How to Build Muscle After 50

By Dr. TRACY MOUNTFORD, MBBS MBCAM

Building muscle mass is a challenge at any age, but particularly so in your 50s, 60s and beyond. Enhancing your muscle definition and staying in shape as you age is always dependent on muscle training and eating healthily. But biological barriers also come into play as we get older, forcing us to take a more structured approach to maintaining and sculpting our muscles.

Here, we explore these unique approaches while revealing exactly how you can build muscle after 50 using clinically proven cosmetic technologies like EMSculpt to help.

How can you build muscle after 50?

Many individuals in the 50-plus age bracket often ask ‘can I build muscle after 50?’ The simple answer to this oft-asked question is thankfully a resounding yes!

However, the art of building muscle after 50 for both men and women lies in identifying the challenges that we often face during this time of our lives. When we reflect on what can often happen to our lifestyle and physical body when we reach this demographic, it sheds light on the tasks that we should be performing to help us stay in shape with confidence and success.

muscle building for over 50s woman

The Barriers to building muscle after 50

  • Muscle loss

Unfortunately, it is true that the older we get, the more effort we have to put in to maintain and define our muscles. Independent clinical studies have shown that we must lift weights more often and with greater intensity after 50 if we want to merely maintain our looks, let alone improve them. This is because we begin to lose muscle mass as we surpass our physical prime. After our 20’s and 30s, our bodies gradually begin to lose around 1-2% muscle mass each year. So by the time we reach 50 or 60, we often end up out of shape with significant muscle loss.

  • Lifestyle factors

The generalised loss of our muscle mass and strength in our bodies as we age is called sarcopenia. But lifestyle factors also compound this biological issue, as we often tend to lead more sedentary lifestyles as we get older, due to work and family commitments. Together, these factors can create somewhat of a perfect storm that makes it difficult for people in their 50s to stay as toned and fit as their younger counterparts.

The good news is that we can apply a range of techniques as an older adult to maintain our existing muscle mass. We can also drop excess weight and build up more muscle in the process. Here, we explain some of the best approaches that have been proven to enhance your muscle mass at 50 years of age or more.

muscle building lifestyle factors women over 50

Muscle Building Diets for over 50s

Eating healthily with nutrition levels in mind is key to muscle growth at 50 years old. Achieving optimum levels of muscle mass should start with a diet that contains enough lean sources of protein to help your muscles to build and repair themselves after exercise. A recent study in the Nutrients medical journal recommends a daily intake of 1 to 1.3 grams (g) of protein per kilogram of body weight for older adults who weight train. Consuming protein helps our muscles to grow while also maintaining the health of our overall body tissues.

It is also important not to shun carbohydrates, as rigorous muscle-building exercises require calories for you to perform them at the best of your ability, with correct form. This is key to making a difference with your exercise programmes. But choose your carbs carefully. Opt for healthier unrefined complex carbs like whole grains, quinoa, lentils and other vegetables that will slowly release energy throughout the day. Your body also needs healthy unsaturated fats to keep it functioning as it should. By sticking to unrefined carbs and weighing your diet towards healthy proteins, this will help to optimise your muscle strengthening programme. But speak to a dietician to gauge exact figures that will suit your own bodybuilding goals, as everyone’s target is different.

Once you have a healthy diet in place, choose a mix of both cardio and strength training to maximise your muscle-building ability.

Fitness workouts for over 50s

Maintaining and growing muscle mass requires two different types of physical activity. Cardiovascular exercises get your heart pumping while burning calories and improving blood flow to your muscles. Weight-lifting exercises will then contract your muscles to make them build back bigger and stronger.

Cardio for over 50s

Your muscles will always look their best if you minimise stubborn pockets of subcutaneous fat across your body. Aerobic exercises like running, swimming or cycling can massively help with this goal. These activities burn through calories while conditioning your body to perform at its best. Regular short walks or runs each day are ideal to prime your body for your muscle-building exercises.

Strength training over 50s women

Strength training for over 50s

Your muscles grow when you put them under pressure with weightlifting exercises, which force your muscles to contract. During this growth process, the stresses on your muscles cause your muscle fibres to tear. Your body then utilises its protein sources to repair these tears, thereby making your muscles remodel and build up.

When doing your weightlifting, focus on 3-4 strength training exercise sessions per week that work diverse parts of your body to improve your overall muscle strength and definition. There is a countless array of exercises that you can perform, but make sure you don’t overexert yourself. Start with less weight and build up over time. As an older adult, it is often preferable to skip the intense weightlifting workouts that younger people opt for, whereby you only focus on one muscle group with maximum intensity each time.

It is better to adopt a diverse workout programme that contracts a variety of your muscle groups with medium intensity while ensuring you have enough rest for recovery in between. This will ensure that you exercise safely without exhausting yourself and giving your body enough time to recover. If you carry out 3-4 sessions per week, on alternate days, then this schedule is ideal for building muscle over 50 years of age.

