Age is just a number. We hear it often, but when it comes to fitness, especially after turning 40, can we really defy the sands of time? While the fountain of youth may be a myth, the ability for us to continue to push the boundaries of self-improvement are real! The human body is a remarkable machine, and the adage holds more truth than you might imagine.
Understanding Muscle and Age
Muscles don’t have an expiration date. While it’s true that as we age, we experience a gradual decline in muscle mass and function (a condition known as sarcopenia), it’s also true that this decline is not strictly inevitable. Moreover, it is due to inactivity and poor nutrition, not merely age itself. This means you have more control of your fate than you might have ever imagined.
Fun Fact: Did you know? Regular resistance training can increase muscle protein synthesis in older adults, leading to muscle growth.
Five Principles for Gaining Strength After 40
- Start Slow and Safe: Our tendons and ligaments take a bit longer to adapt compared to our muscles. Overzealous workouts can cause injuries. Be smart and begin with lighter weights and gradually progress to heavier ones. Definitely don’t make the ego mistake of thinking at 40 you can lift what you did at 18, especially if you’ve not been working out!
- Consistency is Key: Muscle adaptation and growth are a result of consistent effort and time under tension. It’s better to engage in moderate workouts regularly than to go hard once in a while. You don’t need to think all-or-none here. A brisk 20-minute walk beats sitting on the couch every time.
- Nutrition Matters: As we age, our metabolism declines. Hence, eating a protein-rich diet can assist in muscle repair and growth. Just like a car needs gas to go, you’ve got to fuel your body properly if you want it to perform. And at the risk of sounding like a broken record, don’t forget hydration!
- Listen to Your Body: Recovery takes a tad longer post-40. Feel a strain? Dial down the intensity, or drop the weights a bit. Remember, it’s about the marathon, not the sprint. Practicing self-care becomes paramount for your continued growth and development as you age.
- Integrate Mobility and Balance: Strength isn’t just about lifting weights. Incorporate mobility to improve flexibility, balance, and joint health. Being flexy is sexy, and being able to bend over and tie your shoes in your 70s is even sexier.
Why Start Now?
Age should not be a deterrent. By starting strength training post-40, you’re actively combating age-related muscle loss, keeping your bones healthy, and improving overall body function. Your mental clarity will improve and you will increase how long you remain independent regardless of age.
Research has shown that even individuals who start strength training in their 60s and 70s witness significant gains in muscle mass and strength. Not just that, but they also enjoy benefits like better balance, glucose metabolism, and mental well-being.
“In our 40s, we’re writing the prologue for our senior years. Make it a strong one!”
While aesthetic changes (like toned arms or chiseled abs) are great, the deeper purpose here is to ensure a healthier, longer, and more vibrant life. Strength training helps reduce the risk of chronic diseases, improves mood, boosts energy, and, importantly, grants a sense of accomplishment.
Countless studies and real-life success stories back the fact that it’s never too late to start. Age shouldn’t be an excuse, but rather a motivation. Maybe you never need to do a muscle up, but you’ll always need to be able to squat, aka get on and off the toilet!
Turning 40 is not the end of your strength-building journey, but rather a beautiful checkpoint. The road ahead might have a few more turns, but with the right map (knowledge), the best vehicle (your body), and a trusty companion (consistency), you can conquer the path of strength and fitness.
Remember, it’s not about competing with your 20-year-old self or your gym buddy. It’s about competing with the version of yourself that chose to do nothing.
So, to the age-old question, “Can you build strength after 40?” The answer is a resounding YES! And, the best time to start? Today.
Ready to get started with us?
If you’re ready to join a group of like-minded individuals who want to see you become the best version of yourself, then come check us out at CrossFit Fringe. Start from wherever you are, and let our expert team of coaches guide you on your journey to a fitter, healthier, and happier you.