The Aging Bodybuilder

I decided to subscribe to Monthly Applications in Strength Sport (MASS) because I enjoy keeping up with the latest research. My very first video I watched was called “Training and the Aging Process, Part 1.” After watching it I was pretty depressed. Dr. Mike Zourdos went over all the science that shows how as we get older it becomes harder if not impossible to gain muscle.

After a bit I thought about it and went wait a minute, I started this journey at 46 and am now 53 and I have definitely added some decent muscle over that time frame. I still feel I can add more so while it may be harder it is still possible.

Increasing protein intake per meal can help overcome the anabolic resistance that comes with getting older. I try and get at least 40 grams with every meal. Then I wondered if there was something else I was not doing that would help me add more muscle?

Researching I came across HMB as a possible supplement that would help. The idea being that it helps prevent protein break down which increases as we age. It can also occur when we diet to extremely low levels of body fat. I actually took this during my last contest prep just as a precaution. The body also creates HMB from Leucine which is the trigger ammino acid for muscle protein synthesis. Supplementing with HMB should mean more leucine is available for muscle protein synthesis.

Many people have written HMB off as any kind of muslce building supplement which appears to be true for younger people. Perhaps that is why none is available where I purchased them online for my last contest prep? I still had some left over from my 2014 prep so I have started taking 3 grams a day. I also found HMB available in Canada at Canadian Protein. It’s very reasonably priced and I think its worth trying. As an older bodybuilder I do feel this could help overcome some of the bodies limitations to adding muscle as we get older.

I am looking forward to “Training and the Aging Process, Part 2” coming out in the next issue. Mike is going to explain how modifying training could also help.

2 Responses

  • Dean, very interesting blog. I think you’re right, since you had a late start to bodybuilding, you still have lots of potential left. And part of your time so far was spent dieting, so tougher to build muscle during that phase. The fact that you are hitting at lot of PRs indicates you’re getting stronger and adding muscle.

    I started lifting at 14 so I’m about 45 years into it. My PRs were all in my 20’s, but I’m pretty happy with the shape I’m in now and still love training. I will be very interested to hear what Zourdos suggests for older bodybuilders. Most of what you read is catered to those between 20-40. i’ve recently cut back on volume somewhat, don’t think i can recover like I did my younger years.

    Thanks for the tip on HMB, I will give it a try as well.


    • Hi Larry, there does seem to be two perspectives with regards to older bodybuilders. Those who have been training for decades like yourself and those who started later in life like me. I agree most of the stuff out there is for people between 20 and 40 and what research there is on “older” people is usually 60+ and untrained so again not a lot for us that do train.

      I am okay with that though as it allows me to push myself to see what is possible. For awhile there I was struggling with my training but I think being up a few more pounds has really helped me increase my strength and enjoyment of training again. I am also learning to take extra recovery days if needed so that I can keep improving without hurting myself. Before I would keep pushing hard as I felt there was only this short time frame and I had to make the most of it. Knowing I still have over a year left to grow and get stronger in has given me more of a long term view and a healthier perspective and mentality.

      I have only been taking HMB for a little over a week so way to early to tell if it makes a difference or not and to be honest it might be impossible to really know unless you could twin yourself and have one take HMB and the other not and then do a body comp test after 6 months. I would be interested in knowing if you notice any difference or not so let me know!


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