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  1. #1
    Senior Member smoore's Avatar
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    Muscle Mass at Sixty-Now What?

    I just turned sixty....and I'm not liking it. I'm 5'5 and 130lbs but I'm having some cholesterol concerns (on niacin therapy/can't take statins) , now have to pee often and last week had to quit a six mile hill climb after three miles...which really depressed me because I've been riding a lot recently and I'm in pretty good cycling shape...or at least I thought I was. Fact is I not only had to quit but pulled off the road and felt as if I was going to get sick. It passed after about ten minutes but it really took me by surprise.

    I've been reading up on the loss of muscle mass after sixty and it's pretty depressing. Unfortunately when you start to dig on the web about a change of diet you get all sorts of conflicting opinions from doctors, body builders, vegans and the list goes on.

    So, any informed thoughts on how I can preserve what I have and how I might change my riding and diet to build up a bit more. That six mile mountain in N. GA is still there....sneering at me.

  2. #2
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    I am not a doctor and all I do is tell you what works for me.
    My age is 67, 6'1", 195#, size 34 waist. No pills no drugs of any sort. Muscle loss is not an issue. I get lots of comments to the contrary.
    My Diet:
    BF is large portion of Oatmeal, milk and any fruits cut into it which I can find. That includes nuts, prunes, apricots, dates, raisin, strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, banana, oranges.
    Lunch is a Eggbeater Omelet with some potatoes cut in.
    During the day drink lots of Ice Tea. Use Hammer Gel while biking. Two per hour.
    Dinner may be Salmon, veggies, salad, baked potato.
    After dinner I indulge in Wine and or Brandy with cheese and Pudding.
    --------------------------
    Exercise is 50 to 70 miles biking, upper body exercise with weights and/or rubber straps. Hiking.
    --------------------------
    I must admit that the above is expensive and you need time and opportunity to do this, BUT, it works.
    No problems with muscle loss.

  3. #3
    Dan J chinarider's Avatar
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    I just turned 57 so I'm right behind you. If you're concerned about muscle mass, I think you need to do weights. Biking will get you in great aerobic shape, but won't do much for muscle, except maybe in the legs. As far as the hill, is this a hill you've commonly done in the past or a new challenge? If you're not used to 6 mile hills, it would be tough no matter how much cycling you do. I think this would be true whether someone is 30 or 60. Specificity rules when it comes to training. Keep at it you'll get there.

    If it's a hill you been able to do before off of similar training and diet, maybe you were just having a bad day or were fatigued. I'd try again maybe when you're more rested. I don't have any 6 mile hills around here or 3 mile, for that matter. I do have some steep short ones. I can do them a lot easier now than I could in the beginning of the season.

    As far as diet, I don't think there is any magic bullet. Just eat a good mix of healthy foods & make sure you get enough quality protein.
    Last edited by chinarider; 08-25-09 at 10:07 PM.
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  4. #4
    Senior Member
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    I should add that my biking is at 17 MPH average for at last 3 hours/day.
    Eventually you will be happy with your performance and muscle mass if you keep it up.
    Chinarider is right that upper body muscles need Gym training or equivalents.
    Many of us bikers do not want to drag that upper body weight up some hill.
    That is a personal preference.

  5. #5
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    I'll second the rec. to lift weights. I don't enjoy it the way I do riding or kayaking--in fact, I dislike it most of the time. But it improves my performance in things I DO like. More important at age 64, it makes me feel better every day. My posture is better, my back and even my knees don't hurt (as much, anyway), I can pick things up off the ground or get down and pull weeds without grunting and groaning. More than anything else, using full range of motion (important--don't short-stroke the movements) improves my flexibility. If I don't lift for a few days, I can feel it and my wife can tell by watching me move.
    Using a lot of weight isn't important, but form is. if you haven't had experience or some training, Google around or join a gym for a month to get advice from a trainer. You'll improve faster and lower your risk of injury. But you don't need to belong to a gym to work out. Weights are cheap and never wear out.
    A couple of worthwhile books: Cycling Past 50, by Joe Friel, and Weight Training for Cyclists (by Eric Schmitz, I think). But don't neglect your upper body. You need those muscles, too, and they go fast as you age.

