7 truths no one wants to tell you about bodybuilding after 40

Even if you’re not yet in your 40s, you’ve probably noticed that the further you get in the game of life, the harder it becomes to build and maintain muscle mass.

With the same efforts and the same strategy as when you were 20, you simply don’t get the same results.

Fortunately, there are solutions!

Let’s see 7 truths to build muscle effectively after 40.

1. Your joints are more at risk

This is not surprising since as we age, we experience the decrease in synovial fluid and the stiffening of connective tissues (1).

Clearly, your joints are more sensitive and you are more prone to injury.

More than ever, you must Prioritize the quality of your repetitions over the quantity.

If needed, work with a coach on your movement form and exercise selection.

Perhaps the deadlift is no longer the best option for your posterior chain and maybe you should consider swapping it for a hyper extension machine?

You may want to do your dumbbell bench press instead of the barbell for a better range of motion.

Maybe you’d better swap the classic squat for a hack squat to relieve your lower back?

While it is certain that you must continue to do the fundamental movements of bodybuilding (push, pull, hinge and squat), you must also adapt them to your “aging carcasses”.

The goal is to minimize the “risk / added value” ratio.

To help you, you can take a look at our resources:

2. Grandpa has anabolic resistance!

The older we get, the more anabolic resistance we have.

Clearly, the old need more protein than the young to optimally stimulate muscle synthesis (1,2).

try to aim 2 grams of protein per pound of body weight per day.

According to this meta-analysis (3), betting on higher amounts of protein would promote longevity, appetite regulation, weight management and performance.

Will just increasing your protein intake be enough? Of course not, you still have to go through the training box, and do so diligently!

3. You will need more recovery

Some studies show a slowing of the ability to recover with age while others struggle to point out significant differences.

But it doesn’t matter because what we know is that aging is associated with a drop in testosterone levels (4) and a decrease in anabolic capacity, therefore a decrease in the rate of muscle recovery.

We can also remember that aging means facing an alteration in neuromuscular function.

In other words, it’s harder to recover between sets of your different exercises.

The advice to take away: try to increase the rest time between your sets and also between your workouts. Maintain the intensity, but try to reduce the total volume and frequency of training. If you train 5-6 times a week, it may be good to take a session off.

4. You become mobile like a playmo’

Add one mobility work into your workout routine is definitely a good idea.

In the long term, you will be able to see an improvement in your performance and a reduction in your risk of injury.

In getting older, muscles tend to lose strength and flexibility.

What you can do before training (warm-up phase):

  • Dynamic stretching exercises
  • massage roller,
  • Muscle activation exercises.

And after your workout:

  • Static stretching exercises,
  • Myofascial release techniques.

Yes, it takes time, but it also means safer training and better recovery.

5. Without a heart, you won’t get very far!

If your goal is to live longer in good health (and not just to live more muscular): then you should not skip the cardio!

Especially since cardio and weight training are far from incompatible, I refer you to our article: Cardio and weight training: compatible?

The cardio improves blood flow to the muscles by providing essential nutrients and oxygen, all of which can contribute to muscle growth.

But as we have said, as you age, the joints may be a little more sensitive and just as resistance training must be adapted, it may also be necessary to opt for forms of cardio with less resistance. impact (or not).

If you have pain, incline walking, cycling, or swimming are great choices.

But remember that the key to a healthy heart is regularity in your cardio training, so choose a discipline that you enjoy!

Read more: The perfect cardio workout routine to copy for weight loss after 40.

6. You can no longer afford to do anything with your nutrition

We spoke above of the crucial place of proteins in the diet of muscular forty-somethings, but that’s not all!

At 20, you can eat fast food every other day and still have visible abs… today you can’t even look at a burger without visibly gaining weight.

The truth is that if the metabolism does not vary drastically over the years (contrary to what we think, see our article: Boosting your metabolism after 40: 3 methods approved by science), the “old ” tend to have lower caloric needs.

This is explained in particular by the fact that we are less active at 40 than at 20 and that we experience a natural loss of muscle mass.

Paradoxically, if caloric maintenance is lower, the need for high quality nutrients is greater.

Thus, at 40 and beyond, it is more than essential to consider quality calories.

This means good sources of protein, complex carbohydrates and healthy fats, but also an increased consumption of fruits and vegetables with sufficient fiber intake.

7. Regularity, always at the heart of the project

If being regular is the cornerstone of muscle mass at any age, this is especially true at 40.

If you are dedicated, you can still progress in your mass gain, and this, up to 60 years and more.

The observation is that we generally have more time at 20 years old. One can place bodybuilding at the center of one’s life and interests, which becomes more complicated over time.

A job, responsibilities, constraints and a family tend to make you have less time to dedicate to your training.

Still, we should always put longevity at the top of the todo list, right?

So no excuse, we will have to make room in the busy schedule and adapt.

And if it is decidedly not possible to release 5 times an hour of training per week, I have good news, you do not need to do so much.

You can access the same results in half the time. How ? I let you read: Bodybuilding: more muscles in less time, here is the only valid method.

In sum, here is what you should consider:

  1. Make a better selection of exercises and favor a perfect form of movement to maintain the health of your joints
  2. Consume more protein to fight anabolic resistance and age in good health: aim for 2 g per kg of body weight per day.
  3. Reduce your training frequency and/or your total volume while increasing your rest periods if necessary.
  4. Think about mobility work.
  5. Never forget the cardio and do an activity you love.
  6. Have a solid nutrition plan.
  7. More than ever, be dedicated and regular in your workouts.

Updated by Quentin on:06/02/2023

Our bodybuilding articles



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *