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Building Muscle As You Age—Workouts for Men Over 50

How often have you heard something like, “Older people can’t build muscle.” Here’s the thing: Building and maintaining muscle mass as you age is more challenging, but it’s not impossible. If you’re doing the right things to support muscle growth, you can build muscle just as well as you did in your 20s.

Age is Just a Number: Workouts for Men Over 50

Quick look:

  • Aging doesn’t mean you have to accept an inevitable decline in your health and fitness
  • Building muscle isn’t impossible once you reach your 50s
  • Proper diet, sleep, exercise, and recovery are the pillars of a good workout for men over 50 to build muscle and burn fat

Debunking the Myth of Age and Fitness

Most men believe that once they close in on 50, there’s no point in going to the gym and working out. For some reason, age comes with this inevitable decline of muscle mass, and there’s no way you’ll be able to actually build it, never mind maintain it.

But that’s all wrong.

Yes, older men experience some challenges when trying to build muscle, but if you program the right workouts for men over 50 and follow that up with a good diet, rest, and recovery, it’s the perfect recipe for muscle-building success. 

Let me break down some of the myths about aging and fitness.

  1. Exercise is pointless—decline into old age is inevitable: This is a big one. There’s a powerful myth that aging equates to becoming decrepit. Many people in their 60s, 70s, and 80s are still physically active and building muscle. Many of the symptoms we associate with aging—weakness, loss of muscle function, poor balance, etc.—are actually signs of inactivity, not age. 
  2. Your muscles will wither: Although some muscle loss is natural as you age, you’ll only lose muscle if you let it happen. Muscle loss is common after 40 because the mitochondria in muscles start to malfunction—these are cellular components responsible for converting food and oxygen into energy. Without robust mitochondria, muscle cells begin to waste away, and fat cells are ushered in. A study published in the Journal of Cachexia, Sarcopenia, and Muscle found that “older adults who maintain a high amount of physical activity have a better mitochondrial capacity similar to highly active younger adults, and this is related to their better muscle quality, exercise efficiency, and physical performance.”
  3. Your bones shrink: Osteopenia and osteoporosis are a big concern of aging adults, but you don’t have to let your bones become weak. Thinning of bone tissue isn’t only debilitating, but it can be an enormous confidence hit for aging men. But regardless of age, lifting weights is important to build bone density and strengthen bones (and the muscles that attach to them). Studies find that the greatest skeletal benefits from resistance training are achieved when the resistance progressively increases over time, working at ranges around 80% to 85% 1RM). Power training (high-intensity resistance exercise) can also benefit bone health due to a greater effect on muscle strength and functional performance than regular training.

There are plenty more myths where these came from, but the point is that building muscle as you age isn’t impossible—it takes consistency and dedication, but it can be done. 

Workouts for men over 50

The Science of Muscle Building in the 50s

The secret to building muscle in your 50s isn’t really a secret at all. With proper diet, programmed workouts, and sufficient rest and recovery, building muscle is quite simple. 

Men need two primary hormones to build muscle regardless of age: testosterone and growth hormone (GH). Unfortunately, with age also comes a drop in both hormones, making muscle building slightly more challenging. 

If you want to build muscle effectively, it’s not just about choosing the right workouts for men over 50—it’s about giving your body the building blocks for muscle growth. Hormones can help or hinder your efforts. But if you have the proper amount, you shouldn’t have a problem increasing mass and strength.

Here’s a study to prove it.

Researchers at the University of Oklahoma studied early-phase body composition and strength adaptations in college-aged men (18-22 years) and middle-aged men (35-50 years). DEXA scans showed that middle-aged men built muscle just as well as college-aged men, gaining roughly 2.5 pounds and 2 pounds of muscle, respectively.  

And if you look at the numbers, middle-aged men built more muscle than college-aged men, but it wasn’t enough to be statistically significant. 

Strength gains were also similar:

  • Middle-aged men gained an average of 14 pounds of strength on the bench press and 40 pounds on the leg press
  • College-aged men gained an average of 7 pounds of strength on the bench press and 55 pounds on the leg press

But it’s not relegated just to middle-aged men. If you’re over 60, don’t feel left out of the party. Studies show that 60-year-old men can also build significant amounts of muscle and strength, which can help prevent the adverse effects of aging on health.

