I’m guessing you’re reading this article because you’re like me – you’re looking for a way to learn how to build muscle after 45 and get back in shape again. You know there are obstacles to this goal, but you also know that solutions exist to overcome these challenges and you want to learn what they are so you can employ these little life hacks and be proud of your body again. If this sounds like you then keep reading!
Look, I get it – as we get older, many outlandish thoughts and ideas tend to come into our minds.
“I fancy learning to ride a motorbike”
“I am going to learn to skydive”
A few of us maturing men may even think to ourselves;
“I am going to finally begin a serious workout program and get into the best shape of my life, complete with six pack abs”
Some people would call this a midlife crisis maybe, but let’s not be harsh with ourselves here. I am going to assume that the reason you decided to sit at your computer and Google about how to build muscle after 45 is due to the unrealized ambitions and fitness dreams that have yet to come to fruition for you.
Do not fret though! There is still time, and with the advanced tactics I am going to talk you through here in this article, you will be armed with all the knowledge you need to go out there and achieve the physique you desire, despite being over the age of 45.
So let’s dive into the meat and potatoes of why men struggle to get in shape as they enter their midlife years, and how we can bypass the aging process to a certain degree.
Why is it Harder to Get In Shape as We Age and How Can We Overcome it?
Editor’s Note: This article is provided courtesy of our friend Nicholas Walker, Founder of The Muscle Expert. We’re excited to be able to bring you Nick’s content and if you enjoy this article, please be sure to let the editorial staff of ThatHelpfulDad.com know so that we can provide more articles like this.
Obstacle 1: Incorrect Mindset
In all honesty, one main reasons we struggle to achieve our health and fitness goals as we age in my humble opinion is down to mindset. We believe that age plays a bigger part than it actually does, and so it more often than not becomes a self fulfilling prophecy. Now, of course age does make things a little harder, but not as much as we would like to think.
How many times do you hear someone exclaim the words “I’m getting too old for this” whilst engaged in some form of mildly strenuous activity?
The journey to the physique you desire begins with the belief that you are able to make that journey in the first place.
In this article you will soon find out how important it is to approach your quest for abs and the opportunity to build muscle after 45 with the right mindset right from the outset. This will really help motivate you through the challenging times on your journey. You will also find it easier to make the required behavioral changes in order to get results.
So, how do we change our mindset for the better? How do we create such a strong belief within ourselves so strong that we can achieve our goals, despite the obstacles that we may face along the way?
The answer is through a mental form of ‘fake it until you make it’
Professional sports people often use the power of visualization and mental rehearsal in order to get themselves in ‘the zone’, and to mentally practice the actions they need to take in order to get the results they desire. This method of ‘mental practice’ has proved very effective for the people who use it.
That being said, It would be of great benefit to you to try a little visualization exercise for yourself once a day. It doesn’t need to be long. Just spend 10 minutes every day with your eyes closed, and as vividly as you can, visualize yourself already with the body you desire.
How do you stand? How do your walk? What kinds of clothes do you wear as a result of your hard efforts in the gym and with your diet program?
It’s amazing how much effect a simple little exercise like this can have on the results you will go on to achieve. I urge you to give it a go!
Obstacle 2: Lack of Sleep and Increased Stress
The stresses of modern adult life, and the corporate pressures that come along with it can be enough to put a dramatic halt to your health fitness efforts. First off, when we are under pressure, our bodies release large amounts of the hormone cortisol. Cortisol has many functions in the body including regulating your metabolism, immune system and blood pressure. The bad news is that an overabundance of cortisol over a prolonged period of time can result in fat gain for the person concerned. Other symptoms of elevated cortisol levels may also include a decrease of energy, sex drive and muscle mass among many other things.
Not only does stress cause an over secretion of cortisol, but it also interferes with our quality of your sleep. It is well known that the vast majority of your testosterone is produced at night while you sleep. Therefore, if you are lacking in a quality night’s rest, you will find that your testosterone levels will be lower and this can have a negative knock on effect with your ability to burn fat, build muscle and maintain general good health.
