Question: Is it still reasonable to expect to be bodybuilding over 50?
Bodybuilding over fifty is an activity that can prove to be extremely beneficial in so many ways.
It helps to create a healthier senior person and improves the condition of the heart.
Bodybuilding through weight training is also proven to be an effective means of prolonging life and keeping illness at bay.
Building a good, strong physique will help you look younger, you’ll carry yourself better, you’ll feel more confident, and your body and mind will react and improve accordingly.
Obviously at any age and fitness levels, it is still advisable to get professional advice before embarking on a fitness or weight lifting routine.
There is nothing to suggest that senior bodybuilding is in any way different to what a younger person may do. It is just a matter of adjusting certain routines and being more careful.
Injuries are far more common as we hit our fifties and beyond.
It also takes longer to recover from them.
Remaining injury free (or as injury free as you can!) will possibly be your greatest challenge.
Ensure a Proper Warm Up
Twenty years ago as a young man, you could get away with jumping right into a set of weight lifting exercises with just the slightest of warm ups.
Not only is this inadvisable at any age it can be quite dangerous in later life.
When you hit fifty-plus, a proper warm up is essential to increase blood circulation to the muscles and improve oxygen absorption.
A good 10 minutes of moderate cardio activity is recommended prior to your weight lifting routine.
Aim to perform one set at 50% to 75% of the actual weight to be lifted before your real set.
Perform Fewer Exercises
A big mistake for many people you see in the gym is that they do too many exercises for each muscle group.
This is not necessary and results in wasted time and more importantly wasted energy.
Use your time and energy wisely by working out major muscle groups at a high intensity over a shorter time scale.
Your muscles will benefit exactly the same and you’ll save yourself from unnecessary, depleting, multiple exercises.
One of the biggest misconceptions in strength training and bodybuilding is having to train on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
The goal of every workout should be to increase the intensity of work done compared to your previous workout.
As intensity increases your body needs more time to recover (especially as we get older) so workouts have to be spaced further apart.
This is more good news to everyone except the exercise addict.
When you begin a strength training program you might be able to workout on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, providing your body can fully recover with just one day off.
But as you get stronger and start lifting heavier weights, you will need more time to recover.
So your third or fourth week might allow you to train on Mondays and Thursdays.
Two weeks later you might only be able to see increases in intensity if you train one day per week.
After a month of that you will need to train only once every ten or fifteen days.
It is common for advanced bodybuilders to workout lifting weights once every six weeks and see improvements in every exercise on every workout.
The truth is you can achieve greater muscle definition by working-out with precisely engineered workouts that contain clear goals about as frequently as you get a haircut.
That’s very welcome news to those of us who just want results, and especially for those who don’t use the gym as a social gathering place.
Muscle Equals Youth
Have you ever seen two people who were both 60 years old but one of them looks 70 and the other looks 45?
Age can’t be measured by the calendar alone. There are several well established “bio markers of aging” that are used to give more accuracy to the assessment of physical age.
The amount of muscle your body contains is one of the principle bio markers of aging.
The more muscle you have, the younger you are.
Another bio marker of aging is bone density. Guess what the number one method is of increasing bone density? Heavy, weight-bearing exercise!
Those over fifty years of age can greatly slow down (and in many cases reverse) the aging processes by performing rational, efficient, strength training routines that increase muscle-mass and bone density.
The really great news is that it can be done without hours of exercise performed week after week, which equates to less wear and tear on the body.
It’s great to finally be old and wise!!
Have a great workout!
Update: This article was written back in 2008 for a different website I owned. It has encouraged many readers to air their views and add their own comments and opinions.
I have included these comments below.
Read them.. Many of them are inspirational!
Please join in the discussion below..
Comments on Bodybuilding Over 50 – It Could Add Years to Your Life
John Storrs @ 6:16 pm
I’m 57yrs old and I recently started working out again after a 20yr hiatus and I’m amazed at how quickly my body has responded. I don’t know if “muscle memory” has given me an advantage, but I’m sure that anyone can benefit from weight training at any age.
Bob Livingston says
August 21, 2012 at 9:25 pm
I’m 61. Used to body build years ago. Going for it again. Ordered Muscle Extreme and Ultra Force. Looking for a nutrition program and weight program to build muscle and rip my shirt sleeves! No pot gut here, but need to bulk up. Any and all suggestions and recommendations welcome. Can’t find a close muscle building trainer so will have to go it alone I suppose. I’m ready.
November 24, 2012 at 4:43 pm
I’m 60. Training since the early 80s. I probably lifted too heavy on my front dumb raises. My right front delt is
soar, but has stayed that way for weeks. Now, I can press without pain. Laterals, the same. Curious. Is it burcitious, maybe, or from one cable pull I might have done. Face pulls. Maybe too heavy! Comments would be nice thanks. Bruce
December 20, 2012 at 2:50 am
I’m 56. Male. Been terribly skinny all my life.(no sport) When I turned 55 I decided to do something about it.(At home, no trainer) One day on, one day off, with dumbells, for nine months now.Increasing when I can. I warm up with 5 kg ‘bells & use 10 kg & 14kg to work out with. Warm up plus workout = 55 mins. I am amazed at the change in my body!Good grief, I’ve got MUSCLES! I feel good & the pains in my shoulder & knees has gone.This is great!I cant wait to see where this is going.
January 19, 2013 at 12:38 pm
trained for 35 years off n on and in better shape than most 25 year olds. keep the faith.
