5 ways to fight muscle loss through exercise

Fitness & Sports Health

by Stephanie Thompson

Jan 5, 2017

The aging process affects everything in our lives — especially our bodies! What was once the firm beach body in your 20’s could possibly become the body you want to hide at the beach in your 40’s and 50’s.


Hormonal changes, improper diets and sedentary lifestyle can all play a role in this process that can begin as early as age 30. The good news is that there are steps we can take to slow and even halt this process, medically known as sarcopenia.

There are two main lifestyle changes to help you avoid muscle loss: consistent strength training and consuming an adequate amount of protein each day. In this blog we’ll focus on strength building. But I still encourage you to take a look at your plate and make sure you’re eating the right foods to support muscle retention and growth.

Related: How to know if the keto diet is right for you

Here are some starter tips…

1. Don’t fall into the “cardio obsession.”

Look at adding two to three days each week for strength training in addition to your cardio routine to help build muscle and rev up your metabolism.

2. Drop the 2 lb. weights.

They’re not really doing much for you and don’t translate into real life. Most things from grocery bags to grandbabies weigh more than 2lbs. Look to start with 5lbs dumbbells, resistance bands, or simply use your bodyweight.

3. Try exercise classes.

If you don’t feel comfortable in the gym, go to a group exercise class to get more instruction and increased comfort.

4. Take advantage of your gym resources.

If your gym offers deals on fitness consultations or baseline testing then go for it. With those results you can get a tailored plan to help you get started.

Last, but most important tip…

5. Don’t do too much too quick.

If you haven’t lifted anything other than food in the last five years, take your time. High intensity, heavy load workouts like CrossFit may not be your starting point. Going from zero to 100 can increase your risk for injury or an over-trained body.

Related: Injury prevention: It’s all in the warm-up

There’s nothing more discouraging than getting injured while you’re making progress towards your exercise goals. If you’re not moving then you’re losing the muscle mass you’ve gained which plays right into father time’s hands.

Getting started is the hardest part! Here is a beginner strength training plan to consider. Try this routine on a Monday/Wednesday/Friday schedule.

Beginner strength training plan

  • 8-10 exercises
  • 8-15 repetitions
  • 1-3 sets
  • 20-25 minutes of cardio
  • 20-30 minutes of strength training exercises

Cardio intervals

  • 20-25 minutes
  • 2 minutes run/sprint
  • 1 minute walk

Strength training circuits (3 sets each)

Circuit #1

  • Squat (x12)
  • Push up (x12)
  • Row (x12)

Circuit #2

  • Lunge (x12 on each leg)
  • Shoulder press (x12)
  • Lat pull (x12)

Circuit #3

  • Plank (30-60 second hold)
  • Leg raise (x15)

Whether you are a seasoned gym-goer or in the early stages of wanting to work out, don’t skip the weights. The longer you wait to start, the harder it will be to stay strong and mobile as you age. Link up with a buddy or a personal trainer to help keep you accountable and on track with your plan.

Stay strong — don’t give Father Time a chance to break down your body.

Did you know your primary care physician can help you achieve your fitness and weight loss goals?

About the Author

Stephanie Thompson, CPT, is a Wellness Coordinator for Baylor Scott and White Health. She graduated from Baylor University in 2008 and has worked toward providing health and wellness education for nearly eight years. She is passionate about helping others reach their full potential both physical and mentally through positive support and education.

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