Most of us don't need to be convinced of the importance of working out when it comes to health, physical appearance, strength, and muscular endurance. However, when the rubber meets the road, barriers to exercise frequently get in the way of us taking action on the things we know will help us reach our goals. This reality is especially true as you hit your 40s and have a packed work and family life schedule. If there's one thing I've learned over 10+ years of training, it's that a busy schedule is a frequent roadblock for getting into shape for my middle-aged clients. At a certain point, there's no way around the fact that you will need to carve out the time to exercise if you want to reach your goals. That's where this weekly workout to build muscular endurance after 40 comes in handy.
Muscular endurance is an important part of a comprehensive fitness plan as you hit 40, but it's frequently overlooked in favor of aerobic endurance or maximal strength training. With that being said, I have some great news. If you are already fully taxed on time, a simple weekly muscular endurance workout can be enough to drive gains on this key fitness goal.
The following is my #1 weekly workout to build muscular endurance after 40. Perform three sets of 15 to 20 repetitions on all exercises once per week. Rest for 60 seconds between sets. You can perform an additional workout if you have time, or incorporate this workout into the rest of your fitness routine.
Barbell Back Squats
The barbell back squat is an effective compound exercise that primarily works the quadriceps, glutes, and hamstrings, while also recruiting your core and lower back muscles for stabilization.
To perform a barbell back squat, start by positioning a barbell at shoulder level on a squat rack. Set the safety pins just above waist level, if available. Stand facing the rack, and place the barbell on your upper back, gripping it securely with both hands. Lift the bar off the rack by pushing evenly through your both feet and straightening your torso. Inhale, and slowly lower your body by bending at the hips and knees until your thighs are parallel to the floor. Exhale, and drive evenly through both feet to return to the starting position. Repeat for the target repetitions.
Alternating Walking Lunges
Lunges are ideal for building muscular endurance in the quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes. They also challenge your balance and core stability, promoting better coordination and function in day-to-day movements.
To perform a lunge, stand upright with your feet shoulder-width apart. Step forward with your right foot, keeping your left foot in place. Lower your hips toward the floor by bending your front knee and lowering your back knee. Rotate your left foot inward slightly as you lower your left knee toward the ground. Be sure to keep your right knee directly over your right foot and your torso upright. Push evenly through your whole right foot to rise back up to your starting position. Repeat with your left foot stepping forward, and continue alternating legs for target repetitions.
The pull-up is a fantastic upper-body exercise that targets the muscles in your back, specifically the latissimus dorsi, while also engaging the biceps, forearms, and shoulder muscles. If you cannot perform 15 to 20 pull-ups, use an assisted pull-up machine or rubber assistance bands.
To perform a pull-up, begin by gripping a pull-up bar with both hands, palms facing away from you. Hang onto the bar with your arms fully extended. As you pull yourself up toward the bar, visualize crushing a piece of fruit in your armpit as you retract your shoulder blades and squeeze at the end range of motion. Slowly lower yourself back down to the starting position. Repeat for the target repetitions.
Dumbbell Shoulder Presses
The dumbbell shoulder press is a phenomenal exercise for targeting the deltoids, while also working the triceps and engaging the upper back and core for stability.
To perform a dumbbell shoulder press, stand or sit with a dumbbell in each hand at shoulder level, palms facing forward. Press the dumbbells upward until your arms are fully extended overhead. Be sure to avoid shrugging your shoulders during the movement. Pause for a moment at the top, then slowly lower the dumbbells back to shoulder level. Repeat for the target repetitions.
Glute bridges primarily target the glutes and hamstrings, but they also work the core and lower back. This exercise helps to strengthen your posterior chain, which is important for stability and overall body strength.
To perform a glute bridge, lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the ground. As you prepare for the movement, visualize drawing your lower rib toward your pelvis, and engage your abs. Push through your full foot to lift your hips off the ground until your body forms a straight line from shoulders to knees. Squeeze your glutes at the top of the lift for about one second. Slowly lower your hips back to the ground. Repeat for the target repetitions.
Seated Cable Row
The seated cable row works several muscles in your upper body including the latissimus dorsi, rhomboids, and biceps. It's also effective for improving posture and developing a strong, healthy back.
To perform a seated cable row, sit at a cable row machine with your feet on the footrests and your knees slightly bent. Grasp the cable handle with both hands, and sit upright. Pull the cable toward your abdomen, visualizing crushing a piece of fruit in your armpit as you retract your shoulder blades and squeeze at the end range of motion. Slowly extend your arms back out, keeping your back straight, and avoid shrugging your shoulders throughout the movement. Repeat for the target repetitions.
Dumbbell Bicep Curls
The last move in this workout to build muscular endurance is the dumbbell bicep curl. This exercise primarily targets the biceps, a vital muscle for many upper-body movements. The forearms and grip strength also get worked in the process, making this an excellent upper-body isolation exercise.
To perform a dumbbell bicep curl, stand upright with a dumbbell in each hand, arms fully extended, and palms facing forward. Keeping your upper arms stationary, bend your elbows to lift the dumbbells towards your shoulders. At the top of the movement, squeeze your biceps for about one second. Slowly lower the dumbbells back to the starting position. Repeat for the target repetitions.