Regardless of how long you’ve been in the fitness game, you must approach it differently in your 40s and 50s; you can’t do the same things you did in your 20s and 30s.
Building muscle, staying fit, and being physically active it’s possible at any age; the difference lies in how we prepare for it. We need to remove immediatism from our minds; we need to see our fitness journey as a marathon, not a 100-meter sprint.
So, is it possible to build muscle in our 40s, 50s, and beyond?
This is exactly the question Ted is going to answer in this special Ask ted episode.
He reveals the secrets of building muscle and improving your health and fitness in your 40s and 50s, allowing you to remain strong, healthy, and physically active until your 80s and 90s!
Plus, he shares great insights on preventing joint pain and injuries, keeping ourselves focused on the long-term outcome, why focusing on technique is detrimental to seeing and feeling changes in our bodies, and more. Listen now!
- The importance of knowing WHY being healthy and fit is crucial to your success
- How to approach and go through your muscle-build journey at the right pace
- What you can learn from listening to your body
- Why mobility exercises are crucial to prevent injuries and how to do them
- Form Vs Weight
- Does drinking water help build muscle?
- And much more…
Want To Lose Fat, Transform Your Body & Live Your Best Life In 2023?
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If you’re interested in working with me, schedule a Breakthrough Call and we will discuss your goals, challenges and see if we are a good fit.
Podcast Transcription: Ask Ted: How Can I Build Muscle After 50?
Ted Ryce: What’s up, and welcome back to the Legendary Life podcast oday, we’re going to do an Ask Ted episode. And the question we’re going to answer today is “Ted, how do you build muscle if you’re over 55?” So, let’s hop into it. Of course, before that, I have to say, I’m your host, Ted Ryce, and welcome back to the show!
Who am I? Well, I’ve been in the industry for over 23 years, helping entrepreneurs, executives, and other high-performers lose fat, build muscle, stay injury free, and a whole host of other things. In other words, I’ve been in this business for a long time. I have a lot of experience.
And when it comes to getting in shape in your 40s, 50s and beyond while I have experience with that too, because the majority of my clients over these 23 years that I’ve been in this business have been mostly in their 40s, 50,, and even some in 60s sixties and 70s, but mostly in 40s and 50s.
My oldest client, really was my dad when he was in his early 70s, maybe 73, 70. I worked with him a couple of times. I’ve had clients in their early 70s as well, 69, 70’s, and 71. And I know a lot about this, so let’s dive in.
And the first thing I want to tell you is this: I want you to… as Simon Sinek would say, or a Sinek might be mispronouncing his name, but the guy who wrote start with why and leaders eat last is to know why this is important to you. And it may sound cliche, but I want to tell you how I got a clear message on how fitness is important, especially as I’m getting older.
And many of you know, if you’ve been listening to this podcast for a while, my father died in October of 2020. And in that process, he started getting sick. In 2020, he started getting sick around may and I was in Mexico. No, I’m sorry. I was in Columbia. I don’t even remember where I was in the world.
I was in Columbia, I rushed back to help him. And it was pretty clear the end was near. And I’m telling you this because it wasn’t just him. We all, end up in the same place, right folks? But how we get there is different. And so, I watched my dad, not just his health fail, but I saw all the other people in Vero Beach, Florida, which is going to sound terrible, but I didn’t make it up called “Heaven’s Waiting Room,” okay?
Someone told me, “Oh, it’s we call it Heaven’s Waiting Room because there are all these old people.” And you just see not the age, but the neglect. And I want to tell you, it doesn’t need to be that way. One of the things I’ve learned from travelling around the world is that I’ve had a woman who is in her early hundreds in Thailand, in Chiang Mai, which is like the Northwestern region, a very mountainous area.
We were doing a tour in the national park there and she was working. She was like, doing gardening. Well, it’s not really gardening like jungle, working in the jungle. I don’t know what the hell she was doing, to be honest, but she was doing physical labour and she was like in her early hundreds.
More recently, I’m in Brazil, I got an Uber ride from a guy in his 80s the other day. And I see people here regularly, like those who are older and walking around; they’re functional. They’re not stuck on the couch or in a wheelchair at home. Now, of course, there are some people like that.
But contrast that to what you see in the states where man, you know, you see people in their 40s and 50s in those electronic mover machines. So, understand why this is important. Understand, the reason why you brush your teeth is so that you have all your teeth and then it’s unacceptable for you to lose your teeth, right? That’s why you brush and floss.
You don’t really care about the periodontal disease that might affect your oral microbiome and cause inflammation systemically, right? You don’t know that. I just told you, maybe you did know it. That’s not why you really brush your teeth. You brush your teeth so you don’t lose your teeth because it’s unacceptable. And I want to tell you it’s unacceptable for me to lose my muscle when I know it’s just a matter of doing the right things.
