WOW | Coach Emily | Muscle Mass

 Maintaining Muscle Mass for Metabolic Health & Longevity

Did you know that muscle mass declines at a steady rate from your mid-30’s onward unless you take action to counteract this? Or that as you get older and wiser your body requires larger amounts of protein at each meal to trigger muscle protein synthesis (muscle building)?

What’s more, muscle isn’t just there to help us look good and perform better. Muscle also pulls glucose from the bloodstream without the help of insulin, helping manage blood sugar levels, balance hormones and lowering the risk for insulin resistance.

Two of the biggest levers we can pull to maintain muscle and overall health are:

1) Eat enough protein.

2) Lift heavy sh*t! 

How to get enough protein?

Research shows that current dietary guidelines for protein intake are not enough for active and older individuals. The RDA for protein (0.8g/kg) is based on the minimum amount an individual needs to prevent disease, not the optimal amount for maintaining muscle mass. 

A better guideline for maintaining that important muscle mass is to eat 1.8-2.2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. Aim for the higher end of the range if you are active and/or over the age of 40!


For a 140lb person the range is 109-138g of protein daily (conversion is .45kg/lb). 

For a 180lb person the range is 145-178g protein. 

This might feel like a lot of protein, and may initially feel difficult to fit into your day, so start slowly and experiment with what feels right for you. Some tips include:

  1. Shoot for hitting your protein targets at least 5-6 days/week.
  2. Make sure to get at least 30 grams of protein at your morning meal. One egg is only 6g protein, so two eggs alone is not enough!
  3. Ideally aim for 30+ grams at each meal to reach the threshold needed for muscle protein synthesis. 
  4. Choose a protein-rich snack post-workout or mid afternoon.

How to lift heavy sh*t?

Short answer: keep coming to the gym 2-3x/week. 

Workouts are programmed to build upper, lower and total body strength over the course of the month, while also increasing work capacity and stamina. 

While strength, stamina and work capacity are all important for helping us perform the activities we love, heavy resistance training is what stimulates muscle stem cells to build and maintain muscle. Heavy resistance training is especially important for us women from age 40 onwards as hormone levels shift, making it more difficult for our bodies to send and receive hormonal messages to regenerate muscle stem cells. 

During heavy lifting sessions, you want to aim for 3 to 6 sets of 6 or fewer reps with 2-5 min active rest between sets. You are working to increase weight each round until it is hard but still doable. 


6 rounds

4x front squats

6x ea lateral WTD step-ups 

Yogi squat

5 rounds

6x bench press

5x pull-ups

5x ea kneeling paloff press 

In summary, skeletal muscle is your armor as you age (which is happening every day to all of us)! It is never too early or late to dial in these two strategies and stay strong for years to come. 

If you have questions about how to dial in your nutrition to support your work inside the gym and out, don’t hesitate to get in touch:

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