LiftingIn November of 2010 I wrote an article entitled “Middle Age and the Decline of Muscle Mass”. That writing focused on the effects of Sarcopenia towards the middle age and even the elderly.  The purpose of this article will be to go into further research and gear towards the more serious weight lifter.  We will not only review the literature on what Sarcopenia is and its effects, but also shed light on how one may go about being proactive (with the latest research) in the fight to keep as much muscle mass as possible as we age. This will be done from a strength & conditioning and nutritional standpoint addressing the serious athlete, former athletes, bodybuilders, power lifters and even the general fitness people who were weight training in the 1970’s and 80’s who still just want to retain and even obtain a muscular look.

LET’S REVIEW: The term Sarcopenia comes from the Greek word Sarx (meaning flesh) and Penia (meaning loss) and was termed by Dr. Rosenburg in 1989 in which he made an effort to identify the age associated with the loss of muscle mass and functional capacity. Sarcopenia is neither a disease, nor a syndrome and until 2009 there was no generally accepted definition in the Medical Literature.

From a general population standpoint, muscle can start to atrophy in individuals as early as the third decade. However that’s the general population. We’re focusing on the serious lifters, “baby boomers” and individuals who make fitness a lifestyle. These individuals may not experience the effects of Sarcopenia until they reach into their late 40’s or even into one’s 50’s. However Sarcopenia appears to begin generally in the fourth decade of one’s life and accelerates after the age of 75 years. (Waters, Baumgartner & Garry 2000).

Sarcopenia is determined by mainly two factors:  the initial amount of muscle fiber an individual has and the rate in which aging decreases muscle mass. With the loss of muscular strength, comes muscular wasting and this can vary greatly from person to person and even the most serious of lifters. However, to the extent it happens is up to the individual. With appropriate measures, Sarcopenia can partly be reversible especially with resistance training.

Resistance training as most people know affects the Type II muscle fibers (Type IIa muscle fibers are fibers that demand short plus long bouts of energy and Type IIb muscle fibers are strictly for short bouts of power and for maximal force generation that can last up to 8-10 seconds).  With Sarcopenia, there is a decrease in circumference in these types of muscle fibers with little to no decrease in the Type I (slow twitch) fibers. Type II fibers are often converted to Type I fibers reinnervation by slow type I fiber motor nerves. Anytime type II fibers are switched to type I fiber, there can be some serious loss of muscular size at any age but especially in the older population.

CAUSES: One theory is that Sarcopenia is caused by a certain degree of failure in satellite cell activation. Satellite cells are small mononuclear cells that abut the muscle fiber. These cells are activated mainly by exercise or even upon injury. These cells during exercise differentiate and fuse into the muscle fiber helping to maintain the muscles function. (Ryall JG, Schertzer JD, Lynch GS, August 2008).  When these cells as we age fail to activate due to the onset of Sarcopenia, maintaining the muscle mass that we do have is even harder to accomplish. In addition to age, the onset of certain chronic diseases results also in a greater risk of muscular degeneration and functional deficits. Osteoporosis, arthritis, cardiovascular disease, obesity, and insulin resistance are demonstrated to be highly associated with the onset of Sarcopenia.

Another cause of Sarcopenia and the muscle loss associated with it are the lack of anabolic signals such as growth hormones and testosterone, plus the production of catabolic signals such as pro-inflammatory cytokines (Ryall JG, Schertzer JD, Lynch GS, August 2008).    

A decrease in protein synthesis may also contribute to Sarcopenia. Because of these many factors, a person may not be able to lift as heavy of weight as they once did when they were younger.

From this lack of muscle mass and thus lack of strength also comes another very important factor – joint degeneration.  I’ve always said that the muscles will get smaller but they’ll last forever, the joints however will wear out long before. The integrity of the joint can suffer, whether it’s the shoulders, hips or knee joints. This is due mainly because of the onset of arthritis and or the degeneration of soft tissue. The joint can also suffer because of the reduction of elasticity plus the range of motion that the joint suffers due to the stress it was put under during resistance training when one was younger, all the way up until his or her present age. The wear and tear of daily activities due to what’s simply called “life” can also be a contributing factor to joint degeneration.

