Do men go through menopause too? And is muscle building as challenging for men as it is for women? Today, we'll explore whether testosterone levels drop significantly with age, making it nearly impossible for men to build muscle despite strength training.
Men over 50, take note! The myth that muscle building becomes impossible after a certain age is simply false. Yes, you can still build impressive muscle mass and get your body in shape. But before we dive into the details, let's take a look at the decisive factor - testosterone. This hormone represents masculinity and plays a crucial role in muscle building.
Testosterone is a steroid hormone and belongs to the group of androgens. It is the primary male sex hormone but is also produced in small amounts in the female body. The main production of testosterone occurs in the Leydig cells in the testes of men. In women, it is produced in the ovaries and in small amounts in the adrenal glands. Testosterone production begins during prenatal development and increases significantly during puberty.
Testosterone is responsible for the development and maintenance of male sexual characteristics, including deepening of the voice, body hair, and muscle growth. Testosterone is also known as anabolic hormone, as it stimulates the growth and repair of muscle tissue. So yes, men have an advantage in muscle building. This difference is already evident in body composition. The muscle mass of a normal-weight man in his mid-20s is about 44%, compared to approximately 37% of a woman's body weight.
Additionally, this hormone promotes bone health, regulates lipid metabolism, and influences mood and well-being. It also plays a role in the production of red blood cells and affects libido.
Testosterone production can be influenced by various factors, including age, diet, exercise, body weight, sleep, and stress. This interplay of hormones and external influences can affect testosterone levels throughout life and, in turn, determine success in the gym.
As the body ages, it undergoes changes, which is entirely normal. Around the age of 40, men's testosterone levels decrease by about 1-2% per year. However, this doesn't result in a true deficiency. Only 3-5% of people over 60 experience a genuine testosterone deficiency with symptoms such as mood swings, lack of energy, and a loss of libido. Hormone therapy may be appropriate for them under the guidance of a healthcare professional.
Since hormone production decreases very slowly and hormones continue to be produced, this differs significantly from the menopause in women. There is no equivalent to menopause in men. This conclusion is also supported by experts from the German Society of Endocrinology (DGE).
However, the declining testosterone levels do have an impact on muscle building. So, as you age, it does become somewhat more challenging to build muscle compared to when you were in your 20s. Nevertheless, it's not impossible.
The good news is that you can counteract the decreasing testosterone levels. If you're wondering whether you should take testosterone to build muscle, here's our answer: no, you don't need testosterone injections, gels or other chemical cocktails because they can damage your health. Instead, optimise your sleep, training and diet.
Testosterone is produced from cholesterol, but this doesn't mean you should consume excessive cholesterol. Instead, focus on unsaturated fatty acids like Omega-3 fatty acids from salmon, plant oils, and nuts. These outperform cholesterol in the body. With this knowledge, it should be clear that an extremely low-fat diet is counterproductive to muscle-building training.
We've talked about the importance of Vitamin D for muscle building many times. In 2018, an Italian research group also demonstrated that supplementing with Vitamin D in men with a Vitamin D deficiency increases testosterone levels. In plain terms, if you want to build muscles as you age, you should get some sun every day to boost your Vitamin D. Hours of strength training at the gym won't necessarily get you there because you won't be exposed to the sun.
Other vitamins that are significant for muscle health include B-vitamins.
A zinc deficiency can lead to low testosterone levels. So, if men haven't been consuming zinc-rich foods, increasing zinc intake can help with muscle building. It is also believed that zinc is involved in regulating the balance between estrogen and testosterone in men. You can find zinc in foods such as meat, cheese, or oats.
After you consume sugar, the body releases insulin. This hormone can indirectly lower testosterone levels because it leads to the formation of fat tissue that absorbs testosterone. So, this also means that being overweight in general is an inhibiting factor. Alcohol acts similarly. It inhibits muscle growth.
As people age, energy requirements decrease, while the need for protein increases. One reason for this is the body's reduced ability to utilize protein. For muscle building after 50, sufficient protein intake plays an increasingly significant role. Find out all you need to know about building muscles and proteins in the video by Egle and Michel.
Stress forms the basis for an imbalance in the body because it releases the stress hormone cortisol. This hormone acts as a counterpart to testosterone when it comes to muscle building. Success in strength training becomes nearly impossible. Therefore, for muscle building, you should not only have a good training plan but also a stress management strategy. How about trying yoga, autogenic training, or breathing exercises, for example? Find out what lowers your stress level.
If you don't give your body adequate sleep, cortisol will also be released. Your body needs between 7 and 8 hours of rest for optimal recovery.
Endurance sports or strength training with many repetitions but without heavy resistance can trigger a stress response in the body. Cortisol is released, and muscle growth is slowed down. So, the ideal muscle-building training plan includes high-intensity training. Training intensely and briefly even releases testosterone. Great, so your body creates ideal conditions for muscle building on its own.
AURUM is a time-efficient, high-intensity training. So, the HIT factor is already covered. Also, this brief training session helps with stress management because you don't have to worry about a complex training plan or anything else. You simply come to our studio for about 20 minutes, train effectively and intensely, and have your muscle training for the week done. One of our personal trainers will always be by your side. This way, you learn to perform the exercises correctly and minimize the risk of injury. Motivation is also guaranteed: At AURUM, you compete against yourself. Your current strength is directly compared to the results of your previous training, so you always give 110 percent.
Let's once again recall the functions of testosterone. In addition to its role in muscle building, it is also responsible for bone metabolism. If testosterone levels drop significantly as you age, bone density can also become critical, leading to osteoporosis. This is where AURUM training comes into play because it stimulates bone development through high-intensity training.
Overall, this training helps you enjoy your life to the fullest at any age.