Can You Build Muscle After 40? Sure, BUT...
If you’re an out-of-shape guy over 40 with a demanding job and family life, it’s easy to think that to build muscle after 40 is impossible now. It's not but we DO have to tweak a few things, cos we're not 20 any more...
What We Need To Get ‘Right’ to Build Muscle After 40
I’m going to explain how I’ve got myself (and hundreds of male clients 40+) in better shape in my 40s than my 20s. There are three main areas we need to get ‘right’:
Get the body primed and ready to respond to your workouts;
Adapt weekly workouts to what a 40+ body will respond best to;
Tweak your diet to make to make sure your body has the muscle-building fuel required.
So if you’re a guy over 40 and want to finally fill out your work shirts in the right way, by building some muscle, keep reading…
The Problem is it can be so easy after 40 to look at yourself and think:
“What happened to me? I’m so far away from the body shape that I want, it’s probably too late to do anything about it now and build any muscle”.
I’m not going to lie to you like some Instagram Guru and tell you that by following my expensive SuperDuper MuscleTastic Workout Plan (at just $99.99…) that you’ll be an Adonis in 2 weeks. It WILL be a long journey to getting the fit, strong body shape you want, but I just need you to know it IS doable after 40. Like climbing a mountain, if you just keep doing the right things over and over again you’ll reach the summit eventually. (Open this article on Mens Healthy Lifestyle Tips After 40 in another tab, as it gives you the perfect lifestyle framework too).
Let’s Prime The Body First To Work Properly Again
After 40 we have this huge hormonal imbalance, where:
Testosterone is lower than it should be (lack of sleep, too much work stress, not challenging the body enough, too much alcohol, too much belly fat);
-while Cortisol, the stress hormone, is too high, pushing Testosterone even lower.
What this means is that if you start working out, you’ll find it hard to make progress even if you’re slogging your guts out in the gym. Low testosterone means building muscle is practically impossible, as your body finds it so difficult to synthesize protein to build any. So how do we reverse this imbalance, to get Cortisol down and Testosterone up? A few simple lifestyle tweaks:
Make sure you’re sleeping enough every night, seven to eight hours. Get to bed at a decent time, ditch the screens half an hour before bedtime too.
Supplement with Zinc and Vitamin D3, to make sure your body’s natural testosterone production is humming like well oiled machine.
Make sure that your workouts are short and focused — long gruelling ones increase Cortisol and take you too long to recover from after 40 anyway.
That’s hormones working for us now, but our muscles aren’t ready for working out yet either.
You probably sit at your desk most of the day, then after work you sit on the sofa to relax. This means your ‘posterior chain’, your hamstrings, glutes and lower back are tight — you’ve a nice seat/sofa supporting your back all day, while legs are tucked under you un-stretched. Now what you don’t want to do is start working out before stretching this entire area properly, because believe me, trying to do some deep squats or deadlifts with a tight posterior chain is a one-way ticket to Injury-ville. So throughout the day while you’re waiting for your coffee to brew or whatever, get used to just hangin, trying to touch your toes — this helps stretch out that posterior chain. Then we you DO go to workout, take a couple of minutes for some more targeted stretching, some bodyweight squats for example, just to get that area primed and ready, and avoid injury.
Grab my TWO FREE Guides to Help You Get Your A*s in Shape After 40
OK, So We've Our Bodies Primed — Let’s Actually Work Out and Build Muscle After 40
So what way do we need to train after 40 to actually build some muscle and finally like the way you look in a t-shirt and shorts? Well I recommend 3–4 workouts (about 40–45 mins each) using Whole Body Routines each week, hitting every body part a little bit every time you go to the gym, rather than having a Legs Day and a Back Day etc.
On the one hand Whole Body Routines means every day is Legs Day (Boooo!).
On the other hand, that means every day is Arms Day (Yaaaay!).
Pick four exercises for each workout (3 sets of 12–15 reps, chasing a burrrrn :-)):
1 x Upper Body Push (Shoulders/Chest)
1 x Upper Body Pull (Back)
1 x Lower Body Push (Legs/Quads)
1 x Lower Body Pull (Legs/Hamstrings)
Then add in 5–10 mins of targeted abdominal and arms work at the end.
Hitting each body part with a small dose of ‘damage’ each workout means every body part gets a growth stimulus 3–4 times per week, PLUS it takes into account our longer recovery times after 40. If you have no idea how to put together your own Whole Body routines, here's a FREE program I've put together for you - DadBod Overhaul. It’s a four week program to get you up and running with whole body routines that will make sure you make progress quickly, guard against injury and help you recover easily.
Body Primed. Workouts Clear. What Now?
We’re almost ready to rock, but we need to tweak our diets a little too, to make sure we can actually build some muscle on these limbs!
We need protein. And more of it than you’re probably used to eating on a daily basis.
Specifically we need 1g of protein per lb of lean body mass (or 2.2g per kg) to ensure your body has enough protein to synthesize into muscle. Not enough protein is one of the main reasons any guy (not just guys over 40) fails to build the muscle he wants. Let’s say that if you were a ripped Adonis you’d be 170lbs — this means you need 170g of protein per day. Every day. For context a chicken breast contains around 30g of protein. I know what you’re thinking —
“No way can I eat 6 chicken breasts each day!”
And you don’t have to. Here’s a simple way to get enough protein each day to build some muscle in your 40, 50s and beyond:
High Protein Breakfast — 4 eggs any-style, or 0% Fat Greek Yogurt with a scoop of protein powder
Mid Morning Protein Shake/bar
High Protein Lunch — Big Salad topped with chicken, turkey, tuna
Mid Afternoon Protein Shake/bar
High Protein Dinner — your normal go-to dinners, just make sure there’s more meat/fish than usual on your plate!
No Stopping You Now!
You know how to get your body set up, to respond to the workouts.
You know how to work out, and that you only need 2–2.5 hours per week.
You know how to get enough protein in your diet.
You CAN build muscle after 40, without annoying your boss and colleagues by ditching your actual work in favor of working out. A couple of hours total training time each week is enough, as long as you take the time to get your body and diet ready to respond the way you want. So have a healthy mindset in general, AND work with, not against your older body, and you WILL build the muscle you want.
Happy Lifting Big Fella!