How To Build Muscle As You Age

How To Build Muscle As You Age

Many of the articles that you will find on this site come from questions that people ask me on a weekly basis, and today’s article is inspired by someone who wants to know how to build lean muscle after the age of 65.

I think that’s a great question, and I am going to take the age down a little bit because the ability to build muscle changes drastically by the time you are in your mid-40’s.

I’d hate to consider just the people who are 65 or older when people 45 and older are having the same muscle-building challenges

Here’s the thing that lots oFit Older Womanf people don’t always acknowledge: gaining muscle isn’t any different when you’re older than it is when you are younger.

The main problem is that you lose muscle mass more quickly the older you get.

There are specific reasons for this, but there are also specific ways that you can deal with the loss of muscle mass, even though your body is changing with each, passing year, and those ways aren’t going to be ridiculously stressful or overly difficult for you to do.

Keep reading to see what I mean.

One Of Your Biggest Jobs As You Age Is Going To Be Maintaining Muscle Mass!

As you get older, your hormones change drastically.

Until you are in your 30’s, your muscles are stimulated by human growth hormone to have the capacity to get bigger as you exercise and eat properly for muscle growth; however, at a certain point in your mid to late 30’s, your body’s capacity to grow lean muscle slows and eventually stops, and a certain amount of muscle deterioration begins.

This is called sarcopenia.


You can think of it in the same way that you do osteoporosis. Most people know that, as we age, our bone mass decreases. No one is really confused about that, and we tend to eat or workout in ways that will slow or prevent the loss of bone mass.

Strong bones mean you can exercise. Strong bones also mean that you’re not at such a great risk for breaking a bone should you trip and fall. No one wants brittle bones as they get older.

But what we are not as familiar with are weak and deteriorating muscles.

Sarcopenia normally shows up after the age of 40 and tends to rapidly accelerate after the age of 75. It affects women and men pretty much the same, so whatever you can do to keep from losing lean muscle mass is going to benefit you tremendously in the long run.

Here’s What I Recommend For My Middle-Age And Senior Clients

I recommend that you keep the muscle mass you currently have by participating in an effective resistance training program. When I talk about resistance training, I am not particularly talking about aggressive training like parkour, learning how to do handstands, or ring training.

If you have a great personal trainer who can help you safely do those kinds of exercises, that’s perfectly fine, but it’s most certainly not required in order to maintain and build muscle mass as you age.

Generally-speaking, when I talk about resistance training, I am talking about old-school training that has stood the test of time.

Old School Resistance Training


Here are some great resistance exercises…

  • Presses: Bench presses are among the most popular types of workouts. They are done on your back, they work your chest and your triceps, and they will keep your upper arms strong. Overhead presses are when you push weight over your head while you are standing up. You can do both types of presses in a gym or at home.
  • Squats: You should always do squats because they keep your legs strong, but they also provide a great cardiovascular workout. Since your legs contain the largest muscle group in your body, strengthening them can help keep you slender and strong, and they can also help to keep your body looking fit, overall.
  • Rows: Depending on the type of row you choose, you’ll be strengthening your upper and lower back and your biceps, too.
  • Curls: They work your biceps and triceps and don’t require a gym or too much equipment, either. You can use weights or bands for this exercise.
  • Pushups: Everyone knows and has a love/hate relationship with pushups. They require no equipment unless you’re using a ball to help strengthen your core, or something else to make the exercise more challenging. There are lots of types of pushups – wide-grip, decline, incline, and even one-arm pushups. Pushups work a number of muscles – your triceps, biceps, pectorals, the abs (when you hold a pushup), your deltoids, and a few more.
  • Pullups: I won’t get too technical with the muscle groups, but pullups work the muscles in your back, your rear shoulders, and your arms. It’s great to combine pullups and pushups so that you’re working the muscles in the front and back of your upper body
  • Lunges: No gym is needed for lunges, and there are a few different types – traditional, side lunges, reverse lunges, weighted lunges, and walking lunges to name a few. They work your glutes, hamstrings, quadriceps, abs, and your back. They are great for strengthening your knees and hips.

All of these exercises require little to no equipment, and they can easily be the staple of your strength maintenance program at home or in the gym.

As always, be sure that you maintain good form so that you don’t injure yourself while exercising.

Choose A Set And Rep Routine That Work For You!

I like to keep things very simple, and I believe that 3 sets of 10 repetitions will work just fine for you. I’ve seen it work time and again in people from age 40 to 77, and I can firmly stand by this rep set as one that is very effective and super easy to maintain.

You’ll want to warm up, first. Once you do your sets, if you find that they are too easy for you, just add more weight. I’d suggest adding weight in five pound increments so that you don’t take on too much too quickly and risk injuring yourself.

You don’t need to do anything dangerous, and you definitely don’t need to try to train like an Olympic athlete. In fact, being overzealous in a workout routine is one of the primary reasons I have seen people get discouraged and want to quit exercising as they get older.

Overtraining or lifting too heavy a weight too quickly is a surefire way to get hurt and create a setback.

So don’t do that to yourself.

All you have to do is to start building strength reasonably, and you’ll find that you can grow lean muscle in a sustainable way as time progresses. You don’t have to fall victim to significant loss of muscle mass just because you’re getting older.

As long as you’re giving your body good nutrition, and you’re doing resistance training in the ways that I have described, you will see the results you’ve been looking for, and you’ll notice that you’re both maintaining and building muscle mass.

Muscle Building Isn’t Just For People In Their 20’s and 30’s

In closing, I’d just like to point out one important aspect of muscle building that a lot of people forget about as they grow older, and it’s this: If you think like an “old person,” you really will act like whatever your perception of “old people” is.

I’ve always subscribed to the belief that age is just a number. And though I know that there’s a big difference between a 16 year old and a 50 year old, I also know people in their 40’s who look like they are in their 60’s. On the other hand, I know people who are in their 70’s, and they look like they are in their late 40’s.

The difference between the two is that the latter group doesn’t use age as an excuse for why they can’t look and feel their best. They eat well. They train as hard as they can without overdoing it. They enjoy their lives. And they expect to get the best out every experience that they can.

Without the proper mindset, you’ll never get stronger and build more lean muscle as you age. But if you can view yourself and your life with optimism, all things are possible.

I am firmly convinced that you can be as strong as you want to be, regardless of your age.


The Garage Warrior



  1. “Sarcopenia With Aging.” Blahd, William, MD. Aug. 3, 2014.
  2. “What Muscles do Pushups Work?” MD Health writers. June 16, 2016.
  3. “Preventing Sarcopenia.” Brink, Will. Jan., 2007.
  4. “Lunge Towards Massive Legs.” Fritz, Tim. May 2, 2014.