This article was produced in partnership with Nugenix
In your 20s, prioritizing health and fitness isn’t a difficult balance to strike. But when it comes to the hierarchy of priorities in your 40s, 50s, and 60s, your physique often falls under your career and family in order of importance. It gets harder to maintain your fitness—even more so if you’re trying to get back in shape after a hiatus.
It doesn’t help that building muscle gets harder as we get older and testosterone levels begin to wane. Levels start to drop when most men hit their late 30s or early 40s. From here, testosterone levels drop about 2 percent a year. But that doesn’t mean you have to relinquish your physique—at least not without a fight. Sure, you’re not 25 anymore (or even 35), but you can still have bulging biceps, strong legs, and a huge chest.
“I’m a big advocate of doing as much of a workout via compound exercises as possible,” says Mark Mcilyar, a 57-year-old bodybuilder. “These movements are proven to maximize a man’s natural production of testosterone, which is critical for men over 40, because we have much lower testosterone levels than we did 10 or 20 years ago.”
How to Train to Boost Testosterone
To naturally stimulate the production of testosterone, you want to focus on exercises that recruit a significant amount of muscle mass. That means multi-joint exercises that hit the body’s largest muscle groups (think glutes, legs, chest, and back).
Note: If you’re not as experienced with equipment or lifting, you can still up testosterone levels with compound bodyweight exercises and entry-level free-weight moves, such as:
- bench press
- pullup or chinup
- overhead press
Mix and match these moves to create a multitude of at-home workouts. Perform three times per week on nonconsecutive days. Do 3 sets of 8 to 12 reps with minimal rest in between sets.
That said, the best way to stimulate the production of testosterone is with resistance weight training, ideally, done three days per week on non-consecutive days. It’s important to alternate muscle groups on different days to give those body parts ample time to recover.
Below, we’ve created five targeted workouts to get your testosterone levels up and build total-body muscle. These routines are broken up by body part, so you can pick and choose three to do throughout the week without taxing your whole body. Because these are compound exercises, they’ll all light up your abs (often more effectively than isolated moves like crunches), but if you want to dedicate some time to hitting your core, tack on one of our top abs finishers, which include:
- Kneeling plate rotations: Begin kneeling on your right knee, holding a plate by your left hip. In a circular motion, bring the plate up and overhead, then drive down toward your right knee; you’ll create an arc. Return to start by bringing the weight across your body in a straight line. Repeat desired reps on both sides. Perform 15 reps each side. Aim for 3-5 sets.
- 3D planks: Begin in a plank position. Drive your right knee toward your right elbow. Return to start but don’t let your foot touch the ground. Now, drive your right knee toward your left elbow. Return to the start once again, keeping your foot elevated. Drive your right knee toward your right elbow once more but pause this time. Swivel your knee perpendicular across your body, bringing your right knee toward your left elbow for one rep. Perform 5-10 reps, then switch sides. Do 3-5 sets.
- Palloff press: Begin standing parallel to a cable machine, holding the handle at chest height. (You can also use a resistance band wrapped around a fixed object.) Keep your hips and shoulders square as you press the cable or band forward. Fight the urge to rotate your torso and keep your feet firmly planted. Perform 15 reps per side for 3-5 sets.
5 Testosterone-Boosting Workouts for Men Over 40
Unless noted, do each exercise for 3 sets of 15 reps, resting for 1 minute between sets. Use heavy enough weight that you’re taxed by the last rep but not so much that your form breaks down.
- Stability ball dumbbell press: Sit tall on a stability ball with dumbbells in each hand. Slowly move your feet forward so your head, neck, shoulders, and upper back are flat against the stability ball. Keep your knees bent at 90 degrees and your feet flat on the floor. Hold the dumbbells by your chest, elbows bent, palms facing forward. Next, press the weights toward the ceiling, extending your arms fully. You’ll be in a tabletop position. Your lower body should help keep you balanced throughout the movement, giving you stability throughout the exercise. Lower the dumbbells down just past your shoulders back to the starting position and repeat.
- Single-arm incline dumbbell press: Sit on an incline bench with feet flat on the floor and a dumbbell in one hand. Engage core and press dumbbell up until your arm is extended directly above shoulder. Lower with control to the start and repeat. Switch sides after all reps are complete.
- Chest-level cable flyes: Attach a D-handle to both cables. Grab one in each hand and walk out a few feet so there’s tension in the cables. While keeping your elbows up and slightly bent and fists parallel to shoulders, press hands around and forward to meet each other, like you’re hugging a tree. Reverse for one rep and repeat.
- Dips to failure: Keeping your arms straight, hold your body up on two parallel bars. Descend until your chest is roughly in line with your hands, then push back up to the starting position, locking out elbows. If this is too difficult, scale down to dips on a flat, stable surface with arms behind you and feet flat on the ground, knees bent.