MY INJURY: On January the 21st of this year (2015) I was scheduled to do some light snatches that morning. Each Wednesday I will either perform a type of “Clean” variation or (like I was that Wednesday morning) some type of snatch variation. That particular Wednesday it was light hang “Snatches” just to rev up my metabolic rate to get me ready for the rest of my workout which included Hamstring work.   

I did my usual warm-up consisting of light static and dynamic stretches then performed some light snatches with a PVC pipe, a 15 Kilo bar, and then a 30 Kilo Olympic bar. I decided after the first 2 sets from a hang position I would perform a set from the floor—no big deal since I was using some very light weight. However on the very first rep (all sets were reps of 4) when the bar passed the knee on the second pull, I exploded up into extension, and when I did my right knee exploded! I had pulled the quadriceps tendon off the knee cap, which is called an avulsion fracture.

So where do I go from here? Well as of today, July the 23rd I am now 6 months out from surgery. My physical therapy went great and just a few weeks ago I was back squatting performing the leg press and doing single leg squats (Bulgarians), all light weight of course and working slowly into full range of motion on all exercises. On my next leg training day, I have been given permission to start adding the weight slowly to all my exercises except for one exception; NO explosive movements such as the snatch in which I was injured.

I must admit that I have been known to push the envelope from time to time but there’s a difference between being mentally tough and just plain stupid! Don’t think I’ll be attempting any Snatches or Cleans at least for a while. Why? As we age, the joints take on

(especially in active individuals) a lot of stress during that time. The day to day wear and tear can cause arthritis, cartilage degeneration, tendonitis, and something that caused my quadriceps tendon injury, calcium deposits on my quad tendon.

Before my injury my knee joints had never felt better. Yes, I had had some quadriceps tendonitis in the past but that was years ago. I was very fortunate to have one of the best orthopedic doctors and surgeons, Dr. Scott O’Neal. When Dr. O’Neal showed me the x-rays and the MRI, he pointed out something that really caught me off guard and that was calcium deposits forming on the quadriceps tendon. This can cause the tendon to become weak and can certainly compromise the integrity of the joint especially with explosive movements.  So how was I to know that these calcium deposits were forming and weakening the quad tendons, unless I went to have an x-ray every 6 months? But as Dr. O’Neal states, “Chip’s history of prior quadriceps tendinitis was a risk factor for developing the calcium deposits, but that having them does not require prophylactic surgery to remove and re-attach the tendon unless they are causing symptoms.  In Chip’s case, he had no symptoms until the injury.  The pathologic process that leads to the condition is primarily degenerative in nature.  The insertion site of the tendon into the bone moves through a transition zone from primarily fibrous tissue (the tendon itself) to a fibrocartilage zone (the actual attachment site on the bone).  With repetitive microtrauma comes inflammation and classic changes associated with acute tendinitis. These changes are reversible with rest, anti-inflammatories, and rehab. However, with continued injury/trauma and continued and repetitive stress on the joint the changes become degenerative in nature.  As a response the body can deposit calcium in the area of chronic inflammation and degeneration, leading to what is described as an enthesophyte.  This occurs within the fibrocartilage transition zone, which weakness the attachment site of the tendon to bone. Typically fracture or avulsion of the enthesophyte will occur with an explosive movement, which in Chip’s case was doing snatches, which of course is an explosive movement.  Enthesophytes are common and can develop in other sites around the body such as the achilles tendon, patella tendon, or tricep tendon.  Again, prophylactic surgery to remove the enthesophyte is only necessary if they are symptomatic.  Usually they can be managed with some activity modification and rehab, but occasionally they do require operative intervention.   

So with that being said by my personal orthopedic, my injury didn’t take place until I was 59. I started lifting in high school so my knee injury didn’t take place until after 40 years of lifting and training each body part once or twice a week. How about the popular routines now where one is training each body part or one particular exercise every day? This population should definitely take notice.

(NOTE: I was back squatting and working legs 6 months after the surgery).

