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Can You Build Muscle and Strength After Age 70? Studies Say Yes!

At least once a week and often multiple times a day, I get asked a question about how much physical improvement can be gained through exercise after a certain age.

Sadly, after the aging process kicks in and we start to see it speed up, we can get discouraged and start thinking were on a downward slope that will continue to get steeper and steeper no matter what we do or don’t do.

Thankfully this is not the case and some really evidence was recently published to prove it!

“Our lab and others have shown repeatedly” that older muscles will grow and strengthen, says Marcas Bamman, the director of the UAB Center for Exercise Medicine at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. In his studies, men and women in their 60s and 70s who began supervised weight training developed muscles that were as large and strong as those of your average 40-year-old.

In his study seventy adults broken in to 2 groups (age 60-75 group and age 20-35 group) participated in a two-phase exercise trial that consisted of doing resistance training 3 days per week for 16 weeks (phase 1) followed by a 32-week period (phase 2) reducing the exercise to 1/3rd- 1/9th of what it was in phase 1.  (i.e. 1x per week- about 1x per month.

Phase 1 resulted in gains in strength, muscle fiber size, and muscle mass for the older and the younger group.

Wow!

Both maintenance prescriptions preserved phase 1 muscle gain in the younger group (20-35) but not the older group (60-75). The older group preserved muscle only on the 1x week maintenance plan.

What we see from this study is that adults aged 60-75 (and probably beyond, but more studies need to be done) can experience strength, and muscle gains similar to those of people much younger but they must do more to maintain it than younger people do.

This is great news since muscle size and strength is strongly related to the correction and prevention of back, neck and joint issues, to metabolism, to physical endurance, to activity and sports performance and so many other things.

It’s never too late and you are definitely worth it!

At least once a week and often multiple times a day, I get asked a question about how much physical improvement can be gained through exercise after a certain age.

Sadly, after the aging process kicks in and we start to see it speed up, we can get discouraged and start thinking were on a downward slope that will continue to get steeper and steeper no matter what we do or don’t do.

Thankfully this is not the case and some really evidence was recently published to prove it!

“Our lab and others have shown repeatedly” that older muscles will grow and strengthen, says Marcas Bamman, the director of the UAB Center for Exercise Medicine at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. In his studies, men and women in their 60s and 70s who began supervised weight training developed muscles that were as large and strong as those of your average 40-year-old.

In his study seventy adults broken in to 2 groups (age 60-75 group and age 20-35 group) participated in a two-phase exercise trial that consisted of doing resistance training 3 days per week for 16 weeks (phase 1) followed by a 32-week period (phase 2) reducing the exercise to 1/3rd- 1/9th of what it was in phase 1.  (i.e. 1x per week- about 1x per month.

Phase 1 resulted in gains in strength, muscle fiber size, and muscle mass for the older and the younger group.

Wow!

Both maintenance prescriptions preserved phase 1 muscle gain in the younger group (20-35) but not the older group (60-75). The older group preserved muscle only on the 1x week maintenance plan.

What we see from this study is that adults aged 60-75 (and probably beyond, but more studies need to be done) can experience strength, and muscle gains similar to those of people much younger but they must do more to maintain it than younger people do.

This is great news since muscle size and strength is strongly related to the correction and prevention of back, neck and joint issues, to metabolism, to physical endurance, to activity and sports performance and so many other things.

It’s never too late and you are definitely worth it!

Chris Vercelli  MATm, CPT

Founder: Non-Fiction Fitness

P.S. Check out the NYT article on this published recently- http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2016/12/02/can-you-regain-muscle-mass-after-age-60/?mwrsm=Email&_r=0 

And check out the research paper here- https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=21131862

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