Sure, you may not be able to lift as much weight as you could in your 20s (unless you make this a focal point of your daily routine), but that doesn’t mean you can’t build muscle after 60.
Building muscle after 60 is not as difficult as you might think.
The key is to focus on quality over quantity.
In this article, we’ll break down the science behind building muscle after 60, including how long it takes, how to eat for muscle growth, and which exercises to include in your routine.
But first, let’s debunk the myth that only younger people can build muscle.
Can You Build Muscle at Any Age?
It’s a common misconception that you can’t build muscle after 60. The truth is, you can continue to build muscle at any age — it just might take a little longer than it did when you were in your 20s or 30s.
It’s never too late to get in shape — even if you’re 60 or older.
A recent study from the University of Birmingham showed that resistance exercises could help you build muscle even if you’ve never worked out before.
The study compared eight “untrained older male” participants between 60 and 80 years old with seven “older male athletes” in the same age range who consistently trained for two decades.
The results? Both groups could build muscle equally.
The key is to be patient and consistent with your workouts. You might not see results as quickly as you did when you were younger, but with time and dedication, you can still make gains. After all, building muscle is more about lifestyle choices than anything else.
In a nutshell, as long as you’re eating right and staying active, you can continue to build muscle mass well into your 60s and beyond. With a little consistency and patience, you’ll be on your way to a stronger, healthier you.
How Long Does It Take to Build Muscle After 60?
The simple answer to the question is that it depends. Building muscle after 60 can take anywhere from a few weeks to several months, depending on your starting point and how dedicated you are to working out.
A recent study found that even 94-year-olds can build muscle and reap the benefits of strength training. In the study, the participants were older adults between the ages of 83 and 94 – in just 12 weeks of weight training three times a week, they were able to increase thigh muscle size by 3.4% on average.
And, of course, other factors play their parts, too. For instance, health experts from Midss also suggest some plant-based supplements that benefit your overall health along the journey. Plus, you need to include ample recovery time.
All in all, to build muscle after 60, you need to be committed to working out regularly and eating a healthy diet. Ultimately, if you’re dedicated to building muscle, you can start noticing results in as little as a few weeks.
Bonus tip: before you develop a routine, test your fitness levels to set more effective and realistic goals.
Eating for Muscle Growth After 60
As you age, your nutritional needs change. After 60, your body becomes less efficient at using protein to build muscle. Which is why it’s important to eat foods that are high in protein, such as lean meats, fish, mixed nuts, and seeds.
And to build muscle, you need to stay in a caloric surplus. In other words, you need to eat more calories than your body burns in a day.
The best way to ensure you’re getting enough calories is to track your intake and count your macros. This means tracking the number of grams of protein, carbohydrates, and fat you’re eating each day.
Another important factor is to also focus on eating quality foods. This means avoiding processed foods and eating plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. These nutrient-rich foods will not only help you build muscle, but improve your overall health.
(Need help eating better nutrients? Grab this comprehensive Guide to Nutrition for Older Adults.)
Best Exercises to Build Muscle After 60
The best exercises to strengthen your muscles after 60 are the same exercises that are effective for building muscle at any age. And the fastest way to build muscle is through strength training and primarily compound movements like squats, deadlifts, and presses.
These exercises work multiple muscle groups at once and help you build strength and size quickly. They should be the foundation of your workout routine.
Apart from strength training, here are a few other types of exercise that can help you build muscle after 60:
- Swimming — a great low-impact workout that is easy on the joints. It’s also an excellent way to build muscle since it works all of the major muscle groups
- Tai Chi — a form of martial arts that emphasizes slow, deliberate movements. It’s often described as “meditation in motion” and is known for its many health benefits, including muscle building
- Yoga — another low-impact workout that is easy on the joints while increasing flexibility and strength
Stay Fit As You Age
As you age, it becomes more important to stay fit.
You may find that building muscle is a bit harder than when you were younger, but with the right approach and diet, it’s definitely possible.
We’ve looked at some of the best ways to build muscle after 60, and while every person is different, these exercises and tips should help get you started.
Keep in mind that building muscle takes time — don’t expect results overnight. But if you stick to a consistent routine and eat healthy foods, you’ll definitely see some progress. And, more importantly, you’ll feel better.