There is an interesting phenomenon that has been developing for over a decade. It is not something that would be noticeable to the average population nor have I come across many fitness professionals who have observed it either. However within the natural bodybuilding community it has become abundantly obvious that more of today’s top level competitors are—lack of a better description—older.
Bodybuilding has long been considered a young man’s sport yet…
We Have Seen an Increasing Rate of Winners and Top Competitors Be Men in their Late Thirties, Forties and even Fifties
The scientific explanations for this trend should provide hope for trainees and bodybuilders who believe their best days are behind them as well as younger bodybuilders who are frustrated by their inability to achieve a “harder” appearance.
First allow me to clarify that the only reason I believe we are seeing this trend more amongst natural bodybuilders compared to enhanced bodybuilders has to do with the judging criteria and preferred “look” of the athletes. Whereas freakish muscle mass rules the posing dais in organizations that do not test for PED’s; natural organizations place greater emphasis on competitors level of leanness and conditioning (muscle hardness) relative to their muscle mass.
Muscle Maturity can Make a Major Difference
I remember starting my bodybuilding career as a young twenty-two year old and taking note of how most of the competitors who were placing ahead of me, but comparatively speaking were no more muscular or leaner, were almost always older. My observation was often confirmed when I would talk with the judges afterwards and was told that although I had a good frame, symmetry and an overall appealing physique I just need more time for my body to mature and achieve the harder, grainy look of my elder counterparts.
Needless to say it’s a very frustrating piece of criticism to receive when you want to be your best now and are doing what you can to add more muscle and lose more body-fat. Nonetheless the analysis of my “problem” was spot.
With each passing year I noticed my muscles taking on a different look. They were harder, fuller, and seemingly denser despite my competition weight and body-fat percentage being relatively unchanged. While some of these changes can be attributed to the addition of new muscle tissue and smarter dieting practices I can say with complete conviction that over certain periods the only gains I made were in age.
What Beef Carcass can tell us about Aging Muscles
Several animal studies support this observation, providing insight into to how age factors into the hardened appearance of
muscles. The studies, which examined the characteristics of beef carcass slaughtered at different ages, revealed the most youthful carcasses were more tender than those from the most mature carcasses . (1, 2)
A 2006 study not only confirmed the coarser texture of mature cattle carcasses but also showed that mature cattle’s possess less intramuscular fat compared to younger and intermediate cattle (3). In humans however intramuscular fat does not naturally decrease with age, but it can be lowered or kept at bay through exercise since it (like glycogen) is a primary source of energy for working muscles…
“Read the rest of this article in the new March 2015 issue!”