation and knowing that you need to eat more protein than you did when you were younger to even maintain muscle.
Hormones play the biggest role in muscle growth when everything else is equal in training and nutrition. And in your twenties, hormones are far more efficient at building muscle than they will be in your forties.
Because the hormonal response to training and amino acids is reduced in your forties (for example, it takes more leucine to stimulate muscle protein synthesis in your forties than it did during your twenties), it is critical to identify and break through barriers that come with age.
Chronic subthreshold inflammation is a key component in reducing insulin sensitivity. However, insulin must function efficiently to transport nutrients into cells for repair and regeneration. For this reason, it is important for exercisers over 40 to reduce inflammation in order to remain as "anabolic" as possible.
To reduce chronic inflammation and increase muscle protein synthesis as much as possible, here's what you should do:
- Take high quality fish oil daily. This fights inflammation and improves muscle protein synthesis.
- Use intermittent fasting. Do this a few days a week for at least 16 hours a day.
- Walk outside barefoot. I know this may sound silly, but the benefits of this have been proven and is probably the easiest way to get some natural therapy on a number of fronts. It has even been shown to reduce delayed onset muscle soreness.
- Increase your protein intake to 3 to 3.5 grams per kilogram of body weight on training days and the day after, with an emphasis on increasing leucine intake. During fasting periods, you then reduce protein intake.
- Do everything you can to increase muscle protein synthesis as much as possible. Fighting the ravages of time is hard. It's even harder when you're using the same training, diet, and recovery protocols you used in your twenties.
- Paul Carter
- Volpi, E, et al. "Exogenous amino acids stimulate net muscle protein synthesis in the elderly." Journal of Clinical Investigation, vol. 101, no. 9, Jan. 1998, pp. 2000-2007., doi:10.1172/jci939.
- Maroon, Joseph Charles, and Jeffrey W. Bost. "ω-3 Fatty acids (Fish oil) as an anti-inflammatory: an alternative to nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs for discogenic pain." Surgical Neurology, vol. 65, no. 4, 2006, pp. 326-331., doi:10.1016/j.surneu.2005.10.023.
- Lavin, Desiree N., et al. "Fasting Induces an Anti-Inflammatory Effect on the Neuroimmune System Which a High-Fat Diet Prevents." Obesity, vol. 19, no. 8, 2011, pp. 1586-1594., doi:10.1038/oby.2011.73.
- Oschman, James, et al. "The effects of grounding (Earthing) on inflammation, the immune response, wound healing, and prevention and treatment of chronic inflammatory and autoimmune diseases." Journal of Inflammation Research, 2015, p. 83., doi:10.2147/jir.s69656.
- Smith, Gordon I., et al. "Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids augment the muscle protein anabolic response to hyperinsulinaemia-hyperaminoacidaemia in healthy young and middle-aged men and women." Clinical Science, vol. 121, no. 6, Jan. 2011, pp. 267-278., doi:10.1042/cs20100597.