The Instagram logo

On mass

How to increase and maintain muscle mass as you age. The Rude Health magazine experts have the answers

Sylvia Diaz, founder of Fit with Sylvia, is an Instagram fitness icon. She works as a nutritionist, fitness and health coach. She transforms busy professionals’ lives to a fit, healthy and guilt-free mindset. She also runs online fitness dance classes and works as a digital content creator.

As you age, it becomes more difficult to maintain muscle mass due to a variety of factors such as decreased hormone production, decreased physical activity and reduced protein synthesis. However, there are several strategies you can implement to increase and maintain your muscle mass as you age:

Resistance training
Engage in regular resistance training exercises such as weight lifting, bodyweight exercises or resistance bands, two to three times per week. Work with exercises that challenge your muscles beyond what they are accustomed to, progressively increasing the weights you use or the difficulty of the exercises. Resistance training will not only help you build muscle but will also help increase your bone density and improve your balance.

Protein intake
Protein is essential for muscle growth and repair, so ensure that you are consuming enough protein. Aim for 1.2-1.6 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight daily. Good sources of protein include lean meats, eggs, fish, dairy, and plant-based sources such as beans, nuts, and seeds.

Adequate caloric intake
Adequate calories are required to support muscle growth. Make sure you are consuming enough calories based on your age, gender, weight and activity level. Consider consulting a dietitian or nutritionist to help determine your calorie needs.

Rest and recovery
It’s important to give your body enough time to rest and recover after exercising. Your muscles require time to repair and grow, so ensure that you are getting enough sleep, and taking time off to recover between workout sessions. Additionally, incorporating activities such as yoga or stretching can help reduce soreness and improve flexibility.

Maintain physical activity levels
In addition to resistance training, maintaining physical activity levels throughout the day is important for preventing muscle loss. Activities such as walking, gardening and household chores can help keep your muscles active and engaged.

David Rice at Gym Plus

As we all know, ageing brings with it changes in our bodies, such as composition and hormonal balance, making it more challenging to maintain muscle mass. As we age, maintaining muscle mass becomes more important than ever as it helps with our overall health and well-being. Not only do our muscles help with functional fitness, such as climbing the stairs, bending, and lifting heavy objects, but they also play a role in our metabolic health and help with disease prevention.

Here are my tips:

Incorporate resistance training
Resistance training can range from weightlifting to bodyweight exercises and is crucial for building and maintaining muscle mass. Focus on your major muscle groups in your sessions, and aim for two strength training sessions a week to help maintain your strength.

Keeping a balanced diet
Ensuring you have a balanced diet will help with your overall health and muscle maintenance. A balanced diet includes fruits, vegetables, wholegrains and healthy fats. We recommend that you avoid excessive amounts of processed foods, added sugars and saturated fats.

A good sleep schedule
Sleep is essential for muscle recovery and repair. A consistent sleep schedule will have you feeling more energised throughout the day.

Stay active
If you are working a job that demands long hours of sitting, take a break to stand and stretch and aim for at least 10,000 steps a day.

Keep up with your health
This is more than just good eating, sleep and exercise. As we age, hormone levels can shift and have an impact on muscle mass. Be sure to talk to your doctor if you feel you are affected by this and have them monitor your hormone levels.

Be patient
If you are building and maintaining muscle mass, it takes time, effort and consistency. Be patient with yourself, and if it feels overwhelming, focus on small changes first before moving onto bigger ones. has locations in Ashbourne, Ballsbridge, Drogheda, Naas, Rathfarnham, Swords and Cork

Gráinne O’Driscoll runs Grá For Fitness

When it comes to skeletal muscle mass and ageing the term ‘use it or lose it’ has never rung more true. From our 30s onwards, unless we are working to combat it, our muscle mass decreases by around 3-8% per decade and can deteriorate further after the age of 60. This loss of muscle can of course affect our strength, but also our joint mobility, posture, balance and eventually our quality of life.

By introducing muscle strengthening exercises we can offset and even reverse this decline. Building muscle has a positive effect on bone density too.

Along with daily aerobic activity, the WHO recommends muscle strengthening activities involving all the major muscle groups, at least twice a week. You are never too old to start strength training. Check out your local gym or classes in your community or online. Get some weights or resistance bands, even starting with tins of beans, for a convenient home workout. Once we learn correct techniques – exercises like squats, lunges, push-ups and planks can be a great way to strengthen the body.

To support muscle strengthening exercises, we need to ensure we are getting enough protein in our diet. Protein is required for the growth and repair of body tissues including muscles and bones. Healthy sources of protein include eggs, fish, chicken, turkey, lean meat, nuts, beans, pulses and dairy.

Now, let’s get moving.

Sinéad McLoughlin, founder of Sinéad McLoughlin Fitness is an online weight loss coach and personal trainer and is based in Kinvara, Co. Galway. She is passionate about women’s health and fitness and in particular helping women reach their weight loss goals

Strength training
When it comes to building and maintaining muscle mass, strength training is key and is the primary form of exercise to focus on. If you’re new to exercise and strength training, I recommend starting with bodyweight exercises, such as squats or push-ups, before adding weight. Correct form and technique are important to avoid injury. As your strength improves, increase weight load and the number of sets to continue to build. Aim to incorporate this type of strength training into your routine two or three times a week exercising all your major muscle groups.

Focus on protein
While resistance training sets the foundation for building muscle, eating enough protein is crucial and provides the building blocks to increase and maintain muscle mass. Protein is primarily responsible for muscle growth and repair from resistance training.

Getting enough sleep is important for anyone aiming to build muscle. We need seven to eight hours of sleep a night for our cells to enter a phase of repair and rejuvenation. Without adequate sleep, the process of repairing damaged tissue is less effective. Hormones like testosterone and human growth hormone set about rebuilding and repairing your body. Restful sleep helps with this process.

Recovery time
Giving your body time to recover is also important for muscle building. Aim to let your muscles rest for 48 hours before working them out again.

Find a routine that works for you and stick with it
Whether it’s free weights or body resistance exercises, the key to growing and maintaining your muscles is consistency. Listen to your body. If you feel a strain in any part of your body, you may be overloading your muscles or using incorrect form or technique that can lead to injury.

Consult with a strength coach or a personal trainer before embarking on your muscle-building journey for guidance on the best exercises for you to meet your goals, especially if you have a history of injury or are new to strength training.

Sinéad McLoughlin Fitness
Instagram: @sineadmcloughlinfitness

Articles from our latest issue...