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What’s the best strategy for getting lean over 40?

A new diet approach?

A different way of training?

Getting lean over 40 is all about a sustainable lifestyle shift rather than anything else.

When I say sustainable I’m not talking about a quick fix diet plan or training plan that only lasts for 12 weeks and then you’re back to old eating habits and can’t wait to stop the training nonsense that’s running you into the ground.

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I’m talking about a lifestyle shift that’s sustainable over the long term, something that becomes part of your life, like brushing your teeth and something you actually enjoy that doesn’t end up consuming your entire existence.

I’ve always approached fitness completely different from what the mainstream advises when trying to get in shape, mostly because I’ve studied with the best mentors.

Nowadays I never do more than 3 working sets for each exercises and rarely do more than 3-4 major exercises at each workout. I never weight train more than 2-3 times per week and yet I’m able to maintain a very lean body year round.

The fact is though, if your over 40 years old you’ve probably got a lot on your plate right now, demanding career, family and you won’t be able to train more than 2-3 times per week without running yourself into the ground.

How do I keep myself lean, whilst training less?

How do I stay lean without resorting to eating chicken and rice or doing endless cardio? This isn’t some gimmick; this is about what works for men over 40.

The answer comes from two of the most effective strategies that men over 40 can do to maintain a lean body.

Strength training and nutrition.

When you have those two things dialled in correctly, there’s not a lot else you really need to do to get and maintain a lean body.

Of course you have to know what exercises are best to use for men over 40 and what set and rep ranges work best, but once you have this nailed it’s simply a matter of time before you get the lean physique you crave.

Work with your body in a sustainable and enjoyable way and you’ll be rewarded with a lean and strong body. Sure the fitness industry over complicates everything to make you believe you need more protein, more workouts, more cardio and more of the latest fat burning pill, but honestly all that is just marketing.

It’s in their best interests to get you training more often, the more you train the more likely you are to consume their protein shakes.

And, the more you fail with your training, the more likely you’ll think the answer lies in some miracle fat burning supplement when it really doesn’t.

Get a lean body with only 2 strength training workouts per week

What? Sounds like a marketing ploy doesn’t it? Get lean with only 2 weights workouts per week, you must be kidding I need way more than that to shift all this fat?!?

But the truth is if your building a nice natural amount of muscle that increases your metabolism even at rest and you’ve got your nutrition dialled in so that your losing 1 lb of fat every week, there’s not a whole lot else you need to be doing.

I’ve used 2 weights workouts to maintain a lean body and it’s got nothing to do with genetics or anything like that. In fact, back in my late twenties, I was nearly 2 stone over weight from all the “bulking” I’d done trying to gain maximum muscle size.

Back then I knew very little about nutrition and thought the quickest way to muscle gains was to eat a ton of calories and protein every day to pack on the size.

I was in the gym nearly every day hitting the weights, doing lots of exercises, lots of sets and lots of reps. This invariably led to more fat gain than muscle, but I kept telling myself I’d gained a lot of muscle and not fat.

It wasn’t until my late thirties through a lot of trial and error that I was able to drop nearly 30 pounds of fat and reveal the lean physique I craved, all without using any supplements.

I might not be the biggest guy in the gym, but I believe the more natural, balanced and lean look is what not only looks the most pleasing, but makes you feel at your best as well.

What’s wrong with what you see in the magazines?

All those pictures you see in the magazines i.e. men with ripped abs that look great, the problem is they’ve trained for a short period of time just to look good for that day!

I know this as I used to do it myself when getting in shape for a fitness model competition. I’d train very hard, limit my calorie intake and carbohydrates, look great for competition day and then burn out and crash a few days after!

All that excessive cardio and skewed eating might get you lean, but it’s certainly not sustainable over the long term, ask any fitness model, most look good for the few days of the year and then either blow up like whales or spend their entire lives maintaining their physiques!

Both approaches are useless and I knew there had to be a better approach.

I knew I had to create a brand that not only teaches men over 40 how to get lean, but how to stay lean for life whilst being able to eat the foods you want without feeling like you’re on a diet.

Is staying lean possible without dieting?

You bet it is, I’m living proof.

When I talk about getting lean, I’m talking about body fat of around 9-12% that’s lean enough to see the abs but not so lean your testosterone levels will take a hit. A body that’s truly strong, lean and completely natural and perfectly attainable and sustainable year round without the constant periods of highs and lows.

That’s what this brand is all about.

So going back to the 2 workouts per week, how is it possible to get lean that way?

Well getting lean is all about building a nice natural amount of muscle through strength training and minimising body fat through nutrition. Once you’ve got those two things nailed you’ll be well on your way to getting the lean body you want.

Now although a lot of men might already know this, not many will cut their training down to the bare minimum, thinking that the more training sessions they clock up, the leaner they’ll get.

But the problem with this approach is too many workouts will over train the body making it very hard to recover and it only takes us longer to recover from our workouts once we’re over 40 years old.

