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The Importance of Preserving Strength and Muscle Mass as We Age

Muscle loss related to aging is natural.

Starting around age 30, we begin losing between three and five percent of muscle each decade, with most people losing around 30 percent of muscle mass over their lifetime.

Unfortunately, when we experience a loss of muscle, we experience less mobility and more significant weakness, increasing the risk of falling and fractures. According to the American Society for Bone and Mineral Research, people who suffer from sarcopenia, or age-related muscle loss, have an increased risk of low-trauma fractures from falls, including broken hips, collarbones, legs, arms, and wrists.

The natural loss of muscle mass due to age doesn't have to be the final word, however. In fact, experts agree that older individuals can rebuild and maintain muscle lost with age. However, it requires dedication, hard work, and an action plan.

How Hormones Play a Factor

Testosterone is a hormone that stimulates protein synthesis as well as muscle growth. Therefore, a natural decline in testosterone is a possible factor in age-related muscle loss among men.

While supplemental testosterone may help older men gain muscles, it has adverse side effects. Furthermore, testosterone supplements have not been approved explicitly for building muscle.

Therefore, the only surefire way to increase muscle mass, regardless of age, is through progressive resistance training (PRT). PRT allows you to gradually increase the volume of your workout as your endurance and strength improve. PRT constantly challenges the body to build muscle, avoiding the plateaus that stop you from making gains.

Harnessing Protein Power

Diet plays a significant role in the building of muscle mass as well, and, of course, when it comes to muscle foods, protein is king. That is because the human body breaks down protein into the amino acids used for muscle building. But unfortunately, as we age, our bodies begin to experience anabolic resistance, lowering our ability to not only break down but also synthesize protein.

Like progressive resistance training, the older we are, the more we need. According to the medical journal Nutrients, older adults participating in resistance training should have daily intakes of protein equaling one to 1.3 grams for each kilogram of their body weight.

While that is a lot of protein compared to average diets, there are several ways to bring extra protein into your diet. Milk, eggs, and meat are the best protein sources because they can provide the appropriate ratios of amino acids. However, you should avoid red meats, processed foods, and other food items high in saturated fats or additives.

Instead, try healthier choices like:

  • Salmon or lean chicken

  • Plain Greek yogurt

  • Skim milk

  • Cooked beans

Protein powders are also a good option. They can easily be added to yogurts, shakes, and oatmeal.

To maximize your muscle growth or improve muscle recovery, try consuming either a meal or a drink that has carbohydrate-to-protein ratios of 3- or 4-to-1 within a half hour after a workout.

Power is Just as Important as Strength

When it comes to building muscle, it isn't just about strength. It is also about power.

The power of your muscles, including how fast or efficiently your body moves, is intrinsically more tied to your physical function and daily activities than muscle strength. Working the legs is one of the best ways to improve your muscle power. After all, the legs are an important factor in your ability to move.

You can effectively develop more power by participating in quicker movement against resistance, such as your body weight. For example, when coming out of a seated position, do it rapidly, or when going upstairs, grip the handrail while pushing off the step as quickly as possible. These exercises teach the muscles to harness your strength.

Embark on a Progressive Resistance Training Program in Our Belltown Gym

The best way for older individuals to gain muscle mass is through a detailed and structured PRT program with the goal of improvement and progression. A good PRT program will focus on specific exercises, loads, repetition, and periods of rest. It should challenge you without overwhelming you.

Of course, you should always check in with your physician before starting any new strength-training program. Next, enlist the help of a professional trainer that can help you formulate a PRT plan and supervise workouts, ensuring that they are performed safely with the best possible results.

If you live in the Seattle area and want to start a new journey to combat age-related muscle loss, make an appointment to meet with one of our private trainers in Seattle at Demco Fitness.

You won't get the personal community experience you'll find at Demco Fitness at any big corporate gyms like Pure Barre, Orange Theory Fitness, or Soul Cycle. If you are looking for gym memberships in Seattle where you can connect with a helpful positive community of members and personal trainers, look no further than Demco Fitness.


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