Is it possible to build muscle at 45 years old?
*Note: This is an updated reprint of one of my all-time popular posts (pushing 500K reads on Quora, last time I looked).
It is also probably my favourite and one that I try to live up to as the years go racing by at breakneck speed.*
You must be joking, right?
There’s not a chance that you’re serious, is there?
Let’s assume that this question is being asked by someone who is for real, hasn’t spent much time in a gym or had much previous athletic experience of any sort. In other words, we will assume the asker is asking this question from a position of real, sincere, and genuine doubt.
The reason that I am making this assumption is an easy one: a person who has spent any appreciable time in a gym is routinely exposed to a lot of guys (and gals) over 45 years old (some way, way over) showing more musculature than the man (or woman) on the street less than half the age of our iconic over 45-year-old muscular hero. And so, the answer to this question would have been relatively obvious and in all likelihood would have remained unasked.
But luckily it has come up, offering an excellent opportunity for me to give it my best shot, an opportunity for which I am truly grateful and would like to thank you.
Now, brother & sisters, allow me to kneel down before you, raise my right hand toward the heavens and testify!
But, before doing this, I’d like to rephrase this question for a better fit:
Is it possible to build muscle at 45+y, if you have never touched a weight or been within shouting distance of a gym?
Yes, sure. Of course, it is. Don’t be silly.
However, as is the case with learning any other skill at 45+y, there’s a toll (some might go so far as to get a little dramatic on us and say hell) to pay. A great deal of reaching outside your comfort zone. This hard, hard work and the associated little humiliations that will certainly accompany it, we will just have to chalk up to the cost of doing business.
I’ve recently answered a similar question from a Quora member who is 60y+(and listen to me, doing it at 45 is a damn sight more comfortable, let me tell you from personal experience). I include some of the same photos that I used there. I’ve also had a look at the backlog of questions on Quora like this. The sheer quantity of similar questions is staggering! So, perhaps this is an important question that is still in search of a satisfactory answer. Let us try to give it one.
At first blush, my answer may appear a little harsher than it was there to that 60y+ guy. Your observation would be correct, and the reason is this: you are 15 (or more) years younger. For, oh my brothers & sisters 15 years, when you are on the wrong side of 40 is a lifetime! A significant percentage of the over 45 population is likely to cross over in the next 15 years.
Here are some photos (not because I’m an OCD, narcissistic selfie taker bent on foisting particularly photogenic images on poor, defenceless Quora Readers…simply as a small parcel of credible evidence that may be useful to back my claims) from just a standard guy uncomfortably thrashing around on the wrong side of 40.
Advertising the Gym 2012. Age 54y.
Greece 2013. Age 55y.
Agadir, 2014. Age 56y.
2014. In my office at BodyWorks. Age 56y.
2015 Morro Bay. Age 57.
…and so on and so forth. And all this from a guy who has a lot of spare hardware installed in various key-locations of his anatomy (I won’t bore you with ugly photos of these items unless there is a call for it).
2016. Explaining the benefits of LandMine Squats for people with back injuries at BodyWorks, my gym in Guernsey. Age 58y.
If we take a sharper blade and slice a little deeper, we should be able to do a bit more damage to this question. As we have already decided, it is an important one. But let us take the scalpel and place the sharp end in a direction inwardly, toward our own hearts. Simple questions are so often best answered in this fashion.
Should I be swayed by other people’s and Society-at-Large’s opinion of when the right time to throw up my hands is?
Is it reasonable to say I quit and forever become a skinny, pencil-necked non-person with no future prospects?
Should I let someone else be the oddsmaker for my further progress and happiness in life? Even if he or she decides my chances are as being between nil and none? Do I let someone else decide my absolute status until such a time as I shall pass away without even so much as a squeak?
Because…why? It’s less hassle? Requires less energy and involves less risk? Does throwing out the white hanky and coming out with my hands up score me valuable points and make me a more likable bloke, easier to be around, a better mate to my mates down at the local bar?
(Hell, I wasn’t really a very easy or likeable guy to be around when I was on the right side of 45y, it’s probably a little late for me to try to start now).
