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Building Muscle After 50 – The Definitive Guide For Men

By: Stuart Carter, Dip. PT, Precision Nutrition 1,

C.O.O., The Fit Father Project

building muscle after 50
Is building muscle after 50 even possible. Despite what you may think or have heard, the answer is an enthusiastically resounding YES!

With that good news, we want to show you exactly how it’s possible to pack on lean mass well into your 50s, 60s, and beyond.

And we're going to show you EXACTLY what you can start doing TODAY to make a lean, muscular, and ageless body a reality.

We'll cover every part of building muscle after 50, and get you started immediately on the proper strategies.

Specifically, in this guide you're about to discover:

  • The best (and safest) muscle-building exercises for men over 50.
  • The proper nutrition plan to pack on muscle — not fat.
  • How to hydrate, rest, and recover for the fastest gains.
  • The research-proven supplement stack for men over 50.

And we're going to put these key steps into a daily action plan that you can start this week!

Fair warning: This guide is much more extensive than the generic articles cluttering the internet with cookie-cutter advice. If you don't have 10-minutes to read this guide now, bookmark it and come back later!

But if you're ready, let's dig into the definitive guide to building muscle after 50!

Want some great eating advice, too? Check out the Definitive Guide to Healthy Eating for Men.

Why You NEED to Prioritize Building Muscle After 50

Maintaining muscle mass in your 50s, 60s, and 70s has so many benefits that can help you in virtually every area of life.

  • More lean muscle naturally helps you burn more fat at rest.
  • Lean muscle makes you naturally stronger.
  • More lean muscle will give you more stamina.
  • In most cases, adding lean muscle makes your body look aesthetically better.

So, without further ado, let’s get you started on your journey to building muscle after 50!

Here are the 5 key principles to building muscle over 50!

Building Muscle After 50 – Step 1

As we get older, it becomes even more important that our workouts are designed around using the most effective muscle-building “compound exercises” available.

Unlike “isolation exercises” which involve single, typically smaller muscle groups (i.e. biceps curls, shoulder raises, chest flys), compound exercises work multiple large muscle groups simultaneously — making them (much) more effective for building muscle after 50.

Now, you've probably heard that some of the most effective muscle-building compound exercises are the following:

  • Back: Rows, Pull-ups, Deadlifts
  • Legs: Squats, Lunges, Deadlifts
  • Chest: DB/BB Bench Presses (all angles)
  • Shoulders: Military/Overhead Presses
  • Arms: Chin-ups
  • Core: Ab-Wheel, Hanging Leg Raises

It's true. These are the most effective, research-backed muscle-building exercises.

However, what becomes even more important as we're in our 40s, 50s, and 60s, is making sure that we modify these effective compound exercises to make them safer on our aging knees, shoulders, and backs.

We've created some simple tutorials on how to modify these most effective compound exercises to make them safer for guys interested in building muscle after 50.

  • Dumbbell Bench Press – This is a key exercise for building a bigger chest, shoulders, and triceps; however, you need to modify it to keep it safe for your aging shoulders
  • Barbell Bent-Over Row – This is a key exercise for a wide back and big arms; however, you need to modify it to be safe on your low-back.
  • Deadlift – This is the “king” of all exercises for full-body muscle gains; however, you need the proper form to ensure your back stays safe.
  • Overhead Press – This is a key exercise for strong, broad shoulders; however, we need to modify these to keep your shoulders safe.
  • Squat – This is the other “king” of all full-body muscle-building exercises; however, you need the proper form to keep your knees and back safe.

These are the same compound exercises that have been used by bodybuilders, strongmen, and strength athletes for decades to increase muscle size, strength, and endurance.

As far as building muscle goes, these are the Holy Grail exercises.

Completing workout programs that include these five exercises will have you moving towards your goals of building muscle after 50 in no time at all.

best exercise for men 40+

What Are The 5 Best Muscle Building Exercises For Men 40+?

best exercise for men 40+
The secret to building age-defying muscle in your in 40s, 50s, & 60s is to modify the best muscle building exercises (bench, squats, rows) to make them safe on your joints…

How Many Sets and Reps Should I Be Doing?

