Muscle doesn’t have to decline with age, but it normally does. It’s not having birthdays that causes muscle to go down though. It’s more due to the fact that most people are less active as they age. That’s great news because that’s something you CAN control!
Having less muscle may seem benign…who cares if you don’t look as toned as you did in your twenties? But, it goes way beyond just looking good…
People with more muscle mass LIVE LONGER!1 Lower skeletal muscle is associated with all-cause mortality and is often used as a predictor for life span.2 This principle holds true at any age so no matter how old you are, it’s never too late to start building your longevity muscles!
Just a note- I am not referring to WEIGHT LOSS here. For optimal health, the thing to look at is not weight but rather body composition. Meaning, how much of your body weight is composed of fat vs how much is muscle. Of course, you also have other factors in this equation (water, bones, organs, etc).
The focus in this blog is increasing muscle…but the great thing is that long term, that will normally reduce fat as well. A balanced and healthy body fat and muscle will result in you being stronger, leaner, healthier and around for a longer amount of time so you can carry out your mission here on earth.
So, for the most important question, HOW DO I INCREASE MY MUSCLE MASS?
- You need an adequate amount of good quality protein. The amount will vary depending on the person (gender, activity level, exercise intensity). The body needs protein to repair and build muscle and there is a direct link between protein intake and muscle mass increase.3 Getting protein on a vegan diet is not difficult. Adding lots of beans and lentils to your meals is a great way to do this. Many people also love organic tofu. You can also add plant protein powders to your smoothies. My favorites are Premier Plant Protein and Health Force Warrior Food. For more information on protein, check out these blogs: The Proper Balance of Protein, Is a High Protein Diet Safe? An Evidence Based Answer and The High Protein Diet Just Got Worse! Carnivore No More: Cavemen are Dead for a Reason .
- Stress the muscles by making them work! There are a few ways to do this and they all have their advantages.
- Body weight resistance training- Even for those in great shape, but especially if you’re just getting started, this is a good way to go. There are lots of resources to teach you how to get a total body, body-weight workout doing variations of squats, push-ups, lunges, dips etc. Body weight is normally less effective and takes much longer to see improvements than weightlifting.4 But again, a good starting point if you’re new to this.
- Weightlifting- There are lots of ways to do this but the bottom line is, it should be uncomfortable. Using easy weights that you can do with little effort will not grow muscle. Lifting weights should be part of your regular exercise routine 2-5 days/week, depending on your program and goals.
- There are also some less traditional ways to do resistance training that don’t fall into the above categories including some forms of yoga, rucking, TRX, bands, hiking or stair climbing with weight, etc. Adding these in can be good and have other benefits, but I would not recommend counting on these as my main form of increasing muscle.
Things like walking, biking, running or swimming are great exercise but are not efficient ways to improve muscle mass. You need both cardiovascular as well as weight-training exercise for optimal health.
Being strong doesn’t just improve your life span, it improves your health span. In other words, your quality of life can be sustained later in life. This is a goal worth working on NOW.
If you would like help increasing your muscle mass or any aspect of longevity, reach out today! We’d love to help you achieve and maintain RADIANT health, regardless of your current age or condition!
1. Srikanthan P, Karlamangla AS. Muscle mass index as a predictor of longevity in older adults. Am J Med. 2014. doi:10.1016/j.amjmed.2014.02.007
2. Wang H, Hai S, Liu Y, Liu Y, Dong B. Skeletal Muscle Mass as a Mortality Predictor among Nonagenarians and Centenarians: A Prospective Cohort Study. Sci Rep. 2019. doi:10.1038/s41598-019-38893-0
3. Morton RW, Murphy KT, McKellar SR, et al. A systematic review, meta-analysis and meta-regression of the effect of protein supplementation on resistance training-induced gains in muscle mass and strength in healthy adults. Br J Sports Med. 2018. doi:10.1136/bjsports-2017-097608
4. Lipecki K, Rutowicz B. The Impact Of Ten Weeks Of Bodyweight Training On The Level Of Physical Fitness And Selected Parameters Of Body Composition In Women Aged 21-23 Years. Polish J Sport Tour. 2015. doi:10.1515/pjst-2015-0014
Nothing said or implied in this post is intended to treat, cure, diagnose or prevent any disease. It does not take the place of a qualified health care practitioner and is intended for educational purposes only.