Age and Muscle Loss

Last week I had a conversation with one of my "yummy mummy" clients that I feel completely encapsulates most women's concerns with building bulky muscles.

:: Ageless Icon Jane Fona: Left 49, Right 73! ::

My client was telling me that her 18-year-old daughter strongly dislikes push-ups or strength training workouts of any kind because she thought her arms got bulky after doing workouts with weights.

Here's the brutal honest scientific truth: our bodies are dramatically different between the ages of 18 and 48. As we age, our lean muscle mass starts to deteriorate. The rough estimate for that deterioration rate is 1% of lean muscle per year after the age of 40.

Therefore, if you're a 48-year-old woman you're playing with 8% less of the full muscle building deck of cards you were playing with when you were 18. More lean muscle = faster metabolism. With less lean muscle mass that means you're going to burn fewer calories in a given day and start to look flabby unless you actively reverse this muscle wasting process.

The only possible way to reverse the 1% loss in lean muscle is to incorporate regular (2-3x per week) strength training workouts into your routine. That doesn't mean lifting a 1lb soup can 150 times in a bicep curl on each arm, that means doing some burpees, lifting 10 + lbs for a bicep curl, trying a chin-up! A strength-training workout should leave you feeling a little bit sore the next day. If you’re breezing through the workout you’re not lifting enough weight or you should move on to another plan.

I'm not saying it's not possible to get bulky with weights – it absolutely is. But the older you get the more difficult that hypertrophy (bulking) of your muscles becomes. You don't see too many 50+ guys walking around without their shirts on with bulging biceps right? And believe me, those ex-gym-rat guys would love that! 

On average, we lose about 30 percent of our strength between ages 50 and 70, and another 30 percent of what's left per decade after that. 

Your 18-year-old daughters are not playing the same game you are. Trust the experts, the last thing I want you to do is feel uncomfortable in your own skin but honestly since I’ve starting incorporating more dynamic strength training into my program I’ve never been more lean. You don’t have to try to deadlift 300lbs – in fact DON’T do that! But if you’re 40+ recognize that your body needs exercise more than ever. The results of adding just a little bit each week can dramatically affect your overall health and aging process. The 40+ women at my Bod Squad are keeping up with the 25 year olds and doing things that 3 years ago they have told me they would never have dreamed they would be able to do! They lift weights and last week were swinging from the rings! They look amazing, seriously some of the fittest women I know and they lift weights with me, do jump lunges with me and scale up and down walls with me.

If you want to wear the same jeans as your daughter I highly recommend get your bum in the gym and try doing some jump squats! Keep doing your runs but try adding a 5-10 minute strength circuit after them. I think you will be pleased with the results!