Lifting Weights to Get Lean
Lifting weights to get lean is one of the most critical steps you need to take to get your best body. Without lifting weights, you might experience “weight loss” on a calorie restriction, but I guarantee that the weight loss you experience won’t all be from fat.
When you drop weight from lean muscle as well as fat, your metabolism will run slower, making fat loss even harder and losing “weight” without lifting weights won’t give you that athletic lean and hard appearance that looks great on anyone.
If someone approaches me asking how to get lean, the first thing I would look at is their strength training routine, followed by nutrition.
I would then add moderate amounts of cardio to speed up the fat loss process, but I’d never recommend cardio before weight training for leaning down.
Building lean muscle is crucial, especially as we get older and naturally start to lose muscle through inactivity.
As we lose muscle, we can’t burn as many calories at rest and fat loss becomes harder. That’s why you’ll hear a lot of middle aged men say their metabolism is slowing down, it’s not that it slows down with age, but the gradual muscle loss that occurs from NOT lifting weights.
You can build muscle at any age
The research is clear that muscle can be built at any age, countless studies have been done that have proved middle aged men and older can build just as much muscle as men half their age, providing they adhere to a strict weight training routine.
But, one of the mistakes I see is men over 40 thinking they should turn to high rep training with lighter weights to spare their joints.
This is a mistake and I’d argue that high rep training with lighter weights has more potential to damage connective tissue and aggravate joints, than lifting heavier using compound movements and paying attention to exercise form.
In fact, striving to get stronger on safe, productive compound movements is the best thing a man over 40 can do.
And building strength into your forties, fifties, sixties and beyond is the best way to build and preserve lean muscle and strengthen bones.
Granted, you might not be able to bench press or squat as much weight in your forties as you could in your twenties, but you’re still perfectly capable of getting stronger for your age.
And if you’ve never trained with weights before, you can be stronger and leaner in your forties and fifties compared to your younger years.
Multiple sets of low reps
For men over 40, multiple sets of lower reps are the way to go. Some examples are 4 x 5, 5 x 5 and 3 x 6.
The reason multiple sets of lower reps work so well is because they really allow you to focus on the exercise, push past your previous best weights whilst sparing your joints.
The total volume is lower, meaning you’ll recover much quicker and they’re far safer for men over 40.
By keeping your workouts brief, you’ll be able to surpass last weeks workouts which is the aim of the game for building lean muscle and strength.
I’d argue that getting and staying strong into your late years is the best thing you can do for building and maintaining a lean body and maintaining your health.
Gaining strength as you get older is not only beneficial for building muscle, but also strengthening connective tissue and bones as you age.
The key is to focus on the safest compound movements such as presses, pull-ups, squats and rows with free weights whilst maintaining perfect exercise form.
It doesn’t mean grabbing the heaviest weight as humanly possible and grinding out reps that could lead to an injury, learning perfect exercise form is crucial here!
The power of simplicity
I built my body off training 2-3 times per week strength training. I’ve used a variety of different abbreviated strength training routines over the years, depending on how hectic my work schedule has been.
Training 2-3 times per week and keeping my workouts simple has been the best thing I’ve ever done for gaining strength and getting a lean body.
There was a time when I used to lift weights 5 times per week and do excessive amounts of cardio, looking back it was utter madness and came with very little to show for all the effort I put in.
I can’t stress the importance of keeping things simple and do less exercises with more focus and effort rather than hammering away with excessive exercises, excessive volume and excessive training days.
The fact is you can’t lift weights a lot as a natural and it takes your body even longer to recover as you age.
For men over 40, recovery is critical, and workouts need to be designed with recovery in mind right from the start.
The type of physique you can build
When you focus on getting stronger on the key compound movements and nail your nutrition, you’ll develop the look of a Greek God.
The lean, hard and healthy look that looks awesome on any man. Broad shoulders, defined chest, powerful back and narrow waist.
By training in the lower rep ranges you’ll add just the right amount of lean muscle without the bulk and this can be achieved with nothing but training and eating correctly.
And if you train with the correct frequency, strength training plateaus occur a lot less frequently.
The problem with conventional “bodybuilding” split routines for adding muscle is they get you doing excessive amounts of volume, exercises and have you training nearly every day with weights.
This is madness!
This excessive volume gives your muscles a bloated and “puffy” look rather than hard and defined. Plus, excessive volume will over train you quickly and wear out your joints.
My advice is to avoid that route and stick to sensible abbreviated strength training workouts right from the start.
You’ll be glad you did!
Abs Over 40
If you’d like a complete weight training and nutrition program that will teach you how to build lean muscle and lean down, check out my Abs Over 40 Program.