Here is the $64k question:
‘’Why allow someone, some anonymous fraction of society to throw you so easily away? Have you become so enfeebled, so beaten? Has life stripped you of so much self-respect and ripped self-sufficiency from your hands? Has your once brave and shinning soul been extinguished in the concentration camp of your life experiences? Where is your pride?’’
Why waste limited and precious time asking pathetic questions like this and prevaricating? Do you really need my or anyone else’s permission? Our unvetted and untested advice on a matter of such significance concerning the only tools in life that truly matter: your own flesh, your own blood & your own soul?
Why entrust your fate to the careless hands of strangers? Why are you of such a slight value and another’s opinion worth so much? Why indulge yourself in the dubious luxuries of timidity and self-doubt when faced with two so stubbornly malicious, onerous adversaries like Age & Decay?
You do not have the time for such indulgences.
No one does. No one.
Undoubtedly, one day, these two malign forces of devilment and disaster will take you out. They are likely to creep up on you by stealth and !!whamo!! When you least expect it. But, as long as you remain vigilant, it will not be today and (keep your fingers X’d) not tomorrow, either.
When they do come in for their sinister date with you, be assured, oh my brothers and sisters, be assured that they will scurry out of their deep, dark, dank holes and by a sly & malevolent cunning strike you a cowardly blow from behind at a time when your gaze has been momentarily averted, when your defences are down.
Consider it of no consequence. Nothing lasts forever. Just go out, train hard and get some muscles. Strength & brawn will always, always remain very useful assets indeed. I have always admired these qualities and tried as best as I could to attain them.
———————- ————————- ——————— ————————- ——————-
A warrior’s prime duty is to ensure his spirit remains unbroken.
It’s your call.
Be no weakling.
The clock is ticking
…and you are paying by the hour.
Ojai 2016. Age 58y. Age is just a number? Yeah, shame it’s such a big one.
As has been pointed out, the assumption here is that we are starting with a novice.
The more interesting and challenging problem of getting additional muscle onto an already healthy, fit, and experienced 45+-year-old individual is an entirely separate and different question.
Playing at 007. Rousse 2017. Age 59.
What would happen to my body if I only train my upper body, and instead of leg day, I sprint?
How you react to any reasonably consistent training strategy will depend on a combination of age, lifestyle, genetic factors.
With that in mind, depending on your Genetics, if you decide to use ”Leg Day” for sprinting instead of squats, you’ll probably get better at sprinting.
What will happen to your body? Well, that depends on the factors cited above and how efficiently you train your upper body. But it’s unlikely, unless you started out with pretty tiny legs in the first place, that your lower body will gain any appreciable size or strength.
If size and strength are your overarching goals, the sort of training scheme that you are suggesting here is highly unlikely to yield satisfying results.
Using progressive resistance training strategies on your lower body will, without fail, contribute to overall strength and size.
Substituting sprints on leg day ain’t gonna.
Is Edamame High In Protein?
This rather random question actually has enough teeth to it that I don’t mind biting.
The answer is YES.
Who would have thought?
I always have a bowl or two at a good Japanese restaurant with some warm sake while waiting for my sashimi & sushi boat to be built. it’s a beautiful tradition…and focuses me on the delights to come!
Edamame is immature soybean and, as such, shares many of the same nutritional characteristics as its more mature self.
There is much back and forth controversy concerning health and fitness benefits of soya these days. I don’t know about you, but I get bored.
My own viewpoint is that the +s probably far outweigh any –s by a long shot.
Although, I would eat edamame for no other reason than because it goes so smashingly well with sake prior to a sushi 🍣 or sashimi main course…or even, god forbid, tempura!
Now, as far as protein content goes, edamame is roughly 10–12% protein by weight. A very decent source of vegetable protein.
As vegetable sources of protein go, it is not precisely in a class with sirloin steak or a scoop of whey protein, but will certainly do as a respectable job supplying a reasonable amount of plant protein.
The data below will give you an idea of a nutritional profile for this tase little legume:
High in protein? YUP!