SLOWING DOWN OR MINIMIZING SARCOPNIA: So what does one do to slow down or minimize this process that naturally occurs to a lesser or greater degree?  From a strength and conditioning standpoint, let me offer what the research states and what I believe to be some sound principles when trying to hold back “father time” and being proactive against it. I’m going to include some of my own anecdotal evidence as well because of me being in the strength & conditioning field for over 35 years, plus continuing to resistance train 4 to 6 days a week since the mid 70’s, in addition to competing in bodybuilding in the late 70’s and early 80’s, (the Golden Age of Bodybuilding).

THE IMPORTANCE OF RESISTANCE TRAINING: Sarcopenia is accelerated with the lack of exercise and physical activity, especially when it comes to the lack of overload to the muscle, as in weight training. So naturally it can be stated that physically inactive adults will experience a faster and greater loss of muscle mass than physically active adults. Resistance training does not put an end to Sarcopenia completely, however it can be slowed down to a lesser degree in those who are more physically active plus the type of resistance training is the key. The intensity and progression will also determine positive results, but remember, we’re referring to (in this article) the serious weight trainer.  The one set per major muscle group that the ACSM recommends is not going to get the job done. Most studies involving strength and hypertrophy with older adults have performed 2 to 3 sets per body part (Porter 2000). Still in my personal experience working with the serious middle-aged and older individual, and with my own personal workouts, I’ll perform anywhere from 8 to 15 sets per muscle group per week and will also perform anywhere from 3-6 sets per exercise.

A Meta-Analysis study that was published in the Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research (2009) 23: 1890-1900 by James Kreiger, addresses this issue of just how many sets per exercise is optimal.  A Meta-Analysis is a study that looks at a collection of research studies as one entity and makes a conclusion based upon the data from the cumulative research. Kreiger found 14 studies that compared single- set to multiple-set workouts and took into consideration other variables that could affect the results such as training intensity and the frequency of workouts. Kreiger found that the 2-3 set protocol produced 46 percent greater gains in strength than did the one set, however the 4-6 set range produced 13 percent greater gains than did the 2-3 set protocol. So in the long run, the extra set (4-6) definitely was worth the effort according to his research.

However, for this article we’re talking about the middle age and older group. How much more important is it for the age range that we’re discussing, to perform more work to hold on to more muscle mass than those in their 20’s and 30’s? I would say, much more! And in reference to more work, the type of resistance training that would give an individual a better chance to hold on or to even build hypertrophy would be centered around movements that would give one more Time Under Tension (TUT). Yes, I love the Kettlebell swings and the Olympic Lifts and variations of those exercises. However the movements that will give one more “bang for their buck” when it comes to strength and hypertrophy, will be that of the bench press, squats, dead-lifts and over- head presses, plus variations of each. I still believe however in training in all rep ranges even into ones 50’s and beyond. By that I mean,from 20 reps on up for muscular endurance and to enhance work capacity, to 10’s and 15’s for hypertrophy, 4-6 reps for muscular strength, and 2’s and 3’s for power. Reps and the weight used should be dictated by the periodization model that you are in or following at the time.

WORKOUT FREQUENCY: The frequency for a mature and frail adult has not been definitely established. Maintenance of strength in senior adults has been achieved with as little as just one workout per week (Porter 2000). But again we’re not talking about frail senior adults! There is plenty of research to confirm that resistance training preformed up to 2-3 X per week, one should separate those workouts at least by 48 hours. However, if I had trained each major body part two or even three times a week during my 40 some years of training, I would have had joint replacements a long time ago! The recovery of one’s Central Nervous System (CNS) and the stress on the joints are just not the same as it was when we were in our teens, twenties and even our thirties.

However, with new research coming out all the time, training each major body part just once a week with multiple sets ranging anywhere from 12 to 20 may not be the best way to obtain muscle hypertrophy. Brad Schoenfeld spoke this past July in Orlando at the National Strength & Conditioning Association National Convention in which I attended. Brad spoke on “Manipulating Resistance Training Variables for Maximal Muscular Growth” In his presentation he stated that in his research 2/3’s of all bodybuilders train each major body part only once a week with multiple sets anywhere from 12 on up. Interesting enough in his studies, bodybuilders who trained each body part 2-3 times a week yet reduced the number of sets in a single workout gained more muscular growth or hypertrophy than those who trained each body part just once a week. So as an older adult or really at any age, instead of performing 12 sets a body part in a single workout once a week, try performing only 6 sets each workout twice a week. Your sets can be more or less but you’re still getting the same number of sets a body part for the entire week.

