You get older, you shed testosterone, and lose muscle mass — about 1 percent per year after you hit your mid-30s. It’s a fact of life, but also one that you can do something about. Just ask J.K. Simmons, who is clearly out to be the most ripped Commission Gordon of all time in 2017’s Justice League. Celebrity trainer (and former marine) Aaron Williamson took a few insane photos of the 61-year-old sporting biceps and shoulders that most of us only dreamed of having in our twenties.
So what does it take to get ripped at 61? A lot of work.
As we noted in our feature How to Get Stronger, Faster, Fitter, and Healthier as You Age, resistance training needs to become your best friend. That’s three weight workouts per week, plus devoting at least one day to rejuvenation activities that can help your body recover, like yoga, Pilates, massage, and using a foam roller. Dedicate another day entirely to prehab exercises.
In your fifties, you begin to lose muscle more quickly than you can gain it. This can amount to a serious strength loss by 60, but fortunately, the effect is reversible. Researchers found that 18 to 20 weeks of resistance training can add nearly 2.5 pounds of muscle on older adults. And opt for dumbbells over heavy metal: A University of New Mexico study found that free-weight exercises performed while standing produce nearly twice the lean body mass as seated, machine-based exercises among older men. Doing free-weight exercises, whether standing or seated, will work a maximum number of muscles in a holistic, integrated way to build functional strength.
Last, there’s the question of testosterone supplements. One real factor in your departing muscle strength, after all, is ever-lowering testosterone. But what else is key: drinking too much, carrying around a gut, never exercising, or not skimping on sleep. If any of those is you, supplementation is a moot point. First things first — get healthy, and then if you still have signs of low-T, see your doctor.
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