Should I build muscle mass to prepare for aging?

Eric Wilson

Double-Digit Post Count
I’m a 47 year old man that has always been skinny. I don’t really have to watch my diet to avoid gaining fat, even when I’m sedentary for a decade.

About six months ago, I stepped on a scale, and was disturbed to see my how little I weigh. I’m 5’8” and my weight had gradually trended down from the low to mid 140s in my twenties to 125.

I decided that it was time for me to get in shape I bought some kettlebells and after experimenting with various things, I’ve landed on Simple and Sinister for the present time.

I’m enjoying S&S for now, I feel great, and I’m pleased to see significant gains in strength. But I’m wondering what goals would be best for my long term health. In order to be healthy, active, and not frail in my sixties/seventies, should I work to get my weight up toward 140 or more? Or is it sufficient to work on strength and conditioning, even if it is not accompanied with significant weight gain?

I'm not interested in mass for mass sake -- just wondering if my borderline underweight frame will cause me trouble as I age. And if so, I assume it would be better to gain muscle mass sooner than later.
 

Tim Randolph

Triple-Digit Post Count
I’m a 47 year old man that has always been skinny. I don’t really have to watch my diet to avoid gaining fat, even when I’m sedentary for a decade.

About six months ago, I stepped on a scale, and was disturbed to see my how little I weigh. I’m 5’8” and my weight had gradually trended down from the low to mid 140s in my twenties to 125.

I decided that it was time for me to get in shape I bought some kettlebells and after experimenting with various things, I’ve landed on Simple and Sinister for the present time.

I’m enjoying S&S for now, I feel great, and I’m pleased to see significant gains in strength. But I’m wondering what goals would be best for my long term health. In order to be healthy, active, and not frail in my sixties/seventies, should I work to get my weight up toward 140 or more? Or is it sufficient to work on strength and conditioning, even if it is not accompanied with significant weight gain?

I'm not interested in mass for mass sake -- just wondering if my borderline underweight frame will cause me trouble as I age. And if so, I assume it would be better to gain muscle mass sooner than later.
How has S&S been working for you? Has your body composition changed even if you haven’t gained much weight?
 

Eric Wilson

Double-Digit Post Count
I didn't have fat to lose. I might have gained a pound, it's hard to say. My back feels more muscular.

S&S has been working for me in strength gains. I've gone from unable to hold a 16kg KB in a lockout position while laying on my back, to confindently doing one left and one right get up with the 24kg KB. (Moving up to four getups with 24kg next week.)

Feel much stronger on swings also.
 

Steve Freides

Forum Administrator
Staff member
Senior Certified Instructor
@Eric Wilson, train to function as you wish to function and the rest will follow. I have never tried to add muscle but I've certainly added some as a result of my strength training. I'm in my mid-60's, and I figure that if my weight is where I want it to be, and I can do still most of what I used to be able to do, that's good enough for me. My weight hasn't dropped, though - I get on the scale almost every morning, and if my weight's getting too low, I make it a point to eat more, but I don't really train any differently.

-S-
 

North Coast Miller

More than 2500 posts
I’m a 47 year old man that has always been skinny. I don’t really have to watch my diet to avoid gaining fat, even when I’m sedentary for a decade.

About six months ago, I stepped on a scale, and was disturbed to see my how little I weigh. I’m 5’8” and my weight had gradually trended down from the low to mid 140s in my twenties to 125.

I decided that it was time for me to get in shape I bought some kettlebells and after experimenting with various things, I’ve landed on Simple and Sinister for the present time.

I’m enjoying S&S for now, I feel great, and I’m pleased to see significant gains in strength. But I’m wondering what goals would be best for my long term health. In order to be healthy, active, and not frail in my sixties/seventies, should I work to get my weight up toward 140 or more? Or is it sufficient to work on strength and conditioning, even if it is not accompanied with significant weight gain?