This would be a great way to obtain more frequency when training a particular body part while having another way to save the joint from the wear and tear of resistance training. Just make sure there is at least 48 hours recovery time. Frequency and just how much volume during a given week is something to consider when trying to obtain as much muscle mass as possible and more importantly trying to head off sarcopenia.     

THE IMPORTANCE OF CONSISTANCY:  Your workouts can’t be consistent one week and then inconsistent the next when results are desired. Consistency is not an option. Whether your routine is 3 days a week or a 4-6 day split, each workout must be one where you stimulate muscle fiber enough to force a neurological response and hypertrophy comes about. You’ve heard the old saying, “stimulate, eat, rest, and repeat.” This is so very true and repeating consistently is the key! And yes, “easy to lose and hard to gain muscle” is correct especially as we age, however the mistake I made as a young adult is not taking enough time off during the year to help the recovery of injuries and of the central nervous system (CNS). I would take a week off 2-3 times during a year of hard training but should have taken more.

As an older adult, taking time off is even more important than during those younger training years. One still wants to still be consistent when it comes to a lifestyle of training but taking time off to keep the bodies and the CNS from burning out, trying to rest because of injury or when one has hit a plateau in their training is of the most importance. During those times, it’s important to back-off for a few days or even a week to let the body recover.  Don’t let this down time turn into a weeks or a month because there’s too much muscle to be lost when taking that much time off especially now that we are wiser to the effects of sarcopenia.

THE ROLE OF GOOD NUTRITION & SUPPLEMENTATION: Look at the collegiate or the NFL football players of the 1970’s, 80’s, 90’s and into the 2000’s. Each decade these athletes get bigger and stronger. The reason is better and more advanced strength & conditioning programs plus the tremendous impact proper nutrition can have on athletic performance. So then, it stands to reason that the same can be said for the advancement of nutrition when it comes to aging muscularity.

If you are still living an active lifestyle and trying to stay in good shape into your 40’s and beyond, then you should be aware of how important good nutrition is and just how important it is to be eating from all of the different food groups. However for this article I’d like to put the emphasis on the different types of nutritional supplements that can aid with overall health, immune system function along with anti-inflammatory responses and supplements that will help with trying to keep as much muscle as possible during the latter years. There’s a long list of these types of supplements. I’ll just list what I fill are the most important and what the current research states on each.

FISH OIL: “Google” the benefits of fish oil and you’ll be reading for days. Find me a disease that fish oil is not good for and well you’ll be searching for a while. Fish oil, krill oil and flaxseed are the major players when it comes to omega-3 fatty acids, which is a polyunsaturated fatty acid. These polyunsaturated fatty acids are considered essential mainly because the human body cannot manufacture them in appreciable amounts. I put fish oil at the top of the list because it’s the grand-daddy of the Omega-3 fatty acids simply because of all (and there’s ton) of research on fish oil.  As far as helping the fight against sarcopenia, fish oil helps in the process of Muscle Protein Synthesis (MPS). According to an article by Keith Baar PhD at the department of Physiology and Membrane Biology at the University of California Davis, and Lisa E. Heaton MS,RD, CSSD at the Gatorade Sports Science Institute, the majority of studies examining the impact of Omega-3 fatty acids on MPS have been conducted in older populations (>60 yr) or animals. In one particular study, Omega-3 fatty acid intake resulted in greater activation of m-TORC1 during periods of high insulin and amino acid infusion in older adults (Smith et al., 2011a). In another follow-up study, the authors found that the anabolic response to insulin was greater after supplementation with 4 grams of long chain Omega-3s (including 1.86 g EPA, 1.50 g DHA) daily for 8 weeks Smith et al., 2011b). Baar and Heaton go on to say that these studies support the hypothesis that when insulin and amino acid levels are high, such as following a large meal, adequate amounts of Omega3 fatty acids may improve MPS through the activation of m-TOR1. The article states that while this research is very exciting more needs to be done to establish whether these findings extend to athletes. However we’re not taking about athletes when it comes to the older population. For the “baby-boomers” this is very good useable information! These are just two of many studies and the list goes on and on with research pointing towards the positive benefits of fish oils. One of the leading authorities on fish oil is Hector Lopez, Chief Medical Officer for The Center for Applied Health Sciences. In his presentation at the 13th annual ISSN conference in Colorado Springs, “Fish Oil for Athletes”, Hector presented a study that was conducted by Cintia Rodacki which was entitled, “Fish Oil Supplementation Enhances the effects of Strength training in Elderly”. In this study that she conducted along with her colleagues, there were some very positive markers pointing to the fact that fish oil did just that, improve strength. So if little old ladies can improve their strength by supplementing fish oil into their diet it stands to reason that some old time weight lifters can also. Suggested use is between 1 and 3 g/d.