One cup of prepared edamame beans contains the following nutrients:
- 189 calories
- 16 grams carbohydrate
- 17 grams protein
- 8 grams fat (pretty fair bit of this is EPA and DHA, so if you don’t like fish…)
- 8 grams dietary fiber
- 482 micrograms folate (121 percent DV)
- 1.6 milligrams manganese (79 percent DV)
- 41.4 micrograms vitamin K (52 percent DV)
- 0.5 milligrams copper (27 percent DV)
- 262 milligrams phosphorus (26 percent DV)
- 99.2 milligrams magnesium (25 percent DV)
- 0.3 milligrams thiamine (21 percent DV)
- 3.5 milligrams iron (20 percent DV)
- 676 milligrams potassium (19 percent DV)
- 9.5 milligrams vitamin C (16 percent DV)
- 2.1 milligrams zinc (14 percent DV)
- 0.2 milligrams riboflavin (14 percent DV)
Along with the above benefits, with consistent use as a foodstuff, may also help regulate blood sugar levels, reduce blood pressure, help in weight loss and may reasonably be expected to hold a whole bevy of other benefits for some people.
Is it true that someone with larger muscles is always stronger than someone with smaller muscles?
Muscular strength can be measured in various ways, but what most people popularly consider strength is how much force someone can exert or apply in one go, or repetition.
While the crossectional area of a muscle may be one component contributing to the strength of the individual, it is by no means the only or even the main determining factor ”in the real world”.
Genetics will influence tendon strength & leveraging factors, undefinables like motivation and training history affect how focused one is, how hard someone tries and the extent of their neuromuscular conditioning. Even something as mundane as the physics of the lift being used as a test (particularly true if one has been practising a particular lift) can have significant impact.
Other factors may also influence the measurement of strength and there is probably a Bell Curve-type of diminishing returns phenomena, where after a certain size, an increase in strength is not consistent with an increase in size.
One only needs to watch Olympic Weightlifting, where the middleweights, not the heavyweights, invariably turn out to be kilogram-for-kilogram, the stronger class.
What’s the weirdest advice anyone has attempted to give you regarding bodybuilding?
I don’t think it was, uhm…advice, not exactly.
Although, to this day, I’m still not entirely sure what you’d call it (mindset, POV, superstition, ignorance, idiocy, perhaps?).
It was an observation, a conclusion of sorts, from an erstwhile training partner of mine after the 2nd or 3rd training session with me that went something like this:
I am not going to train with you, anymore.
Oh, too bad…why is that?
You train too gonzo, too intense-like.
Yeah? You don’t say?
Yeah, if we keep on training like this, I’ll have to keep training harder and harder in the future in order to make any gains.
Well, yes…that’s the idea…it’s kind of why it’s called progressive resistance, I think.
No, if I keep training with you I’d have to keep upping the dosage in order to make any progress.
I had to admit, there was a weird kind of bitch logic to this train of thought.
You mean like drugs…like Heroin or something? You build up a tolerance, and training easy ain’t no good, no more? I asked incredulously.
Yeah, kinda like that.
Huh, well sheeeeit! I’ll be damned, I’m screwed then.
It’s the way that I’ve been training for 20 years.
No wonder it took me so long to get this big.
Roman Gladiator Nutrition: They Were Fat.
I have many Heroes and Macho Icons who populate my personal mythology.
Don’t ask where I got them from, because I just wouldn’t be able to pinpoint it.
They have come from everywhere and through the eclectic nature of my existence, picked up higgledy-piggledy, here and there, along several walks of life; from history, from fairy tales, from science fiction novels, movies, cartoons, world religions, my imagination and the mythology of a universal collective unconscious.
They’ve all just got in there, somehow depositing themselves in my brain & soul as inspiration to create havoc and disquietude.
These icons, what are they?
They are variously, but not exclusively: clans of Samurai, Viking Tribes, The Immortals of Persia, The Spartan Hoplites, Mongol Hordes, Celts, Tartars and, of course, the Gladiators of ancient Rome.
Since I have never travelled in Japan, Mongolia or Iceland, but have done some travelling in Italy, Rome being one of my favourite cities, it is the Roman Gladiator who holds the lion’s share of my interest along with a big slice of my imagination.
I am interested in how these men of action lived, died, loved, fought, drank and of course, ate and trained.
Oh, how disappointed I was when I finally found out!
