Many men who are above 40 often find that they’ve let themselves go. Even those who were active and had athletic bodies in their twenties may notice that their fit bodies have now gone to seed.
This is usually because family and career commitments took priority while exercise and fitness was relegated to become something that they’d do if they had the time. Usually the time never came and the muscles just got weaker and smaller due to atrophy.
In fact, after the age of 30, most men experience some muscle loss every year. If you don’t use it, you lose it. To make matters worse, testosterone production decreases and your metabolism drops too. Now you’re dealing with faster weight gain, lower stamina and weaker muscles.
It may seem like it’s impossible to build strength and muscle after all these years of neglect. Yet, the human body is marvelous and dynamic and if it’s challenged, it will respond. You just need to know how to go about doing it.
At the age of 40 and beyond, you’ll most probably not be able to train in the same way that you used to… or the way that younger guys do. Your body will take a longer time to heal and the chances of getting injuries are also higher. With age comes a decrease in mobility, flexibility and limberness.
You’ll need to take these into consideration when you begin your training. In this article, we’ll look at 5 ways to build muscle once you’re in your forties. Adopt them and you’ll be safe and still progress well. It’s never too late to start.
1. 80% intensity
This is a good rule to follow. If your maximum is 10 reps, always do 8. The goal here is to increase volume and not intensity. If you do 3 sets of 10 reps, you may wish to go up to 4 or 5 sets.
Unlike the younger guys who can lift hard to failure and be fine after 2 days, you might either strain your joints or suffer from delayed onset muscle soreness for 4 to 5 days which might mean you not working out because of pain. This is time wasted and you could have actually been training.
So, aim for volume and over time you will get stronger. Then you may raise the poundage/resistance and still be at around 80 percent of your maximum effort. As long as you’re getting stronger, you’ll probably be gaining lean muscle and boosting your metabolism.
2. If It Hurts, Go Light
If the weight you’re using hurts your joints, use lighter weights. If bench presses hurt your shoulders, you should give push-ups a try. They work the same muscles and are just as effective.
If leg presses hurt, try bodyweight squats. In fact, before even working with weights, it would be a good idea to just stick with bodyweight training for about 2 months. They’re just as effective for building strength and muscle. If you apply point 1 above and go for volume, you’ll see amazing improvements.
3. Stretch after Every Workout
This goes without saying but it’s especially crucial when you’re older. Tight muscles not only cause aches and pains but you can actually strain a muscle or joint if you aren’t flexible enough.
Spend at least 7 minutes doing light cardio before your workout. This will get the blood flowing to your muscles and warm them up. Remember to also do about 15 minutes of light stretches after every workout. This will ensure that you can lift weights through a full range of motion and you’ll gain more muscle over time.
4. Focus on Form
When it comes to muscle building, good form is everything. Always maintain good form when executing the exercises. Do not jerk, kick or do strange flicks and whips with your body just so that you can get the weight up and say you did an extra rep.
If you can’t do an extra rep with good form, then don’t. It just means you aren’t strong enough yet. Give it time and keep training. Over time you’ll get stronger and be able to do that extra rep with good form.
Slow and steady wins the race. As long as your form is good, your progress will not be impeded by injuries due to strain or jerking.