Age-related muscle loss affects everyone. After the age of 30, you start losing as much as 3% to 5% of your muscle mass per decade. Men typically lose roughly 30% of their muscle mass in their lifetimes. Less muscle means less strength and mobility and increased weakness, which in turn amplifies your risk of falls and fractures. Fortunately, however, by adapting your workout routine as you age, you can maintain balance and mobility and stay feeling healthy and strong.
Focus on resistance training
After 50, you start losing bone density and muscle mass fast, which means resistance training has to form the bulk of your exercise routine. Rather than focusing on heavy lifting, however, opt for lighter training involving functional movement patterns, including, squats, lunges, pushing, pulling, lifting, carrying, and lowering. Squats, for example, are great for working your entire lower body, while carries effectively strengthen the core. If you’re particularly concerned about protecting yourself against falls, you can work on improving your hip flexion and grip strength. When you have a lighter strength routine, there’s also no need to focus on just one single body part on different days; instead you can get to work on the whole body in one session.
Making time for recovery after your workouts becomes even more important as you age. Always stretch after exercise to help your muscles, tendons, and joints recover. Stretching helps reduce the risk of injury, alleviates muscle tension and soreness, and enables greater movement in your joints and improved muscle control, balance, and coordination. If you have delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) after a hard workout, massage can help alleviate aches and pains. Vibration therapy has been proven to decrease DOMS and increase muscle endurance and power, and improve kinesthetic awareness. A handheld massage gun provides a particularly easy and effective way to benefit from massage and relieve muscle tension and aid recovery.
People get stiffer with age, especially in ball and socket joints like the shoulders and hips, and may also often start slouching due to decreased thoracic mobility. Maintaining mobility throughout life is therefore a priority. Specific effective mobility exercises depend on your unique body and needs, so pay careful attention to how you’re moving and feeling. If you notice a stiff or sore spot, practice a mobility exercise that lets you use your full range of motion. Bridges, for example, are a great way to stretch and strengthen the lower back (an area which commonly causes mobility issues). Alternatively, leg raises are effective at strengthening part of your abdominal wall. Leg raises specifically strengthen your hip flexors, lower abs, and groin, which, in turn, helps improve your balance and mobility.
Staying strong through every stage of life should be a priority for everyone. By focusing on resistance training, letting your body recover adequately, and maintaining good mobility, you can stay fit and injury-free and improve your quality of life.