build muscle over 50 with the barbell

Can you?

build muscle over 50 with the barbell
How to build muscle over 50? Just pick it up and put it down.

Can you really build muscle over 50?

It’s an important question. It can hold you back if you don’t believe in the possibility.

I know for a fact (from questions on the blog) that you may think that older fit guys have always been fit. They built their muscles as youngsters and then just stayed fit.

Well some surely did, but not all.

Your question is:

If I’m over 50 and don’t have a lot of muscle mass (and never have), can I build muscle over 50 years old?

The answer is unequivocally, yes. Read this study.

The study compared college aged men (CA, 18-22 years old) to middle aged men (MA, 35 to 50 years old). Both groups followed a weight training program for 8 weeks. Both strength improvements and gains in lean body mass were determined.

Lean body mass (LBM), as you may know, is your total weight minus your body fat (the weight of your body fat). So an increase in LBM is indicative of gains in muscle mass.

Both groups (CA and MA) showed similar increases in strength using the bench press for upper body strength and the leg press for lower body strength.

  • Bench press improved 3.2 kg for CA men and 6.2 kg for MA men.
  • Leg press improved 25.0 kg for CA men and 18.2 kg for MA men.
  • Lean body mass improved 0.9 kg for CA men and 1.1 kg for MA men.
  • And the kicker, the MA group lost significantly more body fat than the CA group.

So there ya go. Middle aged men put on about 2.5 pounds of muscle in just eight weeks in a controlled study.

Try this workout.

The Exercises


Negative Pull Up

Single Handed Get Up


Racked Carry

How do you build muscle over 50 years old?

Try this workout.

  1. Do it 3 times a week for 8 weeks.
  2. Eat quality protein at about 1 gram per pound of lean body mass. See how to calculate your LBM here.
  3. Sleep at least 8 hours a night.
I guarantee you’ll gain pure muscle on your body.

The right workout, done consistently over time, with some common sense lifestyle controls in place, will produce gains in muscle mass no matter what your age.

What do you think?

What keeps you from putting on muscle mass? Please comment below.


Journal of Strength Conditioning Research/National Strength and Conditioning Association. 2009 May;23(3):962-71. doi: 10.1519/JSC.0b013e3181a00baf. Early-phase adaptations to a split-body, linear periodization resistance training program in college-aged and middle-aged men.

About the author 

Mark Fickler

Mark aka The Old Spartan and Over-50 Fitness Savior is a 64 year old coffee guzzling father of five wandering the outdoors around Albuquerque, New Mexico. Mark helps Active Boomers get lean, healthy and strong so they live rewarding, fun lives using his signature 2 Rule Easy Fat Loss training program.

  • At 58 like most of us I am battling several orthopedic issues but like you, firmly believe we can build some good quality muscle in our fifth , sixth and seventh decade in life. staying away from the naysayers and what society says in general will go along way in he building the belief that it is possible as long as we prepare our minds as well.

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