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How to Build Muscle After 45

By Julia Derek

Wrinkles are not the only predicament that comes with aging. As the years fly by, the body will start to lose valuable muscle. Katherine Hobson, writing on the U.S. News & World Report website, reports that "as a rule, muscle mass declines with age, starting in the 40s and picking up speed after about age 50." There are ways to stop this decline, fortunately, primarily through exercise. The best way to build muscle in your entire body is to lift weights using all your muscles, not just the arms.

Add weight training to your exercise routine if you are over 40. Do not just do upper body excercises, thinking that the elliptical is enough for you to build your legs. It is not. You need to work your entire body three times per week.

Do a mix of machines and free weights. Machines are great for building muscle and easy to use, but they do not provide you with functional strength. To become functionally strong, you need to use free weights and do exercises such as weighted squats and lunges where you have to stabilize your body using supporting muscles and deeper abdominals. Free weights are also effective for chest and shoulder muscles. Compound your exercises. For example, do lunges with lateral raises. Or one-legged dead lifts with a one-armed row. Functional exercises are especially important for an aging population.

Do cardio to help build your muscles. According to Hobson, "Muscle tissue needs to effectively store glycogen and have capillaries that infuse it with blood, both of which are aided by the aerobic component." Thirty minutes of your favorite cardio exercise per day is enough.

"Don't be a weekend warrior and cram exercise into only two days," says Dr. Elton Strauss, reconstructive orthopedist and chief of orthopedic trauma and adult reconstructive surgery at the Mount Sinai Hospital Center in New York. of the website Iparentingfitness.com. As you get older, your body becomes more fragile and prone to injury.

Watch your diet. "Insufficient protein, especially if it's accompanied by insufficient calories in general, can contribute to sarcopenia, says Douglas Paddon-Jones, director of exercise studies for the General Clinical Research Center at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, as reported by Hobson. Sarcopenia is a medical term for age-related declines in muscle mass.

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