5 Best Muscle-Toning Workouts in Your 40s
If you've hit your 40s and are wondering where your youthful physique went, you aren't alone. Many of us are shocked to discover that starting in our mid-30s, we begin losing small amounts of muscle, strength, and energy each year as part of the aging process. The reality is that this is a normal part of life and something we will all go through. However, you can still take actions that reduce or even offset the age-related loss of muscle mass. Chief among them is lifting weights regularly and staying active. That's where these five workouts to maintain muscle tone in your 40s come in handy, so listen up.
I have seen clients both male and female make substantial transformations in their fitness, physique, and strength well into their 40s, long past what they considered their "athletic prime." The following are my five top workouts to sculpt and preserve muscle tone as you reach and live through your 40s. Be sure to eat a healthy diet with lots of fruits, vegetables, and lean protein for the best results.
Keep reading to learn more about the best workouts to maintain muscle tone in your 40s, and when you're done, check out The Best Daily Bodyweight Workout Men Do To Build Muscle Over 40.
Workout 1: Upper-Body Strength
1. Bench Presses
These workouts to maintain muscle tone in your 40s kick off with a focus on upper-body strength. The bench press is a fundamental exercise for developing upper-body strength, targeting the pectoral muscles, shoulders, and triceps.
To perform a bench press, lie flat on your back on a bench with your feet flat on the floor. Grip the barbell wider than shoulder-width apart. Your forearms should be vertical when the barbell is in the bottom position. Lower the barbell to your chest, keeping your elbows at a 45-degree angle to your body. Push evenly through both hands to return the barbell to the starting position without locking out your elbows. Perform three sets of eight to 12 repetitions.
2. Barbell Rows
The barbell row is a compound exercise that targets the back muscles, biceps, and shoulders.
To perform a barbell row, stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and bend at the hips until your torso is nearly parallel with the floor. Your knees should be slightly bent. Grip the barbell with your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Pull the barbell to your torso, keeping your elbows close to your body and avoiding shrugging your shoulders. Slowly lower the barbell back to the starting position. Perform three sets of eight to 12 repetitions.
3. Shoulder Presses
Shoulder presses primarily work the deltoids and triceps. As you perform each repetition, emphasize on not shrugging throughout the range of motion.
To perform a shoulder press, stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, and hold a dumbbell in each hand at shoulder level. Extend your arms to push the dumbbells upward until they touch above your head. Slowly lower the dumbbells back to the starting position. Perform three sets of eight to 12 repetitions.
Pull-ups work the lats, rhomboids, and biceps. As you pull up, imagine you're crushing a piece of fruit in your armpit.
To perform a pull-up, grip the pull-up bar with your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Pull your body up until your chin is above the bar. Lower your body back to the starting position, fully extending your arms. Perform three sets of six to 10 repetitions.
Workout 2: Lower-Body Strength
1. Barbell Back Squats
Next up on this list of the best workouts to maintain muscle tone in your 40s highlights lower-body strength. The barbell back squat is a cornerstone of lower-body training, working the quadriceps, glutes, hamstrings, and calves.
To perform a barbell back squat, position a barbell at shoulder level on a squat rack. If available, set the safety pins just above waist level. Stand under the barbell, placing it across your upper back and shoulders. Grip the barbell wider than shoulder-width apart. Unrack the barbell, stepping back to clear the rack. Keep your feet shoulder-width apart. Bend at the hips and knees to lower into a squat, pushing evenly through your whole foot. Keep your chest up and your back straight. Push back up to the starting position. Perform three sets of eight to 12 repetitions.
2. Walking Lunges
Walking lunges are an excellent functional exercise, primarily targeting the quads, glutes, and hamstrings.
To perform a walking lunge, stand upright with your feet hip-width apart, and take a step forward with your right foot. Lower your body into a lunge, bending both knees to about a 90-degree angle. Rotate your left foot inward slightly as you lower your left knee for optimal biomechanics. Push through your right foot to lift your body up and step forward into the next lunge. Perform three sets of 10 to 12 repetitions on each leg.
3. Hip Thrusts
The hip thrust works the glutes and hamstrings. Visualize drawing your lower rib toward your pelvis as you lift your hips.
To perform a hip thrust, sit on the ground with a bench behind you and a loaded barbell over your hips. Lean back against the bench so that your shoulder blades are near the top of it. Drive through your feet to extend your hips, lifting the bar as you do so. Extend as far as possible, then reverse the motion to return to the starting position. Perform three sets of eight to 12 repetitions.
4. Calf Raises
Calf raises primarily work the gastrocnemius and soleus muscles in your calves.
To perform calf raises, stand up straight, feet hip-width apart, on the edge of a step or weight plate. Lower your heels toward the ground. Push through your feet to raise your body upward, keeping your abdominal muscles pulled in so that you move straight upward. Pause at the top before lowering back to the starting position. Perform three sets of 15 to 20 repetitions.
