7 Most Effective Exercises for Men in Their 40s To Train Smarter
The harsh reality of male aging is that starting in your mid-thirties, you begin to lose muscle mass, testosterone, and physical vitality by a small percentage every year. Lifting weights is by far one of the most effective ways to combat these age-related declines. The earlier you start, the better. As a matter of fact, any time a male client in their 40s comes to me, I universally push them to start a weight training routine. That's why I'm here to share with you seven of the best exercises for men in their 40s to train smarter, not harder.
It's important to note that not all weight routines are created equal. You need to do the right exercises in the right repetition range to maximize the age-fighting benefits of lifting weights. Additionally, you need to train with proper technique and ensure adequate recovery if you are serious about maximizing your gains.
The following are my seven top exercises for men in their 40s to train smarter, not harder. You will still train "hard," but the key is to train hard enough to drive results, and not push it past that. Split these exercises into two different workouts based on your schedule. You can perform an upper/lower-body split, or combine upper and lower-body exercises into the same workout. Perform three to four sets of eight to 12 repetitions for each exercise. Rest for 60 to 90 seconds between sets. Be sure to eat a healthy, high-protein diet and add an extra day or two of aerobic exercise into your routine for maximal health benefits.
Keep reading for the seven best exercises for men in their 40s to train smarter, not harder. And when you're done, don't miss out on The Best Daily Bodyweight Workout Men Do To Build Muscle Over 40.
The deadlift is an excellent exercise for men in their 40s because it targets multiple muscle groups in one efficient movement. By focusing on the entire posterior chain, it helps combat the postural issues that can arise from many years of sedentary work. This exercise works the glutes, hamstrings, lower back, upper back, and forearms.
To perform a deadlift, stand with your feet hip-width apart, and position a barbell so that it is over your mid-foot. Bend at the hips and knees to lower yourself to the bar, ensuring to keep your spine neutral. Grasp the bar with a grip just outside your knees. Brace your core and straighten your back, lifting the bar by extending your hips and knees. Remember to keep the bar close to your body. Once you've reached a full standing position, reverse the movement by hinging at the hips and bending the knees to lower the bar back to the floor. Repeat for the target repetitions.
Barbell Back Squats
The barbell back squat is a fundamental exercise for overall strength and conditioning. Regularly performing squats can enhance mobility and balance, making them essential for men in their 40s. This exercise works the quadriceps, glutes, hamstrings, and core.
To perform a barbell back squat, position a barbell at shoulder level on a squat rack. If available, set the safety pins just above waist level. Step under the bar, allowing it to rest across the back of your shoulders, and lift the bar off the rack by pushing up and stepping back. Set your feet shoulder-width apart with your toes slightly pointed outward. Brace your core. Lower your body by pushing your hips back and bending your knees, ensuring to push through the full foot. Keep your chest up and your spine neutral. Stand back up to the starting position, and repeat for the target repetitions.
Pull-ups are a great bodyweight exercise for strengthening the upper body and improving grip strength. For men in their 40s, they are beneficial for maintaining functional upper-body strength. This exercise works the latissimus dorsi, biceps, and rhomboids.
To perform a pull-up, grab a pull-up bar with a grip slightly wider than shoulder width, palms facing away from you. Start from a dead hang with your arms fully extended. Visualize crushing a piece of fruit in your armpit as you retract your shoulder blades. Pull your body upward until your chin is over the bar, ensuring to keep your core engaged and avoid shrugging. Lower your body back to the dead hang position in a controlled motion. Repeat for the target repetitions.
Lunges are an effective lower-body exercise that aids in improving balance and coordination. It's great for men in their 40s, promoting joint flexibility and muscle symmetry. This exercise works the quadriceps, glutes, and hamstrings.
To perform a lunge, stand tall with your feet hip-width apart. Take a big step forward with your right foot, and lower your body until your right knee is bent at 90 degrees. Rotate your left foot inward slightly as you lower your left knee for optimal biomechanics. Make sure to push through the full foot of your right leg. Push back up to the starting position. Repeat with the left leg forward. Repeat for the target repetitions.
Overhead Shoulder Presses
The overhead shoulder press is a stellar exercise to strengthen the upper body, particularly targeting the shoulders and arms. As men enter their 40s, maintaining shoulder health becomes crucial for daily functionality. This exercise works the deltoids, trapezius, and triceps.
To perform an overhead shoulder press, stand tall with your feet shoulder-width apart, and hold a pair of dumbbells at shoulder level. Brace your core, and press the weights overhead, extending your arms fully without shrugging your shoulders. Lower the weights back to shoulder level in a controlled motion. Repeat for the target repetitions.
Seated rows can strengthen the back and improve posture, which is extremely beneficial for men in their 40s. This exercise works the latissimus dorsi, rhomboids, and biceps.
To perform a seated row, sit at a rowing machine, and grasp the handle with both hands. With your back straight and core braced, pull the handle towards your abdomen. As you pull, visualize crushing a piece of fruit in your armpit and avoid shrugging. Hold for a second at the end range of the movement. Slowly extend your arms back to the starting position. Repeat for the target repetitions.
This list of the best exercises for men in their 40s to train smarter finishes with glute bridges. The glute bridge is a fantastic exercise for strengthening the glutes and hamstrings while improving hip mobility. It's especially beneficial for men in their 40s who may sit for extended periods. This exercise works the glutes, hamstrings, and core.
To perform a glute bridge, lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Your feet should be hip-width apart. Brace your core, and push through your full foot to raise your hips off the ground. As you lift, visualize drawing your lower rib toward your pelvis, and engage your abs. Hold at the top of the movement for a second, squeezing your glutes. Lower your hips back to the floor in a controlled motion. Repeat for the target repetitions.