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The Ultimate Muscle-Building Workout Every Man Over 40 Should Try

You can easily look younger than your age with this routine.
FACT CHECKED BY Alexa Mellardo

If you've hit your 40s and want to combat the loss of muscle that occurs as men age, I have some good news. Building muscle after 40 is possible with the same methodologies that work for a 20-year-old. That's where the ultimate muscle-building workout every man should do after 40 comes in.

To put it simply, if you want to build muscle after hitting 40, you need to lift weights or do resistance training of some variety with relatively heavy weights. Combined with a high-protein nutrition plan for weight loss and/or muscle building, you can easily look better at 50 (or even 41!) than you do at 40.

I generally recommend six months to a year of resistance training for muscle building to see major gains in size and strength. The following workout is my top muscle-building workout for male clients over 40. It hits all the major muscle groups in a single weekly workout. You can always split up the exercises, provided you complete three or more sets of each exercise per week.

To hit the standard muscle-building workout, perform eight to 12 repetitions of each exercise with a weight that causes muscle failure in that range. Rest for 90 seconds between sets, and repeat for a minimum of three sets. You will need access to a barbell, dumbbells, and a pull-up bar for this workout.

Barbell Back Squats

man doing barbell back squats

I always recommend barbell back squats or some similar variation of heavy squats in any muscle-building program. If you don't have any issues that prevent you from squatting with weight, you can't afford to skip squats if you're serious about overall muscle building. Even upper-body musculature benefits from heavy squats, because the intense loading stimulates hormone production in your body that promotes muscle growth systemically.

To perform back squats, rack the barbell across your upper traps for the high-bar variation, or across your rear deltoid for the low-bar variation. Both options are solid, so choose the method you feel most comfortable with.

For the movement, hinge at the hip, and bend your knees to sit into a squat position. Your torso should be mostly upright, although the low-bar variation will put your torso at roughly 45 degrees during the deepest phase. Drive through both feet to return to the top position, bracing your entire torso throughout each repetition. Repeat for target repetitions.

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Romanian Deadlifts

barbell deadlift illustration

Next up in this muscle-building workout is the Romanian deadlift. This exercise hit your glutes and hamstrings while remaining very safe for your lower back.

To perform Romanian deadlifts, take a grip on the barbell with a prone or alternating hand position. Pull the barbell upward by engaging your glutes and hips. Once you reach the top position, adopt a slight bend in your knees, then lock them in place. Lower the barbell to just below your knees without further bending them. As you feel the stretch in your hamstrings and glutes, activate and drive back up to the top position. Repeat for the target repetitions.


mature man doing pull-ups for stronger muscles after 40

Pull-ups and their variations are, in my opinion, the best single upper-body exercise you can do. I recommend a wide, overhand grip for maximal muscle development since this hits the lats harder than a reverse or neutral grip. However, all variations build serious upper-body muscle in the back and biceps.

Hang from a pull-up bar with a wide overhand grip. Raising yourself to the bar by flexing at the elbows and shoulders, keeping your elbows out to the side. Arch your back slightly for maximal lat targeting. Repeat for the target repetitions.

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Overhead Presses

man overhead barbell press

For shoulder development, overhead presses are a must. I recommend a barbell, but dumbbells work as well.

To perform an overhead press, begin with the bar in your hands, held in a racked position at shoulder height. Push the bar upward until your arms are overhead and your elbows are locked out. Stabilize at the top position, then lower the bar to the starting position. Repeat for the target repetitions.

Dumbbell Rows

man barbell row

I prefer dumbbell rows over barbell rows because I feel I can better target each side of my back, ultimately getting more total work in. However, barbell rows are a great alternative.

To perform dumbbell rows, begin with a dumbbell in one hand and the other arm braced on a bench of another object of similar height. Lower the dumbbell until your arm is straight and hanging down. Row upward until your upper arm is parallel to your torso, then lower to the starting position. Repeat on both sides for the target repetitions.

Dumbbell Bench Press

illustration of dumbbell bench press

I'm preferential to dumbbell bench pressing for chest development since it provides a more natural range of movement compared to a barbell bench press and also activates more stabilizers.

To perform dumbbell bench presses, begin lying on a bench with a dumbbell in each hand positioned at the sides of your chest. Press the dumbbells upward until your arms are straight and your elbows are locked out. For a final squeeze, bring the dumbbells together over your upper chest at the top of the repetition. 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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