By Vidur Saini Generation Iron
Your training method is going to be significantly different when you’re in your 40s as compared to your youth. Why is that, you ask? All the stair climbing, doing the monotonous chores, running after the kids takes a toll on the body and it starts to show after you’re 40.
To begin with, you want to stay away from people who generalize everyone over 40 and want them to believe that every individual is in the same condition all across the spectrum. The next time you hear someone say “age is just a number” – punch them in the face.
How Your Training Needs To Change After You Turn 40
A Change in Priority
If you’re a muscle junkie, your best bet would be to build as much muscle as you can before you turn 40. Sarcopenia hits in when you’re around the 40-year-old mark. You will lose muscle naturally as you get older. While there are no health hazards associated with muscle loss, you can control how much muscle you lose, and when you start losing it.
With age, your workout intensity will drop and you shouldn’t be lifting heavy weights if you want to maintain your joint, muscle, and bone health. Focus on starting big and maintaining the muscle mass rather than trying to add on weight as you get older.
Basic Movement Patterns
Unlike most other sports, an individual can pursue bodybuilding for life. Bodybuilding also has the possibility of improving at ages when most athletes in other sports have called it quits. Don’t be surprised if you find a person who started bodybuilding at 15 and peaked at 40 or beyond.
Bodybuilding is a thinking person’s pursuit and everyone can work from the same basic set of principles. Some of the basic movement patterns that should become the cornerstone of your training are –
- Horizontal push (pushup, bench press, fly)
- Horizontal pull (row)
- Vertical push (overhead press)
- Vertical pull (chin-ups, pullup, lat pulldown)
- Squat (squat, lunge, leg press)
- Hinge (deadlift, back extension)
A Shift in Excerice Preference
While we agree compound (multi-joint) exercises like squats, lunges, deadlifts, presses, and rows are great for building strength and muscle mass, they can put you at a greater risk of an injury as you grow older.
Isolation (single-joint) exercises like curls, press downs, flies, and lateral raises are a much better option for people over 40 as they don’t consume a lot of energy, which means you can push yourself harder and recover faster.
Switch-Up the Intensity
Once you hit the 40-year mark, forget about hitting PRs on the bench press or deadlifts. Your workout program should have a higher number of reps. You’ll get better muscle growth in the 8-15 rep range, with less risk to your joints and easier recovery.
How would you know if you’re making improvements? Look for an improved form and a better mind-muscle connection. You should have shorter workouts and a better pump, or a better overall sense of well-being when you leave the gym after a workout.
Things NOT To Do
While we can go endlessly about the things you should be changing in your workouts after you turn 40, knowing about the things you shouldn’t do in the gym will set a better groundwork. These are the things you should avoid –
- Exercises that put your shoulders in mechanically risky positions (dips, behind-the-neck presses, barbell upright rows)
- Exercises that put your elbows under uncomfortable stress (elbow injuries always take longer to heal)
- Ballistic or explosive exercises (kipping pullups, Olympic lifts)
- Heavy barbell lifts (barbell squats, bench and shoulder presses, deadlifts)
How old are you?