Workout Routine for Man over 40

by Benjamin Bunting BA(Hons) PGCert

Ben Bunting BA(Hons) PGCert Sports and Exercise Nutrition Level 2 Strength and Conditioning CoachWritten by Ben Bunting: BA, PGCert. (Sport & Exercise Nutrition) // British Army Physical Training Instructor // S&C Coach.

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It's never too late for you to start training and building muscles, no matter how old you are. It's not worth stopping training after a certain age. The benefits of exercising far outweigh those of being inactive. 

If you're over 40, and have never trained before, it can be hard to start training. This is especially true when it comes time to build muscle. You may have read that hormones can change and muscles are lost as you age. 

It can be intimidating to start or continue training when the media and public tell you "you are no longer a youth." 

However, it's not nearly as difficult as people make it out to be. You can build muscles well past your 40s. 

Ben Bunting is the author of this article. Ben Bunting is a UK-based military physical training instructor. He specializes in training military personnel to be fit for operations and developing training programs for injuries rehabilitation. 

Age, hormones and muscle

The claims of muscle loss and hormone decline as we age may be true, but these effects do not fully manifest themselves until our 60s. 

Between the ages 20-30, males will reach their peak strength. It doesn't necessarily mean that it will decrease automatically on your 30th. Strength and muscle mass are maintained well for the next two decades. 

We don't need to be concerned about strength loss until our retirement. 

If you train regularly from a young age, you can build up your strength to a point where it is likely to last until you reach your 60s. 

You still may have potential for improvement, even though the science was geared towards elite athletes. 

What if you have never attempted to gain muscle but are in your forties?

Start immediately. You might think, after reading the above information, that your peak is past. This doesn't stop you from exercising - it will make you stronger, bigger and more fit. 

Train in your 40s

The group 1 is for those who have been in training since their 20s or 30s. 

My best advice is to continue training as usual if you have been doing so consistently throughout your 20s, 30s and beyond. 

You've done well if you train in a manner that has helped you build muscle, strength and general fitness. You should give yourself a high-five. 

It is best to take a short break when you are taking a while to heal or gain strength. 

You might think you are ready to change your training, so continue reading. 

This group is for those who are new to the training system. 

It is important to know the basic principles of building muscle if you are new to exercise, no matter your age. 

It is important to have good form and an understanding of the volume, intensity and progressive overload. 

Also, you should pat yourself on the back! You should be proud of yourself for starting training at 40 years old. 

Good Form

It is important to use the right form and technique so as not to injure yourself. You'll obviously want to avoid this at any age. 

The correct technique allows all the muscles involved to be used and encouraged to grow. 

It is worth investing in a good trainer or coach to avoid injury and live your life free of pain. It is important to avoid injury before building muscle. 

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Volume and intensity

It is important to have a relationship between intensity and volume when putting together an exercise programme for bodybuilders, powerlifters, or recreational gym users. 

You could spend hours delving into these variables, but the truth is, you only need to understand that the intensity and volume decrease as the volume rises. 

The volume of your work is what you call it. Volume can be calculated by multiplying the weight by the number of sets and reps. 

The intensity of the effort is what makes it difficult. A set of eight with 70% of the one-rep maximum would be more intense than a three set with 90%. 

Keep this in mind if you are going to take charge of your training. It's not a good idea to go from four sets of eight with 70% intensity to four sets of eight with 90%. The volume and intensity of the workout will increase dramatically. 

You'll need to reduce the number of reps or sets you do to increase the weight. 

It is best to start with the same weight and increase slowly the number of reps. 

Progressive Overload

Volume and intensity go hand-in-hand with progressive overload. You need to slowly push your body to adapt if you want to grow stronger or bigger.  

If you're reading this, you might think that strength is not important. The two are linked, no matter if you're 20 or 40. 

The human body tends to be lazy. The body likes to conserve energy and stay put. It will not adapt or grow if the difficulty of exercise doesn't increase. 

Remember that I also said gradual increases. It's not a good idea to say "I've got 100kg on the bench, so I think I'll go for 120kg", that's a big jump. You'll be pinned down to the bench. 

Put It Together

This article will include a lifting routine for beginners and more experienced lifters. 

We will now explain the changes that it undergoes and how to adapt. 

Imagine that you want to increase your bench press. Your one-rep max might be around 120kg. You can't complain, but want to improve it. You might want to train like this: 

Session 1 Session 2  Session 3
Bench press 4x8 at 85kg Bench Press 5x6 at 90kg Bench Press 6x4 at 95kg

 

You might think "three chest exercises a week is a bit excessive" but powerlifters bench regularly and this helps to build a larger chest.

Second, as you reduce the number of reps, your sets will increase and so will the weight. It allows you to rest more between sets and do more overall.

You should never max out. You should always see training as "training" and not as a way to prove yourself. It is important to practice in order to improve.

The conclusion

It doesn't mean you cannot train or build muscle if you are over 40. You may gain muscle and strength a bit slower than you did in your 20s, but patience is key.

You should follow your training program at your pace, and make sure to have a structured diet. 

Beginner Routine

Each workout would be done once a week for a grand total of three sessions per week. 

Push Day

All of this should only feel like two reps. 

Exercise  Sets  Reps
Bench Press 4 8
Shoulder Presses 4 6
Bench Press with Incline Dumbbells  3 10
Fly 3 12
Skullcrushers 3 10
Pushdowns 3 12

  

Pull Day

All of them should have 2 reps remaining, except for the supinated rows. 

Exercise Sets  Reps
Barbell row 3 8
Supinated Row 3 8
Lat Pull Down 3 12
Close Grip Lat Pulldown 2 15
Single-Arm Dumbbells 3 10
Barbell Curl 4 8
Hammer Curl 3 10

 

Leg Day

All of this should only feel like two reps. 

Exercise Sets  Row
Squat 4 8
Romanian Deadlift 3 10
Leg Press 4 8
Leg Extension 3 12
Leg Curl 3 12
Calf Raise/Press 5 10
Crunches 5 15

 

Advance Routine

This routine will increase your weekly arm volume by increasing the frequency and overall volume of arm exercises. 

Each session can be done up to six times a week. It is possible to do 4 sessions per week, and then carry over into the following week. 

All of the advanced exercises should only feel like two reps remaining. 

Biceps + Push Day

Exercise Sets Reps 
Bench Press 4 10
Incline Bench Press 3 8
Seated Dumbbell Shoulder Press 4 6
Fly 3 15
Press Ups 3 2 reps before failire
Barbell Curl 3 8
Concentration Curl 3 10

 

Pull + Triceps

Exercise Set Reps 
Pendlay Row 4 6-10
Supinated Row 3 8
Pull Ups 3 6-12
Single Arm Row 3 15
Close Grip Bench 3 10
Skull Crusher 3 10

 

Leg Day

Exercise Sets Reps 
Squats 4 8
Romanian Deadlift 3 10
Leg Press 4 12
Leg Extension 3 12
Leg Curl 3 12
Reverse Lunge 4 8 each leg
Calf Raises/Press 5 10
Crunches 4 15

 

You will need to combine this training program with a suitable nutrition plan, and you would also benefit from using a supplement such as Military Muscle. 

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Men aged 18 or over who wish to build bigger and stronger muscles will benefit from taking this supplement, especially those engaging in regular physical activity or seeking to prevent the natural decline in testosterone that usually begins after 30.

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  • Consult your doctor or another healthcare provider prior to changing your diet and starting an exercise routine.¬†To ensure that exercises are performed in a controlled and safe manner, this article should be combined with advice from a personal trainer.¬†Please read our Terms and Conditions.

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