Whip out your driver’s license.
Is your date of birth pre-1980?
Congratulations! You’re screwed. Have a good week!
If you’re past the age where living in mom’s basement is socially acceptable then according to the internet you’re at a major disadvantage. At least in terms of building your body.
Sure, there’s stuff tailored towards “older lifters” but it’s always so fricken lame.
Don’t do barbell exercises.
Don’t do isolation work.
Don’t train too heavy.
Don’t go to failure.
Don’t work too hard.
Don’t… do basically anything that would work for pretty much anyone looking to add some beef.
Just because you’re over 40 doesn’t mean you shouldn’t want to build muscle. Or that you’re so beat up you need hours of yoga moves before even picking up a dumbbell.
Some of the greatest bodybuilders in the world didn’t hit their prime until 40 was well in their rear-view.
Granted, they all were training for at least 20 years prior (something to remember when Mr. Jacked Old Guy starts schlepping some 90 Days to Look Like Me nonsense) but exactly NONE of them reinvented their training just because they entered middle age.
What most do is make some very basic but very effective age-related tweaks to their approach.
1. Avoid going to failure in the basic barbell lifts, or at least do it sparingly.
Training to failure works, though so do many other methods. But once you get both older and strong, those sets into the red take a massive dip into recovery not mention pose a greater risk to injury.
The solution? Stop the big barbell lifts shy of failure and use perfect form, especially if you go heavier (there’s no reason not to). Or perhaps go to failure once to month, if you’re really feeling it.
This isn’t training like a wuss because we’re only taking about the big basic lifts (squats, benches, deadlifts, presses, barbell rows).
But variations of them, especially machines like Hammer strength chest presses, leg presses, leg curls, or cable rows? Get your bro on and take the last set to the limit, or even beyond.
2. Have pump days.
It’s chest/shoulders day. You’ve been reviewing your log book all day and know exactly how heavy you’re going to go and the number of reps you’re gonna get, come hell or high water. You even greet the gym receptionist with a Predator handshake, which she doesn’t appreciate but whatever. Her gel nails will grow back. Right?
Except, you just aren’t feeling it. You didn’t sleep well and you’re tired from rushing around all day. As soon as you picked up a 45 pound plate your brain said “this feels heavy today.”
Ten years ago you’d snort an ephedrine sandwich and make it happen. Today you’re smarter.
You skip the workout and instead train chest & shoulders for a pump. High reps, short rest, lots of machines and plenty of cables. 30-40 mins max and you’re done.
In 5 days or so try the “real” workout again. Unless you’re still feeling half-dead. Then you need the next point.
The biggest thing that separates 40-somethings from 20-somethings is you’re forced to accept that everything is connected.
The body is a collection of systems – skeletal, muscular, circulatory, digestive, etc. — none of which operate in isolation from the other.
You can’t burn the candle at both ends and have great workouts. You can’t eat really poorly and digest well. You can’t …. screw up.
Well of course you CAN. You just won’t make progress at anywhere near the optimal rate.
Granted the same applies to a young person too; its just not as big a drop off if you screw up.
You always have to make activities that help with recovery more of a priority.
Getting to bed earlier. Practicing good sleep hygiene. Meditation or just chilling. Eating very good food. Not stressing about bullshit. Going for walks in the woods and shit. Whatever.
Apply the above modifications to any basic, tried and true training program and you’ll make far greater progress than you would following some soft or goofy over 40 training program
Mind you it won’t be cutting edge. But none of the stuff that actually works is.