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5 Exercise Habits to Slow Muscle Aging, Trainer Reveals

Staying active as you age is not an option—it's a necessity to slow muscle aging.
FACT CHECKED BY Alexa Mellardo

Another birthday coming up? Don't think of this year as getting older; think of it as getting better and starting a new chapter. It's important to be mindful of staying active as you age. The reason for this is your body begins to change, whether you like it or not. You start to lose muscle mass and your metabolism decreases, which makes it difficult to stay in shape. That's why it's essential to follow these five exercise habits to slow muscle aging, because it is your fountain of youth, after all! Keep reading to learn more.

Continue lifting heavy weights.

mature man lifting heavy dumbbell, exercise habits to slow muscle aging

If you haven't already heard this golden piece of advice, strength training is so necessary to work into your fitness regimen as you grow older. After all, you lose anywhere from 3% to 5% of lean muscle mass every decade after turning 30, so doing everything you can to maintain and build it is a must. Increasing the strength of your muscles via exercise can help you stay mobile and keep up your independence as you age, according to the National Institute on Aging, so don't sleep on this crucial form of training.

When it comes to how much you should be lifting, many older individuals make the common mistake of only focusing on lifting lighter weights. Although there are benefits to lifting lighter, such as improving your strength endurance, you need enough resistance to continue building and maintaining your muscles. I recommend choosing a weight where it's challenging in the 6 to 8 rep zone for your compound movements.

Related: The #1 Strength Workout To Regain Muscle Mass as You Age, Trainer Says

Work in all rep ranges.

mature woman dumbbell lifts exercises

In order to maximize your muscle gain, it's important to lift weights in different rep ranges. Why, might you ask? Well, muscles respond to different reps, which is why it's important to cover your bases and recruit all muscle fibers. For example, higher reps are great for pecs, while lower reps are good for your triceps. Hamstrings work well with lower reps, while quads should be worked at higher reps. Delts should be worked via high reps, however, the front portion can be trained with lower reps. And finally, train your biceps with intermediate reps.

At the beginning of your workout, I suggest you perform 6 to 8 reps in your main exercises, then move on to 8 to 12 reps with your other movements. Finish off with 12 to 15 or more reps in your final lifts for the day.

Related: The Best Fitness Habits That Slow Aging, Trainer Reveals

Rotate exercises periodically.

mature man incline bench press

Variety is the spice of life, and this saying rings true when it comes to your exercise regimen. It's a good idea to use the same lifts so you can focus on either lifting heavier, performing more reps, or both. However, I recommend rotating in different exercises every 8 to 12 weeks to challenge your body. This will give your muscles new stimulation to recruit more muscle fibers. You can take the same exercises, and change up the way you do them. For example, you can switch from a flat to an incline bench press, or use a cable to do curls instead of dumbbells.

Incorporate power training and plyometrics.

mature man medicine ball HIIT workout to slow aging

As you age, not only will you lose lean muscle mass, but also power and speed. If you're only doing strength training, I recommend including power and plyometric exercises at the beginning of your workouts. It's a great way to warm up and get the nervous system fired up to help you recruit more muscle fibers. Here are two examples of power and plyometric exercises you can do:

Medicine Ball Slams: With your feet shoulder-width distance apart, grab a jumbo medicine ball. Raise it above your head, then slam the weight down onto the floor while flexing your abs hard as you finish. Squat with a straight back to pick the ball up before performing another rep. Complete 8 to 10 reps.

Jump Squats: Begin your Jump Squats by placing your legs about hip-width distance apart. Keep your core tight, and throw your arms and hips back at the same time. Swing your arms forward, and jump up as high as you can. Land softly into a half squat before jumping again. Complete 8 to 10 reps.

Perform HIIT.

mature man doing side lunges, demonstrating exercise habits to slow muscle aging

Another one of the best exercise habits to slow muscle aging and improve your fitness is to incorporate high-intensity interval training (HIIT) into your routine. Besides losing power and speed, your VO2 max also decreases with age. HIIT has many benefits, such as improved cardio, heart health, and muscle gain. I recommend performing at least one HIIT session each week to improve your anaerobic fitness.

Tim Liu, C.S.C.S.
Tim Liu, CSCS, is an online fitness and nutrition coach based in Los Angeles Read more about Tim
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