Workout 3: Core
Routine number three on this roundup of workouts to maintain muscle tone in your 40s is all about the core. The plank is a powerful exercise for strengthening your core, shoulders, and glutes. It also enhances stability and balance.
To perform a plank, start in a push-up position, but with your forearms on the ground instead of your hands. Your elbows should be under your shoulders. Engage your core, pull your belly button toward your spine, and squeeze your glutes. Keep your body in a straight line from your head to your heels. Hold this position for the target time. Perform three sets of 30 to 60-second holds.
2. Russian Twists
Russian twists target the oblique muscles and help to improve rotational strength.
To perform a Russian twist, sit on the floor with your knees bent, pull your abs to your spine, and lean back a few inches while keeping your back straight. Hold your hands together at your chest, and lift your feet off the floor. Twist your torso to the right, then to the left to complete one rep. Perform three sets of 12 to 15 repetitions.
3. Mountain Climbers
Mountain climbers offer a total-body workout that targets the core muscles, promoting good posture and balance.
To perform mountain climbers, start in a pushup position with your hands directly under your shoulders. Keep your body in a straight line from your head to your ankles. Pull your right knee into your chest. Quickly switch and pull the left knee in. Perform three sets of 15 to 20 repetitions.
4. Leg Raises
To perform leg raises, lie flat on your back with your legs straight. Place your hands under your glutes with your palms facing down. Raise your legs until they make a 90-degree angle with the floor. Slowly lower your legs back down to the starting position. Perform three sets of 10 to 15 repetitions.
Workout 4: Functional Training
1. Kettlebell Swings
The kettlebell swing is a dynamic full-body workout that focuses on the hips and lower back, while also engaging the glutes, hamstrings, shoulders, and core.
To perform a kettlebell swing, stand with your feet slightly wider than hip-width apart, with the kettlebell on the floor in front of you. Bend at the hips and knees to grab the kettlebell with both hands, keeping your back flat. Swing the kettlebell between your legs, maintaining a hinge at your hips. Thrust your hips forward, straightening your body and swinging the kettlebell in front of you up to shoulder height. Perform three sets of 12 to 15 repetitions.
2. Medicine Ball Slams
The medicine ball slam is a total-body exercise that works your arms, shoulders, abs, and legs, and also improves your explosive power.
To perform a medicine ball slam, stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, and hold the medicine ball in both hands at chest level. Raise the ball overhead, extending your body fully. Slam the ball down on the floor in front of you as hard as you can, hinging at the hips and bending your knees. Pick up the ball to return to the starting position. Perform three sets of 10 to 15 repetitions.
3. Lateral Lunges
The lateral lunge targets the quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, and hip flexors. It improves lateral mobility.
To perform a lateral lunge, stand with your feet hip-width apart and your hands clasped in front of your chest. Take a large step to the right, bending your right knee as you push your hips back. Keep your left leg straight as your right knee bends. Push through your right foot to return to the starting position. Perform three sets of 10 to 12 repetitions per side.
4. TRX Rows
TRX rows work the upper back, shoulders, biceps, and core, and improve functional strength and balance.
To perform a TRX row, grab the TRX handles, and walk your feet forward until you're leaning back at a slight angle. Keep your body straight, and pull yourself up to the handles as if you're crushing a piece of fruit in your armpit. Lower yourself back to the starting position, keeping your core engaged. Perform three sets of eight to 12 repetitions.
Workout 5: High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)
The last of these workouts to maintain muscle tone in your 40s wraps up with some high-intensity interval training. Burpees are a full-body exercise that boosts cardiovascular fitness and muscular endurance.
To perform a burpee, stand straight, then lower into a squat position with your hands on the floor. Kick your feet back into a plank position while keeping your arms extended. Immediately return your feet to the squat position. Stand up from the squat position, and jump up while raising your arms overhead. Perform three sets of 10 to 15 repetitions.
2. Jumping Lunges
This exercise targets the glutes, quads, and hamstrings while also improving balance and coordination.
To perform jumping lunges, stand straight, and take a step forward with your right foot into a lunge position. Push through your feet to jump into the air, switching the positions of your feet in mid-air. Land softly, and lower into the lunge position. Perform three sets of 12 to 15 repetitions per leg.
3. High Knees
High knees target your quads, boost your heart rate, and improve lower-body flexibility and power.
To perform high knees, stand tall with your feet hip-width apart. Drive your right knee toward your chest, and quickly lower it back to the ground. Follow immediately by driving your left knee toward your chest. Perform three sets of 20 to 30 seconds each.
4. Jump Squats
Jump squats target your quadriceps, glutes, and hamstrings. They also help to improve explosive power and cardiovascular fitness.
To perform a jump squat, stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Lower your body into a squat position. Explode upward into a jump, pushing evenly through the full feet and extending your body. Land softly, and immediately lower back into the squat position. Perform three sets of 15-20 repetitions.