T Nation

40+ & Gaining Muscle?

Since I’m 44 this excerpt below from Draper’s daily column interests me. I have gained some muscle in my 40’s and am wondering how much longer it can continue. However, my strength gains are more remarkable (a relative term) than my muscle gains. Looking for comments from the the over 40 crowd on this subject…

"Q. As a man over 40, have I lost the ability to “grow”? I continue to
train, but the “packing it on” stage seems to have left me. I lift about
the same weight. In fact, a bit more, but the growth (size) doesn’t seem
to come.

A. Two truths should be revisited and underscored at this point: that’s
life and everyone is different. A third truth can be added: 40 to 50 are
still very good growth years.

“That’s life” tells us we do slow down in our muscular growth as we age.
Yet, if the basic training precepts are followed – workout consistency,
hard training, smart eating and plenty of rest and relaxation – muscular
size, shape and quality can be improved perceptibly into our 60s. “That
everyone is different” – genetics, health, training acumen, drive,
toughness and such – tells us some will flourish more than others. Some
will flounder.

Sufficient exercise will keep one in shape. Swell. Those who are suited to
progress as they age need to be aggressive with their training, while at
once retaining commonsense, care and attentiveness to overtraining and
system abuse.

Finesse, passion and creativity are three major qualities that determine
and assure a trainee’s continued distinct advancement. They separate the
ordinary from the special.

Certain muscles that have not been overtrained or training-saturated –
rear delts, forearms, lower lats, thighs – can surprise us and respond
especially well to specific exercises, and restore our confidence and
delight in training and growing.

Finally, the over-40 lifter must be careful not to be dominated or
intimidated by the over 40 rhetoric. It is specious, spurious and insidious
with tentacles reaching the subconscious that defeat him before he’s 41."

[quote]throttle132 wrote:
Finally, the over-40 lifter must be careful not to be dominated or
intimidated by the over 40 rhetoric. It is specious, spurious and insidious
with tentacles reaching the subconscious that defeat him before he’s 41."
[/quote]

This same concept is why I don’t believe in trying to get so many people to accept that they are “hardgainers”. If you believe that your gains will come slowly, you will make it happen physically.

I’m 47 nearly 48 and I have been told as recently as yesterday that I look like I’m 30. I train hard with weights 5 days a week. I don’t play the; I’m too old for that BS. I train as hard as or harder than anyone in the Gold?s Gym I belong too. I might be getting older but refuse to accept being old as a consequence.

What inspired me was 2 yrs ago while I was training at a different time than my usual I ran into an older guy who looked great. We started chatting. I had him pegged for maybe 55 or so only because of a few wrinkles and all grey. However he was built like a gladiator.

As our conversation went on he asked me how old I was. I proudly said," not bad for an old man of 45". He asked me how old I thought he was. I hate to answer that question. Well at least this time it wasn’t being asked by a woman. I said I don’t know maybe mid to possibly late 50s. He smiled a huge smile and said, “Thanks son, but I’m 76”. I was stunned to say the least. He told me he trains 5 days a week in the gym and plays on an over 70 softball league everyday as well. He told me that physical activity is the fountain of youth.

I have since internalized what he told me and I am inspired everyday because of him.

I feel better today than I did 25 years ago. I’ve cleaned up my eating and train hard when I go to the gym. My motto is train hard or stay home. I’m 5’ 9", 195 lbs. less than 10% body fat, my arms flexed and cold are 17 1/4", my chest is 48", my waist is 31", my thighs are 26". I bench over 350, squat over 400, curl over 150 on barbell curls. I am completely drug free. I only supplement with protein and creatine. Not too shabby for anyone, much less a guy gaining on 50.

So don’t let anyone tell you that you’re too old to train for size and strength.

I hope this helps you. Don’t let anyone steal your dreams.

Ass Buster

1 Like

[quote]assbuster wrote:
I’m 47 nearly 48 and I have been told as recently as yesterday that I look like I’m 30. I train hard with weights 5 days a week. I don’t play the; I’m too old for that BS. I train as hard as or harder than anyone in the Gold?s Gym I belong too. I might be getting older but refuse to accept being old as a consequence.

What inspired me was 2 yrs ago while I was training at a different time than my usual I ran into an older guy who looked great. We started chatting. I had him pegged for maybe 55 or so only because of a few wrinkles and all grey. However he was built like a gladiator.

As our conversation went on he asked me how old I was. I proudly said," not bad for an old man of 45". He asked me how old I thought he was. I hate to answer that question. Well at least this time it wasn’t being asked by a woman. I said I don’t know maybe mid to possibly late 50s. He smiled a huge smile and said, “Thanks son, but I’m 76”. I was stunned to say the least. He told me he trains 5 days a week in the gym and plays on an over 70 softball league everyday as well. He told me that physical activity is the fountain of youth.