June 26, 2013 at 2:16 am
Training once every 15 days wouldn’t be worth doing. Who wrote this article, someone who’s NEVER worked out? I’m 63, been working out for 33 years, and lift 2 hours a day, 3 days a week.
July 20, 2013 at 10:10 pm
be 58 in 3 months. I’m 5’9″ , 226 lbs.I’ve been an off and on gym rat for years. But, now I want to build muscle and remove the fat. Any help would be gladly accepted.
Bob Lee says
December 27, 2013 at 6:56 pm
62 years old and look like mid 50’s. Been bodybuilding for 15 months, 3 2-hour sessions a week, changed diet, no pizza, chips, donuts, cookies, etc. Protein, veggies and fruits, meat, yogurt, peanut butter, etc. Feel great and amaze at the gym. Love it. Take protein shakes, preworkout stack, post workout supps.
Bad Bob says
February 10, 2014 at 6:29 am
I’m 62. Been weight training since I was 19. I’ve never gone too heavy. Never been injured. I change my routine often. Right now I’m growing like a weed on this: everyday a single bodypart 5×5 on two or three exercises for that particular bodypart. One day push ie. presses – next day pull ie. back. I take a day off every two or three days, which means I might only work each bodypart once per week. But at my age that seems to be ok. After all, the muscle groups are affected and worked secondarily with other groups. I try to squat twice a week, one before chest, and again on leg day. I have as much fire in the furnace as I did when I was 25. My problem is my waist doesn’t come down easy like it used to. It’s probably because, although I do a lot of ab reps almost daily, I just eat too much!
November 2, 2014 at 10:59 pm
58 years young still doing a 4 day split workout without any problems. Need to keep the compound strength exercises in your workouts ie squats, deadlifts, bench press and military overhead press. It is important to keep muscle mass for bone strength and also keeps your balance in check. I have started using BCAA’s for pre workouts and they seem to help in stopping catabolic breakdown from occurring and helps in recovery and soreness. Also bumped up my protein intake taking it both before and after my workouts. Good luck and happy lifting to all!
June 24, 2015 at 1:05 am
I’m 68. Have worked out all my life, just to feel good, look good, enjoy my varied activities. Throughout my 50’s, I took high impact aerobics 2x/week, and lifted 3 days/wk – sometimes the same evening. I eventually switched to cardiovascular kick boxing for 5 yrs. Bad knee due to car accident caused me to end that type of cardio. Point being, at 68, I still lift & do floor exercises 3x weekly. Take some (Beverly) supplements. IDK about this lifting once every 4 – 6 wees. Crazy!
Robert C says
October 1, 2015 at 4:01 pm
I’m 60, I’m in the BEST shape of my life, I lift 6 days one body part a day and I work hard at it, so what you are saying doesn’t make any sense , maybe it is good for a choice few but NOT ME !!!
Bob Rodden says
November 13, 2015 at 3:11 pm
I’m 53 and have been body building since I was 15. I was talk by the father of a girl I went to school with, and he was old-school Steve Reeves body building, and passed it on to me. I had to take a year off due to spinal stenosis, which led to surgery. I try to stay true to three times a week, full-body workouts. I start with cross-training at the Nautilus machine, three times around; chest, pull downs, military press, rows, leg presses, leg curls, leg extensions. It take about 12 minutes because I don’t rest in between. Next, I go to the free weights room. I do supersets throughout; preacher curls/triceps pull downs; shoulder flies; hammer curls/different triceps exercise; dumbbell militaries; upper back flies. All together I’m in the gym for an hour and 30 minutes. Unless I decide to do intense core, then I’m there another 30 minutes. It is harder at my age, but I can’t see giving it up. Keep at it people.
January 27, 2016 at 1:38 am
I am 55 year old male and I have been working out for over two years monday through friday. I love the way my body looks and most of the guys that i know in the gym ALL believe me to be in my late 30s. Genetics? Who knows, but I love lifting, eating right, doing my Whey powder and watching my body develop just good as the young ones.
Herb Danner says
May 8, 2016 at 1:39 pm
I’m 55 and do a 4 day split, the old Mon. Thurs, chest shoulders tris, Tues, Fri, legs back bis, keep my sets to 2 to 5 depending, reps vary, go how I feel. Basic lifts bench, dl, squat, very old style, used to be friends of one of the grandfather of the iron game Perry and Mable Rader founders of Iron Man Magazine, learned so much talking and picking his brain weekly as we were a frequent customer of theirs at their location, Alliance Ne. and I am honored to have known them. Any way keep routines short and sweet, no long drawn out routines, at this age we have nothing to prove. Ive never had an injury and been lifting 40 years. I still can pack on the pounds but more than anything I feel great. Anyway keep training and keep it smart, short and sweet. Thanks
Paul Prescott says
July 17, 2016 at 5:22 pm
Interesting article but training every 6 weeks – never once heard of that..
I’m 56 and evolved into a 4 day per week workout focusing on basic core lifts.. Squats .. Military presses – leg presses – bench and dumbbell presses etc..each day @45 – 60 mins and heavy.
Kinda funny seeing the younger guys doing all these weird twists and “lifts”.
Always have used knee wraps and Still squat up to 600lb for reps and bench 250-300 depending on the day:)
I do it because I enjoy lifting its a mind break from work.
Listen to your body, eat whole real foods and I don’t see why you can’t keep progressing. My squat was 3-400lb in my 30’s.
Derrick Stewart says
December 5, 2016 at 2:57 am
I’m a over the road truck driver…. 54yrs old soon to be 55…. I get home 3days a week straight… Is it possible to have a effective routine in those three straight days off… Total body?