Working with free weights is an excellent training method if you're looking to sculpt a leaner body. A major fitness myth is that weight training will make you look "bulky." It's time to squash this misconception! Lifting heavy weights supports hypertrophy in your muscles, which does result in an increase in size, Therapeutic Associates Physical Therapy explains. But it's actually excess body fat that leads to a bulky appearance. We spoke with Anthony J. Yeung, CSCS, a fitness expert and the founder of GroomBuilder, who walks us through some of the best free weight exercises for a leaner body after 40.
Yeung explains, "Free weights target many muscles at once—compared to machines—so you can build more strength, melt more fat, and enhance your balance, coordination, and joint health." Weight training allows you to kill two birds with one stone—build muscle while burning body fat—which is the key to sculpting your ideal, fit physique. Just be sure to pair your workouts with a "cutting diet," as Therapeutic Associates Physical Therapy calls it, which means torching more calories than you consume.
Keep reading to learn about Yeung's five best free weight exercises for a leaner body after 40. And next, don't miss The 5 Best Floor Exercises To Maintain a Lean Body as You Age.
1. Goblet Split Squats
Goblet squats begin by holding the head of a dumbbell by your heart's center. Your elbows should be under the weight, pointing toward the floor. Plant one foot around three feet in front of your other foot so that both knees form 90-degree angles when you reach the bottom of the squat. Descend into a split squat, then press through your front heel in order to come back up to the start position. Make sure your front knee doesn't go over your toes.
2. Dumbbell Bench Press
Gear up for the dumbbell bench press next. Begin by lying flat on your back on a workout bench. Your shoulders should be squeezed together, and your feet should be planted flat on the floor. Press the weights up and over your body, making sure your shoulders stay back. You should also drive through your heels and keep your buttocks in contact with the bench. Then, use control to lower the dumbbells back down.
3. Single-Arm Kettlebell Overhead Press
To set up for the single-arm kettlebell overhead press exercise, hold a kettlebell at your heart's center on the outside of your arm with both hands below your chin. Maintain a tall chest and straight wrists, and press the weight above your head. Complete all of the prescribed reps before performing the exercise on the opposite arm.
4. Three-Point Row
You'll begin the three-point row by getting perpendicular to a workout bench. Put your right hand on the surface so that your torso becomes parallel to the floor. Hold a dumbbell in your left hand, pull your shoulder blades together, and row the weight up toward your body. Complete all of the prescribed reps before doing the exercise on the opposite side.
5. Romanian Deadlifts
For Romanian deadlifts, begin standing and holding a barbell. Hinge your hips back, maintain a neutral back, and lower the barbell down until you feel a solid hamstring stretch. Press through both heels in order to bring the barbell back up and return to where you started.