Building Muscle After 40: Is it Possible?


According to the National Institutes of Health, sarcopenia is a condition characterized by loss of muscle. This is also sometimes referred to as “muscle wasting,” and it is most commonly associated with the aging process. If you happen to be over the age of 40, that puts you right in this category.1

However, there is no need to panic just yet. With the right approach, you can keep muscle wasting to a minimum or avoid it altogether.

The Effects of Aging

There are a number of changes that take place when you age. Aside from your muscles becoming weaker and smaller in size, you are also subject to bone mineral loss, a decrease in hormone production, weight gain and degradation of organ function.

Your lifestyle has a direct correlation on just how fast these processes take place. If you are disciplined and motivated, you can keep all of them at bay and literally reverse the aging process.

        Exercise to the Rescue

        The mechanism involved with muscle wasting is related to two main things—decreased testosterone and human growth hormone (HGH) production and lifestyle. Testosterone and HGH are the primary hormones involved with energy, building muscle, maintaining strength and sexual function.

        That’s why aging males often go through a period where they become weaker, need more sleep and lose their sex drive. A quick and relatively easy way to prevent this from happening is by working out.

        The best approach to take here is to incorporate strength training 3 or 4 days a week. Strength training workouts should include compound exercises that involve more than one muscle group being activated. This has the greatest amount of feedback on the body and maximizes strength and muscle gains.

            Importance of Diet and Exercise for Building Muscle Over 40

            By themselves, diet and exercise prove pivotal when it comes to building muscle when you are over 40 years old. However, combining them together has a synergistic effect that you should really zero in on.

            When it comes to diet specifically, you need to go back to the basics and execute common sense. Obviously a diet high in saturated fat and simple carbs will not bode well for your efforts to build muscle.

            This can lead to excessive weight gain, while also blunting your testosterone and HGH levels. It’s also important to know that hormones are produced through fat intake. But the key here is to take in healthy fats. These would consist of olives, olive oil, red palm oil, sunflower oil, nuts, seeds, avocados and nut butters.

            These are all known as unsaturated fats. According to the Mayo Clinic, these fats also reduce cholesterol levels, and prevent heart disease and diabetes.2

            Overall, the best line of defense for reducing muscle loss and actually building it over the age of 40 is to follow a clean, balanced diet, like the Mediterranean diet, with healthy fats and work out a minimum of 3 days per week with a blend of strength training and interval training.

            Not only can this ward off the effects of aging, but it will keep you happier and healthier all around.




            1. National Institutes of Health
            2. Mayo Clinic

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              • Blog Contributor
              Comments 1
              • Donald H Groce
                Donald H Groce

                I can personally tell you this article is point on. I’m 82, borderline diabetic, prostate cancer survivor. My daughter, registered dietician, helped me get on an exercise program and diet similar to the above 6 months ago. I feel as good or better now than when I was 70. Highly advise that you retain an exercise coach to get a systematic workout. Qunol CoQ10 is part of my diet. Highly recommend it.

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