The Complete Guide to Building Muscle After 50
By Stuart Carter, Men’s Health Coach & Head Trainer, The Fit Father Project
With that good news, I want to show you exactly how it’s possible to pack on lean mass well into your 50s, 60s, & beyond.
And I’m going to show you EXACTLY what you can start doing TODAY to make a lean, muscular, & ageless body a reality.
In this “Definitive Guide to Building Muscle After 50,” you and I are going to cover every part of building muscle after 50, and get you started immediately on the proper strategies.
Here’s why you NEED to prioritize building muscle after 50
Maintaining muscle mass in your 50s, 60s, & 70s, has so many benefits that can help you in every area of life.
- More lean muscle naturally helps you burn more fat at rest.
- More lean muscle makes you naturally stronger.
- More lean muscle will give you more stamina.
- In most cases, more lean muscle makes your body look aesthetically better.
So, without further ado, let’s get stuck in and get you started on your muscle building journey….
Step 1: Use These 5 Best Exercises for Building Muscle After 50
As a starter program, we recommend using multi-joint “compound exercises” to stimulate all your major muscle groups to build muscle. Compound exercises (like rows, squats, and bench press) involve more muscle groups than isolation exercises (curls, flys, shoulder raises) – making them more effective for muscle building.
The first exercises we always recommend to all our Old School Muscle Program members are:
- Dumbbell Bench Press [Click here for full Video Tutorial]
- Barbell Bent Over Row [Click here for full Video Tutorial]
- Deadlift [Click here for full Video Tutorial]
- Overhead Press [Click here for full Video Tutorial]
Completing workout programs that includes these 5 exercises will have you moving towards your physique goals in no time at all.
How many sets & reps should I be doing?
As we explain in our structured muscle building program for men 50+, Old School Muscle, it’s essential to train your muscles in THREE (3) different rep ranges:
- Heavy (5-8 reps)
- Moderate (8-12 reps)
- Light (12-15 reps)
We recommend you train throughout these rep ranges 2-3x/week for a total of 8-12 sets, per muscle group, per week.
Specifically, you may break things up like this with 3 full-body workouts per week:
- Monday- 4 sets per major body part (chest, back, legs, shoulders, arms) in a 5-8 rep range
- Wednesday 4 sets per major body part (chest, back, legs, shoulders, arms) in a 12-15 rep range
- Friday- 4 sets per major body part (chest, back, legs, shoulders, arms) in a 8-12 rep range
Here Are Your First Action Steps:
- Schedule your workouts like you would schedule a business meeting or a doctors’ appointment.
- Start with your 3 weight training workouts, spaced 2 days apart.
(e.g. Mon-Wed-Fri or Tue-Thu-Sat)
- Gradually include light physical activity into your rest days, 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 note of your workouts, so you can see your progression and make sure you increase your weights.
- Download and watch our 5 Best Muscle Building Exercises For Men 50+ Video here
Step 2: Start A Solid Nutrition Plan to Help You With ‘Lean Bulking’
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.
Key Point #1 the foundation of muscle building nutrition is that you need to consume more calories than you burn each day to promote growth
That said, it needs to be controlled enough that you don’t overload on the wrong calories and end up getting fat & flabby instead of muscular & defined.
You should aim for a maximum of 300-500 calories over your calorie expenditure each day. You can check this out using our free calorie calculator tool.
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
Doing this will make sure you are taking in enough Protein to support muscle growth, enough Carbs for energy and enough healthy Fat to maintain testosterone levels.
You can get your intake of each macronutrient (protein, carbs, fats) by using our suggestions below:
- Chicken, Turkey, Eggs, Sardines, Lean beef, Protein powder.
- Brown Rice, Quinoa, Wholemeal Pasta, Sweet Potatoes.
- Avocado, 1 tsp. Olive Oil, Coconut Oil, Omega 3.
- Broccoli, Spinach, Kale, Carrots, Beets.
To make sure you are consuming enough calories, you will need to eat around 5 times per day.
DON’T PANIC…… It’s not as difficult as it sounds.
If you don’t have time to prepare a full snack, 2 of your meals can simply be in the form of a Protein shake or a meal replacement bar + a piece of fruit or veg.
Example of a days’ eating plan:
- Meal 1: Eggs, Quinoa, Avocado + Veggies
- Meal 2: Protein bar + 1 Apple
- Meal 3: Deli Turkey sandwich with Avocado on Ezekiel bread + Green salad and mixed seeds
- Meal 4: Protein shake + Carrot and Celery sticks with hummus
- Meal 5: Lean steak, brown rice + Veggies
Muscle Building Nutrition Action Steps:
- Cook 3 days’ worth of food for your meals and store.
- 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.
Step 3: Use These Proven Supplements to Maximise Muscle Growth.
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.