If you want the in the best possible shape as you age, then it is important to manage your levels of cortisol and keep them as low as possible. This will also allow for better sleep at night which will also help you achieve your goals.
The best way of doing this is to manage your stress levels effectively. There are many ways of lowering your stress and I will list a few of them here. Before I do, I would like to mention that eating a clean healthy diet with particular attention to your sugar, caffeine and alcohol intake will also help to keep your stress levels in check.
With that being said, here are some more ways in which you can remove some of the stress from modern life;
- Practice Yoga – Yoga (amongst other forms of exercise) increases endorphins which make you feel good.
- Take a walk outside – Being out in nature and the fresh has been proven to lower stress levels and improve your overall mood.
- Listen to relaxing classical music – I highly recommend that you do a bit of research into The Mozart Effect. Studies suggest that it can be very effective for reducing stress and improving concentration due to the slower tempo of the music and the soothing timbres of the instruments.
Practice mindfulness/Learn to meditate – Mindfulness and meditation trains your mind to be able to focus more effectively and to have less of a reactive response to the stressful things happening around you. You are therefore more able to savor the pleasures in life with less stress and anxiety.
It is really important to take some time out of each day to work on yourself. It is so easy in the modern age to get carried away with the stresses of work, bringing up kids, meeting deadlines and generally trying to keep up with the pace of life. This will certainly increase your stress levels if you do not do anything about it.
Take 30-60 minutes out of each day to do something for you. I strongly recommend one of the activities I have listed above, as they are well known for their therapeutic and stress relieving qualities.
Obstacle 3: Increased Insulin Resistance
Over time, it is not uncommon for the male to begin to develop that dreaded ‘dad bod’!
Certainly by the time you reach the age of 45 or older, you will most likely find that you gain body fat a lot easier and quicker than you used to.
So why is this?
Why when you were younger, could you eat anything you wanted and still stay slim?
Yet now, all you have to do is simply look at a tub of ice cream the wrong way and you gain the pounds like there’s no tomorrow?
One of the main reasons for this is something called insulin resistance. Insulin resistance is something that can develop over a period of time if you have a tendency to over indulge in sugar and carbohydrate rich foods on a regular basis.
Insulin is the main ‘fat storage’ hormone which is released by the pancreas whenever you eat the above mentioned foods. Insulin’s job is to move glucose from the bloodstream and to push it into the liver and fat cells. However, overtime the more you spike insulin through eating the wrong foods, the less responsive your body becomes to the hormone which means the body has to secrete even greater amounts of insulin to get the same job done. This means that the body begins store even more fat.
So what is the cure?
The simple, but not necessarily easy solution to this is to find ways to keep your insulin levels as low as possible for as long as possible. We will be talking about how to do this in the next section because the solution for another problem men face when aging (low testosterone), happens to be the same solution for curing insulin resistance.
It is all about you diet, workout regime and a few other factors which you will learn about in a moment. Learn a few of these life hacks and you’ll be on your way to build muscle after 45 again in no time.
Obstacle 4: Decrease In Testosterone
Once you reach the age of 30, your testosterone normally begins to decrease by 1% every year. This can certainly become an issue once you enter your 40s and you are looking to get into, or stay in peak shape.
You may notice that you have less energy in general, you are more prone to gaining fat and losing muscle. Even libido and mood can take a downward turn as your testosterone production starts to dwindle.
You can see from the graph above how after the age of 30, testosterone begins to decrease gradually as each year passes. You can see how testosterone on average drops from around 900 ng/DL or more in their 20s, to a number as low as 100ng/DL by the time the same man is 80yrs old.
Poor lifestyle choices and their related health concerns over the course of a lifetime can also have detrimental effects on testosterone. For example, consider the following statistics…
So why does testosterone drop with age, and how can we prevent it from happening as much as possible?
