It's possible to continue to do most of the exercises you performed in your 20s and 30s well into your 40s and 50s. But, when devising a workout plan, you have to consider the changes that come with an aging body. If you’ve been consistent with your health, the starting point may be better than for others your age but you'll still have to switch things up. And, for those who are struggling to gain muscle despite routinely being active, we’re here to address that. (It likely has to do with the type of exercise you’re doing.)
The human body experiences a lot of change over four decades and then it moves through another transition. We are forever changing.
How Your Body Changes
As you hit your 40s some significant developments happen for almost everyone known as a 10-15 year-long decline in hormone production.
Energy production decreases a great deal.
It may become more difficult to catch some Zs.
Changes in emotional regulation leading to anxiety or irritability
Brain fog can make it challenging to focus.
Low libido or desire for sex.
Additionally, there are physiological changes to take into account. Bone mass begins to decline at the age of 40. And then beginning at 30, each successive decade will result in a 3-5 percent loss in muscle mass.
Despite all of this though, gaining muscle is still possible, but there is no holding onto your current muscle mass without maintenance.
Also, by exercising and paying attention to diet, it is possible to slow down the muscle loss process. The younger generations reading this should definitely consider taking a more holistic approach to life and they'll benefit from this advice a thousand times over later in life.
How Exercise Should Change as You Age
In addition to mentioning that older bodies can still gain muscle, we also said that there is no maintaining your current muscle mass without training.
Let’s say an individual spent the entirety of their 30s running marathons, and they’re going strong 10 years later, but noticing a loss of muscle loss and energy. They just can’t run as far and fast as they once did. These individuals can combat all of those unfavorable developments by implementing weight lifting into their plan— as soon as possible. Because despite all their activity level they're still losing muscle mass.
The reason steady-state cardio (think long-distant running) does not build muscle is because it produces too much cortisol, inhibiting protein synthesis. The process is necessary to develop muscle. That’s not to say never run a marathon again. Running is essential for a strong heart. But for older people they benefit extraordinarily from weightlifting, using free weights, or weight lifting machines.
Strength training becomes less of a preference and more of a necessity. That is... it’s a necessity for continuing to be active beyond 50.
Types of Exercise to Capitalize On
Just as we become more aware of ourselves from year to year, so must our exercise and diet plans.
This type of exercise is best described as high intensity and short duration. Typical HIIT workouts last 4, 15, or 30 minutes. (The less time, the more intense the workout.) Those who want to lose weight after 40 are perhaps the best suited for High-Intensity Interval Training because they reap a lot of benefits from it that combat their naturally aging physiology.
The Benefits Include:
Weight Loss and Muscle Building for Those Over 40
Less Time Spent Working Out
Remember, form is crucial to proper muscle engagement with either traditional strength training or HIIT workouts.
Your back, hips, ligaments, and connective tissues get tighter with each passing decade. You’re more prone to falling and breaking a bone, ripping a muscle, or otherwise, as you move within an aging body. This makes flexibility training extremely critical. A quick yoga flow warm-up or some other form of active warm-up prevents muscle tightness or injuries. Additionally, deep stretching can open up the hips and relieve discomfort from sitting too much.