  6. #6
    Time for a change. stapfam's Avatar
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    I'm 5'6" and weigh 150lbs. Still trying to lose 10lbs to lose some of the flab round the middle so somewhere near your weight or hopefully will be.

    That giving up on a climb and feeling sick. If you can normally do this climb- it sounds like bonking or you have not been out a bike often enough to retain your fitness and pushing yourself too hard. Two rules for riding that work----Eat and Drink on the ride.

    My diet is normal- except for the volume of PIE that I eat. I don't eat vast volumes- but there is a great %age of carbo-hydrates in that diet. Perhaps thats what the flab is made up of. Being lightweight- I do not carry an excess of fats on the body so have to eat sufficient for rides. Plenty of Pasta or Rice the night before a big ride for me and I also eat on the ride. Same with drinks. I take at least one bottle of water an hour on rides- more if it is hot. If the ride is over 4 hours I also make certain I have a good Breakfast and snack on the ride-Cereal bars, dried fruit, cake and a bit of protein in the form of cheese.

    If you are doing exercise- then you have to keep the body fed. Unfortunately you are like me. Can't eat a lot at one sitting but I eat often. Breakfast Lunch and dinner are not enough (Small eater remember) So Mid morning and afternoon snacks- and also a supper high in carbs. And don't cut out the fattening foods. A slice of PIE or a cake always help and if you choose a healthy option- can be benificial. (attachment is healthy- it has a piece of fruit on it)

    On the urination- get it checked out. Some prostate problems are just that- easily cured problems- but it can be a bit more serious and delay can be dangerous.
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    Senior Member DnvrFox's Avatar
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    At almost 70 years old, I lift weights several times per week to maintain (and build) muscle mass.

    From what I read, lifting heavy weights is important. I am on a new routine, however, that is more oriented to muscle endurance - but I supplement that with lifting to failure eery couple of weeks.

    I also swim 4 times per week, stretch and walk, and bicycle about 125-150 miles per week.

    But, as the folks here will all know (because I am like a broken record on the topic) I believe in a more rounded fitness program than just bicycling.

    Here is my current program

    "WEST POINT" 3 times through 2 times weekly

    Bench Press 175 x 10
    Lat Pull heavy weight (nose only)
    ABS (crunches, hold and release slowly, center and obliques x 2 = 60)
    Squat 175 lbs x 10
    Tri Push – as heavy as possible x 20
    Back Extension 20
    Military Press Bar - 60 lbs x 20
    Curl Bar - 60 lbs x 20
    Calf Raise – 2 45lb plates

    on alternative days

    Three times through, 2 times weekly

    Calisthenics
    Pull Ups - assisted x 10
    Reverse Push Up x 10
    Push ups – BOSU Ball upside down x 20, Medicine – Right, Left, Middle x 20, repeat, BOSU, total = 100
    Hulk – 8/6/4 – 5 plates
    Lunges 45/Toe/Straight
    Dips - x 20
    Plyometrics – 4 point jump 10x4 = 40
    Last edited by DnvrFox; 08-26-09 at 07:04 AM.

  8. #8
    Senior Member late's Avatar
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    1) You get better at climbing by climbing. Yes, you will get your ass kicked. But next week you can go back and climb a little higher. What I do is start with small hills, and as the season progresses move to large hills and then mountains.

    2) If you have never spent time in the gym, get a trainer to show you how.
    You can hurt yourself seriously if you screw up. Old School thinking is to take a lot of time before adding weight. This is especially true for beginners, tendons and ligaments toughen up slower than muscle.

    3) One of the rules in New Rules of Lifting... "If you're not having fun, you're doing it wrong."
    Old Man Maine

  9. #9
    Senior Member DnvrFox's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by late View Post

    2) If you have never spent time in the gym, get a trainer to show you how.
    You can hurt yourself seriously if you screw up. Old School thinking is to take a lot of time before adding weight. This is especially true for beginners, tendons and ligaments toughen up slower than muscle.
    +1

    I've been doing this for 20+ years. If you tried what I am doing as a beginner - it could cause serious injury.

    I see folks doing strange and dangerous things in the gym all the time - some of them potentially harmful. HAve a trainer get you started correctly.

  10. #10
    Senior Member BikeArkansas's Avatar
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    Lift weights.
    I started riding my bike to get healthy. Now I try to stay healthy so I can ride my bike.