So, I know that seems like, “Well, Ted, I was just hoping, you’d tell me a workout,” but I want, this is part of the mindset. And if you stop and start and stop and start, you are not clear on why this is important to you, or you have a habit issue.
So, the next thing is “to pace yourself, trying to go too hard, or too fast results in injuries or burnout.” And that happens. That’s true if you’re in your 20s or 30s, but once you’re in your 40s or 50s, you got some mileage on your joints. You got some wear and tear, that type of approach, where you’re getting out of shape.
And you’re like, “Oh, I can’t stand the look of myself in the mirror anymore. Let me rush to get back into shape.” You’ve got to learn how to pace yourself. Staying in shape for the rest of your life is a marathon. People start out intensely. They’re like, “Oh, I’m going to run this marathon,” and then they Peter out before the first mile is over.
Don’t be that person. Understand it’s a marathon that’s why that metaphor is so powerful. It’s like, “Oh gosh, yeah, marathon. A marathon’s like 26 miles or something like that. You can’t just run as fast as you can. That’s not going to work well. You’ve got to pace yourself.”
So, what I want to tell you is to focus on micro progress instead, focus on just performing one more rep than last time we’re adding one pound. Get the one-pound plates on Amazon. Don’t lift 5 or 10 pounds more. Don’t play that game. Play the long game, and pace yourself.
The next is, listen to your body. You might feel great when you train, but if your joints ache afterwards, there’s a problem with your program. So, whenever you feel joint pain stop, and if it persists, get someone to help you. And when I mean someone, I don’t mean your orthopedic surgeon, like let’s replace…
I had a guy who wanted to replace three discs in my neck, he was actually a neurosurgeon, not an orthopedic surgeon. So, he was like even more of a specialist—and not to go off on a tangent, but he did give me good advice, which was, I asked him, “How do I know when I need? Would I really need this?” He’s like, “Well, you know, when you know.”
I’m like “Then, I guess I don’t need it because it sounds really bad within what you’re saying is happened to my neck, but it doesn’t feel that bad.” And with exercise, I’ve been able to maintain my next strength. And I did that by listening to my body, I did that by avoiding exercises that were... Or positions or situations that was hurting my neck. I don’t train jiu-jitsu very much anymore because of that.
Because people try to grab your neck and crank your neck. And now I’m thinking I’m 45 only would be in shape when I’m 75, when I’m 85, if I’m alive at 85, I want to be in good shape. Can’t do that if I can’t move my neck, okay?
So, surgery is in joint replacements are never as good as injury prevention. Joint problems now lead to poor health, later it becomes harder to train. You’ve got to really get smart about your routine. So, listen to your body now, don’t sacrifice the short term because the long term is how you win, okay? You win this game of fitness by staying in shape for as long as possible.
So, the next thing is, warm up with mobility exercises. And at the end of this episode, I’m going to share with you a resource, a free resource. If you don’t know what mobility exercises are, you’ve never heard of them before. You’re trying to figure out right now and mobility exercises.
Well, I’ve got something special for you at the end so, you have to stick around and until then, so warm up with mobility exercises and do them on your rest days, too. What happens is if we’re just doing the traditional squats, bench presses, deadlifts and training hard, we tend to get tighter and lose our ability to move freely as we get older anyway, and if we’re beating up our joints, we can get tighter from our workout program.
And mobility exercises are the secret to keeping your strength while reducing your chances of injury. I’ve got a ton of injuries, and if you’ve ever wondered, “Ted, you don’t sound… like I see you looking like you’re in pretty good shape and I know you train all the time, like you must not be that injured.” And that’s not true, I’ve got like doctors who want to replace parts on me. I’ve hit a congenital hip dysplasia.
I have three or two or three herniated discs in my neck. I’ve got one herniated disc in my low back. I’ve got arthritis in my meniscus, in my left knee. My right knee is not good either. I’ve got a lot of problems guys. And the way I’ve been able to maintain my body is at least on the exercise side with mobility exercises. And again, if you don’t know what I mean by this, I’m going to share a resource at the end, a free resource, something where I’m going to take you through these exercises. You’ll see videos of me taking you through these exercises.
The next one is, “stop switching programs.” Instead, stick with the same workout for eight to 16 weeks and focus on progression instead. What do you mean by progress, Ted? Will you achieve a progress in three basic ways? You perform more reps with the same weight, you add more weight to the exercises you’re performing, and you can also increase the number of sets you perform.
And if you heard my episode on Monday, we also talked about a few other things. So, you want to go back and listen to Monday’s episode on how to force your body to build muscle.
The next one is “focus on technique.” Always perform a full range of motion, when it comes to how you perform your exercises, don’t ever add weight and shorten the range of motion or start to swing the weight around. That would look like you’re doing a squat, you add weight, and all of a sudden, you’re doing like three-fourths of the full range of motion or half, same thing, you with the bench press, all of a sudden, you start shortening the range of motion and you’re not coming down all the way anymore. Don’t do that.