  • Heavy (5-8 rep sets)
  • Moderate (8-12 rep sets)
  • Light (15+ rep sets)

As the first rule of thumb, we recommend you do a workout in each of these rep ranges one time a week — so you'd ideally have a heavy day, moderate day, and light day for each major muscle group.

We also recommend the following total number of sets (per body part each week):

  • Back: 12 – 15 sets per week
  • Legs: 12 – 15 sets per week
  • Chest: 8 – 10 sets per week
  • Shoulders: 6 – 8 sets per week
  • Arms: 6 – 8 sets per week
  • Core: 10 – 12 sets per week

These set guidelines are a really good starting point for building muscle after 50.

Remember, more is not always better when it comes to muscle-building!

In fact, many guys make the mistake of doing way too many sets per body part each week.

Effective exercise creates the stimulation for your body to build muscle, but your muscle growth actually happens outside of the gym while you're eating, sleeping, and recovering.

Muscle building works a lot like calling an elevator down. Once you “hit the button” (with the optimal number of quality sets), jamming on the button further (with more sets) is not going to make the elevator come any faster.

It's simply going to hurt your finger, annoy you, and potentially cause an even longer recovery period than is needed.

Specifically, you may divide your sets up using these guidelines in the context of three full-body workouts per week, which is a very effective approach for men over 50:

  • Monday – 4 sets per body part (chest, back, legs, shoulders, arms) – 5-8 rep range
  • Wednesday – 4 sets per body part (chest, back, legs, shoulders, arms) – 12-15 rep range
  • Friday – 4 sets per body part (chest, back, legs, shoulders, arms) – 8-12 rep range

Your First Action Steps

  • Schedule your muscle-building workouts each week like you would schedule a business meeting or a doctor's appointment.
  • Start with your three weight training workouts, spaced two days apart. (e.g. Mon-Wed-Fri or Tue-Thu-Sat)
  • Gradually include light physical activity into your rest days for active recovery, working up to full cardio sessions as you get fitter. If you are fit enough to include these from the start, please do!
  • Keep a log of your workouts, so you can see your progression and make sure you increase your weights as often as you can (lifting progressively heavier weights is absolutely essential for muscle building).

Learn how to build muscle mass and see REAL results with these 6 principles of muscle building.

Building Muscle After 50 – Step 2

Getting your nutrition right can mean the difference between looking big and bulky or big and lean.

It’s not enough to just exercise and expect to see your muscles grow. There is a whole process that's needed for it to happen, with nutrition playing a big role.

The foundation of proper nutrition for building muscle after 50 is that you need to consume more quality calories than you burn each day to promote growth.

That said, your eating plan needs to be controlled enough that you don’t overload on the wrong calories (or too many calories) and end up getting fat and flabby instead of muscular and defined.

As a good rule of thumb, you should aim for a maximum of 300-500 calories over your average daily calorie expenditure each day.

You can calculate your average daily calorie expenditure here.

We like to break those calories down into the following ratios as a starting point:

  • 30% of total calories from protein
  • 45% of total calories from carbs
  • 25% of total calories from fats

For a 52-year old, 200 lb man looking to build muscle, these protein, carb, and fat percentages will break down to roughly the following grams of each macronutrient:

  • 200g protein (around 1g per pound of bodyweight)
  • 250g healthy carbs
  • 90g healthy fats

Total Calories: 2,600

Use our free calculator to determine how many calories and grams of protein, carbs, and fats you generally should be eating each day.

This balanced macronutrient breakdown will make sure you're getting enough protein to support muscle growth, enough healthy carbs for energy, and enough healthy fats for energy and maintaining good testosterone levels.

You can get your ideal intake of each macronutrient by using these suggested food sources:

  • Proteins – chicken, turkey, eggs, sardines, lean beef, protein powder.
  • Carbs – brown rice, quinoa, wholemeal pasta, sweet potatoes.
  • Fats – avocado, olive oil, coconut oil, omega 3.
  • Vegetables – broccoli, spinach, kale, carrots, beets.

To make sure you are consuming enough calories, you will likely need to eat around four to five times per day, although eating that frequently is not necessary for building muscle — as long as you're getting the proper number of carbs, proteins, and healthy fats.

Eating four to five times per day is not as difficult as it sounds, even if you're very busy.

If you don't have time to prepare a full snack, two of your meals can simply be in the form of a protein shake or a meal replacement bar, plus a piece of fruit or vegetable.