VITAMIN D: One of the leading, if not the leading authority in sports nutrition and supplements, is the International Society of Sports Nutrition (ISSN). In one of their latest books, “The Essentials of Sports Nutrition and Supplements,” it states that other important nutritional needs for the exercising elderly include vitamin D and calcium intake plus adequate hydration. It goes on to state that among other functions vitamin D promotes calcium absorption and bone mineralization and in recent studies indicates that vitamin D may have a role in muscular strength! Vitamin D deficiency can also lead to an increase in hip fractures in older adults plus elderly individuals have a higher risk for developing a vitamin D deficiency because of decreased synthesis and a decrease in conversion of vitamin D to its active form in the kidneys. The dietary allowance for vitamin D, recommended by the “Food and Nutrition Board Institute of Medicine” is 4000 IU’s a day for men and women between the ages of 51-70.

PROTEIN: One of my favorite individuals to listen to is Darryn Willoughby, PhD who is currently an associate professor of Exercise and Nutritional Biochemistry at Baylor University in Waco Texas. This past May (2015) at Europa University (a nutritional seminar held by the ISSN in conjunction with Europa Sports Products), Dr. Willoughby presented a lecture entitled

“Supplements for Muscle Mass”. As we all know gaining muscle mass is hard to accomplish without a good amount of protein. Dr. Willoughby presented 4 basic facts about the different types of protein.

1) Whey, casein, egg, and soy protein supplements have all been shown to be effective at increasing MPS (or markers indicative of MPS) when provided before and/or immediately following resistance exercise.

2) Of these, whey has been shown to be the most bioavailable, thereby presumably resulting in a greater impact on MPS for several hours following ingestion and resistance exercise.

3) However, other protein sources are effective too. Their bioavailability may be slower than whey, but over the course of 5-6 hours following

ingestion/resistance exercise, their overall impact on MPS can be similar to whey.

4) Moral of the story….whey is good as a pre-and/or post-workout protein, but casein and others may be more suitable as between-meal or nighttime protein sources to maintain muscle anabolism over several hours.

Now with all the facts being stated above and how important protein is for increasing MPS, the question is, does the older population need more total protein? We do know that ISSN position stand on daily protein requirements are as follows:

General Population (19 years of age and up) for non-exercising individuals is 0.8 g/kg of BW

Endurance Athletes: 1.0 to 1.6 g/kg of BW

Strength & Power Athletes: 1.6 to 2.0 g/kg of BW and with new research that may go up to even 2.2 g/kg of BW.

We also know that those strength & power athletes should be getting around 20-25 grams of protein with each meal. Anthony Almada, nutritional / exercise biochemist even suggest that those same strength & power athletes under 225 pounds should be getting anywhere from 18 to 25 grams of protein per meal. 25-30 grams per meal for if one’s body weight is over 225 pounds! Makes since, the more muscle mass the more protein needed.

But what about the older population when it comes to protein requirements? Should it be higher because of a reduced rate of absorption as we age? This question was posed to Dr. Darryn Willoughby at that same nutritional seminar “Europa University” and he agreed, “it would seem so,  as we get older if we can’t absorb as much protein it would make sense that we would need more so that we can ingest more.”

