You may have read the title of this article and assumed that it was written for someone older than you. However, it may surprise you that age related muscle loss, called sarcopenia, begins after the age of 30. I know, right! It's not fair!
After the age of 30, muscle loss begins at the rate of 3-8% loss per decade. The good news is, we can use resistance training to slow down this process, preserve our muscle mass, and even build muscle mass!
The benefits of maintaining good muscle mass are significant. It's good muscle mass that allows us to enjoy a higher metabolic rate (Hello, skinny jeans!). Resistance training not only increases our muscle mass, it can increase our bone density, therefore decreasing the risk of osteoporosis. It is muscle that helps us maintain our strength and mobility as we age, which lessens the risk of experiencing falls and fractures.
Studies have shown that men, in particular, can experience muscle mass losses of about 30 percent, in their lifetime. Some studies seem to indicate the causes being lack of resistance training, as well as the lowering levels of testosterone, that can happen with the aging process.
The good news is that muscle lost as a consequence of aging can be regained through resistance training. You can rebuild that muscle!
As usual, get cleared by your doctor before starting a fitness program and/or resistance training.
An ideal way to combat age related muscle loss is through progressive resistance training. This consists of 8-10 different exercises that target all main muscle groups. If you're new to strength training, you can start with one set, then progress to adding a second set. Eventually, you'll add a third set on. Aim for 12 reps per set. Once you've gotten a bit too comfortable in your resistance training routine, make sure to mix in new exercises from time to time. We've got to keep our muscles being trained in different ways to keep them guessing! A good trainer can help you with mix up your program to incorporate new elements.
The American Collage of Sports Medicine recommends strength training at least 2 nonconsecutive days of the week. You can even shoot for 3 days a week if you're feeling up to it.
If you're a member of a gym and have been shy about utilizing the weight lifting machines, as they can look intimidating, ask the front desk staff if the gym offers a free Personal Trainer led weight machine orientation class. Many gyms offer this as a service to members, and I've taught many of these orientations myself.
In addition to utilizing strength training, try tracking your protein intake to make sure you're consuming the right amount for your specific weight, age, and activity level. It's ideal to consume clean protein sources, avoiding high consumption of red meats and processed meats. Check out some of the vegetarian protein source charts available online.
Consider using the myfitnesspal app daily. I use it to make sure my macros are staying balanced. The recommendations are completely individualized to your specific body. It will show you a pie chart of your macros (carbs, fats, and protein) each day, so you will know if a specific area needs tweaking to fuel your body effectively.
Stay fit, St. Pete!