  11. #11
    just keep riding BluesDawg's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by smoore View Post
    That six mile mountain in N. GA is still there....sneering at me.
    Which mountain is that?
    The more you ride your bike, the less your ass will hurt.

  12. #12
    Elite Rider Hermes's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DnvrFox View Post
    At almost 70 years old, I lift weights several times per week to maintain (and build) muscle mass.

    From what I read, lifting heavy weights is important. I am on a new routine, however, that is more oriented to muscle endurance - but I supplement that with lifting to failure eery couple of weeks.

    I also swim 4 times per week, stretch and walk, and bicycle about 125-150 miles per week.

    But, as the folks here will all know (because I am like a broken record on the topic) I believe in a more rounded fitness program than just bicycling.

    Here is my current program

    "WEST POINT" 3 times through 2 times weekly

    Bench Press 175 x 10
    Lat Pull heavy weight (nose only)
    ABS (crunches, hold and release slowly, center and obliques x 2 = 60)
    Squat 175 lbs x 10
    Tri Push – as heavy as possible x 20
    Back Extension 20
    Military Press Bar - 60 lbs x 20
    Curl Bar - 60 lbs x 20
    Calf Raise – 2 45lb plates

    on alternative days

    Three times through, 2 times weekly

    Calisthenics
    Pull Ups - assisted x 10
    Reverse Push Up x 10
    Push ups – BOSU Ball upside down x 20, Medicine – Right, Left, Middle x 20, repeat, BOSU, total = 100
    Hulk – 8/6/4 – 5 plates
    Lunges 45/Toe/Straight
    Dips - x 20
    Plyometrics – 4 point jump 10x4 = 40
    This looks pretty quantitative to me. Is it not "smiles not reps" also? My god man make sure you are having fun.

  13. #13
    Elite Rider Hermes's Avatar
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    On the bike, Zone 6 neuromuscular intervals and Zone 5 VO2 max intervals. Z6 intervals are 10 to 30 second sprints at all out effort and Z5 are 3 to 4 minute efforts above threshold heart rate / power. These will build muscle i.e fast twitch and raise VO2 max.

    In the gym, lift weights.

  14. #14
    Old fart JohnDThompson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by smoore View Post
    I just turned sixty....and I'm not liking it. I'm 5'5 and 130lbs but I'm having some cholesterol concerns (on niacin therapy/can't take statins) , now have to pee often and last week had to quit a six mile hill climb after three miles...which really depressed me because I've been riding a lot recently and I'm in pretty good cycling shape...or at least I thought I was. Fact is I not only had to quit but pulled off the road and felt as if I was going to get sick. It passed after about ten minutes but it really took me by surprise.
    Did you just start on niacin? Could be a side effect -- if so, it may disappear as your body accommodates to the niacin.

  15. #15
    Senior Member DnvrFox's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hermes View Post
    This looks pretty quantitative to me. Is it not "smiles not reps" also? My god man make sure you are having fun.
    I smile through every rep!!

    I thoroughly enjoy my resistance training. When I want to (or my body tells me to) I back off.

    I like to see increases in my strength.

    Yes, smiles all around

  16. #16
    Dan J chinarider's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by will dehne View Post
    upper body muscles need Gym training or equivalents.
    Many of us bikers do not want to drag that upper body weight up some hill.
    That is a personal preference.
    Unless one is genetically gifted and tries very hard to do so, there is little risk of bulking up to the point that it's going to add a significant amount of weight, especially if you're doing a lot of aerobic exercise. The weight that is added will be beneficial as it will prevent shoulder, neck & arm fatigue on long rides. It is very hard to build big muscles, so it's not going to happen unless you want it to. Some basic pushing and pulling exercises will preserve the mass you have and give some definition. They don't have to take a long time.

    Around here biking is a seasonal activity. After October I lift a lot more and do some rowing & elliptical for aerobics. Then come April or May I'll start cycling and downplay the weights. Works well for me.

    Dan
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  17. #17
    Elite Rider Hermes's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DnvrFox View Post
    I smile through every rep!!

    I thoroughly enjoy my resistance training. When I want to (or my body tells me to) I back off.

    I like to see increases in my strength.

