How to Build Muscle When You’re Over 40

Older caucasian male with gray hair doing side plank

The older you get, the wiser you are—but the older you get, the more your joints hurt, too.

Once you hit 40, things don’t tend to work the same way they did when you were 25—your body is creaky, your muscles take longer to recover, and your aerobic conditioning and power start to take a dip. But does that mean you should slow down in the gym? Not one bit. All you need to do is make a few changes to your exercises and routine and you’ll be good to go, adding power like your 25-year-old self.

Follow this program and you’ll be able to gain muscle, build strength, and maybe even feel like your 25-year-old self again.

How to Program a Strength Workout Over 40

This workout won’t pound your body with strenuous Olympic-style lifts or an extreme amount of volume.

Instead, these workouts are designed to give you the stimulus for muscle growth without putting a toll on your body.

First, these exercises are joint friendly: they don’t put the same amount of stress on your lower back, knees, or shoulders as other traditional strength programs. Second, we include more unilateral—or “single-limb”—exercises to promote more balance and reduce the external load on your body.

Finally, these movements target a lot of muscles at once so you can do fewer reps and sets, but still get a powerful muscle-building effect.

Make sure to take at least one day of rest between workouts. For example, do these workouts Monday/Wednesday/Friday or Tuesday/Thursday/Saturday. Use as heavy of a weight as you can for each exercise while maintaining great technique and hitting your rest periods. Focus on slowly adding weight to your exercises every time you work out. And don’t forget to thoroughly warm up first. Try The Best Dynamic Warmup for Any Workout.

Workout 1

A1) Reverse Lunge, 4 sets, 5 reps each side, 30s rest
A2) Squat-to-Stand, 4 sets, 8 reps, 30s rest

B1) Barbell Hip Thrusts, 3 sets, 8 reps, 30s rest

C1) TRX Pushups, 3 sets, 10 reps, 30s rest
C2) Low Single-Arm Cable Row, 3 sets, 10 reps each side, 30s rest
C3) Band Pull-aparts, 3 sets, 10 reps, 30s rest

D1) Ab-Wheel Rollout, 3 sets, 10 reps, 30s rest

Workout II

A1) High-Handle Trap Bar* Deadlift, 4 sets, 6 reps, 30s rest
A2) X-Band Walk, 4 sets, 10 reps each way, 60s rest

B1) Dumbbell Chest-Supported Row, 3 sets, 15 reps, 30s rest
B2) Dumbbell Push Press, 3 sets, 15 reps, 30s rest
B3) Farmer’s Carry, 3 sets, 30 seconds, 30s rest

C1) Hip Bridges w/ Mini-Band, 4 sets, 10 reps, 30s rest
C2) Bear Crawl, 4 sets, 20 seconds, 30s rest

*If you don’t have a trap bar, do a conventional barbell deadlift on two sturdy 45lb plates stacked flat on the ground.

Workout III

A1) Dumbbell Bench Press, 5 sets, 5 reps, 60s rest
A2) Chinups, 5 sets, 5 reps, 60s rest

B1) TRX Inverted Row, 4 sets, 8 reps, 30s rest
B2) Goblet Lateral Squats, 4 sets, 8 reps each side, 30s rest
B3) Single-Leg Romanian Deadlift, 4 sets, 8 reps each side, 30s rest

C1) Kneeling Anti-Rotational Chops, 3 sets, 8 reps each side, 30s rest

For access to exclusive gear videos, celebrity interviews, and more, subscribe on YouTube!