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Eat To Grow: Old Dogs, New Tricks

Elderly trainees can build more muscle with adequate nutrition.

According to the March ’94 issue of The Medical Clinics of North America Sports Medicine, ‘Strength studies have shown that strength increases up to age 30, remains constant to age 50 and then begins a gradual decline.’ One would think that’s simply due to the aging process. After all, the article points out, ‘Elderly muscle has decreased bulk when compared to younger muscle, with selective muscle atrophy. The maximal cross-section area of the quadriceps decreases approximately 25 percent between the third and eighth decades.’

The journal goes on to ask the obvious question: ‘Can we intervene with training to prevent this steady decline in strength in hopes of sustaining or actually improving functional capabilities?’ The news is surprising.

‘It appears that there’s no difference in the muscular response in the elderly to strength training when compared with the young.’ Although earlier studies showed increases in strength without hypertrophy, or muscle enlargement, several more recent studies have shown a significant hypertrophic response.

Why the difference in earlier studies vs. more recent ones? Most likely it’s due to better strength routines and nutrition among the study subjects, specifically adequate protein. IM

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