Well, some of the reasons tie into the lifestyle and mindset points that I have already mentioned. It can be fairly easy to start using excuses to eat junk food, drink excess alcohol and to live a sedentary lifestyle as age creeps up on us. If you can get you mindset on track, and as a result live a healthier lifestyle in general, then you will certainly see an improvement in your testosterone levels and overall health.
Below is a summary of the main reasons as to why most men experience a drop in testosterone. Some of these reasons are unfortunately unavoidable. However as you can see, many of the reasons we can do something about.
The most common reasons are:
- Testicular damage
- Type 2 diabetes
- Hormonal disorders
- Certain medications
- Anabolic steroid use
- Cancer treatments
- Living a sedentary lifestyle
- Over-consumption of alcohol
- Natural process of aging
So how do we combat not only the testosterone issue but also the insulin resistance problem that we mentioned earlier?
There are actually a few things we can look at doing in order to help you reduce the amount your testosterone decreases whilst at the same time improving your insulin sensitivity.
It is worth noting that the points I will cover here are intended to help optimize your testosterone levels and bring them back to a healthy range. It is not possible to perform a ‘secret’ weights routine, or consume a magic pill that will take your testosterone to abnormally high levels and turn you into the incredible hulk overnight… sadly!
What we will discuss here, will help you take your testosterone levels to the higher end of the normal range, which will in turn make it a easier for you to build muscle mass, burn fat, have more energy and generally feel good. Likewise, restoring insulin sensitivity will take time some using the techniques that we will discuss here. However, with persistence and patience anything is possible.
With that said, let’s dig into the details of how we can increase your testosterone levels and restore insulin sensitivity naturally. It is doing these two things, along with engaging with an effective workout program, that will really allow you to get in shape after 45 and beyond.
Solution 1: Use Advanced Diet Strategies to Build Muscle and Burn Fat
When it comes to getting in shape at an older age and being able to build muscle after 45, we can really benefit from utilizing some advanced strategies which will really help to get the results we are looking for.
As we have already learned, spiking insulin causes fat gain. Not only this but the hormone also inhibits the production of testosterone Therefore, the best diet to follow is one that will keep your insulin as low as possible for as long as possible.
There are two main dieting styles that I want to discuss here that both perform this function very well. Which one you choose will depend on you, and which one you think that you can follow long term. It is actually possible to follow both of these eating protocols at the same time, which is actually the best way to it as it will really turbocharge your results.
However, you are certainly welcome to do just one of the other. At least to begin with.
The two dieting methods we will be discussing are;
- The Ketogenic diet
- Intermittent fasting
Each of these methods are very powerful in their own right, and as mentioned already, both of them can be very effective. This is because they both reduce the amount and frequency in which you consume sugar and carbohydrates which in turn means your body secretes less insulin. This allows your body to burn more fat and produce more testosterone.
Let’s look at each diet method in more detail.
The Ketogenic Diet
The Ketogenic diet is a very low carbohydrate, moderate protein and high fat diet. The precise daily macronutrient ratios are;
- Around 5% carbohydrates
- Around 20% Protein
- Around 75% healthy fats
Because this diet is very low in carbohydrates and somewhat high in fat, you end up burning all of the glucose out of your liver and so your body resorts to burning body fat and fat from your diet for fuel. This of course is great for losing weight.
Also, because you are drastically reducing the amount of carbohydrates you are consuming, your body secretes hardly any insulin whatsoever which means that your body is able to produce more testosterone. This of course is great when it comes to increasing strength and building muscle mass.
So, what kinds of foods are perfect for the ketogenic diet? What foods have a moderate amount of protein and a high amount of healthy fats that fit the Keto macronutrient ratio perfectly? Some good examples are;
- Fish – Try to go for oily fish such as salmon. Oily fish is high in healthy fats and omega 3s whilst also providing a good dose of protein per serving too.
- Nuts – Nuts such as almonds, macadamia and brazil nuts are perfect for Keto. They are high in fats and have a good amount of protein.
- Eggs – This is my absolute favorite! This is because the fat/protein ratio in an egg fits perfectly into the macronutrient ratio required for ketogenic eating.