I have since internalized what he told me and I am inspired everyday because of him.

I feel better today than I did 25 years ago. I’ve cleaned up my eating and train hard when I go to the gym. My motto is train hard or stay home. I’m 5’ 9", 195 lbs. less than 10% body fat, my arms flexed and cold are 17 1/4", my chest is 48", my waist is 31", my thighs are 26". I bench over 350, squat over 400, curl over 150 on barbell curls. I am completely drug free. I only supplement with protein and creatine. Not too shabby for anyone, much less a guy gaining on 50.

So don’t let anyone tell you that you’re too old to train for size and strength.

I hope this helps you. Don’t let anyone steal your dreams.

Ass Buster[/quote]

Great post!

[quote]throttle132 wrote:
Since I’m 44 this excerpt below from Draper’s daily column interests me. I have gained some muscle in my 40’s and am wondering how much longer it can continue. However, my strength gains are more remarkable (a relative term) than my muscle gains. Looking for comments from the the over 40 crowd on this subject.

[/quote]

I am 46 years old, didn’t start weight training until five years ago when I weighed 140 lbs and about 7-8% BF and 5’-10" tall. Today I am 175 lbs, still 5’-10" tall (!) and about 12% BF. I have been as high as 185 lbs (at 15% BF). And my strength just keeps increasing. Most people think I’m in my early 30’s inspite of my silver hair.

I think that once you get the muscle and strength, if you keep training smart throughout your life, there is no reason you can’t continue to make progress, although the progress will become increasingly small.

[quote]Professor X wrote:
throttle132 wrote:
Finally, the over-40 lifter must be careful not to be dominated or
intimidated by the over 40 rhetoric. It is specious, spurious and insidious
with tentacles reaching the subconscious that defeat him before he’s 41."

This same concept is why I don’t believe in trying to get so many people to accept that they are “hardgainers”. If you believe that your gains will come slowly, you will make it happen physically.[/quote]

A few years ago a friend of mine complained about how she was getting bigger because she’s getting older. SHE WAS 26 AT THE TIME!!!She’s taken up smoking since then. She’s 29 now and comfortly settled into her downward spiral.

[quote]assbuster wrote:
I’m 47 nearly 48 and I have been told as recently as yesterday that I look like I’m 30. I train hard with weights 5 days a week. I don’t play the; I’m too old for that BS. I train as hard as or harder than anyone in the Gold?s Gym I belong too. I might be getting older but refuse to accept being old as a consequence.

What inspired me was 2 yrs ago while I was training at a different time than my usual I ran into an older guy who looked great. We started chatting. I had him pegged for maybe 55 or so only because of a few wrinkles and all grey. However he was built like a gladiator.

As our conversation went on he asked me how old I was. I proudly said," not bad for an old man of 45". He asked me how old I thought he was. I hate to answer that question. Well at least this time it wasn’t being asked by a woman. I said I don’t know maybe mid to possibly late 50s. He smiled a huge smile and said, “Thanks son, but I’m 76”. I was stunned to say the least. He told me he trains 5 days a week in the gym and plays on an over 70 softball league everyday as well. He told me that physical activity is the fountain of youth.

I have since internalized what he told me and I am inspired everyday because of him.

I feel better today than I did 25 years ago. I’ve cleaned up my eating and train hard when I go to the gym. My motto is train hard or stay home. I’m 5’ 9", 195 lbs. less than 10% body fat, my arms flexed and cold are 17 1/4", my chest is 48", my waist is 31", my thighs are 26". I bench over 350, squat over 400, curl over 150 on barbell curls. I am completely drug free. I only supplement with protein and creatine. Not too shabby for anyone, much less a guy gaining on 50.

So don’t let anyone tell you that you’re too old to train for size and strength.

I hope this helps you. Don’t let anyone steal your dreams.

Ass Buster[/quote]

Inspiring!! This should be nominated for post of the year!!

assbuster;

what’s your current routine like, if you don’t mind me asking.

Brian

I am 50. I used to be an endurance athlete (triathlons, marathons) and qualified for Boston in 1998. I weighed 154 at 5’11" with 4.5% body fat. I looked like an escapee from a concentration camp.

I got into weightlifting by accident–literally! I was in a serious auto accident and started lifting for rehab in May, 1999.

I now weigh a muscular 195 with 11% body fat. I continue to set PRs in the gym and can work most younger guys into the ground! I am acquiring strongman equipment and hope to compete in my first meet this fall.