In the “Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition”;   ISSN exercise & sport nutrition review: Position Stand, Protein and Exercise; states that

“The active elderly population may require intakes ranging from 1.4 to 2.0g/kg of BW a day, and that this level of protein is safe. Isn’t it interesting that this level is the almost the same as the “strength & power” athletes!

BRANCH CHAIN AMINO ACIDS: If sarcopenia starts sometime in the 4th decade of one’s life, then there’s nothing more important than to stay anabolic during the day and that requires the stimulation of muscle protein synthesis (MPS). The reason why I like Branch Chain Amino Acids (BCAA’s) so much is because they do just that, help stimulate MPS and the BCAA that stimulates it the most is Leucine. The BCAA’s also contain Isoleucine and Valine in which all three of the BCAA’s are a part of the Essential Amino Acids (EAA). They are Essential (along with 6 other amino acids) because the body cannot manufacture them; they must be consumed in one’s diet. One of the many great things about BCAA’s is when ingested they appear rapidly in the blood stream exposing muscles to high concentrations which in turn make them exceptional regulators of (MPS).  Research conducted by Garlick, and his colleagues titled “The role of Leucine in Regulation of Protein Metabolism”, using rodents found that BCAA’s were able to stimulate MPS to the same degree as all 9 EAA’s. However, when they examined even further, only Leucine was able to stimulate MPS all by itself! They also found that taking BCAA’s between meals extended MPS by extending the energy status of the muscle fiber. It should be noted that other studies have also supported the contention that leucine stimulates MPS using more importantly, human subjects. So as you can see, ingesting BCAA’s with a greater ratio and concentration of leucine is a great way to help stay anabolic at any age.

CREATINE: In my opinion this supplement is what any strength and power athlete should be taking no matter what the age. The research is clear: Creatine works. If you want to get stronger and more explosive, then this supplement is the first to take. For the older population who still hits the weight room on a regular basis—BINGO—this is what we need! According to the “Essentials of Sports Nutrition and Supplementation,” the majority of studies (about 70%) indicates that Creatine supplementation promotes a statistically improvement in exercise capacity. It goes on to state that this means that 95 times out of 100 one will experience an improvement in exercise performance and the only side effect weight gain. Dosages should range from 3-6 grams a day taken before, during or after workouts, however most of the studies indicate that better results will come when taken after workouts.

HMB (Beta-hydroxy-beta-methyl-butyrate): Jacob Wilson PhD, professor in the department of Health Sciences and Human Performance at the University of Tampa has probably done more on HMB than anyone I know. In his presentation at Europa Universities Nutritional Seminar in April 2013, “HMB, A Novel Look”, Dr. Wilson had some very interesting facts and positive statements on this supplement for gaining strength, power and hypertrophy. First the facts:

1) HMB is a metabolite of the branch-chain amino acid, Leucine.

2) The average man only produces 0.3 grams of HMB a day.

3) However the most efficacious dose seen in studies is 3 grams a day. It would take nearly 600 grams of protein to produce this amount.

4) HMB blunts age related muscle loss by preventing muscular breakdown and as we know when we age, muscle goes down and fat mass I’m sorry to say goes up.

Then Dr. Wilson asked the question, “If HMB prevents muscle breakdown, then how might it affect the aging? He presented at Europa University a 12 week study on the elderly that showed increases in knee extensor, knee flexion and grip strength with subjects on HMB. Also HMB was shown to decrease protein breakdown and increase mitochondrial biogenesis (improve endurance) and decrease fat mass.

• JOINT SUPPLEMENTS: A whole article could be written on the importance of Joint Supplementation, especially when it deals with the aging population. As I always have said, “the muscle may get smaller as we age but they’ll last forever, however the joints will not.” Being proactive with taking joint supplements should be the protocol for every person over the age of 40 no matter if they “Hit the Iron” or not. But because of the wear & tear on the joint (that we discussed earlier), I believe it’s essential to do everything we possibly can to head of any kind of joint problem; especially God forbid, joint replacement!

