T Nation

Septuagenarian Weight Training

Dr. Darden,

Though I am creeping up in age, I just refuse to throw in the towel.
My current and most critical battle is against sarcopenia. As best I can tell it affects the aged to varying degrees. I feel that I am in the upper half on the bad side.

I have been experiencing muscle loss since my mid 40’s, where I noticed the medial head of my gastrocnemious waste from the insertion upward. I also noticed my lower pecs wasting from the lower part of the center of my chest.

By the time I hit 60 my strength began to noticeably decline and muscles too. By the time I was 65 I needed both hips replaced and did so.

On the positive side, I have become sufficiently weak enough that injuries are no longer a concern (which was always the case since I turned 27).

Do you have any training, supplement, pharmaceutical ideas that might help retard the progress of sarcopenia?

[I am on TRT and take a multitude of supplements. I competed in bodybuilding and had pretty good success through the '70’s, '80’s, and '90’s. I have lifted weights since I was 19 and also powerlifted well enough to occasionally place during my bodybuilding competition years. I keep about the same dietary habits now as I did then.]

Thank you,
Terry Brooks

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I am no medical expert , but from what I know about the condition, I would say that Dr Darden’s current training and dietary recommendations would be a massive step in the right direction for you.
The negative emphasised training with all the potential hormones it stimulates, the infrequent training , and the high carb “protein sparing” diet would to my mind be big positives.

Mark

Terry,

Look back in the T-Nation archives and find my 30-10-30 article from 06/21/2019. The workout described in the article would work for you. Do it as explained once or twice a week.

Pick up a book from scott Abel called the aging proposition and another one that is called physique after 50 both are very informative on the aging body and sarcopenia and that we dont have to be a passive bystander to the whole aging process?

Looking at your introduction thread on the Over 35 Lifter forum, it seems like you have a couple of orthopedic issues or limitations that limit how you train: hip replacements that preclude heavily loaded low body exercises, and a left shoulder that limits chest pressing movements.

If you were used to doing heavy compound movements to train, and can no longer do that, some loss of muscle mass would not be surprising.

Without knowing what you have already tried, or what equipment you have to train on, here are two pretty generic suggestions:

  • If you can’t use load to recruit fast twitch muscle, then you will have to try to use fatigue: using whatever load you can safely apply, focus on keeping the muscle under constant tension and try to inroad deeply. Dr. Dardens 30-10-30 would be a move in that direction. Overloaded eccentrics might be helpful too, but that usually requires special equipment.
  • In place of heavily loaded compound movements, try to find isolation exercises that let you load lagging muscle groups without loading vulnerable joints. So instead of the leg press, do more leg extensions and hip extensions.

You say you haven’t changed diet much, but haven’t indicated where your protein intake traditionally has been. IF you were eating at the lower end of the recommended range for protein in the past, perhaps bump up protein a little, just because old people don’t utilize protein as well as young people.

As far as I can tell, resistance exercise is the most powerful intervention that exists for sarcopenia. But it has to be done with sufficent intensity (and not too much volume, lest you overtax your reduced recovery ability). Since you are already doing TRT, you’ve probably done most of what can be done with regard to declining hormones. Probably not much left on the table outside of those two, beyond getting sufficient sleep, and making sure you don’t have sleep apnea.

Thank you very much for your input!

Looks like you are getting plenty of protein. And you have already figured out how to train around your joint issues. Not surprising, given your level of experience. So let us know if you turn up anything else that works wonders at turning back the clock…