AGE IS NOT A BARRIER!!!

Like I said in my first post, I have gained size and strength in my 40’s. Am currently 44, 5’8", 185 - 190 lbs @~11% bf. I do train hard, heavy, consistently, and eat properly via the general T-Nation accepted norms and only use protein powder, creatine and occasional cycles of Alpha Male as supps. I’m confident my strength gains can continue to rise but will/can the muscle continue to be added? I purposely bulked up to 198 lbs. this past winter and got stronger, added muscle mass and yes…some fat… too much for my tastes. Didn’t like the extra fat so I have peeled it off this spring without any noticeable strength losses.

I dumbbell flat press 12 x 3’s & 7 x 4’s with 105’s. I deadlift (with straps) 10 x 3’s @ 385 - 410 lbs and 5 x 5’s @ 375 & a 1RM of 430. I squat 10 x 3’s and 5 x 5’s in the high 200’s and low 300’s. I chin 10 x 3’s with a 55 lbs. dumbbell and a 1RM with a 70. With just bodyweight I can crank out ~12 - 15. Dips, same set rep scheme with a 90 and doubles and triples with a 105. I workout alone in my home gym next to the barn 30 miles from the nearest town. I’ve been told on a number of occasions I look mid 30’s.

However, I consider my best accomplishment to be that I have convinced my 5’4", 110 lbs. 40 year old wife to lift consistently, heavy, and with basic compound movements…and she has been told many times that she looks late 20’s and still gets carded at clubs from time to time. She gets waaaaay more muscularity compliments than I do! The looks and whistles she gets at the bar, club, beach, Walmart or wherever are frequent and I’m at the age where I get a big kick out of it.

I have been lifing for the last 4 years. I was kind of wandering around lost in the gym, until I found this site a couple of years ago. Since then, I have cleaned up my eating, started doing compound lifts, and have really changed physically. I dropped from 204 down to 174, last year. I really didn’t lose much strength, but since then, I have packed on quite a bit of muscle. Thanks to Zeb’s chin up routine, and some of the workout programs here, I now have that thick V look.

Right now, I am weighing in at 191 @ 5’10". I look good. I feel great, and I continue to get stronger. Tomorrow I turn 50. The best part is I can still get out there and do it. I go to the gym 5 days a week. I get hot, work up a sweat. You won’t hear, “My doctor says I shouldn’t overexert myself.” Screw that, put another plate on the bar. You only get so many chances to get this right.

People who say that once you pass 40, you can’t gain any size/strength are full of it. I think with the proper training, and nutrition, you can continue to gain for the rest of your life. You might not pack it on like in your 20’s, but a gain is a gain.

Kick ass thread! My only regret now is that I started so late in the game. I am quite literally getting better lookin every day thanks to iron, eating right and giving a shit about my body. I could not agree with this thread more. I’m 43. Recently competed in my first powerlifting meet.

I can remember thinking, man I’m 43, I’ve only got a few good years left. Then I met a man who was 54 and will be competing on the world team. 54!!! Hell I am a young man with the whole world ahead of me yet. He was very inspiring. Assbuster your post was gold! Rock on old dudes! Ha.

[quote]praterhaus wrote:
AGE IS NOT A BARRIER!!!

[/quote]

Most of the barriers we have are in our mind. If you can just get your head in the right place the “old bod’” will follow.

I’m 53 now. 6’2" and about 240 at 15% BF. I don’t measure myself anymore just cause it doesn’t really matter to me. I never get sick. My health is perfect. I dont take any prescription meds for anything. I spent last weekend moving 15 tons of hay with two kids less that half my age and had no problem keeping up with them even on the second day when we moved 22 tons!

I can still do most if not all of what I did at a much younger age …but the consequences have changed a little. I can still Bench 350+ but my shoulders will bitch like hell for a week after. I can still squat 500+ but my lower back and right knee get really pissed. I can still do weighted dips but my shoulders and right elbow protest. I blew both hamstrings (right one twice) doing deads. BFD!!

Can you remember a time when you worked hard and regularly and didn’t have some type of owie? I can’t. However, I always have more owies on weeks when I DON’T workout. I still have new ones every week…some weeks more than others. If you keep yourself healthy, keep working out and use some common sense when you get whacked you can recover.

My personal belief is that you rust out before you wear out. I also think there are some basic truths that apply to everyone but especially to those of us who have plenty of miles on us.

Some of my own personal truths are:

  1. Rest, Ice and NSAIDs are your friends. Use 'em. Everyday, every workout, even if you dont think you need 'em. They’re cheap and easy to use and preventing problems is easier than fixing problems.