- Stability ball pushups: Assume pushup position on a medicine or Swiss ball with fingers pointed down the sides. The shoulder blades should be pushed away from one another. Lower until your chest barely touches the ball. Maintain control of the ball as you push as far away from it as possible. Keep your body straight from head to ankle.
Here you’ll hit each exercise for 3 sets of 12 reps, with 1 minute rest between sets. Again, your load should be heavy enough that those last couple reps are tough, but not in bad form.
- Barbell deadlift: Stand with feet shoulder-width apart and grasp the bar with an overhand grip, hands just outside legs. Drive through hips, maintaining a flat back, to lift the bar up. Squeeze glutes once standing, then lower under control.
- Hammer row: Adjust the seat and pads to your height and arm length on a hammer row machine. Sit on the bench with your chest firmly planted against the pad. Grab hold of the parallel bars so palms are facing each other. Squeeze your lats and pull the bars toward your chest (don’t let your arms take over the movement). Squeeze your shoulder blades together at the top of the movement, then slowly lower back to starting position.
- Dumbbell shoulder shrugs: Grab two dumbbells and sit on a bench or kneel on the floor. Drive your shoulders up and contract your traps for 2 to 3 seconds.
- T-Bar rows: Use a T-bar row station, or wedge a barbell into a corner and hook a V-grip handle under it. Straddle the bar and, keeping your lower back arched, bend forward at the hips so your torso is nearly parallel with the floor. Grasp the handle and row it to your ribs.
- Hyperextensions: Lock yourself into a hyperextension or glute-ham machine, feet anchored, hips over pad. Hug a weight plate at chest and bend at hips to lower and lift slowly for counts of 2, squeezing glutes to protect low back at top. You can also use a heavy resistance band: Strap it underneath the hyperextension machine, then wrap the top against the back of your neck, holding the band in place with hands.
- Bentover cable pulldowns: Face high pulley and grab cable attachment with palms facing down and soft bend in elbows. Position feet hip-width apart or assume a staggered stance, then hinge slightly at hips, black flat, until shoulders are fully flexed and arms are by your ears. Pull cable attachment down until upper arms are by sides.
To maximize strength, you’ll first do 3 sets of 8 reps of each exercise, resting 1 minute between sets. Then you’ll do rest-pause sets of the same move, of 8, 4, and 4 reps each, taking just 10 to 15 seconds rest between sets. The cardio finisher burns more calories and revs your metabolism.
- Barbell squat: Unrack a barbell so it’s resting across traps, and stand with feet shoulder-width apart, toes slightly pointed out. Engage core and lats, and keep weight in your heels. Hinge slightly at hips to lower into a squat. Don’t let knees cave inward. Drive through heels and extend through hips to stand.
- Barbell squat (rest-pause set): Perform as instructed above using the following scheme: Perform 8 reps. Rest 20 seconds. Perform 4 reps. Rest 10 to 15 seconds. Perform 4 reps again.
- Walking lunges with dumbbells: Stand upright with feet shoulder-width apart and dumbbells in either hand. Step forward with your right leg, placing your foot down as if you were setting up a static lunge, flexing knees to 90 degrees, and dropping hips. Lower your left knee toward the ground. Just before it makes contact with the floor, drive up and forward through your right leg, stepping into a lunge on your other side.
- Walking lunges with dumbbells (rest-pause set): Perform as instructed above using the following scheme: Perform 8 reps. Rest 20 seconds. Perform 4 reps. Rest 10 to 15 seconds. Perform 4 reps again.
- Leg press: Sit in the leg press machine with feet shoulder-width apart or slightly wider. Brace your core and exhale as you push the platform away using your heels and forefoot (keep heels flat against footplate throughout). Extend legs and keep head and back flat against the seat pad.
- Leg press (rest-pause set): Perform as instructed above using the following scheme: Perform 8 reps. Rest 20 seconds. Perform 4 reps. Rest 10 to 15 seconds. Perform 4 reps again.
- Split squats: Start at the top of a split squat position, left foot in front, holding kettlebell in right hand. Keeping core strong and shoulders back, engage quads and slowly lower back knee to ground, then explode up for 1 rep. Switch sides.
- Split squats, each side (rest-pause set): Perform as instructed above using the following scheme: Perform 8 reps. Rest 20 seconds. Perform 4 reps. Rest 10 to 15 seconds. Perform 4 reps again.
- 10- to 15-minute cardio finisher: Select a piece of equipment like the ski erg, rower, resistance bike, or treadmill and work through intervals (here are two finishers for inspiration).
Go heavy on the shoulders with 3 sets of 6 reps of each move with 1 minute rest between sets, then do rest-pause sets of 6, 3, and 3 reps each with 10 to 15 seconds between sets.
- Seated military press: Sit on a bench and hold dumbbells on your thighs. “Kick” the dumbbells up to your shoulders or simply bring them slowly to shoulder level. Squeeze your shoulder blades together and stabilize your core as you press the weights overhead. Hold at the top for a moment, then lower back to shoulders.