Type 2 Collagen:   Type 2 collagen is the foundation for articular cartilage and hyaline cartilage. It makes up around 50% of all protein in cartilage and 85 to 90%of collagen of the articular cartilage. This type of cartilage provides tensile strength to connective tissues.  Tim Ziegenfuss, PhD is one of the leading researchers when it comes to Type II Collagen. He spoke at the 2014 ISSN National Convention in Clearwater, Florida (in which I attended) and presented his 6 week study and found that his Biocell Collagen may enhance skeletal muscle tissue and/or  EMC

(Extracellar Matrix) remodeling in response to repeated, intense resistance exercise. Repeated and intense are the key words. When one has been lifting and exercising anywhere from 4 to 5 decades or longer then that’s repeated! So then, if Type 2 collagen supplementation showed an improvement with no side effects, then it’s worth taking.

Glucosamine: “The Essentials of Sports Nutrition and Supplements” documents that Glucosamine is taken to help maintain cartilage and improve joint elasticity plus inhibit joint degradation. Glucosamine is an amino sugar and is found in greatest concentrations within the articular cartilage. Suggested use is between 1500—2000 mg/d as Glucosamine Sulfate.

Chondroitin Sulfate: “The Essentials of Sports Nutrition and Supplements” also states that Chondroitin Sulfate Inhibits joint degradation and helps maintain cartilage and connective tissue elasticity. Chondroitin Sulfate is found in the joints, where they bind water to maintain fluid volume within the joint and help keep the joint moist and also spongy. Suggested use is between 800mg/d and 1.5 g/d consumed with food.

Hyaluronic Acid: Acts much like Chondroitin Sulfate and is actually in the same family as Chondroitin which are called Glycosaminoglycan’s (GAGs) and are unique unbranched polysaccharides that play an important role in the maintenance of joint cartilage. Hyaluronic Acid also helps maintain cartilage and elasticity in the connective tissue and acts as a cushion and lubricate the joints. Because it binds with water, both Chondroitin and Hyaluronic Acid may work better when drinking plenty of H2o. Hyaluronic Acid can also be found in the supplement Biocell Collagen.   

PROBIOTICS: Those of us in our 50’s and beyond know the importance of stomach and gastrointestinal health. It seems like digestive issues are or can be a part of everyday life as we get older. Probiotics have come to the forefront in the last decade as research has shown that they have helped with the overall improvement of gastrointestinal health. As stated in “Sports Nutrition and Performance Enhancing Supplements,” probiotics are often referred to as the “friendly bacteria” and are live microorganisms which when administered in adequate amounts confer a health benefit.” The consumption of probiotics has been shown to improve intestinal macrobiotic balance and thereby supports healthy immune functions and digestive health. They have also been shown to reduce the number, duration and the severity of the upper respiratory tract infections (URTI) and gastrointestinal (GI) distress in the general population and in the risk sub-groups such as the older population. Probiotics also have been shown to improve nutrient absorption (critical when protein absorption is of the upmost importance when aging).


Ten out of every ten people die; no research needed to back up that statement. We can try to hold back father time and can hopefully slow it down to some extent, but sooner or later the clock will stop. However, we at least can try to improve the quality of our lives in our latter years with proper nutrition and exercise. Sarcopenia can be slowed down if effective protocol is followed as described in this article.  The “baby-boomers” try to hold on to those great workouts they had in the 70’s and 80’s but time does take its toll, with torn tendons and joint replacements. In the golden age of body building and power lifting (although power lifting is compensatory acceleration), our workouts were slow and controlled movements. Just an observation (for another article) but I wonder what the “Crossfit” community will look like in 20 to 30 years since their movements are explosive and ballistic in nature. Not to bash Crossfit, I like the sport, it gets people moving and that’s always a good thing but nevertheless, what will the joints look like?

The same holds true with Power-Lifters and people wanting to simply gain hypertrophy. I’m sure you’ve seen the “You-Tube” videos of the popular workouts which include squatting and bench pressing every day or multiple days a week (the Bulgarian Method). Now if I was in my 20’s, 30’s or even in my 40’s (instead of being 60 which I am now) that’s the workouts I would perform simply because I like hard work and love to squat (not sure about everyday)! However once again, yes the tendons and ligaments will adapt and get stronger, but what about the soft tissue of the shoulders (the labrum) and the cartilage in the knees? What will they look and feel like in ones 50’s and beyond? And let’s not forget the calcium deposits forming on the tendons. One thing is for sure, the older we get the smarter we must train to help prevent injury. Hopefully in the near future exercise science and more advanced nutritional supplementation will help us hold back “Father Time”.

