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6 Easy Exercises To Prevent the Dreaded 'Dad Bod' After 40

Hit 40 looking better than you did at 30.
FACT CHECKED BY Alexa Mellardo

Many guys can get away with a lot in their 20s when it comes to poor eating and exercise habits. However, once you hit your 30s, you'll quickly find your habits catching up to you in the form of fat gains, a softer appearance, reduced energy, and testosterone. Before you know it, you're hitting 40 with a "dad bod" and may not feel comfortable taking your shirt off at the beach. The great news is that this entire process is avoidable because we've rounded up six easy exercises to prevent a dad bod by 40 to help get you on track.

The most important thing is that you get a jump on preventing the "dad bod snowball" that hits so many men in their 30s. Lifting weights is by far your best weapon against the ever-encroaching dad bod. Resistance training with weights builds muscle, improves your physique, and helps increase your circulating testosterone. If you combine this with some healthy eating habits for fat loss now, you can hit 40 looking better than you did at 30.

Keep reading to learn all about the six easiest exercises to prevent a dad bod by 40. Perform each exercise for three sets of eight to 10 repetitions using a weight that causes failure in that range.


man doing barbell deadlift

Deadlifts are one of the best exercises for building serious muscle mass from your ankles to your stomach. Deadlifts work the glutes, quads, hamstrings, calves, and lower torso exceptionally well, leading to major muscle gains and testosterone-boosting effects.

To perform deadlifts, stand with a barbell loaded in front of you on the floor. Grip the barbell with a double-overhand or alternating grip. Drive through both feet to raise the bar to waist height. Keep your torso stiff and spine neutral throughout the movement. Return to the starting position. Repeat for target repetitions.

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man doing barbell back squats

When it comes to massive muscle-building exercises for the lower body, squats are roughly tied with deadlifts in terms of importance. You can use many different weight training modalities when performing squats, but I prefer a barbell since it allows you to lift the most weight, thus giving the greatest stimulus for building muscle.

To perform squats, begin with a barbell racked across your shoulders or dumbbells in your hands. Sit your hips back and squat down. Keep your torso upright and your knees from caving inwards. Lower until your thighs are parallel to the floor. Drive through both feet to return to the starting position. Repeat for target repetitions.


man doing pull-ups outdoors for exercises to prevent a dad bod by 40

Pull-ups are a must for building a classic male upper body physique that often disappears for men as they reach 40. The desirable "V-taper" male torso appearance depends largely on the growth of your latissimus dorsi, which are one of the primary muscles targeted in pull-up variations. Use an overhand grip (palms facing away from you) for maximal lat activation.

To perform pull-ups, hang onto a pull-up bar with an overhand grip. Contract your upper back, and pull your body up to the bar, aiming to reach your chest to the bar. Return to the starting position. Repeat for target repetitions.

Barbell Rows

fitness man doing barbell row at the gym

Barbell rows are a great way to build a thicker, more-defined upper back as well as some biceps targeting as well. You can lift some serious weight with barbell rows, which pushes muscle growth to the max. You can use an underhand or overhand grip for barbell rows, but you cannot use an alternating grip.

To perform barbell rows, begin with a loaded barbell in front of you at your feet. Hinge at the waist, and grip the barbell with your selected grip. Brace your core to keep your torso fixed at just above parallel to the ground. Row the barbell toward your torso by bringing your elbows toward the ceiling and pulling the bar upward. Return to the starting position. Repeat for target repetitions.

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Dumbbell Bench Press

man doing dumbbell bench press

Building a solid chest and shoulders is key for finalizing your dad-bod prevention. I prefer dumbbell bench presses for building chest muscle because they allow a greater and more natural range of motion compared to barbell bench presses, although those are a good choice as well. Bench pressing primarily hits the pectoral muscles, with some shoulder muscles and triceps as well.

To perform dumbbell bench presses, begin lying on your back on a bench with a dumbbell in each hand, positioned next to your chest. Press the dumbbells upward, and bring them together as your elbows straighten. Return to the starting position. Repeat for target repetitions.

Overhead Press

man performing barbell overhead press exercise

Overhead presses are the ultimate shoulder muscle-building exercise. I like a barbell since it allows a pretty full range of motion and a lot of weight to be lifted. Dumbbells are a good alternative as well.

I recommend performing these standing to add some core stability to the exercise and make it more realistic compared to a seated overhead press.

To perform overhead presses, begin with a barbell racked at shoulder level. Grip the bar with a slightly wider than shoulder-width grip. Unrack the bar and step back, keeping your forearms vertical. Step back and stabilize for the exercise. Press the barbell upward until your elbows are locked out. Slowly return to the starting position. Repeat for target repetitions.

Tyler Read, BSc, CPT
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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