I'm not interested in mass for mass sake -- just wondering if my borderline underweight frame will cause me trouble as I age. And if so, I assume it would be better to gain muscle mass sooner than later.

In a word - yes. Some extra mass is good insurance against all sorts of health problems, from unexpected downtime to injury, surgery, age related hormonal issues.

As an older gentleman you'll want to increase protein consumption as well.
 

Anna C

More than 5000 posts
Elite Certified Instructor
In a word - yes. Some extra mass is good insurance against all sorts of health problems, from unexpected downtime to injury, surgery, age related hormonal issues.

As an older gentleman you'll want to increase protein consumption as well.
+1. I agree with this, especially at 125 lbs bodyweight. You may not be frail yet, but you would definitely become so at a more advanced age. It becomes harder to turn that around the older you get.

Good job getting started with S&S and challenging yourself!
 

Mike Torres

Double-Digit Post Count
Team Leader Certified Instructor
Elite Certified Instructor
@Eric Wilson If you lost 15lbs at 47 and don't know how recent that weight loss is (since it may have been gradual or more acute) I would talk to your doc and look to get a full blood work panel done. There's very little downside, and you may learn something (hormonal imbalance, thyroid, etc.) I'm a big fan of WellnessFX for this - I do it quarterly just to see how my dietary and lifestyle changes are working.

Do you have a sense for your lean body mass (LBM) / bodyfat % and the trend there? Unfortunately, sometimes weight loss isn't necessarily the weight you want to lose - so that would also be worth baselining.
 

offwidth

More than 5000 posts
And... @Eric Wilson ... there is likely very little downside to adding a sensible amount of muscle mass...
(Although there is a small subset of us where we would like to keep that as minimal, or appropriately distributed as possible)
 

Timmer C

Double-Digit Post Count
Yoga instructor/author Paul Grilley says it well: “As we age the legs tend to become... more heavy and less mobile and by contrast the arms tend to become weak and frail. To combat these natural tendencies... emphasize lower body flexibility and upper body strength.” And while Grilley’s emphasis is on yoga rather than kettlebells, your work with kettlebells dovetails nicely with his principles about dealing with aging,
 

william bad butt

More than 300 posts
Train for strength! Squats, deadlifts, presses, kb snatches and swings, etc... Keep adding weight to the bar/bell. For a little while you can get stronger by improving CNS efficiency. But eventually you will need to grow more lean body tissue (muscle, bones, ligaments, tendons), if you want to get stronger. Train for absolute strength. Most other things will take care of themselves.
 

move

Double-Digit Post Count
I agree, some additional mass would be beneficial.
Some other questions that come to mind are: ,what are your daily activities and stress levels and what does your diet look like ; do you already eat high quality foods, with loads of nutritional value?
 

Bret S.

Quadruple-Digit Post Count
Certified Instructor
I’m a 47 year old man that has always been skinny. I don’t really have to watch my diet to avoid gaining fat, even when I’m sedentary for a decade.

About six months ago, I stepped on a scale, and was disturbed to see my how little I weigh. I’m 5’8” and my weight had gradually trended down from the low to mid 140s in my twenties to 125.

I decided that it was time for me to get in shape I bought some kettlebells and after experimenting with various things, I’ve landed on Simple and Sinister for the present time.

I’m enjoying S&S for now, I feel great, and I’m pleased to see significant gains in strength. But I’m wondering what goals would be best for my long term health. In order to be healthy, active, and not frail in my sixties/seventies, should I work to get my weight up toward 140 or more? Or is it sufficient to work on strength and conditioning, even if it is not accompanied with significant weight gain?