Until then, when our time does run out and they lay us to rest, our bodies will be broken and worn out, why? Because we did something. We were competitive.

We lived life and tried new things and took chances—and that is what life is all about…isn’t it?

pic_Chip_SigmonChip Sigmon
Europa Sports Products Fitness/Wellness Coordinator
Head Strength & Conditioning Coach Appalachian State University 1984-1990
Strength & Conditioning Coach Charlotte Hornets NBA team 1990-2001
Certified NSCA


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Ryall JG, Schertzer JD, Lynch GS, August 2008. “Cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying age-related skeletal muscle wasting and weakness”. Biogerontology

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Porter, M.M. 2000. “Resistance Training Recommendations for Older Adults” Topics in Geriatric Rehabilitation 15(3): 60-69. From the article, “ Sarcopenia: The Mystery of Muscle Loss” by Chantal Vella, MS and Len Kravita, PhD

Schoenfeld B., Presenting at the NSCA, National Convention, 7/2015 “Manipulating Resistance Training Variables for Maximal Muscular Growth”

Baar K.PhD. Heaton L. “In Season Recovery Nutrition for American Football”, Gatorade Sports Science Institute, Sports Science Exchange, (2015) Vol. 28, No.144,

1- 6

Lopez H. CMO, Presenting at the 13th Annual ISSN national conference, (2013) “Fish Oil for the Athlete”

“Essentials of Sports Nutrition and Supplements”, Edited by, J. Antonio PhD., D. Kalman PhD, RD, J. Stout PhD, M. Greenwood PhD, D. Willoughby PhD, G. Haff PhD, Chapter 19, Pages 404-405 (Vit. D)

Willoughby, D. PhD. Presenting at Europa University, ISSN  nutrition seminar, May 2015 “Supplements for Muscle Mass”

Almada, A, MSC, FISSN, “Protein Needs and Wants: Gut Empty and Muscle Full”

Protein Requirements; International Society of Sports Nutrition, Position Stand: Protein and Exercise

“International Society of Sports Nutrition position stand: protein

and exercise” Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition 2007, 4:8

Garlick PJ. “The Role of Leucine in the Regulation of Protein Metabolism”. J. of Nutrition June 2005; 135 (6 Suppl): 1553S-1556S. From the book: “Sports Nutrition and Sports Enhancing Supplements” Antonio J. PhD and Ryan-Smith, A., PhD. Chapter 2 Page 33.

“Essentials of Sports Nutrition and Supplements”, Edited by, J. Antonio PhD., D. Kalman PhD, RD, J. Stout PhD, M. Greenwood PhD, D. Willoughby PhD, G. Haff PhD, Creatine, Chapter 20, pages 422-423

Wilson J. PhD. Presented at ISSN Europa University Nutritional Seminar, April 2013. “HMB, a Novel Look”

Ziegenfuss T. PhD., Presented at the ISSN June, 2014 nation conference, “BioCell Collagen”

“Essentials of Sports Nutrition and Supplements”, Edited by, J. Antonio PhD., D. Kalman PhD, RD, J. Stout PhD, M. Greenwood PhD, D. Willoughby PhD, G. Haff PhD. Glucosamine, Chapter 22, page 492-493.

“Essentials of Sports Nutrition and Supplements”, Edited by, J. Antonio PhD., D. Kalman PhD, RD, J. Stout PhD, M. Greenwood PhD, D. Willoughby PhD, G. Haff PhD. Chondroitin Sulfate, Chapter 22, page 476-475

“Sports Nutrition and Performance Enhancing Supplements” Antonio J. PhD and Ryan-Smith, A., PhD. Hyaluronic Acid, Chapter 3, page 59.

“Sports Nutrition and Performance Enhancing Supplements” Antonio J. PhD and Ryan-Smith, A., PhD. Probiotics, Chapter 9, page 321.