Inevitably, the journey to building muscle becomes more challenging with age, a fact attested by Robert Iafelice, MS, RDN, LDN, a nutrition expert at Set for Set. The decline in muscle sensitivity to stimuli, particularly from amino acids like protein and resistance training, is a primary reason. This muscle loss, termed sarcopenia, occurs naturally as one ages, with a decline of about 3% to 5% in muscle mass per decade after hitting the age of 30. However, it’s not a futile endeavor; there are several ways to stimulate muscle growth even after 40, yielding numerous health benefits.
Compound exercises, which engage multiple muscle groups simultaneously, are recommended for building muscle, especially as one ages. Gini Grimsley, a certified strength and conditioning specialist, highlights the significance of exercises like squats, hinges, lunges, and upper body movements that challenge various muscle groups with each set.
Using adequate weight during exercises is crucial for muscle building. Grimsley suggests finding a weight that allows for a challenging set of eight to 12 reps to effectively stimulate muscle growth. Additionally, consuming sufficient high-quality protein, averaging around 30 to 50 grams per meal, supports muscle repair and growth, especially crucial for individuals over 40 aiming for around 40 grams per meal.
Balancing macronutrients is also essential; incorporating complex carbohydrates, healthy fats, and a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables provides energy for workouts, supports hormone production, and supplies essential vitamins and antioxidants crucial for overall health and muscle function.
Sleep and hydration are vital components in the muscle-building process. Prioritizing seven to nine hours of quality sleep per night aids muscle repair and growth, while adequate hydration supports optimal muscle function and recovery.
Nutrient timing after workouts, portion control, and cultivating patience in the journey toward muscle building are equally important factors. Consuming a balanced meal post-workout, paying attention to portion sizes, and maintaining a positive, patient attitude contribute significantly to the process, fostering consistent progress over time.