According to recent archaeological research, Gladiator pectorals were far from being finely carved platters of beef, their abdominals were not 6 packs, but more like single huge masses of lard covered layers of subcutaneous and visceral fat.
Gladiatorial meals did not resemble the paleo or meat-and-fish diets of today’s elite warriors and athletes but were more in line with the food choices of Japanese Sumo wrestlers.
Gladiator Diets were mostly vegan, carbohydrate-heavy and fattening.
Their main meal was based on barley & spelt, flavoured with honey and spices. Any variation to this meal plan would have been legumes, beans and, very rarely, a morsel of red meat, fish, fowl or an egg.
This low protein, carbohydrate-rich diet would have allowed the gladiator to put on large amounts of subcutaneous and visceral fat.
Why? Why would he want to do this?
Because, when you have a spear or sword thrust into your guts, the muscle being vascular tissue, bleeds out and reacts more acutely than layers of less active & complex fat mass.
In other words, fat protects vital organs from damage better than muscle and therefore was more useful for survival in the game of death played out in the arena.
To wash down their carbohydrate-rich meals, Thracian Gladiators also had their own equivalent of Red Bull, an energy and calcium supplement consisting of a boiled concoction of charred Fenugreek, ground and charred bone, fermented fruit and spices. This alcoholic beverage allowed the gladiator an anaesthetic, painkilling effect, along with an absorbable form of calcium, to help repair damaged bone and tissue, should the lucky gladiator either survive his wounds or the infamous official ”Thumbs Down”, which would seal a more hapless warrior’s fate.
Can You Use Commercially Available Exogenous Ketones To Allow An Increase Of Carbohydrates On A Ketogenic Diet?
I think that what you’ll find happening here is that, if your carbohydrate intake is high enough (say over 100g daily, but this is only a ballpark guess), your body is unlikely to become ‘’Keto-Adapted,’’ as the preferential fuel will be glucose (derived from all your carbohydrates) rather than the ketone bodies.
So, the answer is no.
You have no hope of a Keto Cheat using EKs, I’m afraid.
But, Exogenous Ketones may come in handy for other things.
Exogenous Ketones may be helpful in certain circumstances:
- Staying in Ketosis while on a higher protein intake schedule.
- While in Ketosis during exercise
- May be helpful, in some cases, in reducing the incidence of ‘’Keto Flu’’.
- Neuro-protective. Exogenous Ketones may protect neurons against some forms of damage.
What happens to the ketones?
They will meet the same fate as any other form of calorie: an excess will be stored as fat.
1st Day In Play
So, yeah we opened yesterday.
And it was about time, too!
We didn’t do the BIG GRAND OPENING strategy thing because, basically, I’m not a drama queen.
I didn’t feel the gym needed to be ”bumped with a trumpet” as, hey, just being open and legal to run was the biggest bump and push that we could’ve done!
Besides, the weather was grand and excellent for knocking the rust off and getting back to the business of fitness.
We Are Open!
Yes, from 00:01 Saturday 30 May 2020 we are open and back in Business!
As part of the Level 4 Lockdown Mandate, we will be operating BodyWorks under the Controlled Environment classification, which, along with all of the usual Distancing and Hygiene Guidelines allows for brief periods of intermittent distancing of 1 metre.
TO BETTER OBSERVE AND IMPLEMENT HYGIENE STRATEGY FOR A REGISTERED CONTROLLED ENVIRONMENT, BODYWORKS REQUESTS THAT ALL MEMBERS AND USERS OF THE GYM BRING (AND USE) THEIR OWN PERSONAL TOWELS IN THE GYM.
We will be required to keep a Record Of Usage, and therefore anyone who enters the premises must sign in and leave contact information ( a phone number). In case of a documented COViD-19 outbreak, the SOG will then be able to track & trace.
Industrial Strength Hand sanitizer, paper towelling, bacteriocidal soaps, regular cleaning schedule and Hydrogen Peroxide decontamination procedures will all be in place.
Face masks and protective gloves will be made available to all members who wish to use them.
We are looking forward to welcoming you all back aboard BodyWorks!
Guernsey has no documented cases of COViD-19!
This is fabulous news!
Let’s get back to doing what we do best!