Sarcopenia is age-related muscle atrophy, that is, muscle loss associated with aging. As you can imagine a decline in skeletal muscle mass can result in undesirable symptoms such as reduced muscle strength and frailty, which often becomes more pronounced in elderly people.
This article discusses the current evidence-based, natural preventative measures that can be followed to help protect against loss of muscle fibers and muscle wasting associated with older adults.
Protein Synthesis: The Driving Force Behind Skeletal Muscles
The biological process for the construction on new protein structures is referred to a protein synthesis, in skeletal muscle tissue this is known as muscle protein synthesis (MPS). There are many various factors that influence muscle protein synthesis.
Resistance Training Stimulate Muscle Protein Synthesis
Resistance training (RT) and strength training (ST) are some of the most effective ways to stimulate muscle protein synthesis (1). However it doesn’t stop there, stimulating muscle protein synthesis through exercise, is just the start. Assuming that you actually know how to properly workout, in order for your muscles to grow via an adaptive response to exercise, the process has to be continually repeated.
For example, post-exercise muscle protein synthesis has been shown to peak at over double the baseline level within 24 hours of exercise, and subsequently returns to baseline within 36 hours of exercise (2). Therefore frequent sessions of resistance training are required to maintain an elevation in muscle protein synthesis.
It is repeated resistance training sessions that subsequently lead to muscle hypertrophy. For older adults, 3 training sessions per week should be adequate to maintain an elevation in muscle protein synthesis above that of baseline. Furthermore, it is important to note that exercise-science generally recognises that different repetition-ranges elicit different responses in adaptation.
That is, lower rep-ranges performed with heavier loads generally elicit larger gains in muscle growth and hypertrophy, whereas higher repetitions generally elicit more pronounced responses in muscle endurance.
Joint Degeneration and Restricted Blood-Flow Training
Nevertheless lifting heavy weights may not always be viable for elderly gym goers and in this instance other training methods can be used. Sports coach and nutrition expert Paul Jenkins MSc, explains: “Vascular occlusion training is particularly useful for stimulating muscular hypertrophy in older adults suffering form sarcopenia, whose aged joints