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Can you build muscle even as an older adult?

building muscle older adult

By Ryan Otterson

Strength training and the muscle building it brings about is known to improve your ability to do daily tasks, walk faster, and even reduce falls and other injury risks. A lot of people who come to the Lifestyle Medicine & Wellness Centers ask if it is too late to build muscle in their older years. The short answer is no, it’s never too late to build muscle.

A study done more than 30 years ago should remind us of no matter our age, we are always capable of building muscle. In 1990, research done by Maria Fiatarone Singh took nine people aged 90 to 99-years-old, who were living in a nursing home, and put them through eight weeks of high-intensity resistance training.

Researchers found the strength gains in their quadriceps muscles went up by 174% with a 9% average gain in their quadricep muscle cross-sectional area. This study led the groundwork for many later studies, which have also shown the same thing; no matter your age you can always build muscle.

To ensure you build strength and muscle mass and fight the effects of age-related losses in muscle mass, you should follow these key parts of an effective strength training routine.

  • Train within a pain-free range-of-motion.
  • Choose a resistance that’s challenging enough to make it hard to do 10 to 20 reps at full effort.
  • Do two to three sets of resistance training exercises for each muscle group in a workout two to three times a week.
  • Progressively overload your exercises over time so that you’re constantly trying to do a few more reps and/or add resistance.

Following these basic rules of an exercise routine will help you build muscle and strength to keep you healthier for longer.

For more help with building strength as an older adult, book an appointment with one of our Exercise Physiologists at the Lifestyle Medicine & Wellness Centers.

Book now