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Bodybuilding after 40

Bodybuilding after 40


can gain muscle and get back into the best shape of your life even after the age of 40. And studies on the subject confirm it, as does practice - I regularly coach men in their fifties and even sixties, and they all gain muscle and get back into shape quickly.

But how do you go about it at this age? Surely, you're thinking, we can't train and eat like 20-year-olds? Well, you might be surprised to learn that the changes aren't as big as people think. Let's take a closer look.

Is it possible to build muscle at 40 ?

Yes, it's not too late. In fact, it's the ideal time to take care of yourself, since you have a little more free time. By the age of 40, your professional career is generally "in balance": you've developed your skills and achieved your professional goals. In your private life, your children have grown up and are now independent. So you have all the free time you need to devote to activities that give you fulfillment.

But what does science have to say?

Take this study from the University of Oklahoma (1). In this study, 24 young people (aged 18 to 22) and 25 middle-aged men (up to 50) underwent the same weight training for 8 weeks. The researchers found that the middle-aged men built as much muscle as the younger ones. Strength gains were also broadly comparable.

For older people (aged 60 and over), research (2) has shown that they too can develop significant amounts of muscle and strength, and that this is in fact an excellent way of combating the degeneration associated with ageing (3). Indeed, more than one in ten senior citizens lacks muscle, particularly in the legs, to the point of risking loss of autonomy.

My experience as a coach confirms these results. After the age of 40, people are able to build visible muscle, lose "bad" weight and improve their general health and well-being. Some are even able to achieve the best shape of their lives.

How do you train after 40 ?

In fact, the basic rules for building muscle are the same at any age. Age doesn't change much in terms of training routine, but there are a few points to be aware of.

You have to take it easy!

Weight training with heavy loads and compound exercises is the best way to build muscle and strength. But it also demands a lot of your body - it causes considerable damage to your muscle fibers and places a great load on your joints.

You shouldn't be afraid of heavy lifting even if you're in your fifties or sixties, but if you're not an experienced exerciser, I recommend you start your program with sets of 8 to 10 reps and stay there until the exercises are easy for you. Once you've gained enough experience in the gym, you can use sets of 6 to 8 reps and then move up to 4 to 6 reps. But this is not compulsory. You need to see how your body feels.


It's also possible to build muscle and progress using lighter weights with more reps, as many studies show, but this isn't necessarily the best way to go about it.

Don't ignore your problems!

Back, knees, shoulders or other similar problems ?

If you have lower-back problems, don't do deadlifts unless instructed to do so by a competent coach. The same goes for knee problems with squats, and shoulder problems with the bench press or military press.

Work around these limits - don't try to exceed them, or you could find yourself injured and out of the gym for months. There's always a replacement exercise that can do the job without causing health concerns.

Get enough rest.

The older we get, the more our ability to gain muscle diminishes, and the harder it is to recover. Recovery is an important part of gaining muscle. If you neglect it and try to exercise hard, every day, you'll end up overtrained. Although age doesn't affect the recovery process as much as some people think (4), research has shown that aging can lengthen recovery time.

The solution is simple: make sure you recuperate correctly, and do everything in your power to avoid worries.

To cut a long story short, apply what's been tried and tested: take a full day of rest after two days of training, sleep well at night, and don't hesitate to take a nap. The nutritionIs also important for full recovery, especially after exercise. Remember, the aim is to build muscle mass! Don't forget to work on your mobility, stretching and massage. Among other things, self-massage can help relieve and limit body aches and pains (roller and/or massage gun).

What to eat after 40 ?

Once you reach the age of 40 and beyond, it becomes increasingly important to maintain a decent level of fat. For some people, gaining muscle is still an important goal, but the majority of men over 40 are primarily interested in losing fat, while maintaining a decent amount of muscle.

Getting fit, getting abs and building a beautiful, athletic body is ageless. All you have to do is follow a well-designed training program and eat a diet of healthy foods.

So, given all the above, what foods should you eat? Well, first of all, you should follow a diet with a balanced ratio of healthy lean proteins, complex carbohydrates (low GI) and essential fats. Any food in its natural state brimming with all kinds of vitamins and minerals is a safe bet that your body will use to function optimally.

Below are some excellent examples of foods to include in your diet.

- For sources of proteinsChicken (breast), turkey breast, lean beef, fish (salmon, tuna, mackerel, sardines), pork (white ham), eggs

- For carbohydrates: oats, whole-grain rice, whole-grain pasta, legumes (kidney beans, lentils, beans, split peas, chickpeas, etc.), vegetables and fruit.

- For fats: Olive oil, coconut oil, nuts, seeds, avocados, etc.

The above list contains just a few examples of foods you should be eating regularly, while keeping an eye on your calorie intake. All foods make you fat if you eat too much of them, so make sure you're always in a calorie deficit. If you don't watch the total number of calories you consume each day, no matter how much training or cardio you do, you still won't lose weight.

And I've got good news for you: Don't worry about your metabolism, it's fine. A common worry among middle-aged people is that their metabolism has slowed, making weight loss or muscle growth nearly impossible. This is not true. It's true that aging causes some metabolic slowdown, but much of it is actually caused by the loss of muscle mass (5).

Muscles burn calories, and we naturally lose muscle as we age (6), so our bodies burn fewer and fewer calories over time. The good news is that you can totally reverse this process with regular strength training.

So, if you're looking to lose a little fat, you'll simply be doing what we all do to lose weight:

- Place yourself in a slight caloric deficit.

- Train properly.

- Be patient.



AuthorAlexandre CARPENTIER

Bodybuilding Champion N.A.C 2012

Alexandre shares his bodybuilding experience with MegaGear blog readers

Posted in: Bodywork