Example of Day's Eating Plan

  • Breakfast: 3 eggs, 2 slices Ezekiel bread, avocado, and veggies
  • Snack 1: Protein bar and an apple (or 1/4 cup nuts)
  • Lunch: Turkey sandwich with avocado on Ezekiel bread, green salad, and mixed seeds
  • Snack 2: Protein shake and carrot and celery sticks with hummus
  • Dinner: Lean steak, brown rice, and veggies with extra virgin olive oil

Muscle Building Nutrition Action Steps

  • Cook three days’ worth of food for your meals on Sunday and store for the week.
  • Select your foods and prep your meals according to your calorie intake guidelines, ready for the next day, into individual food storage boxes.

Once these steps become a habit, you’ll notice how much time and worry it saves you in sticking to a clean diet.

This nutritional approach is one of the main reasons we have helped so many men here at the Fit Father Project build sustainable healthy eating habits. See our program member results here.

1 day meal plan

Here’s A Free Weight Loss Meal Plan For Busy Men 40+

1 day meal plan
Discover exactly what to eat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner to lose belly fat & feel energized 24/7 without hard dieting...

Muscle Building After 50 – Step 3

Using supplements is a way of boosting your muscle-building capacity, by getting enough of the “right stuff” into your muscles at the right times.

However, supplements, as the name implies, are supplemental. They are only truly effective when you have the proper eating, exercise, and sleep plan in place.

Here are the proven supplements that actually work:

Creatine Monohydrate

Starting dose: 5g/day in your post-workout shake

Creatine one of the most thoroughly researched, safe, and effective supplements for muscle building and strength gains.

Supplementing with creatine basically “tops up” the levels of creatine your body naturally produces — enabling your muscles to have more energy to lift heavier weights.

Because our muscles use creatine to produce energy during short, high-intensity activities, especially weight training, supplementing with creatine will help you to lift heavier weights and subsequently grow more.

You can take creatine in two ways.

  • You can either “load,” which means you take 20g for four days, then switch to a normal maintenance dose of 5g each day for eight weeks
  • You can use the gradual approach and take 5g in your post-workout shake on the maintenance dose continually.

We prefer the gradual approach, which is research-proven to be just as effective as the loading method.

Remember, creatine is best taken with your post-workout protein shake for better absorption.

Make sure to buy the basic creatine monohydrate. Do not be fooled by “fancy” forms of creatine that often go by names like (Effervescent Creatine, Creatine Di-Malate, Creatine Ethyl Ester, etc.).

The research shows that these alternate creatine forms are not as effective as basic creatine monohydrate.

Quality Multi-Vitamin

Your body requires a combination of nearly 200+ vitamins, minerals, co-factors, and phytonutrients to function optimally.

Do you think you're getting all these nutrients from the food you're currently eating?

The hard truth is that even if you have a solid muscle-building diet that contains lots of organic meats, fruits, veggies, and quality carbs, it's still important to ensure you're providing your body with EVERYTHING it needs to function optimally.

Thankfully, the solution is simple.

Use a multi-vitamin or green superfood supplement as your “nutrition insurance policy” to ensure that you're getting all the micronutrients you need to support building muscle after 50.

For less than $1/day, a quality multi-vitamin can ensure you're getting all the key vitamins and minerals you need for optimum building muscle after 50.

The Immune Booster Guys 40+ Are Using To Kill Viruses & Feel Younger…

As men age, our immune systems get weaker.
It’s a fact. After 40, you become more vulnerable to viruses, cancers, and even Alzheimer’s disease. Average guys just let this all happen. But now, with Immune Booster RX, you can take the power back.
Click here to learn about Immune Booster RX, the science-based immune booster for guys 40+ »

Vitamin D3

Although we have suggested a multi-vitamin above, we also recommend supplementing separately with Vitamin D3 as many men are deficient in it and require a larger boost than that of most vitamins.

Research on Vitamin D3 shows that it's an extremely important vitamin for immune function, protecting against cancer, improving heart health, improving bone and brain health, and even boosting testosterone levels.

Building muscle after 50 is important. Staying healthy while you're doing it is just as important.

That's why Vitamin D3 is something that we consider an essential supplement for guys over 50.

