Building Lean Muscle for Those Over 50

I have a myriad of aches and pains throughout my body. From the arthritis in my joints to the crimps in my neck and shoulders to a bad achilles heel to gout; you name it, and clearly the warranty has run out on my body.

The football, boxing, tae kwon do, and all the other “he-man” things I did when I was indestructible in my younger days, in a galaxy far, far away, has taken its toll.

Yet, if you are like me, on the edge of turning 50; it does not mean losing your desire (and need) to be healthy and strong, not to mention sporting a few pounds of lean muscle mass. For the past several years, being strong and healthy to me has meant basically running and doing some calisthenics. The one thing I did not do was resistance training – that is, pumping iron. As a kid I loved to pump iron. In my earliest 40’s, I loved pumping iron.

But for the reasons I listed above, and more, I stopped weight lifting. Other than bodyweight exercises and wind sprints, I came to the conclusion that my body and joints could no longer handle weight or resistance training.

That is until about 8 months ago when I got my Bodylastics home gym and truly understood what elastic resistance training was about. With the exception of 3 breaks (3 weeks in June, 4 weeks mid October, and 2 weeks mid December), I’ve been more consistent using these elastic bands than I have been with anything else for a while. Actually, I stopped exercising all together for about 6 to 8 months leading up to using this home gym – and it showed.

As with any equipment, there are always a range of hits and misses. The simple key is to pick an equipment or venue that has more hits for you than misses. I would contend that Bodylastics as a home gym has a lot more pluses than minuses. That said, this isn’t necessarily about singing hosannas to this particular brand. Rather, elastic resistance bands in general have one aspect that makes it far superior to deadweights for someone like me. That aspect is the ability to move the start point of any movement without potential for joint injury. This is possible because elastic bands are not gravity dependent.

For example, there is a “line of pain” that shoots through my right shoulder whenever I do upright rows. I don’t do upright rows, and with free weights or any other gravity based training, I never will. But with elastic bands, it’s easy to move my hands and start position around until I am in the groove that is pain free. The beauty of it is – I can still train with intensity.

And that is key – the ability to train with intensity.

Since I begin using Bodylastics (it can be with any elastic resistance band system – research what’s best for you), I have gotten leaner and stronger. I still have a long way to go. It took several years to turn myself into a tub of lard (actually didn’t take that long, unfortunately) but I am steadily getting healthier and stronger plus adding a few pounds of lean muscle mass in the process. That’s sweet.

At 50, building lean muscle is all about finding the means to work around the aches and pains built over the years. If that means no more pumping iron but pulling on “rubber bands,” then that’s cool with me.