The Truth About Getting Older and Building Muscle

Dec 24, 2016

I was working my chest yesterday and while I was doing my incline bench press I realized something. I realized that my body has entered a new phase of my life. I’ve entered middle age and my body is no longer the strength machine it once was.

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It was a little sad because I realized that I will never be able to do the stuff I once very proud of.

Back when I was 25 years of age I was able to perform 8 unassisted repetitions in the incline bench press with 295 pounds. Yesterday I was performing the incline bench press using a max weight of 135 pounds. I can no longer perform this exercise using heavy weight due to past injuries. I can no longer perform any heavy movements in the squat, bench press, or barbell press. In fact I can’t perform any type of exercise using heavy weight and it kind of sucks.

It was kind of a sad moment but as I looked around the gym I realized that I’m still more muscular than 85% of the dudes working out. Sure, the younger guys may be stronger but I can still keep up with them in the muscularity department. How many 46 year olds can say that?

These days, I train strictly for my health. I don't try to impress anyone around me and honestly, I'm done with all of that.

When my body is healthy my mind is healthy. I sleep better, I function during the day better and I feel a heck of a lot better about myself. It doesn’t hurt to get the admiring stares and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t like it (it’s a nice perk).

As my body has evolved my training has evolved. I’ve figured out a way to stay very muscular without putting my body at risk of further injury. These days, injuries come a lot easier and they stay a lot longer! An injury can sideline me anywhere from a week to a few months. I never put my body at risk so I’ve figured out a way to get big, muscular and hard without using heavy weight.

I’ve realized that I CAN’T go back to being strong. There is not denying the fact that as we age we lose strength and we get weaker. Our bodies will never be the same and this is a hard truth we all have to swallow. The trick is how we handle it. We can sit back, slack off and be bitter about it or we can evolve and stay healthy and muscular. I chose the latter. I’ve evolved and created a system that keeps my muscular and healthy without putting my body at risk.

Instead of using heavy weight I use a unique approach to my training. I’ve actually created some training principles that are truly unique and will work for all older trainers to build muscle.
I was surfing the internet the other day and I came across a popular strength building website in which the owner states that the ONLY way to build muscle is to lift heavy weight using low repetitions in the main compound movements. I can tell right off the bat that this is a young guy.

Let me say this right here…You don’t need to use heavy weight and low repetitions to build muscle. Not True.

The key to building hard lean muscle mass is to progressively improve from week to week in certain exercises. If you can do the following, you WILL build muscle;

1) Perform more repetitions in the same exercise using the same weight and rest periods as you did last week;

2) Perform the exercise in a faster manner using the same weight and repetitions as you did last week;

3) Use heavier weight for the same amount of repetitions and rest periods as you did last week.

Do this and you WILL grow – It doesn’t matter which exercises you use. Compound exercises are more efficient at building muscle BUT they are not the only exercises that will build muscle. Pick an exercise, follow the above rules and you will grow. The body doesn’t distinguish between exercises. It doesn’t know one exercise from the next. It only knows when it has to adapt and change. Give it a reason to grow and it will.

Of course, you can be creative and use intensity boosting techniques which will force your body to work harder without using heavy weights. I use a combination of intensity boosting techniques which help keep my muscularity. Some of these methods include:

  • 20 by 20 training methods
  • High repetitions (20 rep sets)
  • Consecutive sets
  • Compound aftershocks
  • Giant sets
  • Drops sets
  • Down the racks
  • Static holds

The key is to progressively improve and make sure your body works harder with each passing week. I do this without using heavy weight.

My upper arms still measure over 18”. In my prime they measured 19” (When I was training super heavy) so I've managed to build my arms without using super heavy weight.

When it comes to my nutrition I’ve also had to learn to evolve. I can’t eat the same things I did when I was 25 years old. Back when I was 25 I could eat just about anything and it went straight to muscle. These days, if I eat just a bit of junk food it goes directly to my gut. Plus my body doesn’t digest like it used to so I have to be very careful what I eat.

However, the one thing that hasn’t changes is my approach. My system has stayed relatively the same since it has always worked for me (and those that I’ve shown). I don’t try and get big at all costs anymore so my choice in food isn’t as heavy. I still cycle my nutrition to maximize my results but I use different food choices. My food choices are a lot lighter.

My nutrition is a mirror image of my training cycle. This is the most important aspect to my entire program. My nutrition and training MUST pair up to produce the best results. It’s why I break down my primary objective into 6 to 8 week chunks. For example, let’s say I want to bring my weight up to 220 pounds but still retain my fat percentage and muscle hardness. My first 6 to 8 week cycle will use a specific training approach and my diet will be a direct reflection of my training. As I dial in my training (over the course of my entire program) I will optimize my nutrition program which only serves to double my results. For example, as my training introduces more intensity boosting techniques I’ll reduce my overall sodium and starchy carb intake which draws the water out of my muscles and hardens them up.

I’ve come to realize that I can still build a hard and muscular physique without using heavy weights. These days it’s about longevity. I’ve realized that if I want to keep training and maintain my level of fitness I have to get out of the “heavy weight” mentality and focus on new ways to train.

Please remember, I’m not saying that you can’t use heavy weight if you’re an older trainer. That’s not what I’m saying at all. If you can still use heavy weight, consider yourself lucky. What I am saying is that (as older trainers) our bodies are NOT the same and are more prone to injuries. We need to be very careful on how we include heavy weights in our training routines.

If you’re an older trainer and interested in finding out how to get more muscular (without putting your body at risk), please send me an email at:

And I'll answer any questions you may have.

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All the best.

Blake Bissaillion
Owner, Building Muscle 101

As the owner of Building Muscle 101, I am committed to providing you the best practical weight training advice. I've been training for over 24 years (and still train to this day!) and the advice and guidance I provide comes directly from my experience and knowledge.

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