By Scott Miller
MYTH: A man over 40 years old can no longer build muscle.
Granted, at 40 years old, men usually have less testosterone
in their systems, but we can still build muscle. It just
takes a bit more persistence and hard work.
If you read all the muscle mags and try to follow what they
say, you might make some gains, but typically you will be
over-trained. So, let's throw all of that away and
concentrate on the things that really matter: training,
nutrition and rest.
Whatever your routine, make sure it's working for you and
you're making progress. After 3-4 weeks of your new
routine, if you're not lifting more or doing more reps,
you should re-think your routine. Remember, there is no
"cookie cutter" routine that works perfectly for everyone,
so if this one doesn't work, change it.
One of the biggest things to remember in your routines
for adding muscle mass is to LIFT HARD and HEAVY! I
can't stress this enough. I've talked to too many guys,
young and old, who proclaim that they can't add any size.
If you watch them, they never really push themselves.
You must always push yourself and strive for more reps
or more poundage or you will never make any quality gains.
Lifting hard and heavy leads us right into a few other
points ? your joints and using straps and wraps. Being
over 40 and lifting can pose problems with your joints.
Aside from taking glucosamine and chondroitin (not a bad
idea), stretching frequently before, during and after a
training session is important. Even stretching
during your work day can help keep you limber and
actually relieve some of the soreness and help keep the
joints from getting stiff. If you've got a joint
problem that is persistent, don't try to "man through
it", but go see your doctor and have him make sure you're
Many exercises can be quite taxing on your grip and your
grip will give out before the muscle you're training will.
In those instances, use straps. You don't want to limit
your muscle growth because your grip gives out. BUT,
make sure you include grip/forearm exercises in your routine.
At our age, knee wraps are probably a good idea, just for
the added support they give. I use a wrap on my right
knee and will be starting on my left knee soon. Be smart.
I do not wear a lifting belt. I used to, but I discovered
that my lower back was just, plain weak. I started doing
good mornings, back extensions, dead lifts and rack dead
lifts. Within a few months, I had no need to wear a belt,
with the exception of near 1RM squats.
Whether younger or older, you need to track your progress.
Whether it's a log book or a piece of paper in your pocket
that you then enter into your computer at home, track your
progress. This will let you know where you're at and
where you've been. At the next workout, you won't be
guessing, you'll have the numbers in front of you.
Setting goals goes hand-in-hand with tracking your
progress. Setting both short-term and long-term goals
is very important and will help keep you focused on your
If you're really serious about putting on muscle, then
nutrition is probably 70% of the entire package. You need
to be eating clean foods ? not fast foods. At least 5
meals a day is necessary to keep your metabolism going.
6-8 meals a day is not unreasonable, if you have the time.
For us "older guys", building muscle isn't quite as easy
as it used to be, so we have to really concentrate on
what we eat and when. Protein, carbs and fats are all
essential, not only in proper nutrition, but for
Make sure you eat enough to support muscle gain. Most
people, older or younger, that call themselves "hard
gainers", just aren't eating enough. How do you know?
An easy way to figure it out is to write down everything
you eat every day for a week. Get a calorie counting
book and put the numbers to it. Then figure out your BMR.
If your BMR is 2200 calories, then you have to eat more
than that each day to gain, and that's not 2210
calories a day, but 2300+. Granted, there's a balance
between eating an excess and pigging out every day. You
can make muscle gains and keep the body fat at a minimum
if you don't over eat and eat clean food.
Last, but not least, REST.
That's right, rest. 7-8 hours of good, steady sleep is
critical. If you're always tired from not sleeping enough,
not only will your workouts suffer, but nearly everything
else can suffer, as well. A nap, if you have the time,
can be wonderful.
So, you're "Over the Hill", huh? Big deal. If you eat
right, train hard and get good sleep, you can still be
on the front side of the hill, instead of the back side.
I'm bigger and stronger now at 45 years old than I have
Thread: Muscle Building over 40