Unlike lots of fitness sites and programs, we don’t push supplements. We do recommend a very select few supplements that we know will benefit you and improve your gains.
Here are the proven supplements that actually work:
Creatine is a safe and effective supplement that basically tops up the levels of creatine we naturally produce in our bodies already.
Creatine is produced to give energy during high-intensity activity, especially weight training, so supplementing with Creatine will help you to lift heavier and grow more.
You can take Creatine in two ways. You can either ‘Load’, which means you take 20g for 4 days, then switch to a normal maintenance dose of 5g each day for 8 weeks, or you can use the gradual approach and take on the maintenance dose continually.
Creatine is best taken on an empty stomach, for better absorption.
Creatine is available from any good fitness store, or online at Amazon or another reputable supplier. There is no need to go for fancy brands. Simple brands are equally as effective.
A good multi-vitamin should be taken as a back-up to your normal healthy diet, but not as a substitute. It covers all the bases of your nutritional needs, should there be a shortfall.
Ideally, you will get everything you need from a healthy diet of whole-foods, but just in case, we recommend supplementing with a Multi-vitamin.
Like Creatine, Multi-vitamins are available from many good suppliers, both in bricks-and-mortar stores or online. There are many brands available, but a one-a-day type is usually best for convenience. Most brands are comparative, so again, they don’t need to be fancy.
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.
It is an extremely important vitamin for immune function, bone and brain health and even testosterone levels.
Vitamin D3 is available from many online and high street retailers.
Supplementing with protein powders is fundamental for men that are training for muscle gain. As I have mentioned in step 2, protein powder will be part of allowing you to eat at 5 points throughout the day and allowing you to consume good calories at the right levels.
Due to absorption rates of different types of protein, we recommend you use a mixture of Whey and Casein. Whey is a fast absorbing protein, so is great for post workout ‘meals’, where Casein is slow absorbing and better for before bed to offer sustained intake at night.
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
- Add your creatine to your first glass of water in the morning, or take immediately after your workout, before your next meal.
- Use your protein powder as a meal replacement. Use a blend of Whey and Casein if possible, for a mix of fast and slow absorption.
Step 4: Hydration Is One of The Most Important “Missing Pieces” of The Muscle Building Puzzle.
Keeping yourself hydrated throughout the day is another key part of both building lean muscle and healthy living in general.
With over 60% of your body being made up of water, the importance of taking in enough water each day cannot be expressed too much.
The average man requires 3 liters of water per day, some of which will be ingested from food. I would recommend aiming for the 2.5 – 3.0 liters through purely drinking ordinary water though, especially if you are exercising.
Water is required for many functions, like these below:
- Regulates your internal body temperature by making you sweat.
- Metabolises 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 metabolising fat into energy is done 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 metabolised fat!
Daily Hydration Action Steps:
- Drink 16-32 oz first thing in the morning, to re-energise.
- Drink 2.5 litres of water each day, increasing to 3 litres on days you are exercising.
- 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.
Step 5: Sleep and Adequate Rest is Essential for Your Muscle Growth
Getting enough sleep and adequate rest is almost as close in importance to building muscle as exercising and eating right. It is an essential part of your training program.
It may sound like a bold statement and you may question why it is that important.
As you age, your body’s natural recovery and repair rate drops, meaning that what would normally take you 24-36 hours to repair in your 20’s and early 30’s 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.
A very important part of your recovery is adequate sleep. More than just 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 that of 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 DECREASE year by year. If we miss sleep, our hormone levels plummet even further.
- Make sure you get minimum 7 hours sleep each night, preferably 8 hours.
Step 6: What Other “Special Considerations” Are There for Building Muscle As A Man Over 50?
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 20’s and early 30’s.
You need to understand that training in your 50’s needs to be different, which is why we are supplying you 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.
To learn which exercises can help you gain muscle while keeping you safer than most other muscle building workout programs, take a look at our FREE video guide ‘5 Best Muscle Building Exercises for Men Over 40.’
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…
… 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 and the pictures on the right are proof.
These are guys that have started and continued to add solid muscle well into their 50’s, 60’s, 70’s and over!
These men are not freaks or unnatural experiments. They are everyday guys that know there is a way to gain muscle, be strong and exercise safely, no matter what age you are.
If You Want to Learn the Secrets of Old School Muscle Building, Look No Further…
The Old School secrets of muscle building are making a resurgence following recent scientific research proving that the way of the ‘old guys’ is actually more effective than the bro splits used by the ‘young guns’.
We have centred our new program ‘Old School Muscle’ around these principles and methods that were used back in the day, by the giants of the iron game.
Bodybuilders like Frank Zane, Reg Park and Steve Reeves swore by these methods to build lean, solid muscle to their frames.
I know you can follow in their footsteps and shape your body to look like the man you have always wanted to be.
I wish you the best of luck on your journey to building muscle over 50.
Your new coach and friend,