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In Your 40s? These Are the 7 Exercises Trainers Recommend Most

Sculpt a leaner, fitter body in your 40s by following an expert's go-to moves.
FACT CHECKED BY Olivia Tarantino

Getting lean as you age seems to become more and more challenging. Sometimes, it may feel as though the universe is working against you, even when you're following all the "right" steps to lose weight and get fit. Due to family obligations, work commitments, and lifestyle changes, you may not be as active as you were in your younger years. (And if you are, kudos to you!) But you can still cut unwanted pounds. The key principles of weight loss remain the same and involve a healthy combination of diet and exercise. Eating fresh fruits, veggies, lean protein, and fiber is crucial, along with establishing a calorie deficit. Nixing added sugars and staying away from "empty-calorie" foods is important as well. In addition, following some of the best exercises for a leaner body after 40 is the name of the game.

We spoke with Dr. Femi Betiku, DPT, CSCS, NCPT, instructor for Club Pilates, who shares some of the most productive moves you can do to sculpt a lean body in your 40s and beyond. According to Dr. Betiku, "Muscle mass decreases at a significant rate of three to eight percent per decade after the age of 30, and as one approaches the age of 60, this rate significantly decreases. This is why it's important to continuously build lean muscle mass throughout one's lifetime."

Pilates is a stellar form of exercise if you want to torch calories and enhance your muscle tone. "The various mat and reformer-based exercises help optimize all components of maintaining healthy lean muscle mass," Dr. Betiku adds. So keep reading to learn all about the seven best exercises for a leaner body in your 40s. And when you're finished, check out these 6 Simple Exercises to Shrink Your Waistline After 40.

1. Plie Sumo Squats: 3 sets of 15 reps with 10 heel raises in between sets

plie sumo squats

Dr. Betiku's exercises for a leaner body in your 40s kick off with plie sumo squats. "Squats in general are effective for building the strength of the lower extremity. Because the lower extremity muscle groups are much bigger and more metabolically active than the upper extremity, they tend to lean out your overall body faster when utilized at a certain intensity," Dr. Betiku explains.

To set up, plant your feet outside shoulder-width, and extend your arms out in front of you or have them at your heart's center. Turn your toes out a bit. Descend into a squat by pressing your buttocks back and bending both knees as if you're sitting on a chair. Your body weight should be in your heels. Complete three sets of 15 squats. Once you complete the final rep in the first set, remain in the squat position, and gradually perform heel raises for 10 reps. Then, move on to the next set with 15 more squats and 10 more heel raises.

2. Prone Planks with Mountain Climbers: 3 sets of 15 reps per leg

mountain climbers

The prone plank with mountain climbers is an excellent total-body workout that will put the upper extremity, core, and lower extremity to work in order to sculpt leaner muscles.

You'll begin the exercise with your hands or forearms on the ground, shoulder-width distance apart. Extend your legs behind you as you roll up to the balls of your feet. Then, perform a mountain climber by bringing one knee up toward your elbow that's on the same side of your body. Extend it back behind you. Complete three sets of 15 reps per leg.

3. Side Planks with Hip Abduction: 3 sets of 15 reps on each side

Side planks with hip abduction will work your entire body to help you sculpt leaner muscles. Get ready to fire up your core, lateral upper extremity, and lower extremity muscle groups.

To begin, Dr. Betiku instructs, "Lie on one forearm with [your] elbow directly under [your] shoulder and same side hip, knee, and ankle are in a straight line. The top arm is pointing up toward the ceiling, [the] top leg is resting on and in line with [the] bottom leg. Float [your] bottom hip and legs off the ground, draw [your] belly button in tighter, [and] lift [the] top leg up and down for prescribed rep." Complete three sets of 15 reps for each side.

4. Reverse Planks with Knee Flexion: 3 sets of 10 reps on each side

Next up, we have reverse planks with knee flexion. Dr. Betiku says, "[This is a] great exercise series to target the full body in order to build leaner muscles while focusing on the posterior aspects of the upper extremity, core, and lower extremity."

To get started, sit on the floor with your hands by your hips and your legs completely extended. Point your toes up toward the ceiling, bring your shoulder blades down, and squeeze your buttocks to raise your butt off the floor for a reverse plank. When you reach the top, gradually raise one leg up and forward to the height of your hip. Then, bend that knee back toward your shoulder on the same side. Complete three sets of 10 reps per side.

Alexa Mellardo
Alexa is the Mind + Body Deputy Editor of Eat This, Not That!, overseeing the M+B channel and delivering compelling fitness, wellness, and self-care topics to readers. Read more about Alexa
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