The Truth About Building muscle as we Age

Pic coutresy of CrossFit Games 

Written by: Dan Drynan, BHSc, RRT

The fitness industry is a confusing landscape to navigate these days.  With a million different philosophies and programs out there its paralysis by analysis.  Couple that with this prevailing sentiment that unless you’re posting half naked images of your sex-pack abs (Freudian slip) on Instagram there’s no way you can be healthy/sexy/happy etc. With the advent of the internet, everywhere you turn somebody is telling you that if you want to lose weight, get fit, or add muscle, you NEED to get on their specialized program, or buy their magic supplement.  Truth is, they’re full of shit.  

Feeling the effects of age is inevitable.  I know there are those of you who are 16, 20, or 25 years old and are like “pffttt, I’ll NEVVER get old!!”… believe me, I was you and said the exact same thing. Mark my words, you will get old and you will feel the effects that age brings to everyone!!!! 

Youth is a state of mind, but your mind and body are tied together.  As your body ages, so does your mind.  So we need to approach ageing and fitness from a two pronged approach founded on What kind of story are you telling yourself:

1.     Become more sensitive to your body: Tell yourself: “I’m not necessarily getting older and lacking vitality, but my body is becoming more sensitive to my surroundings”.  This reminds me of in my younger years as a competitive hockey player, I’d stay up till the wee hours on a Saturday night consuming all kinds of alcohol and still make it to Sunday morning practice no worse for wear.  But now, If I have more than one beer, tuck me in and call me in the morning haha.   Now, this doesn’t mean that you can’t get stronger…., it means we have to make BETTER CHOICES.

a.     Eat QUALITY foods: This includes getting blood work done to assess any lagging hormonal/vitamin/mineral imbalances. Oh and skip the fries, get the house salad!!

b.     Get MORE Sleep- for kids and elite athletes we recommend 12-14 hours of sleep EVERY night.  Sure you can get by with 6 hours, but are you optimized? For non-elite athletes, getting minimum 8-10 hours a night is vital for hormonal regulation, and recovery.

c.     RECOVERY-  Performing 5 High Intensity Workouts in one week is the exception, not the rule.  CrossFit is an amazing Strength and Conditioning program for everyone, at any age, at any skill or strength level.  But performing a hero WOD every workout, or Maxing out on your lifts every week is just plain stupid.

2.     Respect yourself.  Tell yourself: “You have NOTHTING TO PROVE!! You are you, and you are done proving yourself to the rest of the world.  Stop comparing yourself to others!! So be you…there’s only one of you!!”

Truth is, the advice I give to older athletes to build muscle, is no different than younger athletes in their teens, and twenties.  That is, from a rep, sets, movements perspective, its all the same, but it’s what you do AWAY from the gym that counts more as we age.    

Try adding yoga at least once a week to your regular regime.  Trust me, after a year, your body will thank  you!!