If you are in your 40s or even your 50s or 60s, you can still get into good physical shape and build muscle. So if you fall into this age category, don’t worry because you haven’t left it too late. Age is no barrier. Many men in their 40s, 50s, and 60s are building muscle and getting into the best condition of their lives, even when compared to their younger selves.
Weight training and muscle building is not just for younger men. However there are a few things you should know before you start in order to make the best of your efforts and avoid injury. So what are you waiting for?
Here are 7 tips to help you get into shape.
1. Increase or maintain the cardio
Low intensity cardiovascular exercise such as jogging, cycling, or walking is important for anyone over 40. It helps keep the metabolism working efficiently which as we all knows tends to slow in your forties, and it maintains heart health and fitness levels too. Maintaining general fitness is crucial for long term general health, and can help prevent numerous later health issues.
Experts advise taking part in low intensity cardio three or four times a week, for about 30 minutes per session. If you are already a runner or have run in your youth, you need to take this slowly as running on pavements is well known for causing knee and joint injuries for all age groups. You may find that running on a rubberised treadmill in the gym is easier on the knees.
Whatever exercise you choose, improving heart health, and as a result fitness and stamina is essential for later long term health.
2. Always warm up first
Again this is standard advice for all age groups, but as we get older we are much more prone to injuries, so you need to ensure that your body is ready for what is coming next.
Before you use any of the gym equipment, ensure you spend at least 15 minutes on cardio equipment in order to increase your core temperature and blood flow. This space will also help you get into the right frame of mind and focus on your upcoming workout.
3. Weights and training
Heavy weight lifting is the best way to build muscle, but it can take a toll on the body and lead to joint injury and muscle damage if you approach this the wrong way. Start with low to medium weights, and don’t be in too much of a hurry to move onto greater intensity and increased reps.
According to some body building experts, repetition range should be in the moderate to high range, -12 reps for upper body exercises and 12-20 rep for lower body exercises.
You should use a combination of free weights and machines, and get some professional advice from your trainer at the gym. Your posture and your exercise form needs to be perfect, because as we age we cannot get away with making mistakes and it may lead to injury.
Sign up at a reputable gym in order to get some personalised advice that will be suitable for your strength and fitness levels.
A typical full body workout may look something like this;
- Smith Machine Squats: 3 sets of 12 reps
- Lying Leg Curl: 2 sets of 15 reps
- Standing Calf Raise: 2 sets of 15 reps
- Barbell Bench Press: 3 sets of 8-12 reps
- Lat Pull down: 3 sets of 8-12 reps
- Machine Shoulder Press: 3 sets of 8-12 reps
- Triceps Rope Pushdown: 2 sets of 8-12 reps
- Barbell Curl: 2 sets of 8-12 reps
It is important not to overdo it. Heavy weights put stress on the joints and ligaments so taking things slowly will stimulate your muscles so that you will achieve new growth. Source
When it comes to working out, the truth is that less is more. Your body will need time to recover and as we age, we require more rest in between working out. Don’t go to the gym on consecutive days because your body will need to recover.
On days off try some gentle cardio if you must, but again don’t overdo it. You don’t want injuries and enforced downtime to derail your fitness plans.
On the same subject, getting a good night’s sleep is important. Aim for 8 hours and just go to bed early if you have to get up early in the morning. This is not something that you may have done in your younger days but it really does help your long term fitness.
What you eat is very important and as everyone knows, increasing protein is important for increasing muscle. Protein powders can be effective but you need to think about your usual diet as well.
Cutting back on the refined carbs and cholesterol is increasingly important after 40, but in addition to a healthy diet, building muscle requires something more.
Many athletes and muscle builders stick to a diet composed of white meat, steak, fish, and pasta in order to build muscle and cut fat. You need to be patient. Results will not happen overnight, but in general following a calorie deficient diet while increasing your protein intake will help you lose weight and build muscle.
There are thousands of workout supplements out there, but in many cases the supplements aimed at body builders can be downright dangerous, especially if you are middle aged or older.
General health supplements that include vitamins and minerals can be effective, and there are products that will help you keep your calorie intake down and your energy levels up. However you do need to be careful about this because of the risk of dangerous side effects.
If you are considering taking supplements to help with bodybuilding, the Muscle Watchdog will help keep you safe. See our website for all the latest supplement info so you can find the product that is right for you. Our approved list assures you that the supplement you choose will be safe, and help you adopt a healthy life style without causing adverse effects, or tying you into dodgy payment schemes.
7. Work with your body – not against it
We are all different. We all have different bone structures and weaknesses, and as we age these becoming increasing more apparent. This means that some exercises are more likely to result in injuries or pain than others.
The advice from expert trainers is to pick your battles, not plough on through everything, picking up strains and injuries along the way.
For example if you have long legs and short arms, it may be difficult to get down into a squat and deadlift from the floor. In this case you may find it easier to do rack pulls, where you can use a starting position that doesn’t cause you to curve your spine.
You might find that doing chin ups from a straight bar hurts your wrists, but you can do the same exercise using a suspension trainer with no problems. Squats can be problematic. If you can’t achieve a full squat without losing the arch in your lower back, squatting to parallel, or even slightly above parallel, is good enough.
According to studies into muscle and exercise, you don’t need to follow a full range of motion in order to build muscle. If something causes you discomfort and pain, the answer is to adapt the activity or find something that works the same area of the body. There is no “must do” exercise that you cannot replace with something else.
Building your fitness and increasing your muscle mass is achievable regardless of your age. The key to success is to take things slowly and allow your body to rest. When you reach your middle and older years you will probably have more staying power than you did when younger and appreciate what your body can do, rather than taking youth and fitness for granted.
If you have decided to embark on a new project of body training, don’t forget to treat your mind and mental wellbeing in the same way. A surprising number of older body builders use meditation in order to relax. Hobbies such as art or learning a new language or instrument can also keep your brain active and do for your brain, what your physical exercise is doing for your body.
These days age is no barrier to health and wellbeing and there is no fixed cut off point that says you have to stop doing anything.
Disclaimer: Our reviews and investigations are based on extensive research from the information publicly available to us and consumers at the time of first publishing the post. Information is based on our personal opinion and whilst we endeavour to ensure information is up-to-date, manufacturers do from time to time change their products and future research may disagree with our findings. If you feel any of the information is inaccurate, please contact us and we will review the information provided.