Practical Steps to Building Muscle After 50

So, how do you build muscle after 50? Here are the three most important factors.

Diet Adjustments

One of the easiest ways to support hormones is through diet—and what you eat can make or break your testosterone levels. 

When it comes to hormone production, most men focus on their macros—protein, fat, and carbohydrates. But while all three are essential for hormone balance in the proper ratio, you also want to ensure you’re hitting your micronutrients—vitamins and minerals. 

For me, the macros are a relatively balanced breakdown of:

40% protein + 40% complex carbs + 20% fats +++ fruits and vegetables (don’t go wild on the fruits but load up on the veg)

On top of this, you also want to ensure you’re getting enough of the testosterone-boosting nutrients:

  • Magnesium: Dark leafy greens, nuts, seeds (especially pumpkin seeds), dark chocolate, legumes, oats
  • Boron: Avocado, prunes, kidney beans, lentils, hazelnuts, raisins
  • Selenium: Brazil nuts, seafood, pork, beef, poultry, eggs, brown rice, sunflower seeds
  • Zinc: Oysters, beef, crab, lobster, pork, pumpkin seeds, cashews, chickpeas, almonds, kidney beans
  • B vitamins: Eggs, organ meats, chicken, beef, fish and shellfish, dark leafy greens, lentils, sunflower seeds, almonds

That’s not it. While that’s what you should be eating, there are certain things you want to avoid:

  1. Soy and soy products
  2. Alcohol
  3. Industrial seed oils (canola, corn, sunflower, safflower, rice bran, grapeseed)
  4. Refined and processed carbohydrates
  5. Sugar
  6. Conventional dairy products
  7. Licorice root


Diet is a great place to start, but if you want to build muscle, you must be lifting—and lifting heavy. I’m big into functional movements for a couple of reasons: they mimic movements you do daily to make life easier, and they’re the quickest way to build all-around muscle and strength. But to build muscle and burn fat, the best workouts for men over 50 take the metabolic route. Ramping up the intensity of your workouts using resistance fires up your muscles and metabolism to achieve insane results.

Here’s my Total Body Foundational Workout for men over 50 to achieve maximum results.

Perform each set for the prescribed work and rest interval – 60 seconds rest between sets.

Set 1 – Hinge-Push Superset

Perform each exercise for 30 seconds of work followed by 15 seconds of rest, one after the other, for 4 rounds 

  1. DB Deadlifts
  2. DB Floor Chest press 

Set 2 – Squat-Pull Superset

Perform each exercise for 30 seconds of work followed by 15 seconds of rest, one after the other, for 4 rounds 

  1. Goblet Squat
  2. 2. Quadruped One Arm Rows 

Set 3 – Pull-Lunge 

Perform each exercise for 30 seconds of work followed by 15 seconds rest, one after the other, for 4 rounds 

  1. Lying DB Pullovers 
  2. Split Squats 

Set 4 – Carry

Perform the exercise for 30 seconds of work followed by 15 seconds rest, one after the other, for 4 rounds 

  1. DB Single Arm Carries

Rest and Recovery

There’s a line of thinking in the fitness world that more is better—the no days off mentality is great in some respects, but if you want to maximize muscle growth, especially as you age, you need sufficient rest and recovery. And if you’ve hit a plateau in your training, taking some rest is a great way to kickstart progress.

But why do you need rest and recovery?

  • Hormones needed for muscle repair are released during sleep
  • Sleep deprivation leads to decreases in testosterone levels
  • Prevents injuries
  • Counteracts the negative effects of intense exercise on your CNS and immune system
  • Replenishes glycogen levels

In short, the kitchen may be where abs are made, and the gym is where they’re built, but sleep and rest are where they’re defined. If you’re not giving your body sufficient rest and recovery, you’re not going to see results. 

Final Thoughts

The notion that men over 50 can’t build muscle is nonsense. With a clean and tailored diet aimed at building muscle and burning fat, a properly programmed workout program, and sufficient rest and recovery, building muscle after 50 isn’t only possible, it’s easy.


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