Years of weightlifting with little muscle development: trainer advice – Insider

Years of weightlifting with little muscle development: trainer advice – Insider

  • To build muscle, you need to lift heavy weights and work hard, said Harry Smith, a personal trainer.
  • It’s important to recover well after workouts and fuel your body properly, with plenty of protein.
  • Building muscle is harder when you’re older, but it’s not impossible.
  • Read more Working It Out here.

Dear Rachel,

I’m a 68-year-old woman and have been weight training for 1.5 years, but I haven’t seen much muscle development. I weight train three days a week and also do 45 minutes of cardio five days a week. Why am I not really seeing any muscle firming? I walk 7,000 to 10,000 steps a day. My peak heart rate is 160 when working out, and resting is 57. So why haven’t I seen more muscle?

— Dismayed

Dear Dismayed,

When it comes to developing muscle and achieving the “toned” look many people strive for, there are lots of factors at play. Yes, how you train is key, but there’s also nutrition, genetics, age, stress, and recovery to consider.

Without more information on the specifics of your training and lifestyle, it’s hard to know what exactly could be hindering your progress. But Harry Smith, a personal trainer and nutritionist, explained what you should optimally be doing for muscle and strength gains.

Ensure you’re lifting heavy and hard enough

“Weight training doesn’t grow muscle — hard weight training does,” Smith told Insider.

He recommends lifting weights close to failure, meaning you aim to finish each set when you have fewer than five reps left in the tank.

“Most people severely overestimate how hard they are actually training,” Smith said.

I’m guilty of not pushing myself as hard as I could in the gym, and if you’re the same, having a few sessions with a personal trainer may help you recalibrate and discover what you’re capable of.

Generally, muscle building, or hypertrophy, requires lifting weights in rep ranges of 12 to 15, Luke Worthington, a personal trainer, previously told Insider.

Smith says the optimal way to train to build muscle is to lift heavy weights with enough intensity — aim for three to five sets of each exercise with at least a minute of rest in between sets.

Do 3 full-body workouts a week

If you’re lifting weights three times a week, Smith recommends doing full-body sessions for the best results rather than focusing on one muscle group at a time.

“She would do best to focus on compound exercises in her sessions,” Smith said. “These are multi-joint exercises like squats and deadlifts that hit multiple muscles at a time, making her training time more efficient.”

Incorporate machines, like leg presses, to allow you to work up to a higher intensity with stability.

Cardio isn’t necessary for muscular development, Smith said, and you’re doing a fair amount already. Of course, it’s important for overall health, but you may be doing more than is necessary — fine if you enjoy it, but you don’t need to if you don’t.

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