  2. All the terrific nutrition, supps, vits, cycling, etc. won’t do any good if you can’t digest and absorb it. Get a good digestive enzyme mix and use it every day. Get a good intestinal flora mix that is enteric coated and use it every day. I think this is REALLY important as you age. This has made a huge difference in my ability to recover.

  3. Live the T-Man lifestyle. Workout like a madman. Mix it up and try new things. Avoid the over-use boogie man. Rest when necessary. Challenge yourself. Get a GOOD trainer. After 50 I think we DESERVE one!!

  4. Read this website and every article in it like your life and health depended on it…‘cause it does. This site is the most amazing source of health and workout info I’ve ever seen. Nuttin’ else even comes close. I even quit browsing the porn sites cause this site is so terrific. (Ok, ok, even I call BS on that one…)

  5. Never stop chasing the ladies or at least lusting after them. Dogs chase cars they have no intention of catching just because it’s fun. Act like a dog…but don’t lick your nuts.

Damn, cant belive I yapped this long. Sorry about that. Guess I better pound a couple more Spike with a Geritol chaser.

Oh, and to answer the original question, I absolutely 100% believe it’s possible to gain muscle using the new advances in nutrition, training and medicine long after you hit the 4-0. I plan to keep doing it until they nail the coffin door shut!!

See ya.

Jimbob

This post was flagged by the community and is temporarily hidden.

There’s evidence that we can gain muscle WELL past 40. The following abstract shows some of the data from the study that my Master’s thesis came from. Since my thesis isn’t published, I’ll use this one though. Although it doesn’t give the exact figures in the abstract, I can tell you that the 65-75 year old men had an increase in quadriceps volume of about 12%, which was not statistically different from the gains of the younger men. Now these people were untrained, but still, it bodes well for people who weight train at any age.

J Am Geriatr Soc. 2001 Nov;49(11):1428-33. Related Articles, Links
Click here to read
Muscle size responses to strength training in young and older men and women.

Roth SM, Ivey FM, Martel GF, Lemmer JT, Hurlbut DE, Siegel EL, Metter EJ, Fleg JL, Fozard JL, Kostek MC, Wernick DM, Hurley BF.

Department of Kinesiology, University of Maryland, College Park 20742, USA.

OBJECTIVES: To examine the possible influences of age and gender on muscle volume responses to strength training (ST). DESIGN: Prospective intervention study. SETTING: University of Maryland Exercise Science and Wellness Research Laboratories. PARTICIPANTS: Eight young men (age 20-30 years), six young women (age 20-30 years), nine older men (age 65-75 years), and ten older women (age 65-75 years). INTERVENTION: A 6-month whole-body ST program that exercised all major muscle groups of the upper and lower body 3 days/week. MEASUREMENTS: Thigh and quadriceps muscle volumes and mid-thigh muscle cross-sectional area (CSA) were assessed by magnetic resonance imaging before and after the ST program. RESULTS: Thigh and quadriceps muscle volume increased significantly in all age and gender groups as a result of ST (P < .001), with no significant differences between the groups. Modest correlations were observed between both the change in quadriceps versus the change in total thigh muscle volume (r = 0.65; P < .001) and the change in thigh muscle volume versus the change in mid-thigh CSA (r = 0.76, P < .001). CONCLUSIONS: The results indicate that neither age nor gender affects muscle volume response to whole-body ST. Muscle volume, rather than muscle CSA, is recommended for studying muscle mass responses to ST.

PMID: 11890579 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

[quote]BrianFoley wrote:
assbuster;

what’s your current routine like, if you don’t mind me asking.

Brian[/quote]

Hi Brian,

Thank you for the compliment. Here is my current routine. It’s kind of advanced and I change it up about every 4 to 6 weeks. Currently I’m training for both Strength & Hypertrophy:

Monday Leg Day

Warm up 10 mins. on stationary bike and then 3 progressive sets of Hacks (not counted here in set/rep volume) You should always make sure you?re completely warmed or you?ll injure yourself but especially this routine.