I'm not interested in mass for mass sake -- just wondering if my borderline underweight frame will cause me trouble as I age. And if so, I assume it would be better to gain muscle mass sooner than later.
Eric, adding muscle for the sake of it is probably an eventual dead end. I'm 62 and weigh 170 lbs at this time at 6' 2", to be honest it has been hard to adjust to mentally...
I've weighed up to 250 lbs at 10% BF in my earlier life and like to have some muscle, most of my adult life I weighed 215'ish lbs. These days I still have muscle, just not any 'extra', what I do have is all 'go and not for show'. I still fight the urge to build more but it won't advance me to my goal, which is to end this thing called life on my feet.

If you lift heavy things, walk, run or ruck 2-3 hrs a week, practice some form of physical skill like karate, dance, yoga.. (fill in your preference) you'll set yourself up for a good quality life, quantity is not in our hands, though we can improve our odds..

S&S is solid but I would add push-ups at least (lots of them), then learn to snatch after your strength is built up.

Just my 2 pennies
 

Molson

Triple-Digit Post Count
One more from me. Skinny, ectomorphic 33 old, 6foot. For guys like us S&S starts to build some muscle only when accompanied by solid calorie and protein surplus. And done with heavier bells.

If you enjoy S&S, take the time to work up to 32kg. Some muscle mass will come along. I added zero in my first 6 months on this program and then 5kg in next 6 months. The second period was 32-40kg and really tracking my macros and calories, 30-40g of protein 3-4 times a day.

Good luck.
 

Denny Phillips

Triple-Digit Post Count
You've received good advice thus far IMO. I trust that you are performing Goblet Squats as per the warm-up? I believe that they are a tremendous bang for the buck movement. Strength, mobility, and stimulating some muscle growth via a squatting movement seem to be right up your alley. It also seems prudent to ingest enough protein.
 

Steve Freides

Forum Administrator
Staff member
Senior Certified Instructor
My opinion, at age 64 - I get on the scale every morning, and if I need to gain weight, I eat more, and if I need to lose weight, I eat less. And I train for strength all the time. I've weighed the same for a long time, 20 or 30 years now, and I set some lifetime lifting PR's just a couple of years ago.

Serious strength training, IMO, puts muscle on you where you need it for the lifting you're doing.

-S-
 

guardian7

More than 500 posts
I’m a 47 year old man that has always been skinny. I don’t really have to watch my diet to avoid gaining fat, even when I’m sedentary for a decade.

About six months ago, I stepped on a scale, and was disturbed to see my how little I weigh. I’m 5’8” and my weight had gradually trended down from the low to mid 140s in my twenties to 125.

I decided that it was time for me to get in shape I bought some kettlebells and after experimenting with various things, I’ve landed on Simple and Sinister for the present time.

I’m enjoying S&S for now, I feel great, and I’m pleased to see significant gains in strength. But I’m wondering what goals would be best for my long term health. In order to be healthy, active, and not frail in my sixties/seventies, should I work to get my weight up toward 140 or more? Or is it sufficient to work on strength and conditioning, even if it is not accompanied with significant weight gain?

I'm not interested in mass for mass sake -- just wondering if my borderline underweight frame will cause me trouble as I age. And if so, I assume it would be better to gain muscle mass sooner than later.
As others have said, muscle mass is important as you age but as Steve said, strength focused exercise should be enough. I have had good results with the Power to the People barbell program without trying to add mass.

If you don't have access to a barbell easily, the most effective move for mass I have found that does not require huge weights and does not have a big learning curve compared to barbell work is the double kettlebell front squat. Double KB work in general is good. You can even use uneven weights.
 

Mark Limbaga

Quadruple-Digit Post Count
Elite Certified Instructor
@Eric Wilson, train to function as you wish to function and the rest will follow. I have never tried to add muscle but I've certainly added some as a result of my strength training. I'm in my mid-60's, and I figure that if my weight is where I want it to be, and I can do still most of what I used to be able to do, that's good enough for me. My weight hasn't dropped, though - I get on the scale almost every morning, and if my weight's getting too low, I make it a point to eat more, but I don't really train any differently.

-S-

Permission to use the first sentence
 
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