- Seated military press (rest-pause set): Perform as instructed above using the following scheme: Perform 6 reps. Rest 10 to 15 seconds. Perform 3 reps. Rest 10 to 15 seconds. Perform 3 reps.
- Dumbbell front raise: Stand with dumbbells in each hand at your sides, shoulders back, knuckles facing out. Raise one arm, rotating your wrist so your palms are facing the floor, bringing the weight up to eye level. Return the weight to your side, then repeat with the opposite arm. Control the weight and avoid excess arm swing on the descent.
- Dumbbell front raise (rest-pause set): Perform as instructed above using the following scheme: Perform 6 reps. Rest 10 to 15 seconds. Perform 3 reps. Rest 10 to 15 seconds. Perform 3 reps.
- Bentover rear delt flye: Hinge forward at hips holding a dumbbell in each hand, keeping a slight bend in your knees. Raise the dumbbells out to the sides of your body, palms facing down until they’re even with shoulders. Slowly reverse the movement to return to start.
- Bentover rear delt flys (rest-pause set): Perform as instructed above using the following scheme: Perform 6 reps. Rest 10 to 15 seconds. Perform 3 reps. Rest 10 to 15 seconds. Perform 3 reps.
- Dumbbell lateral raise: Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, holding dumbbells at your sides, palms facing in. Raise weights out 90 degrees without bending elbows or swinging arms for momentum. Pause briefly once arms are parallel to floor, then return to start.
- Dumbbell lateral raises (rest-pause set): Perform as instructed above using the following scheme: Perform 6 reps. Rest 10 to 15 seconds. Perform 3 reps. Rest 10 to 15 seconds. Perform 3 reps.
- Arnold press: Hold a dumbbell in each hand at shoulder level with palms facing you. Press the weights overhead as you turn your palms to face forward.
- Arnold press (rest-pause set): Perform as instructed above using the following scheme: Perform 6 reps. Rest 10 to 15 seconds. Perform 3 reps. Rest 10 to 15 seconds. Perform 3 reps.
Back, Bis, and Tris Day
Do these upper-body-focused supersets for 3 sets of 8 to 12 reps each, resting 1 minute between sets but no time between exercises.
- Supported bentover dumbbell row: Rest your right knee and hand on a bench and grasp a dumbbell with your left hand. Let the weight hang straight down. Retract your shoulder and row the dumbbell to your side. Switch sides after all reps are done.
- Supported bentover triceps kickback: Rest your right knee and hand on a bench and grasp a dumbbell with your left hand. Begin with elbow bent and dumbbell by ribs. Engage triceps as you extend arm fully back. Pause, then return to start. Switch sides after all reps are done.
- EZ bar curl: Hold an EZ-curl bar with hands at shoulder width. Keeping your upper arms against your sides, curl the bar and squeeze your biceps at the top.
- EZ bar skullcrusher: Lie on back, knees comfortably bent, feet on floor slightly wider than hip-width apart, with an EZ bar loaded with 10-pound plates directly behind head. Grasp the bar with both hands, elbows bent, upper arms perpendicular to chest. Use triceps to lift bar so it’s directly over chest, arms straight, wrists flat, to start. Keeping upper arms still, bend elbows back to lower barbell behind head, a few inches off ground, then reverse to start.
- Straight-arm cable pushdown: Attach a straight bar to the top pulley of a cable station and grasp it with hands shoulder-width apart. Bend at the hips a bit to feel a stretch on your lats, then pull the bar to your hips with your arms straight.
- Triceps cable pushdown: Attach a rope handle to the top pulley of a cable station and hold an end in each hand with el- bows flexed. Allow your elbows to drift forward a bit as you extend them and then let them drift backward as you lower the weight.
- Seated dumbbell curl: Sit on a flat bench with a dumbbell in each hand, palms facing up. Engaged biceps to curl weights toward chest, pause, then slowly lower.
- Seated overhead triceps extension: Attach a rope handle to the top pulley of a cable station and grasp an end in each hand. Face away from the machine and raise your arms overhead with elbows bent. Take a step forward to put tension on the cable. You’ ll feel a stretch in your triceps. Extend your elbows.
Lifestyle Behaviors That Boost Testosterone
Support your training by making other lifestyle tweaks that can improve testosterone levels. Consider a supplement like Nugenix Total-T.
It’s like a supercharged multivitamin, with vitamins B6 and B12; zinc; L-citrulline malate (amino acid); Testofen®, a patented fenugreek extract (ayurvedic herb); ElevATP® Blend, a natural combination of ancient peat and apple polyphenols; and eurycoma longifolia extract, a root believed to boost male vitality.
Nugenix Total-T may increase sex drive, improve sexual function, and increase muscle strength and endurance in men suffering from lower testosterone.
Moreover, you should prioritize foods high in vitamin D, zinc, and cholesterol (in moderation), which is the building block of testosterone (e.g. oysters, salmon, tuna, and eggs).
Make sure to get plenty of good-quality sleep, as well.
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