If you train too often, you won’t be able to get stronger on the exercises that really matter and when you focus on getting stronger on the main compound lifts that are suitable for you, you’ll find it a lot easier to get leaner as well.

Not to mention all the challenges being 40 has such as demanding job, family and a million and one things to do. Being able to train each and every day is something very few of us are able to do.

But when you cut your training down to the bare essentials and really focus on getting stronger on the most productive compound exercises for you, twice per week training works really well.

Here’s a recap of the most important points to a lean physique for men over 40:

1. Focus on getting stronger on compound exercises that cover all the major muscles of the body
2. Train in a lower rep range, this is far more productive and safer for men over 40
3. Limit training to 2-3 x per week for the best gains in strength and lean muscle
4. Eat in an enjoyable way that supports hormone health and fat loss
5. Increase calorie expenditure by including some 30-45 minutes walks at the weekend
6. Once you’ve got a sound training and nutrition plan you’ll be well on your way to getting the lean body you crave

Nutrition for a lean body

Nutrition is a big part of the equation when it comes to getting and maintaining a lean body but a lot of men either don’t know what healthy foods to eat, how to calculate the correct amount of calories or how to break those calories up into the correct quantities.

Or worse still, they think excessive protein or fat loss pills are the answer to a lean body.

When it comes to getting a lean body the first thing you need to know is your basal metabolic rate or BMR, this is how many calories you burn at rest without gaining or losing any weight.

In order to get your BMR there are many different formulas out there, but the quickest way to get it is to multiply your bodyweight in lbs x 15.

This will give you a fairly accurate figure of how many calories you’re burning at rest each day. Now in order to get lean you want to be eating at no more than 20% less than your BMR calories.

This will provide you with enough calories to keep you feeling full and losing approximately 1 lb of fat per week.

When getting lean it’s very important to lose fat slowly, those who try to lose fast weight will end up losing more lean muscle than fat resulting in a down regulated metabolism.

Once you have your number it’s now a case of breaking up your goal calories into 2-3 meals per day.

Note: it doesn’t matter how many meals you eat throughout the day as long as you don’t exceed your goal calories for the day.

I recommend sticking to 2-3 big meals that each have the correct amount of protein, carbohydrates and fat in them. Bigger and fewer meals is especially beneficial for men over 40 as they trigger a larger hormonal response and aids digestion.

Never go too low in calories

Sometimes guys get stuck in a fat loss rut when they’ve been in a calorie deficit for a long period of time. This invariably crashes the metabolism and I’ve advised them to periodically increase their calories to kick start the fat burning process once more.

Sometimes increasing your calories after periods of long calorie reduction is just what your body needs in order to start dropping body fat, so don’t start thinking if you’re not seeing fat loss the answer is to restrict your calories even more.

Check out my course for Men Over 40

If you’re ready to take the guesswork out of losing belly fat and getting lean whilst only training 3 times per week and without boring diets then you need to check out my course, Ripped Abs Over 40.

It’s the definitive guide to getting a lean body for men over 40.

To your success!

    22 replies to "A Strategy for Getting Lean Over 40"

    • Trevor

      I’m 51. Will this workout work for me? or should I use a different focusing ?
      Also, I run 5km 2 to 3 times a week. You think this is good or should I rather do more weight training?

      • Rob Richley

        Hi Trevor,

        What is your goal exactly?



      • Suhail Ahamed

        This shud be a good exercise for youm like it ia mentioned focus on compound exercises like lunges.. Deadlifts.. Squats.. Barpress rather than individual muscle focus exercises.

        • Rob Richley

          Hi Suhail,

          yes there’s too much overcomplication in the fitness industry. It’s a strong, lean body you want and you don’t have to live your life in the gym in order to attain it.

          If there’s anything I can help you with please let me know.



    • Phil Wilkinson

      Don’t you mean your TDEE and not BMR?

      • Rob Richley

        Hi Phil,

        I prefer to simply multiply bodyweight in (lbs) x 15 to get a good starting point (without losing or gaining any weight). From that point you can determine your true BMR that’s individual to your unique situation.

        Then, over a 1-2-week test period, adjust as necessary, adding or subtracting calories in increments i.e. 200.

        No formula can be 100% accurate, that’s why I recommend keeping it simple and only using a calculation as a starting point.



    • Jason Guthrie

      Hi my name is Jason I weigh 370 lbs and have arthritis in my knees. Excessive weight I need to get rid of. I want to lean and loved again? Whatever it takes I don’t care. Help!

      • Rob Richley

        Hi Jason,

        I would start with nutrition and gradually build up an exercise routine that has you simply walking every day for half an hour. If you nail your nutrition correctly so that you’re in a slight calorie deficit you’ll gradually drop fat.

        Once you’ve lost some fat with nutrition and walking, then we can start to add a strength training program to the equation.

        If you have any further questions, please contact me using the contact form on my website.

        I hope that helps.



    • John

      I’m 48. I had major lower back surgery 2 yrs ago as well as knee surgeries which lead to weight reaching 345 lbs at 6’6”. My goal is to drop my weight to 235 to 250 lbs. as well as build muscle. Will this program work for me?