    Yes, smiles all around
    Make sure you wave and say hi especially when doing weighted dips and 250 pound bench presses. I can see you smiling and waving right now during those weighted dips. You only need one arm to do those anyway.

  18. #18
    Senior Member DnvrFox's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hermes View Post
    Make sure you wave and say hi especially when doing weighted dips and 250 pound bench presses. I can see you smiling and waving right now during those weighted dips. You only need one arm to do those anyway.
    Now - there's a challenge - a 250 lb one-armed bench press!!

    I think first, I need to do a 250lb 2 armed BP. Max so far is 225.

  19. #19
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    As others have said: Lift Weights!!! I'll add: Do it often and do it heavy. Get instruction on how to do it so you don't hurt yourself.

    Right after I turned 60, some 10 years ago, I started a new "career" in EMS and Fire. One of the guys turned me on to freeweights. He showed me how and encouraged me to read everything on the subject. The result is that I have no trouble at all with muscle mass or strength. In fact I've had to tone down my workouts to something about 1/3 less than what I was doing so I don't have any excess muscle to move on my bike.

    One doesn't have to want to look like those mountains in Muscle & Fitness to use their techniques to good advantage. After all we want to ride bikes and every extra pound on the body is a drag.

    Plus, it does the ego good to be able to work out with the "kids".

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by smoore View Post
    I just turned sixty....and I'm not liking it. I'm 5'5 and 130lbs but I'm having some cholesterol concerns (on niacin therapy/can't take statins) , now have to pee often and last week had to quit a six mile hill climb after three miles...which really depressed me because I've been riding a lot recently and I'm in pretty good cycling shape...or at least I thought I was. Fact is I not only had to quit but pulled off the road and felt as if I was going to get sick. It passed after about ten minutes but it really took me by surprise.
    Quote Originally Posted by smoore View Post

    I've been reading up on the loss of muscle mass after sixty and it's pretty depressing. Unfortunately when you start to dig on the web about a change of diet you get all sorts of conflicting opinions from doctors, body builders, vegans and the list goes on.

    So, any informed thoughts on how I can preserve what I have and how I might change my riding and diet to build up a bit more. That six mile mountain in N. GA is still there....sneering at me.



    According to one of my exercise/nutrition physiology books, over 35 mg/day of Niacin (from all sources) interferes with carbohydrate metabolism. Maybe you just bonked.

    You might consider a second opinion on your cholesterol issue unless you have other issues such as high blood pressure. You might start with Google searches (including Google Scholar) and the book :

    http://www.amazon.com/Overdosed-America-Promise-American-Medicine/dp/0061344761/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1251367528&sr=8-1#

    Note the good doctor who wrote the book was not aware that death rates go up for lower cholesterol only if smokers are included in the study group.

    I was on statins for a few years before I realized that statins are a fraud for primary intervention. I studied the issue after my MD wanted to up my dose. I told him I'd think about it. Six months later I handed him a 3 page paper and a wad of articles and references as to why I was quitting statins. He had come to the same conclusion. So I stopped (I'm 70).

    If you are over 60, higher cholesterol is pretty much a non issue depending of course of your actual levels and your HDL levels. Most medicine protocols are determined from general population studies. They ignore the fact that the physically fit are a different group (cohort) and often the results do not apply to the fit. I call it couch potato medicine.

    Fore example, George Bush our recent president scores in the top 1% on the Cooper Institute treadmill test. Based on their data which is based on tracking something like 45000 subjects over many years, his risk of death from all causes is about 1/12 of that of a sedentary individual.

    You can find that data in http://www.amazon.com/Physical-Activity-Health-Claude-Bouchard/dp/0736050922/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1251368883&sr=1-1

    I've been weight training for something like 30 years and aerobics for 44. I still subscribe to two sessions of weight training per week, four circuits per exercise with at least half done to failure in 5 to 7 reps. The first circuit is for warm-up/muscle recruitment with light weights.

    I take about 75 minutes for a session. I emphasize multiple muscle involvement exercises and use only free weights for that reason. Squats are probably the best total body exercise. I do 9 @ 95 lbs and three sets @ 160lbs, 7 reps.


    Al


  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by alcanoe View Post




    ...
    If you are over 60, higher cholesterol is pretty much a non issue depending of course of your actual levels and your HDL levels. Most medicine protocols are determined from general population studies. They ignore the fact that the physically fit are a different group (cohort) and often the results do not apply to the fit. I call it couch potato medicine.
    ...