That’s lifting for ego, not results, makes you feel good psychologically, but it takes away from your results. And that’s visually what we all end up at, like, “Man, how do I get better results?” And most people don’t get good results. It’s sad to see because it’s just a lack of clarity on probably what to do. And for those people who know what to do, they don’t follow through on what they know. So, if you start shortening the range of motion on your exercises, reduce the weight until you can complete all the reps going all the way down.
Next is “slow down your reps.” Lifting too quickly puts more stress on your joints while taking tension off your muscles. So, what I tell my clients to do is “Shoot for taking three seconds to lift in three seconds to lower. And if you can’t do that, then lower the weight, you’ll get stronger, faster, and build more muscle in your joints. Well, thank you.”
And this becomes especially important when we’re trying to get in shape when we’re in our 40s and 50s because it’s not really our age. It has to do with, we just need to be in other words, there’s nothing special about being 35 or 55 when it comes to building muscle, you just have to be better. You get away with more dumb things. When you’re in your 30s—I know I did—and you have to be smarter. You have to work smarter when you’re in your 40s and beyond certainly in your 50s.
The next one is, “if you are overweight or obese, focus on fat loss first.” If you’ve got a belly that sticks out, listen, I’m not judging you. I’m not saying, “Hey, you’re not good as a person or you’re not successful, or you should feel bad about yourself.” All I’m saying is you’re focusing on the wrong thing. The big issue to deal with is the belly. Get rid of it.
Sure, you should do all the things that I already mentioned. If you end up building muscle while you’re losing fat, fantastic! But it shouldn’t be your focus. If you’ve got a belly, get rid of that belly. It’s the number one thing you can do. So, many guys in particular, “Oh, have to get my T replacement or get that testosterone booster supplement.”
No, you don’t. You need to get rid of the belly and you do that by focusing on your nutrition, by dialing in your calories, until that belly starts to disappear and you don’t need to have a six-pack. Now I help my clients do that, because I love to help them. I love to help people achieve a high level of success. And it’s just awesome to see what happens as a result.
But you don’t have to do that, just get down to normal weight. I don’t want to go off on a tangent, but our society is telling us if we’ve normalized being overweight, we’re obese. And in one sense, it is normal. It’s well, it’s common, let’s say super common. How common? 70% of people are overweight or obese by BMI, which is a simple calculation of your height and weight.
But if we really wanted to body fat test people, it would be like the 80s or even 90s with how many people are over fat. Nothing wrong with that, something wrong with too much of it.
So, focus on fat loss first. Don’t get caught up in trying to build muscle. If you’re in your 50s, it’s the number one thing you can do. You got a belly, you’re in your 50s, get rid of it. “Oh, but my low T.” No, you have low T because of your belly. Not the other way around. All right. I don’t know who needs to hear that, but that’s the reality.
The next is “focus on your sleep.” “But Ted, how does that help me gain muscle?” Well, as we get older, we lose muscle, right? We also know that our sleep quality gets worse as we age, in general, and that poor sleep leads to muscle loss.
Do you see where I’m going with this? Let me tell you losing muscle is like losing net worth except you know, most of us, if we’re smart with our finances, our net worth will be the highest when we’re about to die, right? Our investments will continue to make money and we’ll die with a lot of things left over. In fact, you’ll leave an inheritance to your children if you play the money game properly, if you’re financially healthy, let’s say.
But if you’re physically healthy, oh, you’re not going to be 90 years old looking jacked unless you’re doing some type of testosterone therapy, which I’m not going to get into. I don’t know enough about that. Don’t know enough about what this situation is there. Whether it’s worth the risks, etc, I might go for it, I might not at 45. I’m not doing any type of... There’s no sense in doing that.
You can build plenty of muscle, if you’re in your 40s and 50s, it’s not stopping you. You don’t need T supplements or tea replacement, okay? Unless you have a specific medical condition. Of course, I’m not a doctor. I’m not diagnosing you, but unless you have some type of head injury or testicular injury or cancer of your testicle or something like that, you don’t need it.
You need to clean up your lifestyle and sleep is a part of it. “Oh, I can’t build muscle when you sleep five hours a night?” Don’t know what to tell you, but do the right things. And if you’ve got sleep issues, then I’ve done a lot of other episodes on how to fix them. So, protect your muscle by prioritizing your sleep.
Another one is “hydrate.” “Oh, I don’t know. I don’t see how that has anything to do with building muscle either.” While your body is around 60% muscle and losing just 1 - 2% of your body’s water cannot just result in fatigue and problems concentrating, but your muscles don’t perform well either. So, men need about a gallon of water a day or 3.7 liters. Women need about three liters.
