Welcome! In this post you will learn all about bodybuilding workouts for men over 50. Are they effective, is it healthy, and how to do it right.
Bodybuilding and fitness are very popular these days just like I explained in the article bodybuilding for women over 40.
Bodybuilding can be great for health and longevity as long as it’s not taken to extremes and you have a healthy body image.
Unfortunately, bodybuilding, both amateur and professional, is riddled with people who have some form of body dysmorphia and eating disorders are very common among bodybuilders as the sport revolves around physical appearance.
But if you just want to put on some muscle and lose fat to look better and feel healthier, bodybuilding workouts can be great for that.
In your fifties, you are probably wondering how age affects your ability to build muscle and if it is even possible to achieve a lean and muscular physique.
Depending on your background you might also be wondering how bodybuilding actually works.
We will talk all about this and look at some known effective workout routines for building muscle after 50.
Difference Between Bodybuilding And Strength Training
In my opinion, it’s important to start by talking a bit about what bodybuilding actually is as many people get it mixed with general strength training, powerlifting, etc.
Bodybuilding is a sport that involves building tremendous amounts of muscle mass and then attaining extremely low body fat levels.
I guess recreational activities with the main goal of achieving a “better” physique with no regard to physical performance can be referred to as bodybuilding as well.
The key difference between bodybuilding and strength sports like Olympic weightlifting, powerlifting, or recreational strength training is that the focus is on physique appearance and not performance.
But building muscle virtually always includes some form of resistance training with progressive overload as that’s the only known effective way to build muscle mass.
Well, besides drugs, that is. Steroids are very common in bodybuilding circles and they can really skew your perception about what’s realistic to achieve physique-wise.
Strength training and bodybuilding are of course not mutually exclusive. You can be a strength athlete that cares about their physiques which basically means keeping relatively low body fat.
But you can also do strength training for health or sports purposes without staying very lean or on the other hand without gaining any significant muscle mass if you just care about performance.
Dangers Of Bodybuilding
Now like I said in the beginning, there are a lot of people with body dysmorphia and eating disorders in bodybuilding.
This is pretty understandable when you take an honest look at what bodybuilding involves. You need to eat a caloric surplus while you are building muscle and you need to be in a very strict caloric deficit while losing fat.
This bulk-cut cycling is effective for body composition but it’s also effectively yo-yo dieting. It will be hard to maintain in the long term and it requires you to focus too much on what you eat.
This can very easily spiral into an eating disorder and dissatisfaction and even depression, especially if you are not happy with the results of your physical appearance.
I personally recommend you focus on physical performance: strength, stamina, endurance, and above all your own wellbeing.
If you are trying to improve your physique to attract ladies, rest assured that most women don’t care about big muscles. Especially if it means that a guy will become very strict with diet and training and essentially very vain.
And that’s one important point, never train for anyone else than yourself. Don’t compare yourself to others and don’t expect external praise or reward.
Just focus on becoming a better version of yourself. Better meaning your overall wellbeing.
Can You Build Muscle After 50
So can you build muscle after 50? Well, the good news is that’s it’s completely possible. The bad news is that it depends on many variables.
Like I explained in the article Building Muscle Over Age 60, almost anyone can build muscle and improve muscle strength regardless of age if they are untrained and healthy.
But aging does affect the muscle-building process. Muscle building involves a stress (the workout) and a recovery period when your muscles adapt to the new demand and become a bit stronger like I’ve explained in the article Benefits Of Strength Training For Seniors.
As you age, the recovery process becomes slower and your neural efficiency deteriorates. This means that it takes longer to recover from your workouts and you can’t push yourself as hard as young people.
Aging will also affect your hormonal profile. Testosterone tends to go down, insulin resistance increases, growth hormone and IGF-1 decreases, etc.
This is likely the biggest reason for the increased recovery time, but it will also affect your ability to build muscle and reduce fat mass.
Even in your fifties, the most important factor for your ability to put on muscle and remain lean will be your genetics, diet, and exercise routine.
Genetics are by far the most important factor for your ability to build muscle. Some people simply don’t respond well to resistance training while others will build muscle very easily.
If you are someone who’s always been athletic or naturally strong, you will likely have no trouble in your fifties building significant amounts of muscle.
On the other hand, if you were never athletically gifted and you’ve been sedentary most of your life, I’m not going to lie to you. It’s going to be a lot harder.
That said, it’s all the more important to do your best. Increased muscle mass and reduced fat mass will likely make a big difference in your health and physical performance as you age.
Building A Good Base
The first workout routine I’m going to recommend for men over 50 is Starting Strength. I wrote more about Starting Strength in the article Starting Strength For Seniors.
Starting Strength is not a bodybuilding workout routine but it is one of the most effective routines for beginners to build a good strength base.
As a natural (no using steroids) lifter, you will need to build a good strength base to gain any significant muscle mass.
If you do everything right and have the right genetics, you will build a lot of muscle mass alongside massive strength gains following Starting Strength.
There is no isolated arm or ab work in the standard routine, so bodybuilders often will tell you the program is too bottom-heavy. And it’s true that you will see more development in your legs and core.
But you will need this core and leg strength and above all the ability to handle high training loads to build up your upper body.
Besides, having strong legs and back is both aesthetic and very beneficial for health.
All that said, I recommend you find a Starting Strength gym or a trainer because the program is based on heavy squats, deadlifts, and presses and the risk of injury is very real if you don’t get your lifting form right.
Best Bodybuilding Workout For Men Over 50
Once you have a good strength base and have mastered the basic movement patterns of strength training, it’s possible to change to more hypertrophy (muscle building) oriented workout routine from Starting Strength.
In my opinion, the best free bodybuilding workout routine is The Muscle Building Workout routine by Jay at aworkoutroutine.com
He also offers excellent and affordable programs for both building muscle and for losing fat. Something you should definitely check out if you have a few bucks to invest in your workout routine.
They are a bit lengthy to read but full of crucial information on how building muscle and fat loss actually happens effectively. So they are not just workout routines, they are educational material.
I’m not affiliated with Jay or aworkoutroutine.com in any way so this recommendation is based purely on my own experience with his routines.
His work is extremely thorough, researched (I think he works in the field) and entertaining.
I hope you found this post about bodybuilding workouts for men over 50 useful. If you have any questions, feel free to contact me through the comments section below and I’ll do my best to help you out.
In conclusion, it’s possible to improve your body composition and physique as a man in your 50s through strength training.
Your genetics and background will have a large effect on your results, but strength training is always beneficial for preventing age-related physical decline.
I recommend you focus on your physical performance and well-being above appearance. This way you will enjoy strength training more and will likely be much more satisfied with your results.
Thanks for reading and remember the share the article if you found it useful!