As we age, maintaining our physical health becomes increasingly important. For men over 40, fitness can play a crucial role in combating the natural decline in muscle mass and bone density that accompanies aging. One of the most effective ways to combat this decline is through weight training. Here are some practical fitness tips for men over 40, with an emphasis on weight training.
1. Prioritize Strength Training
Strength training, particularly weightlifting, is crucial for men over 40. Not only does it help build and maintain muscle mass, but it also improves bone density, boosts metabolism, and can even improve mental health. According to a study from Harvard Health, strength training exercises are beneficial for cardiovascular health and can reduce the symptoms of conditions like arthritis, diabetes, osteoporosis, and depression1. It may even help with erectile health and strength.
2. Master the Basics
Before diving into complex routines, ensure you master basic weightlifting exercises. These include squats, deadlifts, bench press, and standing press. These exercises target multiple muscle groups simultaneously, providing a comprehensive workout.
As you get older you are likely to accumulate responsibilities and gym time can be the first thing to go when things get too crazy. Because of that we always recommend you focus on knocking out the core lifts before trying some complex routine you found online.
Hit these lifts once a week and you won't lose your gains if you miss a week or two due to a work trip or family vacation.
3. Embrace Progressive Overload
Progressive overload involves gradually increasing the amount of stress placed on your body during exercise. This could mean slowly increasing the weight you lift, the number of repetitions you perform, or the frequency of your workouts. This principle is key to continuing muscle growth and avoiding plateaus.
This can also be applied to your cardio routine to help increase calorie burn and fat loss. Start with a 10 minute walk before each workout, then add 5 minutes a week until you can do 30 minutes with ease.
Note: There is no reason to shoot for new PRs every week over 40. In fact, doing so dramatically increases the risk of injury. Injuries over 40 suck, are expensive, and increase the need for surgery. Focus on getting strong and fit, but do not risk for your joints for your ego.
4. Don’t Neglect Mobility and Flexibility
While weight training is essential, don't neglect mobility and flexibility exercises. As we age, our joints can become stiffer and less flexible. Incorporating mobility exercises like yoga, pilates, or simple stretching routines can help maintain full range of motion and prevent injuries.
Stretching can also be a great way to release tension and lower stress. Try winding down in the evening with 5-10 minutes of easy stretching while you watch TV. You'll see how enjoyable it can be.
5. Listen to Your Body
As we age, recovery takes longer. Ensure you're giving your body ample time to rest and repair between workouts. If you're feeling particularly sore or fatigued, it might be a sign you need to take a break. Remember, consistency is more important than intensity.
When you feel beat down, it is okay to replace your workout with things like sauna, cold water therapy, a long walk, or simply a day off. Do not feel guilty about taking a break. You are in it for the long haul, not the short term gains.
6. Maintain a Balanced Diet
A healthy diet complements your training routine. Ensure you're consuming enough protein to support muscle repair and growth, complex carbohydrates for energy, plenty of fruits and vegetables, and targeted supplementation for essential micronutrients and minerals.
As a primary goal, shoot to your ideal bodyweight in grams of protein. For example; if your desired weight is 175, then shoot for 175 grams of quality protein a day. Building your meals around this goal will help you avoid over consuming carbohydrates and other empty calories that lead to increased body fat.
7. Get Regular Check-ups
Finally, make sure to get regular check-ups. This ensures you're in good health to engage in weightlifting and other strenuous exercises. It's always better to catch potential issues early and address them before they become serious problems.
At a minimum, you should have your full metabolic panel done, as well as a testosterone and PSA checked. This will help guide your diet, workout, and supplement choices.
Weight training offers numerous benefits for men over 40. It can help maintain muscle mass, improve bone density, boost metabolism, and contribute to overall well-being. By following these tips, you can reap the benefits of weight training and maintain an active, healthy lifestyle well into your 40s and beyond.