      • Rob Richley

        Hi John,

        The program focuses on key compound movements such as the barbell squat that involves the lower body.

        From a nutrition standpoint the program will benefit you and if we can find some alternative exercises that train your major muscles of the body WITHOUT causing pain and you can safely progress on, you’ll be off to a great start.

        The key is finding something we can work with that suits your body and doesn’t cause any discomfort.

        I hope that helps.



    • Will

      52 years old. Not overweight but getting soft – and larger – around midwaist. Want to maintain a lean look. Have always worked out pretty hard weights, running, biking, etc… understand the concept of reducing workout and eating properly. However where the advice posts fall short is a followable nutrition and workout plan. Do you provide that necessary info as well?

      • Rob Richley

        Hi Will,

        My Ripped Abs Over 40 Course will cover everything from nutrition to training in a step-by-step sequence.



    • Les Carlton-Browne

      Hi Rob I’m 61 diabetic morbidly obese and I want and need to lose weight,how will your programme help me.

      Regards Les

      • Rob Richley

        Hi Les, please contact me through the contact form on my website and I’ll try to help you anyway I can with this.



    • Jim Nixon

      I’m 48 years old and currently working with Rob’s programme. I have tried lots of different routines, however, Rob’s plan is simple, effective and helps you keep injury free! You have to get your nutrition right and just keep to the plan! I’m now starting to see results! The danger with this programme is to do more, however, just stick to the plan and you will see results! Thanks Rob!!!

      • Rob Richley

        Thanks Jim!

    • Shahriyar

      Hi ,
      I am at age 55 and want to loose some weight and stay lean .
      I am currently 85 kg and I run two to three times a week .
      My goal is to drop to 75 kg and loose weight around my hips and stomach.
      What kind of diet and exercise should I do?
      Thank you

      • Rob Richley

        Hi Shahriyar,

        Definitely consider adding strength training! If you rely on cardio alone when losing weight, it won’t be all fat, some will be muscle which is the last thing you want.

        By strength training you’ll encourage your body to drop FAT and the added lean muscle will give you that lean, chiselled appearance that looks great on anyone.

        Preserving lean muscle becomes even more important as we age.

        I cover everything in my Abs Over 40 Course, there’s simply too many variables to explain on a single comment.

        I hope that helps!



    • Craig Gresham

      Hi Rob,
      Started working out and changed my diet at the beginning of the year. I turn 40 in November and hated my dad bod. Looking at your calculations for calorie intake I need to be consuming around 2000 calories (170lbs x 15 = 2550 – 20% = 2040). I only workout at home with dumbbells and was wondering what exercises/movements you thought would be best over the 3 days. I would really like to build my muscles and get some noticeable definition it that’s possible. Any info or tips would be greatly appreciated.

      • Rob Richley

        Hi Craig,

        that’s great! Aim for upper body, vertical push/pull – horizontal push/pull. Lower body – push/pull.

        Incline dumbbell press / dumbbell row – dumbbell military press / bodyweight pullup. Dumbbell Squat / Deadlift.

        If you’re able to add weight to your dumbbells in increments so that you build up to respectable weights that would be even better. Consider getting a power rack and home gym setup in the future, perhaps in the basement or garage if you have one.

        Barbells and dumbbells are all you need for great strength training workouts.

        Consider adding in a cardio-strength circuit with dumbbells once per week, performed with lighter weights to speed up fat burning.

        My Abs Over 40 course covers everything you need to know about nutrition and getting the macros correct, I’ve also included a handy spreadsheet that calculates calories based on bodyweight and tells you how much fat you need to lose based on body fat percentage.

        I hope that helps,



    • Ricky

      Hi I’m a 56 year old guy looking to lose my beer gut .tried all the fad diets ect. I cycle to work everyday that’s a 6 mile return job is fairly strenuous.,any ideas please

      • Rob Richley

        Hi Ricky,

        Yes. Keep a food log for at least 3 months to ensure you’re eating in a calorie deficit. If you’re consuming 300-500 calories below your BMR, you will lose weight.

        But to ensure weight loss is primarily coming from FAT, incorporate a structured weight training program that focuses on compound movements that cover the entire body.

        Squats, Deadlifts, Presses, Rows and pull-ups are all excellent choices. Maintain perfect exercise form and add weight whenever possible in small increments.

        Multiple sets of lower reps work very well for men over 40, some examples are 6 x 4, 3 x 6 and 5 x 5.

        A micro-loading model works well for this, using very small half to 1 kg increments so you can nudge the weight up gradually.

        Done correctly you’ll build lean muscle without the bulk. If you’ve never lifted weights start off very light with bodyweight movements.

        Due to the activity of your job, I would be inclined to use a super abbreviated weight training schedule only twice per week, training each muscle group ONCE per week, for added recovery.

        If you get your nutrition and strength training correct, you’ll lean down nicely, and the added cardio will speed up this process.

        I hope that helps.



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