Now, the reason many guys need to supplement with D3 is that most guys are deficient.

Research shows that over 75% of men living in the United States may be deficient in D3, largely because of stress (which burns through our bodies' D3 stores), not getting enough sunshine, or living above the 37 degrees latitude where our skin can't make Vitamin D3 from the sunlight.

I haven't seen the specific deficiency data for the UK, Australia, or NZ, but I'm confident the trend is similar.

Because of Vitamin D3's massive health benefits (and its common deficiency), this is one supplement we can safely say will help your goals of building muscle after 50.

The Natural Testosterone Booster Guys 40+ Are Using For More Energy, Drive, & Results

After age 30, your Testosterone levels start declining. Add in some stress and a “less than perfect” diet… everything gets worse fast. You feel tired all the time. It’s hard to lose fat. It feels like you lost your edge. That’s the sad story that happens to most guys 40+. But now, it doesn’t have to be that way for you….

Click here to learn about Test Booster Rx, the 100% Natural research-backed testosterone booster that actually works (and doesn’t require shots or another doctor prescription) »

Quality Protein Powder

Supplementing with protein powders is fundamental for men that are training for muscle gain.

Protein powder will be a convenient way of enabling you to hit your protein and healthy calorie goals throughout the day.

Due to absorption rates of different types of protein, we recommend you use a mixture of whey and casein for both your post-workout shakes and pre-bed meals.

Blended protein powder products are available, but if you would prefer to mix your own, you can purchase them separately and mix 50/50 at each use.

Either way is just as efficient.

Daily Supplement Actions

  • Take your Multi-Vitamin and Vitamin D3 with your breakfast.
  • Take 5g creatine immediately after your workout with your protein shake (or first thing in the morning on your rest days).
  • Use your protein powder as both a meal replacement and a post-workout shake. Use a blend of whey and casein if possible for a mix of fast and slow absorption proteins.

Meet SuperFuel. The Delicious Protein Shake Packed With 40+ Energy-Boosting Vitamins & Superfoods (Designed For Busy Men)

As a busy guy, it’s challenging to stay consistent with healthy eating. That’s why we created SuperFuel… the delicious “all-in-one” nutrition shake for busy guys 40+ to give your body the protein + key nutrients you need for more energy, fat burning, and muscle building.

Click here to learn more about SuperFuel: the delicious “secret weapon” guys are using to feel energized 24/7 and finally stay consistent with healthy eating »

Building Muscle After 50 – Step 4

Keeping yourself hydrated throughout the day is another key part of both building lean muscle and healthy living in general.

Over 60% of your body is made up of water, so the importance of taking in enough water each day cannot be expressed too much.

The average man requires three liters of water per day, some of which will be ingested from food.

But you should still try to get those three liters through purely drinking ordinary water, especially if you are exercising.

Water does so much! It:

  • Regulates your internal body temperature by making you sweat.
  • Metabolizes and transports carbohydrates and proteins, that your body uses as food, through your bloodstream.
  • Assists in flushing waste through your body, mainly through urination.
  • Acts as a shock absorber for your brain and spinal cord.
  • Forms saliva.
  • Lubricates joints.

The process of metabolizing fat into energy is done primarily by your liver.

Making sure your water intake is high enough each day eases the work your liver needs to do, leaving it more active to complete this fat metabolism.

So, more water = happier and better functioning liver = more metabolized fat!

Daily Hydration Action Steps

  • Drink 16-32 oz water first thing in the morning to re-energize.
  • Drink 2.5 liters of water each day, increasing to 3 liters on days you are exercising.
  • Pro Tip: Filling up a bottle or jug each morning and making sure you drink it all by the end of the day is a good way to keep yourself accountable.

Find out the BEST way to start drinking more water and avoid dehydration!

Building Muscle After 50 – Step 5

Getting enough sleep and adequate rest is almost as important to building muscle, as exercising and eating right are.

Sleep is an essential part of your training program as a guy over 50.

In fact, it's nearly as important as your exercise regimen. That may sound like a bold statement, so allow me to explain.

As you age, your body’s natural recovery and repair rate drop, meaning that what would normally take you 24-36 hours to repair in your 20s and early 30s will now take much longer, mostly between 48-72 hours.

