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4 Exercises That Can Drastically Change Your Body Shape After 40

Transform your body with these trainer-approved movements.
FACT CHECKED BY Alexa Mellardo

Aging has its ups and downs. This universal truth is evident as you reach your 40s when it becomes increasingly challenging to stay fit and lose stubborn body fat. If you can relate, don't feel bad. It's only natural, considering our bodies begin to decline around age 30. Plus, many of us are busier than ever with hectic schedules and work, social, and family obligations pulling us in every direction (and keeping us from spending time in the gym). However, you should never allow your health and fitness to fall off your radar. That's why we spoke with Nicole Davis, CPT, a certified personal trainer with Garage Gym Reviews, who shares four killer exercises to change your body shape after 40 and beyond.

While eating a nutritious, balanced diet and getting in regular cardio are essential components of body transformation, strength training plays a significant role in shedding excess fat and toning your body. And the most effective strength training exercises you can do are compound movements that target multiple muscle groups at a time, as opposed to isolation exercises like bicep curls and crunches that only work one muscle. These exercises activate several muscle groups across your entire body to elevate your heart rate, engage more muscle fibers, and torch more calories.

Whether you're in your 30s, 40s, 50s, or above, read on for Davis's top four exercises to change your body shape after 40 and shrink your waistline. To get the most out of these movements, perform three to four sets of eight to 12 reps for each exercise. And when you're done, discover how to Lose 5 Pounds With This High-Intensity Circuit Training Workout.


mature woman demonstrating deadlift exercises to change your body shape after 40

"The deadlift is one of the best compound exercises you can do to strengthen your posterior chain (the backside of your body)," says Davis. "A strong posterior chain is important not only for daily movement and good posture but athletic performance as well."

What's excellent about deadlifts is you can do them using an array of equipment, including barbells, dumbbells, and resistance bands. Whichever equipment you choose to work with, the core movement remains the same. With a straight back, hinge at the hips like you're sitting down in a chair until your hands reach about mid-shin level, then stand up to return to start the starting position.


Rows are another fantastic compound exercise for your posterior chain. You can do several variations of rows, all of which work your back and biceps. You can use a barbell, dumbbells, resistance bands, or a cable machine to execute this effective movement.

"No matter which piece of equipment you choose, the key is to keep your elbows close to your body, driving them straight back (or up and back, depending on your positioning), engaging the lats as you go," explains Davis.

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middle-aged woman demonstrating resistance band exercises to get stronger as you age

The almighty squat is next up in Davis's top-recommended exercises to change your body shape after 40. This move is a king compound lift for developing power and strength in your lower body. Increased lower body strength improves your quality of life by making daily tasks easier and boosting athletic performance.

Squats engage your glutes (the largest muscle group in your body), quads, and core. Moreover, you can perform them using a barbell, dumbbells, Smith machine, or resistance bands. If you're new to squats, consider using only your body weight until you perfect the movement.

"The key to a good squat is to pretend like you're going to sit down, moving the hips backward while the knees bend," Davis explains. "There's no need to go further than parallel with your thighs; just remember to keep the chest up throughout the movement."

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Overhead Press

"The overhead press is another functional movement, meaning it mimics many activities we do in day-to-day life, like putting something up on a high shelf," says Davis. "This exercise is best performed with a barbell, although you can also use dumbbells."

The overhead press engages several muscles across your upper body, including your deltoids (shoulders), pecs (chest), triceps (back of upper arms), and trapezius (upper back). To begin, stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and a barbell or dumbbells in a front rack position. Next, push the weight straight up, stopping just before your elbows lock out. Then, lower the weight back down slowly to the start position and repeat.

Adam Meyer
Adam is a health writer, certified holistic nutritionist, and 100% plant-based athlete. Read more about Adam
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