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The 7 Best Exercises for Men To Stay Fit In Their 40s

Turn your middle-aged years into a time of flourishing physicality.
FACT CHECKED BY Alexa Mellardo

If you are a man reaching your 40s, you might be struggling to maintain your fitness, muscle mass, energy levels, and physical appearance. Unfortunately, the reality of male aging is a slow decline in all of the characteristics associated with masculinity. While some of this is inevitable, the good news is that with the right training program, you can slow down the aging process, and in some cases, reverse these age-related declines. I've trained many clients in their 40s who have successfully seen dramatic positive changes in their bodies through resistance training programs. The following article breaks down my top seven exercises for men to stay fit in their 40s.

For each of the below exercises, complete three to four sets of eight to 10 repetitions using a weight that feels heavy for that rep range. Rest for 90 seconds between sets, and perform the workout one to two times a week. You can split it into two to three workout sessions, or perform a single longer session, although I generally recommend the former. When combined with a high-protein diet, healthy sleep habits, and regular low-intensity cardio, you can fight the effects of aging on your own terms and turn your middle-aged years into a time of flourishing physicality.

Keep reading for the seven best exercises for men to stay fit in their 40s, and next, be sure to read about the 4 Exercises That Can Drastically Change Your Body Shape After 40.


middle-aged man doing deadlifts

Deadlifts are a fantastic exercise for targeting the posterior chain—especially the hamstrings, glutes, and lower back. This exercise is a real-world functional movement that helps improve balance, stability, and strength, making everyday tasks easier and keeping you physically strong and fit.

To perform a deadlift, stand with your feet hip-width apart, with the barbell resting over your mid-foot. Bend at the hips and knees, and grip the bar with your hands just outside of your knees. Keep your back straight and your chest up, and pull your shoulders back. Push through your full foot to lift the barbell off the ground, extending your hips and knees. Lower the barbell by pushing your hips back and bending your knees. Repeat for the target repetitions.

Barbell Back Squats

barbell back squat illustration

Squats work several muscle groups—especially your quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes. Barbell squats allow you to load substantial weight on the bar for an exceptionally powerful stimulus to your muscles.

To perform barbell back squats, position a barbell at shoulder level on a squat rack. If available, set the safety pins just above waist level. Step under the bar, resting it on your shoulders, and lift it off the rack by straightening your legs. Take a step back, and stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Keeping your chest lifted and your spine neutral, bend your knees and hips to lower your body as if sitting in a chair. Push through both feet to stand back up to a standing position. Repeat for the target repetitions.

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illustration of man doing dumbbell lunges

Next up in our exercises for men to stay fit in their 40s is the lunge. Lunges are excellent for building leg and core strength while improving balance and coordination. They work the quads, hamstrings, and glutes.

To perform lunges, stand tall with your feet hip-width apart holding a dumbbell in each hand. Take a big step forward with your right foot, and lower your body until your right knee is at a 90-degree angle. Rotate your left foot inward slightly as you lower your left knee for optimal biomechanics. Ensure your right knee is directly above your right ankle and your back knee is hovering just off the ground roughly one inch. Push through the full foot of your right leg to return to the starting position. Repeat on the other side. Alternate legs for the target repetitions.


illustration of pull-ups exercise

Pull-ups are a phenomenal upper-body exercise, targeting the lats, rhomboids, and biceps. They're crucial for building a strong back and improving grip strength while giving you a manly V-taper look to your upper body.

To perform a pull-up, grip a pull-up bar with your palms facing away from you and your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width distance apart. Hang with your arms fully extended. Pull your body upward by bending your elbows and retracting your shoulder blades. Visualize crushing a piece of fruit in your armpit as you squeeze at the end range of motion. Lift yourself until your chin is above the bar. Lower yourself back down with control. Repeat for the target repetitions.

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Overhead Presses

fit man doing barbell overhead press during muscle-building workout

The overhead press is a compound exercise that primarily works the deltoids, triceps, and upper pectorals while engaging the core for stability. This exercise can help improve posture and upper-body strength while giving you broad, masculine shoulders.

To perform an overhead press, stand with your feet shoulder-width distance apart, holding a barbell at shoulder height with your palms facing forward. Brace your core, and press the barbell straight up until your arms are fully extended overhead. Avoid shrugging your shoulders as you lift the bar. Lower the barbell back to shoulder height with control. Repeat for the target repetitions.

Barbell Rows

illustration of man doing barbell row

Barbell rows are a great compound exercise that targets the back muscles, including the latissimus dorsi, trapezius, and rhomboid.

To perform barbell rows, stand with your feet hip-width distance apart, holding a barbell with your palms facing down. Bend your knees slightly, and hinge forward from your hips, keeping your back straight. Pull the barbell toward your abdomen, retracting your shoulder blades as if you're squeezing a fruit in your armpits. Lower the barbell back down with control, avoiding any shrugging motion throughout the range. Repeat for the target repetitions.

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Bench Presses

man doing assisted barbell bench press

The last of these exercises for men to stay fit in their 40s is the bench press. Bench presses are a fundamental compound exercise that primarily targets your chest muscles, but also works shoulders and triceps. This exercise is a must for building upper-body strength and developing the pectoral muscles. If you have shoulder issues, you can swap the barbell out for dumbbells, which are a tad more forgiving due to the more natural range of motion.

To perform a bench press, lie on a flat bench with your feet flat on the floor. Grip the barbell with your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width distance apart, palms facing your feet. Lift the barbell off the rack, and hold it straight over your chest with your arms fully extended. Inhale as you slowly lower the barbell to your chest, ensuring that your elbows are at a 90-degree angle. Exhale as you push the barbell back up to the starting position, making sure to squeeze your chest at the top for about one second. Repeat for the target repetitions.

Tyler Read
Tyler Read is a personal trainer and has been involved in health and fitness for the past 15 years. Read more about Tyler
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