Loss of muscle mass, known as sarcopenia, accelerated by lack of weight-bearing exercise, begins in your forties and quickens after you hit 75. This is accompanied by diminished levels of testosterone and growth hormones, according to Chantal Vella M.S. and Len Kravitz Ph.D., of the University of New Mexico. Bodybuilding can slow the process and help you gain significant muscle mass. But at 60, health factors and your body's reduced ability to handle heavy weights plays a significant role in designing a suitable bodybuilding program.
The American College of Sports Medicine notes that older adults have a higher risk of cardiovascular disease and joint problems, and emphasizes the importance of seeking the advice of your doctor before starting your bodybuilding program. ExRx.net recommends you complete an exercise readiness questionnaire. The questions should query various aspects of your health. For example, whether you have any history of heart problems or high blood pressure or whether you feel chest pain when doing physical activities -- and if you ever feel faint or dizzy, have an orthopedic condition, or if you are diabetic.
Start your bodybuilding routine with a warm-up comprising a 15- to 20-minute cardiovascular routine to exercise your heart and lungs, and dynamic stretches to loosen up your joints and muscles in preparation for the strenuous activity of building muscle. Cardio also helps to keep your body fat levels low, making your muscles more visible. For your cardio routine, walk briskly on an inclined treadmill or use the stationary bike or elliptical machine. For dynamic stretches, do side bends and hip circles to loosen up your lower back, and shoulder circles to loosen up your shoulders.
Choosing Free Weights or Machines
Writing for Critical Bench, personal trainer Shawn Lebrun notes that free weights stimulate more muscle growth. This is because you engage more muscle fibers to stabilize the weights as you move them through the required range of motion. This is in contrast to resistance machines that balance the weight for you. Progress to free weights as you get stronger.
To build muscle, focus your efforts primarily on compound multi-joint exercises that work the major muscle groups of your chest, shoulders, back, legs and glutes. Exercises that target these muscles also have a secondary effect on your minor muscles. For example, you engage your triceps when performing pushing exercises for your chest and shoulders, and your biceps kick in when you perform pulling exercises for your upper back.
Weights, Sets and Reps
Building muscle involves progressively overloading your muscles with heavy weights. However, according to ExRx.net, older adults may experience joint and muscle discomfort after a heavy workout. Use a comfortable weight that allows you to do two sets of eight to 12 repetitions. As you get stronger and your exercise tolerance increases, do three sets per exercise, and gradually increase your weight. Rest about two minutes between sets.
Short, Sharp Workouts
Work out two or three days a week on non-consecutive days. This allows you adequate rest days, when muscle growth actually occurs. Use a full-body program. Do the seated chest press for your chest, the shoulder press for your shoulders, seated rows or lat pulldowns for your upper back, barbell curls for your biceps, the leg press for your quadriceps and the seated calf raise for your calves. Gradually introduce more free weights and isolation exercises into your routine. For example, the barbell bench press or dumbbell press for your chest, supplemented with the isolation movement of pec dec flys. Do dumbbell shoulder presses for your shoulders, supplemented by bent-over laterals for your rear deltoids. Introduce single arm dumbbell rows for your upper back, skull crushers for your triceps, and the isolation movement of leg curls for your hamstrings. Do two sets of isolation exercises. Your entire workout, including your warm-up should last 45 minutes to one hour.
- University of New Mexico: Sarcopenia: The Mystery of Muscle Loss
- American College of Sports Medicine: Resistance Training and the Older Adult
- ExRx.net: Exercise Readiness Questionnaire
- ExRx.net: Weight Training For Specific Populations
- Critical Bench: Which Is Better For Building Lean Muscle: Machines Or Free Weights?