4 X 12 - 15 Hack Squats
3 X 12 ? 15 45 deg. Leg Presses
3 X 7 - 8 Barbell Squats
4 X 12 - 15 Lying Leg Curls
4 X 8 - 10 Seated Leg Curls
2 X 25 Seated Calf Raises
2 X 25 Standing Calf Raises

Tuesday Chest Day

Warm up 10 mins. on Elliptical then 3 sets progressive weight warm up with Incline Dumbbell Presses (not counted here in set/rep volume)

3 X 15 Incline Dumbbell Presses
3 X 10 - 12 Incline Barbell Presses
3 X 10 - 12 Weighted Dips
2 X 10 - 12 Incline Dumbbell Flies
2 X 10 - 12 Flat Dumbbell Flies
2 X 25 Seated Calf Raises
2 X 25 Standing Calf Raises
(My calves are stubborn suckers so they get extra attention)

Wednesday Back Day

Warm up 10 mines. on Elliptical then 3 sets progressive weight warm-ups with Seated Cable Rows (not counted here in set/rep volume)

4 X 12 - 15 Seated Cable Rows
4 X 15 Lat Pull Downs (front wide grip)
4 X 12 Barbell Bent over Rows
3 X 12 - 15 1 Arm Standing Cable Rows
2 X 10 - 12 Dumbbell Dead Lifts
2 X 10 Weighted Hyper Extensions

Thursday Shoulders Day

Warm up 10 mines. on Elliptical then 3 sets progressive weight warm-ups with Standing Side Lateral Raises (not counted here in set/rep volume)

4 X 10 - 12 Seated Side Dumbbell Laterals
4 X 10 - 12 Front Dumbbell Laterals
4 X 12 Barbell Military Presses (Standing)
Pyramid 15 - 12 - 10 Upright Barbell Rows
2 X 25 Seated Calf Raises
2 X 25 Standing Calf Raises

Friday Arms Day

Warm up 10 mines. on Elliptical then 3 sets progressive weight warm-ups with EZ Bar Curls (not counted here in set/rep volume)

Pyramid 15 - 12 - 10 - 8 Barbell Curls
Pyramid 15 - 12 - 10 - 8 Seated Incline Dumbbell Curls
Pyramid 15 - 12 - 10 - 8 Triceps Pushdowns
Pyramid 15 - 12 - 10 - 8 Scull Crushers
4 X 10 - 12 Dumbbell Preacher Curls
4 X 10 - 12 Close Grip Bench Presses

My abs are strong and well developed. They get a lot of incidental work through out the week. However sometimes I’ll substitute abs as a warm-up rather than the Elliptical. Can you tell the Elliptical is my favorite machine (Grin)?

As I said earlier this is my “current routine”. I have a few others that I?ll be happy to post later.

Have on hand a gallon of water or your favorite sports drink. Hydration is very important here. You will sweat bullets doing this routine, especially the first few weeks. I rest no more than 2 mins between sets on major muscle groups like legs and chest and 1 min or less on small muscles like biceps and calves. I train at about 80 - 85% of my 1RM on all exercises except finishing moves like flies.

Please keep in mind this is not a routine for someone just getting started. And as always pass it by someone you know and trust like a PT, MD or some of the coaches here at T-Nation before trying it . This routine is not for the faint of heart, but the results are phenomenal.

I hope this helps.

Ass Buster

What a great thread!
See? There is hope for us “old” people after all!

Very motivational. That’s main thing I’m looking for when I visit this site, and you guys (and women) manage to deliver every time!

Thanks,
J

[quote]btm62 wrote:
Kick ass thread! My only regret now is that I started so late in the game. I am quite literally getting better lookin every day thanks to iron, eating right and giving a shit about my body. I could not agree with this thread more. I’m 43. Recently competed in my first powerlifting meet.

I can remember thinking, man I’m 43, I’ve only got a few good years left. Then I met a man who was 54 and will be competing on the world team. 54!!! Hell I am a young man with the whole world ahead of me yet. He was very inspiring. Assbuster your post was gold! Rock on old dudes! Ha.[/quote]

You may have some advantages . If you train smart you maybe able to avoid bad knees and ir elbows and or shoulders . My work out is always evolving. It is my high 48 yrs here

I may be on the lower (younger) end of this spectrum, but at 43 I hang out with women and guys who are late 20’s early 30’s and they think I’m their age. In fact, I’m in better shape than most of them and most have a hard time keeping up with me. Some think I’m actually younger than they are.

As has been stated here, age for the most part, is just chronology, not biology. Exercise and specifically smart, planned, weight training is the fountain of youth.

Those that start slipping early may not be living a smart lifestyle or are not training correctly in that they need to change their workout more often. Not only that, many of us in our 40’s have been training for a while and as such are more prone to progress slowdowns than newbees. So it’s probably not age put poor training parameters.

Check out www.realage.com to see what biological age you are based on lifestyle. It’s an eye opener. My current biological age is 30.

Dude, this is an unbelievable amount of volume. You’re doing well over 150 totals reps on legs alone. Do you do this type of volume all of the time? If so, how the hell do you keep from burning out? If I followed this program, I would be toast in less than 3 weeks.