For some people, cutting carbohydrates and sugar out of their diet almost completely can seem just too daunting. What’s more, some people may have consulted with their doctor (which I highly recommend you do before starting any new diet program), and come to the conclusion that the Keto diet would not be suitable for them.
In which case, intermittent fasting is another viable option which can get you very similar results.
Intermittent fasting is very simple in principle, and it provides many of the same benefits the Ketogenic diet. These benefits can really help you overcome what you may feel is an age related barrier to reaching your health and fitness goals. Fasting simply involves abstaining from food and certain liquids that stimulate a metabolic response in the body. Because you are not eating, you are not stimulating the secretion of insulin and therefore your body burns fat for fuel instead. Your body basically becomes a fat burning machine complete with fully restored insulin sensitivity.
As already mentioned earlier, insulin also inhibits the production and secretion of testosterone. Therefore, if you fast for a number of hours (preferably between 18-24), you significantly increase the amount of testosterone your body can produce and use for various functions around the body. This makes building and retaining muscle mass, and burning fat easier. You will also feel younger and more youthful in general.
As mentioned earlier, the vast majority of testosterone in your body is actually produced while you sleep. Therefore, if you skip breakfast and lunch when you wake up, you allow your body to continue producing testosterone rather than shutting off the process by eating first thing in the morning.
In addition to the articles on this website, you can find out a lot more about intermittent fasting and its benefits by going over to our friends at TheMuscleExpert.com where you can read a much more in depth article about the subject.
Overall, it is really important that you clean up your diet as much as possible. Sadly as we get older, it becomes increasingly more important that we eat well. Gone are the days where we can get away with eating junk, processed foods, and still keep the fat off while building lean muscle. As mentioned already, it is the bodies natural process with age to decrease its testosterone levels and to store fat. Therefore, we have to work a bit harder and certainly a lot smarter to get the same results as younger men.
Whether you decide to go down the Ketogenic diet route, and cut your carbohydrates out by a large amount; or you decide to continue to eat the healthier forms of carbohydrates but within an intermittent fasting framework, you need to eat clean with either protocol. Eating processed ‘man made’ foods that are high in sugar, chemicals and carcinogens will not get you the results you desire.
So what foods should we try to eat more of? Well, any food that promotes fat loss and testosterone production. Some of the best foods to eat for this purpose are;
Foods For Building Muscle
- Greek Yogurt
- Lean Beef
The foods in the above list all contain a good amount of quality protein which of course is essential for muscle repair and growth.
Greek yogurt contains a type of protein called Casein. This particular type of protein is slow digesting in the body. Therefore, greek yogurt is perfect to eat just before bed as this will keep your body fuel with protein as you sleep. Considering that your body does most of its repairing and maintenance work when you sleep, this is a really great hack that can help you see results faster.
Foods For Increasing Testosterone
- Tuna – High in vitamin D and Magnesium
- Shellfish – High in Zinc
- Oysters – High in Zinc
- Brazil Nuts – High in Zinc, Magnesium and most importantly, Selenium (eat 3-4 of these a day before bed and just watch and feel your testosterone levels increase!
- Egg Yolks – These are rich in cholesterol, and it is now known that cholesterol is one of the essential building blocks of testosterone. It is also worth noting that cholesterol is not directly responsible for clogging arteries as it was once thought. It is actually a high sugar and carbohydrate diet which causes inflammation in the arteries that causes arterial issues. Therefore, as long as you are ensuring that your blood glucose levels low, then you are perfectly fine to consume a good amount of healthy fats.
The foods in the above list are very good for boosting your testosterone levels. These foods contain a high amount of vitamins and minerals that are vital for testosterone production. Vitamins and minerals such as; Zinc, Magnesium vitamin D and Selenium.
Foods To Avoid/Cut down On
- Refined sugar – All the nice things such as cookies, cake, candy, soda etc. Refined sugar is very high on the gluten index and spikes insulin levels very high and very quickly.
