Don’t Miss a Single Update or New Release! Sign up Today

Power in Numbers: Here's How You Can Add Muscle After 40

Power in Numbers: Here's How You Can Add Muscle After 40

That quick glance in the mirror this morning had you thinking. It was yet another reminder that you've gained a few of the wrong type of pounds. Yet you're still working out regularly. What can you do to turn fat into muscle after 40?

Reaching middle age seems to have made it harder and harder to stay in great shape. But, it doesn't need to be that way.

An eight-week study put guys of different ages through exactly the same exercise program. Those aged between thirty-five and fifty built as much muscle as those aged between eighteen and twenty-two. Gains in strength were also very similar.

So what's the secret? Well, to put it simply, you need to act your age.

Act Your Age

Most people of varying ages respond to training in a similar way. What differs though is the size of the results and how quickly you'll achieve them.

So if you've reached middle age and want to gain muscle safely, you can attain superb gains by adapting your training routine.

As we age, our metabolisms slow down. This can mean we have to work harder to burn off the fat. We also tend to have more stresses than when we were younger. This means we may also have more excuses to distract us from the gym.

We may also be undergoing hormonal changes that cause us to gain weight.

But by following a few simple rules, you will soon be living proof that there is life after forty.

Warm Up Gently

As we get older, our bodies are more likely to experience injury. There are several preventative measures we can take in order to mitigate the risks.

Make time to warm up properly before your workout. Gone are the days when we can rush to the gym and grab the heaviest weights.

You should spend at least 15 minutes on a piece of cardio equipment before beginning to lift. This increases your core temperature. It will also help keep your blood flowing during your workout.

Choose cardio that's likely to put less stress on your knees. Running once or twice a week on a treadmill is fine. Running regularly on hard outdoor surfaces will almost inevitably cause you a knee injury at some point.

Stretch and Stretch Again

You may find that some muscles feel a bit tight or that one side of your body feels less flexible than the other. You should try some static stretching to make you feel any better.

Plan on stretching any tight muscles for one minute every day. It's fine to divide this into shorter periods. You may, for example, find it easier to do three twenty-second stretches in a day.

It's possible that you may reach a peak in your flexibility no matter how much stretching you do. This is because the extent of our flexibility is to some degree governed by our genes.

Go a Little Lighter

If you're battling with heavy weights all the time, you'll get aches and pains in your joints and ligaments. These can eventually develop into a full-blown injury which is going to have a negative impact on your training.

There is an easy answer. Simply go lighter. You will definitely build muscle doing more reps and using lighter weights.

Go for sets of eight to twelve reps for upper body exercises and twelve to twenty reps for lower body exercises. This combined with a lighter weight will trigger new growth in your muscles.

Think Smart

Start incorporating machines into your exercise routine rather than just relying on free weights. A combination of both is a great idea.

As you age the muscles that act as stabilizers begin to weaken. This means your ligaments and tendons are in more danger of injury. Using machines is going to lessen the likelihood of this happening.

Concentrate on perfecting your form and posture. Not only will this mean you are wasting less energy, but it will also again reduce the possibility of injury.

Regular Rest Breaks

Your body does need time to recover every now and again. You should include what's known as a cruise week into your routine.

If you've been training hard for several weeks, then this should be followed one week of lighter training.

Your body is not built to go hell for leather all year round. It will reach the upper limit of what it's capable of in terms of size and strength. That's the moment to allow it time to recover a bit with a cruise week.

Training Frequency

There isn't one simple rule here. We are all built differently and have unique genetic make-ups. Only you can decide what your training routine should look like whatever your time of life.

It's quite possible to enjoy a program that means lifting weights four to five times a week. However, experience shows that less is sometimes more.

A program that incorporates lifting weights no more than three times a week is probably best for anyone in their forties.

This means there'll be more time to recover. It also allows for a greater period of time between some of the more physically demanding exercises.

Consider full body programs which will give you more bang for your buck. Also add weight gradually in order to build strength. Don't increase your bench press by ten pounds every time. Instead, try adding two and a half pounds.

On the other days when you're not lifting weights, stick to twenty minutes or so or cardio exercise to burn off unwanted fat. Give yourself one complete rest day week.

A Routine That's Body Appropriate

Your body shape will help decide which exercises you're better suited to. You can adapt these to make sure you get maximum effect.

If, for example, a bench press hurts your shoulders, consider a floor press instead. This is where you stop the bar two to three inches away from your chest.

You could also try using dumbbells, turning the palms of your hands inwards and moving your elbows nearer to your body. This may well be enough to stop any shoulder pain.

Some exercises are always going to hurt. Don't ever be afraid to drop these from your routine and find alternatives that do a similar job. Remember there are many possibilities to train the same muscles. Don't get stuck on one that's painful.

Your Diet

The right nutrition is vital to maintain and build muscle. This will mean a higher intake of protein. You should always consider a protein shake or some lean meat or fish straight after your workout. This will help develop new muscle tissue.

You'll also need a healthy amount of essential fat in your diet. Carbs are also necessary for recovery and energy. What type of carbs you eat though is very important. It's no use filling up with candy bars.

When to Eat

There's a lot to be said for the old saying, 'Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dinner Like a Pauper.'

Fill up in the morning with slow release carbs like oats. Snack with fresh fruit and veg. Lunch could be pasta or rice with plenty of healthy protein. Finally, cut out the carbs in the evening. It's not when your body needs them most.

Like most things, preparation is really important. You should consider making your meals the night before to help save time. This also reduces the risk of you grabbing something quickly that may not be as healthy.

Bringing meals to work is going to help. If you have a special lunch or business dinner, be sensible and order appropriately.

Throw in regular intakes of protein after your weightlifting workouts and you'll be all set.

Keep Hydrated

Your internal organs do need to be kept hydrated. Water also keeps our joints lubricated.

It's a simple essential but it's easy to forget how important keeping hydrated is. An easy way to maintain your hydration levels is always to drink water during your workout sessions.

Make sure a water bottle is always in your kit bag when you head for the gym

Cut Down on Alcohol

Most people don't realize that alcohol is high in calories. You may understand that treating yourself to a pizza is a bit of a luxury that you'll need to burn off.

A glass of beer may have the same number of calories as a big scoop of ice cream. All that could be turned into unwanted fat.

Sometimes when we drink we also indulge in high-calorie take-out food on the way back from a night out. Drinking less will help make it simpler to keep to more healthy meal choices That's going to have a positive impact on your waistline.

Gaining Muscle after 40

It is definitely possible to gain muscle after 40 and for long after. You won't need to make drastic changes to your workout program. It's wise though to adapt it to reduce the likelihood of injury.

You've hit forty so make forty minutes the maximum length of your workout. That's enough to see serious gains in muscle, strength, and energy.

Add to this a little professional expertise and you're well on the way to a healthier lifestyle. Enroll with us now and let us help you live better and for longer.

About the author

Dr. Constance Odom, MD

6 min read