My Friends tell me that, after a certain age, it is pointless to try to maintain muscle mass, let alone gain it. Fact or fiction?
Getting old ain’t for sissies. Bette Davis
Oh, really? What age would that be, then?
Here is the kind of question that strikes a deep, darkly dissonant cord somewhere deep within me, along with delivering a cold, sharp silver of terror to my heart.
It’s a myth.
A myth based on stubborn rationalisation and the inherent laziness of a large majority of the human population. It is just a garden variety pessimistic fatalism just mixed in with some good old fashioned pig ignorant stupidity. It’s bollocks on a stick.
Boy oh boy, are there boucoup people out there looking for sorry excuses to fail, or worse…easy reasons profound enough sounding so that they don’t even need to try. So, I suppose that not being 20 years old is as good as any of the others.
I want to use the question to address in a more general way the commonly held but mistaken belief in a supposed law which goes something like : when you reach a certain number of years all progress halts, growth stops and it becomes time to throw your hands up and call it quits as life is no longer worth the investment…it is so done with you. This broad comment will also, of course, include the question of maintaining and increasing muscle mass as you age, because muscle is intimately involved in ameliorating possible age related functional decline.
I am not going to go about prettying up my reply with the scientific method. Do not expect me to furnish studies and proofs of research here.
My point of view is grounded in the simple experiences of a long and eventful life where vast quantities of iron have been pumped and many physical injuries overcome. I have soon gotten past the pathetic emotion of feeling sorry for myself at the unfairness of it all, of the shocking fact of recently hitting 60 (I’ve been bodybuilding pretty much nonstop since 18). Afterwards, I took close inventory of the state of my physical characteristics, attributes, damage, strengths and weaknesses. While certainly not ideal, I appear to be rather better off than expected at arriving at an age with such a big number clinging on to it.
Popular culture does the standard sign-off with regard to old people. Basically, they are under contract to give up their youth and beauty in return for experience, wisdom and perhaps, if they are lucky, some sort of financial recompense and comfort. They are then further obligated to slowly and painfully serve out the short remainder of whatever is leftover of their miserable lives as sick, fat, ugly, decrepit, asexual, annoying , wrinkled, fossilized bags of wind, piss & vinegar blindly plodding through vast stretches of dark bleakness toward the certain sentence of a doom of no consequence.
My opinion? Uhm, screw that, a sucker is born every minute, this is not a fair trade. I’ll just take a miss on that offer, thanks. Hopefully, the photo supplied above goes a fair way as proof of this refusal to accept the status quo. But otherwise, I still wake up every day and renew my refusal of the trade proposal. I don’t expect to grow old gracefully, I wasn’t all that graceful in my youth.
It is certainly true that the aging process increases the risk of age related disease, inflammation and conditions of decline. Things like sarcopenia, degenerative disc disease and arthritis are all too common paybacks for a strenuous life of activity and risk. To not take these issues as matters of grave concern and food for creative thought is the careless partaking of the mission in question as a fool. One is always urged to exercise good common sense and pay attention to reality based experiential and scientifically proven fact when dealing with the necessary undertakings of a long and fruitful life.
Yes, of course you might one day not be able to make a move from that antique rocking chair waiting for you out there for you on the veranda in the winter of your dishearteningly short number of years on this planet without emitting some sort of ridiculous click, creak, fart, groan, shriek or worse. But so what? That day is still a ways away.
But if you exercise both your brain and spirit as well as your body, if you take care in what you eat (maintain a high protein Mediterranean type of diet along with the right mix of other supplements & nutrients), adjust and modify your lifestyle, maintain an attitude of relentless flexibility and unflagging resiliency, that day will not be today or tomorrow…and with any luck…no time soon.