Making the most of your recovery during this time will allow muscles to repair and grow to their fullest potential, ready to go and be re-stimulated in your next training session.

Sleep is the cornerstone of your post-exercise recovery.

More than just the natural rest of your muscles, sleep also controls the key hormones that help or hinder muscle-building progress.

HGH (Human Growth Hormone) is released during deep sleep, which is the hormone mainly responsible for cell growth and regeneration.

Without adequate sleep, you will limit the effect of HGH on your body and your muscles.

Other hormonal increases include testosterone and melatonin, which both also play an important role in the repair and regeneration of cells.

Lack of sleep will cause problems with the release of these hormones, and you will not be able to repair the micro-damage caused by the workouts you are undertaking.

As we age, our natural production of testosterone and melatonin decreases year by year. If we miss sleep, our hormone levels plummet even further.

For the fastest muscle growth, make sure you get a minimum of seven hours of sleep each night, preferably eight hours.

Your body will not grow muscle if you're not sleeping enough.

Unable to fall asleep or stay asleep? Try this one simple trick to fall asleep faster at night!

Building Muscle After 50 – Step 6

The main consideration to make when you are attempting to build muscle after 50, is that your body no longer works in the same way as it did in your 20s and early 30s.

You need to understand that training in your 50s needs to be different, which is why we are supplying you with this information today.

It is still VERY possible to make the same gains, but the way in which you go about it will differ from back then.

Some other things that occur as you age that can affect your training, are:

  • Loss of natural muscle mass
  • Wear and tear of our joints
  • Testosterone levels start to dip
  • Metabolism slows

I’m not trying to be a downer, and I know all these issues pretty much suck, but you can rest easy because ALL of them can be slowed or stopped by a good weight training program that adds lean, strong muscle to your body.

Lots of guys believe that after 40, let alone 50, your potential for adding muscle is over.

This is simply NOT TRUE!

So what are you waiting for?

Stuart Carter Dip. PT, Precision Nutrition 1

C.O.O., The Fit Father Project

Stuart gained his Diploma in Personal Training & Sports Medicine through Premier Global, back in 2001. In 2018, he completed his Level 1 Precision Nutrition qualification.

Throughout his career in Fitness, Stuart has trained hundreds of clients, worked in almost every position in the industry, and ran his own successful training studio.

After a hiatus away from the Fitness industry, working in Corporate Management and Finance, Stuart returned to what he loves… Fitness! This return led to a chance meeting with Dr. Balduzzi, and a place in the Fit Father Project team.

Brotherhood Nickname: The Fit Brit
Bragging Rights: 18 Years in the fitness industry, Author of ‘The Easy Fitness Guide', Father of 4 boys and Husband to a Venezuelan beauty.

Here’s How Busy Guys 40+ Are Building Age-Defying Muscle And Strength… Working Out Just 3 Hours Per Week

This proven "Old School Muscle Program For Guys 40+" combines the “old school” bodybuilding secrets with the “new school” science… to produce muscle & strength building results fast.

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Old School Muscle (OSM) covers every aspect of building muscle for you as a guy 40+:
  • Old School Muscle (OSM) covers every aspect of building muscle for you as a guy 40+:
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See the Old School Muscle (OSM) Program overview here. You’ll discover how this proven program has helped thousands of guys 40+ pack onage-defying muscle and strength – the smart & sustainable way. »

*Please know that weight loss results & health changes/improvements vary from individual to individual; you may not achieve similar results. Always consult with your doctor before making health decisions. This is not medical advice – simply very well-researched info on building muscle after 50.

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Our Fit Father Project Team’s deepest commitment is to helping you live healthier for both yourself and your family. And when it comes to online content, integrity and trust is everything. That’s why our Fit Father Project staff-writers are all trained professionals in the field of health and wellness (registered dieticians, licensed personal trainers, and licensed physicians) – see the full team here. We rigorously run all of our articles through a rigorous editorial process to ensure the accuracy, simplicity, and utility of the information. And we aren’t just a team of “academics” sitting in an ivory tower. We are real people – with jobs, responsibilities, and families – working hard in the trenches and testing our tips & methods out to make sure you can stay healthy for family.

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Thanks for checking out the blog. We can’t wait to support you toward greater health, energy, and vitality. – The Fit Father Project Team

 

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