So, fill up a gallon bottle in the morning and try to make sure it’s gone by the night. And the last one is hiring experts to help. “Oh, Ted stop telling me to do that.” Gosh, man, you hire a tennis coach when you want to get your tennis game to the next level, you hire a golf coach to get your swing dialed in.
You hire an accountant to do your taxes. Hire someone who’s going to get this taken care of. If you have an injury, get the best physical therapist that you can find or that you can afford. Don’t try to go through your insurance, smart physical therapist.
Look, I know a lot of physical therapists, they don’t take insurance. So, it’s ridiculous, what they get paid. Find someone good to help you and spend the money to do it. It’s a terrible, terrible, terrible habit that we have in our society where it’s like a $100,000 car, here’s the down payment.
Ooh, a couple of grand for an expert to help me, oh God, that’s so expensive. $100,000 suit? Here you go, put it on the credit card. Shift that mindset around, especially if you’ve noticed that spending money on physical stuff, or material things, doesn’t make you happy.
You’d be happier if you got out of pain because you worked with the right physical therapist. You’d be happier if you got better results with your workout programs, instead of spending hours, listening to podcasts, trying to figure out yourself. Don’t know how to do proper form with some exercises? Well, hire a personal trainer to help you. Struggling to lose fat, get me helping you.
As we get older, we need the best strategies to avoid making costly mistakes and wasting our time. We have less time as we get older and the mistakes that we end up making can cost us big time. And I’m speaking from experience here. If I could go back and do things differently, you better believe I would’ve hired experts. I’m not going to go off in too much detail here, but I hurt my back badly in 2016, trying to out-train my diet. And I knew a lot about health and fitness than you, okay? And you know, I got hurt and I was doing it in a smart way, but yeah, I wasn’t listening to my body.
So, mistakes like that cost you, and I know it cost me. I just want to save you from that and I end it. Here’s the thing, right? I ended up the thing that sucks, is you try to do it without paying experts to help you. Then you end up paying experts to help you because you just weren’t successful.
And it’s okay if you’re there. I mean, again, I was there, a lot of my clients, who end up hiring me…I had a client, Dan, shout out to you. If you’re listening, he told me, “You know what, Ted, I wish I would’ve done this 15 years ago.”
And the thing is, you can’t go back in time and you don’t want to cry about spilt milk. But if you’re still struggling right now, then shift in a different direction, and make better decisions, especially if you’re financially in a good place. One thing I noticed, and then I’m going to wrap up here.
But one thing I notice is that I deal with some clients who they’ve been wealthy for a long time, and if they see the value, they’ll spend the money. “No Problem, how much is it? Okay, cool. Let’s do it.”
But then there are people who, maybe grew up not as privileged financially, and then there’s financially successful. I had a conversation with a client just yesterday. She’s like, “I’m making so much. I just never thought I’d be making this much money.” And I told her “Hire experts to help you, whatever you’re struggling with, hire experts to help you.” It’s the thing people with money do. It’s the thing people with money do.
Guess what? When I was a personal trainer in Miami Beach, who are my clients? Very wealthy people. That’s who hires personal trainers. They just delegate, delegate, delegate. They find the best people who are the best people at whatever they need to be done. And they go and hire them because it just makes sense to do that, especially if you’re running out of time, but you have money.
So, watch for that identity lag, if you grew up a little bit financially challenged or even poor, and now you’re making money, but you just have this thing where you, I just don’t want to spend the money on hiring someone. I just want to get that new X6 and try to avoid learning that lesson.
And again, no judgements here. I was “broke,” broke in my, let’s say 20s and early 30s, but really, I had thousands of dollars’ worth of clothes, I had a $3,000 couch. I had an expensive television. I had a BMW X5. So, I was broke because I was spending all my money, but I was making money, you know?
If I could go back and do something differently, I would’ve hired a business coach. Oh my gosh, I would’ve been so much further along. I would’ve hired a whole bunch of people to help me, and that’s what I do now. So, that is it, my friend. And I hope you learned a lot today.
And just to kind recap. One, know why fitness is important to you. Two, pace yourself. Fitness for life is a marathon, not a sprint. Three, listen to your body. The pain is a message to your brain, listen to it and deal with it accordingly. Four, warm up with mobility exercises. And again, I got a little present for you at the end of this.
Five, stop switching programs. Focus on the same program and progress on it instead. Six, focus on technique. Seven, slow down your reps Eight, focus on fat loss first.” Don’t get caught up trying to build muscle if you got a belly. Nine, sleep seven-plus hours per night. Poor sleep leads to muscle loss, friends.
Hydrate, because even a little bit of dehydration leads to performance issues in the gym. And the last one is, to hire experts to help. All right, hope this hit home for you. Hope you enjoyed it and I’ll speak to you on Monday. Have a great weekend, and talk to you then!
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