How long does it take to build up muscle at 50?

When it comes to seeing the physical results of your strength training and diet regime, most fitness trainers agree that it will take a few weeks for results to show. If you train consistently, then you should notice an increase in your muscle size from six to nine weeks of strength training.

Building muscle fast after 50

For some people, this programme of strength training is entirely achievable, and it may be all they need for their muscle-building goals. However, some people may want to maximise their muscle-building gains while also decreasing their fat stores at the same time.

The trouble with muscle building at 50 or over is that it can be time-consuming and hard work. This is especially the case if you are a person with a busy schedule and regular family commitments. You may also suffer from general fatigue, aches or pains that are commonly associated with the ageing process. If any of these factors or issues are acting as barriers to your own muscle building goals at 50, then body contouring technologies like EMSculpt could help. These breakthrough solutions have been designed to strengthen and build up your muscle mass just like a gym session. They are also clinically proven to strengthen and tone your muscles in a much more rapid and efficient way than physical workouts. This makes EMSculpt ideal for older people who want to spend less time in the gym and more time enjoying the physical benefits of strengthened muscles.

muscle strengthening after 50

EMSculpt for 50-year-olds and above

EMSculpt is a revolutionary non-surgical technology that burns fat and builds muscle at the same time. It is the world’s only non-invasive treatment that can do this and has been FDA-approved for its clinical results. It uses a device to send High-Intensity Focused Electromagnetic Energy (HIFEM) through the skin and towards a targeted muscle group. This electromagnetic energy then induces thousands of supramaximal muscle contractions to force muscle tissues to break and remodel. The stressed muscle tissues then build back stronger, while fat stores are also reduced. The beauty of EMSculpt lies in its fantastic results. Just one 30-minute treatment session is equivalent to doing 20,000 squats, crunches or sit-ups in a standard gym routine. It can therefore give patients impressive muscle building results without the hard effort of standard gym routines.

What does a typical EMSculpt session involve?

Most patients undergo 4 30-minute treatment sessions, with a 2-3 day break in between each one. This gives your muscles time to heal and repair themselves. This enables your muscles to increase in size as they recuperate during the recovery periods.

What areas can EMSculpt target for over 50s?

Many people in older age brackets complain of muscle weakness and a lack of definition around key problem-prone areas like their stomachs, underarms or buttocks. It may be hard for your abdominal muscles to show through, or your arm muscles might be obscured by fat around your bingo wings for example. However, EMSculpt has been mindfully designed to directly target these issues head-on. Patients over 50 can utilise the treatment to reduce fat stores while improving their muscle definition around these areas:

  • ‘Ab’s’ (abdomen) – define your sixpack muscles while reducing belly fat
  • Arms (biceps and triceps) – tighten up your biceps and triceps while minimising bingo wings
  • Legs (calves) – add greater definition to your calf muscles
  • Buttocks (gluteals) – tone your gluteal muscles while minimising saggy pockets of thigh and buttock fat
emsculpt neo muscle building over 50

The results?

The best thing about using EMSculpt for muscle building at 50 years old or over is its effectiveness. On average, patients can achieve a 16% average increase in their muscle mass. This is in addition to a 19% average reduction in fat seen in 2-4 weeks post-treatment. Results are even higher if patients opt for the newly upgraded EMSculpt Neo treatment which is now the world’s most efficient non-surgical muscle strengthening machine. Offering a 30% reduction in fat and a 25% increase in muscle mass after 4 30-minute sessions, it’s the new global leader in non-surgical muscle toning.

Most EMSculpt patients will feel tangible results immediately after having their treatment session. You will feel as if you have just completed one of your own rigorous muscle-building sessions. Visible results usually show through after 2 to 4 weeks after your final session. They then continue to improve several weeks later as your muscles repair and remodel themselves. The result is better muscle definition, minimised fat stores and a more sculpted and toned overall physique.

EMSculpt Muscle Building for over 50s at The Cosmetic Skin Clinic

When combined with a healthy muscle-building diet and strength training, patients will see maximum muscle-building results at 50 using EMSculpt. At The Cosmetic Skin Clinic, we are one of the UK’s leading EMSculpt practitioners, and one of the first practices in the UK to offer such treatments. We are also highly experienced at treating people in the 50-plus age bracket. So you will be in the best possible hands if you opt for an EMSculpt muscle toning treatment with us. Our 5-Star patient satisfaction rating on Trustpilot is testament to our high standards and our commitment to achieving the best possible results.

To find out more about our EMSculpt treatments, book a consultation with us using our online contact form. Alternatively, you can phone our London and Buckinghamshire clinics directly to chat with one of our EMSculpt experts. We look forward to offering you the best results to keep you looking fit and feeling your very best.

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