Can you still build muscle in your 60s?
John (a customer) was struggling. Steve (another customer aged 74) offered the following tips. I’m reposting them here with his permission.
Sorry you are experiencing difficulty via implementing the Dr. Muscle program. Carl’s findings and programs are very valid and I would suggest that your problems might be in cause of your initial approach/expectations. I will attempt to explain and provide recommendations as succinctly as possible.
1) If you have been lifting for many years or over a lifetime like me then you can’t help but live in a time when you were at your best. What you could do in your 20’s and 30’s doesn’t correspond to your current capabilities. Re-evaluate the set-up of your program and answering the exercise question: what can you do easily for 6 reps. I try to leave my ego aside and if I error in being “too light” then the percentages of increase as programed via Dr. Muscle will correct for that in successive workouts. At least you won’t get the “de-loading” flag indicating that you are not measuring up.
2) Go to your local hardware store and invest in some washers -(6-10) that have the same hole diameter as the Olympic bar or the bar that you are using. Each washer weights less than a lb. and can give your ego and ability a boost to experience progress without the larger jump in using 2 1/2 and 5lb increments which for DB and some cable/barbell exercise can be too great of a percentage increase.
3) How do you feel after a workout? Refreshed or dragging? The day or two afterwords: not sore or very sore? You should feel a bit tired, slight soreness or pump but anxious and raring to go by your next workout.
4) Progress is not necessarily liner but will come many times in leaps and bounds. You might be stuck a week or more at a particular wt./rep range and then all of a sudden be able to do an appreciable amount more. Relish in and accept that progress.
5) At our age and if you keep your sets close (1-3 minutes) apart then 45 minutes per workout is sufficient. 3 or 4 workouts a week would depend on the above criteria mentioned and/or perhaps a weight workout one day and for the next workout do a conditioning or aerobic input.
6) Eat reasonable but don’t get caught up in a wild supplement search. Use a balanced approach – adequate amount of protein 75-100 grams a day, complex carbs and healthy fats – some saturated, and fat from salmon, avacodos, nuts, seeds, etc.
7) Maybe start a journal. Take account of how you are now preforming and feel and then compare that months later. Too often we compare ourselves with other gym members more or less our age or with what we mistakenly expect of ourselves. Culture objectivity and embrace the fact that you are (in the least) working towards positive change and progress while so many others our age prefer to be couch potatoes, complain, and take pills to assuage their disgruntlement.
Hope this helps a little,
Building muscle in your 60s and 70s is hard, for sure.
I would add to Steve’s tips to work out less often (2-3 times a week, training each muscle 1-2 times a week) and using rest-pause sets (to save time). With these tweaks and a little luck, you’ll still build muscle and look and feel sharp in your 60s, 70s, and beyond.