T Nation

Lifespan and Body Size

Wanted to get your opinion on what your thoughts on lifespan and the size of ones body mass are (in relation to TC’s article).

I have always thought about this - but not sure which would be healthier. For instance if ones weight was supposed to be around 190lbs-200lbs without lifting weights - Is it better the person be around 230lb muscular with somewhat visible abs or would it be healthier to shrink down to around 205ish lbs. and still be strong for instance but a lot leaner? I am talking longevity wise - not pure hypertrophy.

The other conundrum is also losing muscle mass as you age, but I feel strength is more of a determination of health and longevity than pure muscle mass (which I understand still aids in strength - but it sound like may cause the heart to work harder).

Also thank you for all the information you have put out over the years. Your opinion does matter and you always have an interesting take on scenarios so that is why I also ask.

Waist:hip ratio is probably the most important factor longevity-wise. For men, you want to be under 0.9, for women, under 0.85

Another useful statistic is any measure of aerobic health, such as VO2 Max or resting heart-rate

Weight is a useful statistic however, and (in general) heavier people don’t live as long. But, that is a big generalisation and doesn’t consider PED use and body composition.

I’m not sure if body size matters as much as body composition. While there is a correlation between weight and longevity, since epidemiological studies look at the general population, it is likely that “bigger” means faster.

And carrying more fat is definitely associated with a higher likelihood of an earlier death as well as poorer cardiovascular health.

That having been said muscle requires resources to be maintained and increase the load on the cardiovascular system, which could potentially reduce lifespan.

And, maybe even more importantly, the dietary habits that favors muscle growth (high surplus, high meal frequency) can also potentially reduce lifespan by increasing mTOR and IGF-1 while reducing AMPK. That’s why intermittent fasting, and caloric restriction in general, is seen as a way to increase lifespan.

But strength and muscle size (in the general population) is also associated with living longer. But this is likely referring to “regular population” muscular, not “bodybuilder” muscular.

As much as I’d like the opposite to be true, it is normally smarter to downsize as you get holder. This should be done mostly via a reduction in body fat levels but could also mean reducing muscle mass (while still staying fit, strong and muscular), especially if someone carries a very high level of muscle mass.


Thank you as always coach. Of course everyone wants to be huge, ripped, and athletic etc., but the older I get the more I realize that being super muscular isn’t everything but hard to accept when it is/was apart of your identity.

Cardio makes a difference, strength is huge, and being able to move in different planes I feel like matter more nowadays - while being slightly ripped (again this is for health not getting as huge as possible).

I feel that if you are natural and build muscle at a proper rate as well as not making yourself sick cutting fat (you know better than me but I feel some people are healthier at a more baseline fat rate then cutting way to low. Some peoples set points are higher and if they drop below a certain amount they get sick/hormones do not work right) then you should be fine.

I know composition is huge and there are a ton of other variables as well.

Appreciate your thought and time.


Bodybuilding and longevity/lifespan are incompatible.
One of the main trigger of longevity is AMPK which is enhanced by caloric restriction, fasting (more than 24h with caloric restriction, not intermittent à la 16:8), protein restriction (especially restriction of methionine, cystine and leucine), aerobic activity, low insuline, low IGF-1, moderate testosterone level. All the opposite of bodybuilding. Bodybuilding want to enhance mTOR which is the opposite of AMPK. The strongest drug to enhance longevity is rapamycine which inhibits mTOR (mammelian target of rapamycine), and so muscle protein synthesis. I know, a lot of lifters don’t want to hear this.

Strength is important and resistance training as a lot of benefit for longevity, but not when it’s practiced for (bodybuilder) hypertrophy.

It’s a real dilemma for a lot of lifters. The mouse and apes living the longest with strong caloric/protein restriction are skinny and a little bit fatter than average (not obese, but not lean either), but healthy as hell living 30-50% older than average (on human scale it’s between 25 and 40 years more).
It’s sure always tricky to extrapolate from animal studies. Neverthless caloric and protein restriction is a real thing.