Declining muscle mass, as you may already be aware, is yet another part of aging. In fact, it begins as early as your thirties. Though other age-related issues such as mobility challenges, diminishing strength, and more difficult recoveries can make it harder to stay motivated as you reach your fifties and beyond, this doesn’t mean it’s impossible. You can still build strength, if that’s your goal—your approach will simply be a little bit different than it was when you were younger. If you want to get stronger, here’s how you can expect your routine to change as you age.
Expect to train more.
Middle-aged athletes likely won’t find it as easy to build strength as they did in their younger years. The first step to building strength is building endurance. Staying active for an hour or two per day will boost your endurance. This is important since it will help you tolerate the strain of strength training. Another benefit is that this helps you stay safer throughout whatever training exercises you decide to undertake.
Be aware of problem areas.
Remember how we mentioned the difficulties of getting older? This is super important to be aware of as you begin any training regimen, whether you’re trying to build strength or not. You might feel knee or lower back pain, which might be caused by certain muscles overcompensating for weaker muscles. Working and strengthening those muscles may help alleviate pain. However, if exercise makes the pain worse, stop immediately and talk to a doctor or physical therapist—you don’t want to cause more damage!
Pay attention to recovery time.
Recovery in middle age looks different than recovery in your early twenties in that you need more of it. Training hard but getting lax about recovery will make it harder to bounce back and perform well. Focus on getting good rest after a training session and on making 8-10 hours of sleep per night a priority. Generally, it’s also important to eat a balanced diet and drink lots of water. Aside from at-home treatments, there are also a range of professional treatment options. If you’re interested in professional treatment like massage or acupuncture, though, this is something better brought up with your doctor.
What if I don’t want to build lots of muscle?
If you’re not looking to train like a professional athlete at this stage of your life, that’s perfectly fine! However, this is no excuse to remain a couch potato forever. There are tons of activities that can help keep you active, from plain old walking to flexibility-building pilates to social and engaging ballroom dancing. The important part is to find something you enjoy and stick with it!