- Starchy carbohydrates such as rice, pasta, bread, fries etc – The brown versions of the rice, bread and pasta are okay in moderate quantities, but you should also try to avoid the white processed versions. I also like to make sure I am following an intermittent fasting program if I am going to eat wholewheat versions of these foods. Doing this gives the body time to burn off the glucose from the food and to get back burning body fat again.
- Alcohol – Alcohol is literally a poison to the body. As your liver tries to process the substance to get it out of your body, the fat burning process is put on hold. Therefore, you very easily gain body fat if you drink regularly. Testosterone production is also impaired and many other health problems can occur through an over consumption of alcohol. I am not saying you have to totally quit drinking, but try to severely reduce the amount you drink and try to keep it to a glass or two one night per week.
Your diet is probably going to be the most important factor when it comes to getting in shape. This goes for everyone, not just guys in their 40s, however as you get older, diet becomes more important than ever!
I recommend you try combining both the ketogenic diet along with intermittent fasting for the best results. However, you can do just one or the other and still achieve your goals. Also try to include plenty of the foods mentioned above in your diet and you will certainly start to feel and see a difference in a relatively short period of time.
Solution 2: Powerful Workout Principles the Torch Fat, Boost Testosterone and Gets Results!
Now that we have looked into some of the main ways in which you can boost your health and fitness results at any point in your life, let’s look at some basic workout principles.
Actively taking part in certain forms of high intensity cardio, and strength training is known to have many benefits such as;
- Increased fat burning
- Increased muscle mass
- Improved bone density and reduced risk of osteoporosis
- Increased testosterone
- Improved mood
- Increased energy
Therefore, it is very important to try to perform some form of resistance/weight training and high intensity cardio on a fairly regular basis for optimal results.
If you are not used to weight training, then take it easy at first. Don’t try to lift as heavy as you can in one go. Yes, lifting heavy will be important at a later stage, but if you go straight into a weights program as heavy as you can right off the bat, then you put yourself at a high risk of injury.
In fact, some studies show that TUT (time under tension during a repetition) can be just as important as intensity (amount of weight lifted during a certain exercise). TUT refers to the idea that if you extend the amount of time that your muscles are working during each repetition of a particular exercise, then you will get better results than the standard method of performing quicker movements.
Using time under tension to increase the effectiveness of your weights/resistance workout is going to be far better for you, especially in the beginning. This means you can go a bit easier on the amount of weight you lift, but still get effective results.
A way of extending the time under tension in each exercise, is to perform something called a negative repetition. This involves lifting the weight in a fairly quick movement using a short burst of energy. You should aim to lift the weight over about 1 second, no more. The next step of a negative repetition is to lower the weight much more slowly but in a controlled manner. Over 10-15 seconds!
This increases the amount of time you are supporting the weight during the exercise and it will certainly get you some very good results if you stick at it.
I have put together a sample weights and cardio routine for you to try below. The weights routine utilizes compound movements that work large muscle groups and therefore burns more calories. Also, the negative repetition method I have just explained is also included in the workout.
For the cardio sample workout I have chosen swimming. This is due to the low impact nature of the exercise which is easier on the joints in your body. Also, swimming works the entire body which burns a large amount of calories per workout. I have also made use of High Intensity Interval Training as a component within the workout as well. This ensures that your body continues to burn calories long after the workout is complete.
Sample Weights/Resistance Workout
Sample Cardio Workout
Building Muscle After 45 – What’s the Bottom Line?
So there you have it! A rather in depth look into how you can get the most out of your health and fitness program, even after you turn 45!
We have looked at the mindset needed to be successful and the diet and workout regimen required to get the best results. We have even looked at extra activities that you can get involved with which will help you to reduce stress and improve your sleep.
It may be a lot to think about at first, but you can be sure that if you do even just a few of the things I have talked about in this post then you will see and feel dramatic results.
My name is Nicholas Walker and If you wish to check out more articles that I have written related to health and fitness, then you can check out my website at;
All that is left to do is for me to wish you the best of luck in your health and fitness endeavors and I hope we meet again soon.