There’s only one RULE:

There are no MUST-DO lifts.

You CAN build a strong, lean and muscular body without barbell squats, barbell bench presses, and barbell deadlifts. Or any specific lift for that matter.

If you’re performing all the basic movement patterns below then you’re off to a good start—as that means you’re generally hitting all the major muscle groups.

* horizontal push

* horizontal pull

* vertical push

* vertical pull

* squat

* hinge

* lunge

* loaded carries (optional)

And for the avoidance of doubt, while isolation movements don’t fall neatly into these patterns, it doesn’t mean they’re not important. Both compound and isolation movements are desirable, in just the same way unilateral and bilateral lifts are.

Anyway, back to the point.

Let’s pick on the bench press for a minute—cause a horizontal push does NOT have to mean a flat barbell bench press.

I mean, it certainly could—but it could also be a flat dumbbell press, a shallow incline press with a Swiss bar or dumbbells, a Hammer strength chest press, a cable chest press, or a dozen other variations similar to the flat bench.

Cause the barbell bench press is a GREAT exercise—it fits your structure, feels good, and above all doesn’t hurt you.

The same principle applies to the rest of the movement patterns.

And while some movements might be “better” than others—no exercise is better than the one you can do right now, pain-free, with consistent progression.

If anything, drawing from a menu of similar, effective exercise options is best.

As for the “rules of lifting” for the over-40s?

Sure, the older trainee could benefit from more pulling than pushing. And we ALL need to spend more time addressing NEEDS over WANTS.

But there are still no MUST DO movements.

And my best advice for anyone looking to get jacked in their forties is to train like you want to show up at the gym again tomorrow.

And that means training SMART, passing on most “hold my beer” type challenges, and NEVER working through pain.

Which turns out is not terrible advice for a lifter of any age.

Go figure.

– Coach Bryan