    Right On. The depressing fact is that for active, fit elders docs of whatever stripe are probably among the poorest sources of good information for good health. Many times it isn't because they don't care. It is just that they don't know and don't have the time, or take the time, to find out.

    Instead of "couch potato medicine" I call this "cookbook medicine". You are a certain age, your labs show certain numbers, therefore you need to be on certain drugs. The actual facts are that test result numbers are just that, numbers. Proper interpretation for an individual is more of an art than a science. Add to that the inclination of the majority of the population to not take care of themselves and just tell the doc to "fix me" and it is easy to understand why docs take the easy way of just following the "cookbook".


    There is no substitute for your personal research and taking ownership of your own health. Unfortunately, once one goes beyond clear organic functioning there just isn't a lot of clear information on the human body so decisions are seldom without some controversy.

    Bests

  22. #22
    Dan J chinarider's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by alcanoe View Post
    According to one of my exercise/nutrition physiology books, over 35 mg/day of Niacin (from all sources) interferes with carbohydrate metabolism. Maybe you just bonked.
    Are you sure about this number? I've been taking 500 mg a day (in a supplement; not sure how much more I get from other sources). I haven't noticed any decrease in energy or endurance.
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    Quote Originally Posted by chinarider View Post
    Are you sure about this number? I've been taking 500 mg a day (in a supplement; not sure how much more I get from other sources). I haven't noticed any decrease in energy or endurance.


    I'm sure of what the book says, but I can't elaborate as the books are packed for a pending trip at the moment.

    It depends too on your diet, the heart rate while cycling, how you replenish carbs during the ride, what those carbs are, how long you were riding that day before the big climb and what you ate for the previous 24 or so hours. These factors as well as the niacin would be determinants.

    You can run pretty hard on the fat metabolism for about an hour, but eventually the lack of glucose in the bloodstream and a deficiency of glycogen in the muscles and liver catch up with you. Higher heart rates makes you more dependent on carb metabolism (serum glucose/glycogen) and you run out of gas more quickly if you don't replenish carbs or interfere with the carb metabolism.

    I read about the niacin somewhere in the first edition of this book:

    http://www.amazon.com/Sport-Nutrition-Health-Performance-2nd/dp/073605295X/ref=wl_it_dp_o?ie=UTF8&coliid=I28GCKFWBMESGR&colid=X6KTTLY5IYY


    The link is for the second edition.

    It's also logical that such a huge overdose of a nutrient is bound to have side affects. That's why I recommended checking that you really do need to reduce your cholesterol.

    Have you even done a search for those side effects? I personally don't put anything in the old body or let any one else (especially a doctor) for that matter with out a thorough search for the possible negatives.


    Al

  24. #24
    Dan J chinarider's Avatar
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    The 500 mg a day is from the book "Staying Young" by Drs Michael Roizen & Mehmet Oz (not that that necessarily makes it correct). They recommend it for lowering LDL & Triglycerides. As far as side effects, they say its rarely associated with liver problems. I'm having a retest in October so I'll see if it or something I'm doing is having a beneficial effect.

    As far as the energy issues, I regularly ride for 2 or more hours & have not noticed any effect on energy, performance or endurance.

    BTW: I'm not the OP.

    Dan
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  25. #25
    Senior Member smoore's Avatar
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    Thanks guys for all your suggestions. Looks like weight training wouldn't be a bad addition to the core exercises I do for a bad back.

    Regarding the Niacin I take; I take 2000mg per day because of very high cholesterol and triglycerides. Have tried ALL the statins and they give me severe muscle pain. This much niacin has side effects of itching and burning....but my body is adapting to that. I had not heard about possible problems metabolizing carbs and will look into that.

    Bluesdawg...you asked "what mountain". Answer: Neels Gap. You'll enjoy it when you do Six Gap this year.

    I've decided to increase my hill training and have already scheduled an appt. with my Dr. to probably have a stress test. My episode may have just been a standard "bonk"...but it's been over twenty years since I've had anything like that happen and after only three miles on the mountain seems a little odd for me?

    Finally, I'm heading back to the same place tommorw. If you see no further posts from me....I guess it was my heart after all.

    Thanks.

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