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Old 11-01-2008, 11:14 AM   #1
Ed Haywood
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Physiological changes after age 40

What physiological changes occur after 40 that impact on exercise, and specifically on building muscle mass? How can one counteract those changes?

I've read in various places that men lose muscle mass after age 40. I also recall from a physical education class way back at USMA being told that it is possible to build muscle mass until roughly age 40, and to maintain it until age 60. Obviously those numbers are generalizations, but what specific bioligical mechanisms cause that loss of muscle mass? Are there hormonal changes at those age marks, or is it just a cumulative effect of aging body systems?

I'm 44 years old. I have been on the crossfit WOD for 8 months now, and am getting solid improvements in performance. My diet is loose paleo, and I recently started the zone. I pay attention to rest and recovery. What additional steps can I take to maximize my potential?

Last edited by Ed Haywood; 11-01-2008 at 11:16 AM..
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Old 11-01-2008, 11:54 AM   #2
Wade Smith
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Re: Physiological changes after age 40

I'm no expert but I can tell you from personal experience that at age 48, I've packed on some additional muscle recently.
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Old 11-01-2008, 12:49 PM   #3
Steve Rakow
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Re: Physiological changes after age 40

I started CF when I was 40 and am now 43. I've never been stronger or healthier in my life. I continue to build muscle, but the CF way, not bodybuilder way. I could care less about building muscle as long as I continue to improve my strength and overall fitness. Realize that improved fitness should be the goal. The building of muscle just becomes part of the end result. If you want to look like a bodybuilder, then you need to do that "stuff".

I do know that recovery becomes more important for me each year and that I have to really adhere to those rest days. Eating right and getting enough sleep (a difficult thing to do) directly impacts my WOD performance.

We have many CF men and women over 40 that train with us. Our average age is 42, so we see all kinds of changes in the over-40 crowd. All good!
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Old 11-01-2008, 01:13 PM   #4
Frank E Morel
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Re: Physiological changes after age 40

I have to agree with the others as well. Mass has come along to a point, but strength is coming a consistent le vel. Not sure if its because of mature muscle is being stress and utilized more effeciently than before.

Recovery and rest are huge concern with me.. not because I dont get enough but its impact on things like general health, and daily living. So it warrants closer watching than say when I was 20... stay up all night and go to work or whatever the next day... growth hormone ensured that I got good sleep when I did got some. Now... lower levels... sleep is is not that good of quality as it used to be.

nutrition wise? the gomad thing doesnt work for us ... unless your look for weight gain.. for muscle mass.. I havent seen it or heard that it works for the vintage crowd. ( input here would be nice if the age group in question can voice results)

I much rather have the strength, a solid metabolism , high testosterone levels, vs bulk anyday.
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Old 11-01-2008, 01:54 PM   #5
Curt Garner
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Re: Physiological changes after age 40

I'm nearing 51 and have put on a lot of muscle mass lately, so, at least in my case, the conventional wisdom is wrong.

Frank's comments are spot on. The one big difference I have noticed is recovery ability. Rest and diet have become more critical with age.
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Old 11-01-2008, 02:28 PM   #6
Gary Ohm
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Re: Physiological changes after age 40

I just hit 40. What I have noticed in the past couple of years, as compared to my late teens and early 20's, is that recovery is a premium. I may be able to string two days or perhaps three together of good workouts, but then I need more than one day to recover. I am not any where even close to elite or probably even "good" shape by crossfit standards. But by my own standards I am just about as strong as I have ever been, have just about as good of wind as I ever have, and am nearing as lean as I have ever been. In the past, I never had all three at the same time (strength, leanness, wind).

With age you have to rest and you have to eat right. But I think it is entirely reasonable to expect to make consistent gains for quite some time.
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Old 11-01-2008, 06:30 PM   #7
Ed Haywood
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Re: Physiological changes after age 40

My experiences are similiar to everyone else's. I'm not having any trouble making strength and endurance gains, and leaner than I have been since my 20's. I'm not having any issues with recovery on the 3-1 cycle, and in fact am starting to supplement the WOD with additional work.

What I'm looking for is information on the specific physiological processes of aging as they pertain to adaptation to exercise, and strategies to negate or minimize those processes. Are there hormonal differences between a 45 year old body and a 30 year old body? Can programming be adjusted to maximize the training effect on a 45 year old body?
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Old 11-01-2008, 06:55 PM   #8
Frank E Morel
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Re: Physiological changes after age 40

well ya... we are all saying that... if you continue to make or hold on to muscle... your test level remain in optimal levels vs the decline...
growth hormone continues to keep pumping vs the decline after age 30 which declines 10 points per decade after this point.
which in turn is responsible for a huge amount of role playing in the aging process.
Testosterone declines for various reasons but takes a major hit after age 35 if not kept stimulated.
thyroid in turn affect metabolism... slows.. you pack on weight for a while then you start shedding it along with all muscle.
I am not sure what your asking for .. but really. Aging is the basically the decline of all bodily systems... heart= arrhythmia is the result, lungs = declined lung compliance digestive= constipation joints= self explainatory
muscles= loss of strength. sleep = less volume , declining quality.
Again.. I am lost at what your looking for. You could start looking up anti aging on google.. and filter out the hgh injections references.

But maybe this might help. My oly coach.. has a 80 year old man who has been oly lifting since age...60. At age 80 he is still lifting.. its 95 lbs but who cares... he is still lifting and lifting without injury.
I bet you the dude sleeps without a sleeping pill and wouldnt be surprised that he still has morning wood;daily and if he is still lifting still has strong bones.

So regarding programming.. just continue to exercise heavy, allow more time for recovery and injury rehab, and do it on a consistent basis.
Are we going to see 60 year old athletes competing in the olympic dunno .. but it would a hell of a sight to see.
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Old 11-09-2008, 10:00 AM   #9
Mike Neill
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Re: Physiological changes after age 40

I am 51. Have researched this question to some extent. One paper I found says that *only one* PT-related change occurs with age: the ability to accelerate. Another paper says that *the only* change is decreased cardiac capacity. YMMV.

I am 5'-9 1/2" tall. End of the summer my BF was +/- 18% and my weight was 175. Comparing stats from about a year ago I have added 15-20 lbs. of lean muscle mass. I haven't been keeping numbers but if C2 rowing performance is any measure, my power output is up too.

One (by no means the only) reason muscle mass drops in untrained men as they age is that testosterone drops. Vigorous regular power-resistance exercise boosts testosterone production. Improve your diet and maybe include some DHEA supplements, see what happens.

However, science aside, IMO my best payoff has been from a defining mental attitude that I am going to rip the hide off anything that stands in my way of optimizing my fitness. Take the workouts personally, murderize 'em!
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Old 11-09-2008, 04:20 PM   #10
Patrick Janes
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Re: Physiological changes after age 40

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ed Haywood View Post
What physiological changes occur after 40 that impact on exercise, and specifically on building muscle mass? How can one counteract those changes?
I'll let you know after next september... personally, I plan on being the fittest, strongest, most agile shape; with the highest muscular endurance and cardio-vascular capacity of my life.

I can tell you, prior to having hit the big 4-oh, what my strongest motivation will be; continuing to kick my 14yo simultaneously crossfitting boy's butt.
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