So, you want to build muscle in your 40s but not quite sure the best way to go about it or even how hard it will be at your age?
Building muscle in your 40s becomes even more important as we age.
Did you know from approximately age 25 we naturally start to lose muscle and by age 50 we could have potentially lost up to 2.5 k.gs of muscle?
That might not sound like a lot but if we choose to do nothing it will get replaced by fat meaning our metabolisms will run slower, our bones become weaker, and we will experience a loss of strength.
Building muscle in our 40s and beyond is more important than ever, but you need to choose the right exercises, sets, reps and workouts to be successful.
Here are 5 tips to get you started on the right path:
Muscle building tip #1 – choose the right exercises
Compound movements are the best exercises for building muscle as men over 40.
No other exercises trains 2-3 large muscle groups at the same time, boosts metabolism and burns fat like compound movements do, but you need to choose the best exercises that work well for you.
This depends whether you have an injury, but you’ll want to choose exercises that you can progress well on over time.
That means choosing exercises that aren’t going to hurt your joints and cover the entire body i.e., muscles of the legs, chest, back, shoulders and arms.
Some great examples are squats, deadlifts, pull-downs, rows, presses, incline presses and dumbbell presses.
Don’t waste too much time on isolation exercises although some can be beneficial for men over 40, but most of your focus should be on compound movements.
Muscle building tip #2 – Eat testosterone boosting foods
As men over 40 it’s important that we keep our testosterone levels as high as possible. Testosterone plays a role in building muscle and keeping us lean and unfortunately starts to decline as we get older.
Although nature takes it course, there are some things that we can do to boost testosterone and keep it in a healthy range, good enough to build muscle and burn more fat as we get older.
One of those things I’ve already mentioned above and that is by using compound exercises as the foundation of our training program.
But there are some great foods we can incorporate into our diets that have been shown to increase testosterone in men.
Some great examples of foods that will boost testosterone and help with building muscle in our 40’s will be:
Eggs (including the yolk)
Nuts (such as almonds, Brazil nuts)
Extra virgin olive oil
Fatty fish (such as salmon)
Leafy green vegetables
The key here is to include these foods naturally in your diet and training plan and devise balanced meals that you enjoy composing of lean proteins, complex carbohydrates, and essential fats.
By eating these foods each day and each week we can keep testosterone at healthy levels and create the perfect environment for building muscle and losing body fat.
Muscle building tip #3 – Get your macros correct
I mentioned eating testosterone boosting foods above but it’s important that we start with the basics and that is how many calories you need to eat each day.
This depends on whether you want to gain weight, lose fat or a combination of both.
Most men over 40 who want to build muscle, should either focus on building muscle (eating slightly more calories than BMR) or losing fat (eating slightly less calories than BMR).
Focus on one goal at a time and when you are happy with the muscle built from correct training and nutrition, perhaps you would want to trim back, eat less calories and lose some body fat.
From those calories you need to break it up into the correct number of proteins, approximately 1 gram of protein per pound of lean bodyweight per day, 40-50% from carbohydrates, and the remainder (approximately 20% from fat).
All the macronutrients are important for building muscle, protein, carbs, and fat and how you break those calories up into meal prep isn’t as important as hitting your required macros each day.
For some men eating more frequently works best, but for others eating less meals but bigger portions are more beneficial.
Personally, I prefer to eat 3 bigger meals and a few snacks each day. This works best for my digestion, and I aim to get lean protein, carbs, and fats with each meal I eat.
Muscle building tip #4 – get your workout days, sets and reps correct
As men over 40 three strength training days per week works best especially if you are a natural.
Lifting weights more than this has little benefit. From those days I recommended training on non-consecutive days i.e., Mon-Wed-Fri this will ensure that you get adequate recovery between each training session and allow you to progress which is exactly what you need to build muscle.
Multiple sets of lower reps work very well for men over 40, they are far safer, demand less from your recovery and allow you to progress at a faster rate.
A lot of men over 40 turn to do higher reps with lighter weights as they get older, but this does little to improve bone density, increase strength and build muscle.
Doing tons of sets and reps with light weights can aggravate the joints even more as we get older.
Stick to compound movements with a weight that is challenging whilst maintaining impeccable exercise form.
Muscle building tip #5 – Pay attention to out of the gym factors
The bottom line for building muscle in our 40’s is to progress on the compound movements i.e., by adding weight to each exercise or performing more reps over time.
By challenging your body and ensuring it adapts to ever increasing stress is the only way to build muscle gradually, but to do that out of the gym factors have to be adhered to.
Keeping stress to a minimum, getting enough sleep each night and paying attention to rest and recovery is needed.
Aim for 8 hours of sleep per night and get adequate rest between each workout session.
Sticking to three strength training sessions per week also gives you the best chance of building muscle and recovering from your workouts.
I hope you have found this article useful and if you want a complete step-by-step course to building muscle see my program Muscle Over 40
Here’s to your success!